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Oral Form Discrimination In Normal 5- To 8-Year-Old Children: An Adjunct To An Eating Assessment

Erika G. Gisel, Hannah Schwob

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Presented here are two studies on the development of oral stereognostic skills as measured by an oral form discrimination task The first study describes stereognostic skills of children 5, 6, 7, and 8 years old; the second addresses the question of whether oral stereognostic abilities are correlated with oral-motor (chewing) skills (see pp. 211–223 of this issue). A total of 86 children participated in the first study. Fifty pairs of small, standardized plastic forms were administered to each child With vision occluded, the child identified each pair of forms as either “the same” or “different” The number of errors was computed for each age group. A significant age effect ( p < .004) was noted, with younger children (5 and 6 years) having more difficulty in correctly identifying forms of similar size than older children (7 and 8 years). No sex differences were found for any of the stereognostic skills measured A practice effect was seen only in 8-year-old children: They made significantly fewer errors ( p < .033) on the second than on the first half of the test. When 10 pairs of test items were presented a second time, the children were 73% consistent in their responses. It is concluded that specific aspects of oral stereognostic skills mature in children between 5 and 8 years of age. These measures will form part of an eating assessment that until now has focused only on the oral-motor aspects of eating development.