Differences in hand size and strength, vestibular function, visuomotor integration, and praxis in preschool children as a function of socioeconomic status were investigated. Twenty-two children of lower socioeconomic status, aged 3 to 5 years, were each matched with a child of higher socioeconomic status on the basis of race, sex, hand dominance, age, height, and weight. Measures used were the Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration (Beery, 1982), hand size and strength, the Standing Balance subtests of the Southern California Sensory Integration Tests (Ayres, 1972), the Bowman Unilateral Hopping Test (Flannigan, 1987), the Southern California Postrotary Nystagmus Test (Ayres, 1975), the praxis tests of the Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests (SIPT) (Ayres, 1984), and the Bowman Quality of Prone Extension Scale (Etheredge, 1987). Analyses with two separate Hotelling’s T2 for correlated samples (Huck, Cormier, & Bounds, 1974) revealed significant differences in hand size and strength as well as praxis, and subsequent post hoc analyses revealed better scores for the higher socioeconomic status group on right hand strength and on the Praxis on Verbal Command subtest of the SIPT. A paired t test also revealed that the higher socioeconomic status group scored better on visuomotor integration. Analysis with Hotelling’s T2 revealed no significant differences between the two groups on the vestibular measures.
The results of this study suggest that on certain tests used by occupational therapists, children from a higher socioeconomic status group may function at a higher developmental level than those from a lower socioeconomic status group. When interpreting clients’ test results, therefore, therapists should consider the possible influence of socioeconomic status.