Middle Childhood - Biosocial Development

Size & Shape

Variation in Physique

    * each year, the typical well-nourished school-aged child gains about 5 pounds & grows about 3 inches
    * for poor nations, variations in weight and height is due mostly to malnutrition; in wealthier nations, 
genes seem to play a greater role

Childhood Obesity

    * Being overweight is the largest & most common problem in school-age children. Nearly 1/3 of North American 
    children are obese.

   *   Obese children are prone to orthopedic & respiratory problems, along with a high risk for other illnesses. 

Causes of childhood obesity include:

          - Heredity
          - Lack of exercise
          - Television
          - Cultural attitudes
          - Precipitating events

Ψ  The most common cause of school absence in many developed nations, & especially in cities is asthma. 
Asthma is a chronic, inflammatory disorder of the air ways.   
Ψ  Causes of asthma? Civilization.   

Ψ  Prevention of Asthma   

•   Primary: Proper ventilation of schools & homes, decreases pollution, eradication of cockroaches, 
    & safe play spaces. 

•   Secondary: Depends on families, if there is a genetic history of allergies, ridding the house of allergens 
     before the disease appears & breast feeding newborns can cut the rate of asthma in half. 

•   Tertiary: Prompt use of injections, inhalers, & pills. Less than half in U.S. receive adequate tertiary prevention. 

    * Body Mass Index - a measure of obesity determined by dividing weight in kilograms by height squared 
in meters - Less than 18 is ok for children.

      BMI = w/h2 where:
             w = weight in kilograms (pounds divided by 2.2)
             h = height in meters (inches divided by 39.4)
      OR: BMI = Weight in pounds divided by ( height in inches times height in inches ) times 703. 
                      That is (in Imperial units): BMI = w/h2 x 703
Table For Adults; 
   •  below 18 on the BMI scale is considered anorexic. 
   •  between 19 & 25 is "good". 
   •  26 to 30 is considered overweight. 
   •  30 or above is considered obese. 
   •  40 or above is considered morbidly obese.    

•  When calculating BMI age is not a consideration (variable); however, it must be considered for 
growing humans. Charts provided by the CDC graph percentiles for ages up to twenty years. 
Below 5 percentile = underweight, above 85 percentile = overweight, & above 95 percentile = obese. 

•   Percentile BMI graphs age scaled for adult men & women are available. Adult age changes the 
impact of BMI very little. The adult table above is usually an adequate placement tool.

      Variations in Health
          In developed nations, children between 7 & 11 are the healthiest humans of all; they are least likely to die 
or become seriously ill or injured.

 Ψ Brain Development in Middle Childhood enhances:   

   •  Selective Attention - the tuning out of unwanted information. 
   •  Automatization - a process by which thoughts & actions are repeated in sequence so often they become 
      automatic, or routine, & no longer require conscious thought. 

Skill Development

Motor Skills

    Hand-eye coordination, balance, & judgment of movement as well as reaction time are key activities that are all 
still developing during the school years.

Reaction time - is the time it takes to respond to a particular stimulus & is a good measure of readiness to acquire 
                         athletic skills.

Gender related skill development - boys and girls are about equal in physical ability, although boys tend to have 
greater upper-arm strength and girls have greater overall flexibility.

Culturally related skill development - national policy affects motor development; depends on the national number 
of hours required for physical education.

Genetically related skill development - heredity plays a role; some children are unable to master motor skills as well 
as others, no matter how hard they try.

     Programs are counterproductive to learning motor skills when they are too

1. competitive
   2. lack excitement
      3. foster disparaging comparisons

    Heredity also plays a role in fine motor skills; some children naturally write better than others.

    Motor habits develop as repeated connections are formed in the brain due to the growth of the corpus callosum. 
ie "practice makes prefect".

Intellectual Skills

    Children’s brains develop as rapidly as their bodies do during the school years. Humans seem to 
have many forms of intelligence, most of which would not be measured by the narrow spectrum 
of current IQ tests.

•  Multiple Intelligence Theories
 Sternberg's 3 Intelligences:
         Academic - as measured by IQ & achievement tests
           Creative - as evidenced by imaginative endeavors
              Practical - as seen in everyday interactions

    Sternburg's Triarchic theory of intelligence consists of three subtheories: (1) the componential (academic) 
subtheory which outlines the structures and mechanisms that underlie intelligent behavior categorized as 
metacognitive, performance, or knowledge acquisition components , (2) the experiential (creative) subtheory 
that proposes intelligent behavior be interpreted along a continuum of experience from novel to highly 
familar tasks/situations, (3) the contextual (practical) subtheory which specifies that intelligent behavior 
is defined by the sociocultural context in which it takes place and involves adaptation to the environment, 
selection of better environments, & shaping of the present environment.

Gardner's 8 Intelligences:
1. Linguistic
   2. Logical-Mathematical
      3. Musical
         4. Spatial
            5. Body-Kinesthetic
               6. Interpersonal ( social-understanding )
                  7. Intrapersonal ( self understanding )
                     8. Naturalistic
    Brain development is measured with aptitude tests focusing on language use, reasoning ability, & memory.
    Achievement tests are designed to measure how much a person has learned in a specific subject area 
Aptitude tests are designed to measure potential, rather than actual, accomplishment
    IQ tests are aptitude tests designed to measure a person’s intelligence; two highly used tests are the 
Stanford-Binet and Wechsler intelligence scale.
    When there is a mismatch between the IQ score & achievement, something is amiss in the child, the 
home, or the school.
    Many factors must be considered when evaluating an IQ tests; if not, they may seriously underestimate 
the intellectual potential of a disadvantaged child or overestimate that of a child from an 
advantaged background. 

Children with Special Needs

    A child with special needs: A child for whom learning new skills & developing friendships are hampered 
by a psychological or physical disorder.

    Developmental psychopathology is a field of psychology that applies the insight from studies of normal 
development to the study and treatment of childhood disorders

  !!! The four lessons that developmental psychopathology has provided are:

1.  Abnormality is normal - Most children sometimes act in unusual ways & most children with disorders are, 
in general, quite normal.

2.  Disability changes over time - "discontinuity in disorders from childhood to adulthood" is typical 
(Silk et al., 2000, p 728)

3.  Adolescence & adulthood may be better or worse - Outcomes seem to be based on type of childhood disorder.

4. Diagnosis depends on social context - The DSM-IV-R recognizes that the "nuances of an individual's frame of 
reference" need to be understood before any disorder can be accurately diagnosed (APA, 2000, p. xxxiv).

A Guide:

    Use the DSM-IV, the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, developed by the American 
Psychiatric Association, which describes & distinguishes the symptoms of various emotional & behavioral disorders.


   Autism is a disorder characterized by an inability or unwillingness to communicate with others, poor social skills, 
and diminished imagination.

   Autism is the most common of the Pervasive Developmental Disorders, affecting an estimated 1 in 150 births 
(updated June 2007). This means that as many as 1.5 million Americans today are believed to have some form 
of autism.  Autism is more prevalent by 10 times, than it was 
in the 70's. 
    Asperger syndrome is a disorder in which a person masters verbal communication but has unusual difficulty with 
social perceptions and skills (also called high-functioning autism).
    Autism is multifactorial & genes are one of the factors; boys are more likely to suffer from this disease than are girls.
    Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder, as its manifestations change markedly with age; deficiencies appear 
in the three areas:
        • communication ability
          • social skills
            • imaginative play
     By age 1 or 2, deficiencies appear in the first two areas; by preschool years, the third becomes apparent. 
During the play years, many continue to be mute, while other engage exclusively in echolalia (ekow'leyleeu) 
speech (Echolalia is the repetition of vocalizations made by another person.). Autistic children avoid 
spontaneous interaction; rather, they engage in repetitive movements or compulsive play. 

     In childhood & adolescence, autistic individuals appear to lack a theory of mind and do not understand the emotions 
& thoughts of others. Most score low on IQ tests, but may show isolated areas of remarkable (savant) skills.
    As autistic children grow older, symptoms vary widely; their strongest cognitive skills are in abstract reasoning 
whereas their weakest are in social cognition. Many learn to express themselves, becoming quite fluent by adulthood 
if given intensive behavioral training.

Learning Disabilities

    * Mental retardation - slow learning in all, or almost all, intellectual abilities. The degree of retardation is usually 
measured by an intelligence test . In young children, mental retardation ( IQ of 70 or below )is often called pervasive 
developmental delay to allow for the possibility that the child will catch up to normal, age-appropriate development .
    * Learning disability - difficult in mastering a specific cognitive skill that is not attributable to intellectual slowness, 
obvious impairment of the senses, lack of education, or family dysfunction
    * Dyslexia - a specific learning disability involving unusual difficulty with reading; This is the most commonly 
diagnosed learning disability.
    * Dyscalcula - a specific learning disability involving unusual difficult with math; usually becomes apparent 
by age 8.

 ADHD - (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) a behavior problem characterized by excessive activity, an 
inability to concentrate, & impulsive, sometimes aggressive behavior.

    * ADHD can occur with or without hyperactivity.
    * ADHD children are prone to aggression, anxiety, and depression.
    * Antisocial behavior can follow from childhood aggression if the disorder is not treated.
    * Medication, psychological therapy, and changes in the family and school environments can all help children 
with ADHD .
    * Psychoactive drugs are NOT a cure; children need help overcoming their confused perception of the social 
world; this can be done through family and individual therapy plus changes in the home or school environment.

    !!! Life-span developmental research finds that childhood problems rarely disappear; their lifelong legacy depends 
on the specifics of the home & school contexts.

                                                   Growth & Development
                                                       Robert C. Gates