Date of Award

May 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Bonita P. Klein-Tasman

Committee Members

Dave Osmon, Doug Woods


Attention, Children, Fine Motor Abilities, Neurofibromatosis Type 1


Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is one of the most common genetic disorders presenting in approximately 1 in 3,000 live births. NF1 is a highly variable condition with a large number of complications. A common complication is neuropsychological problems, including developmental delays and learning difficulties that affect as many as 60% of patients. Research has suggested the children with NF1 often have poorer fine motor skills and are at greater risk for attention difficulties than the general population. Furthermore, recent research is beginning to demonstrate a relationship between fine motor skills and attention in older children; however, very little research has examined this relationship in young children. Thirty-eight children with NF1 and 23 typically developing children between the ages of 4 and 6 are enrolled in the study. Varying levels of fine motor functioning were examined (simple, mid-level, and complex fine motor tasks). For children with NF1, significant difficulties were demonstrated on lab-based, mid-level and complex fine motor tasks, even after controlling for nonverbal reasoning abilities. These findings suggest that children with NF1 do not differ significantly from TD children on lab-based, simple fine motor tasks. Additionally, these findings were corroborated by parental report of difficulties in adaptive fine-motor functioning. The current study also examined relations between fine motor ability and parental report of attention difficulties. No significant correlations were found between complex fine motor ability and attention difficulties. This study provides much needed descriptive data on the early emergence of fine motor difficulties in young children with NF1. The results can help guide further research into potential early intervention programs that may be able to improve overall motor and possibly attention function in children with NF1.