Bilateral Integration refers to the ability to coordinate both sides of the body at the same time in a controlled and organized manner e.g. stabilizing paper with one hand and writing or cutting with the other. Strong bilateral integration indicates that both sides of the brain are communicating effectively and sharing information.
Children with poor bilateral coordination might struggle to perform daily living tasks like dressing, tying shoes, fine motor activities like stringing beads and buttoning, visual motor tasks like drawing, writing, cutting and gross motor activities like crawling, walking and climbing stairs.
Crossing the midline is an integral skill related to bilateral coordination. Crossing the midline refers to the ability to spontaneously cross over the midline of the body. Toddlers may use both hands equally and pick up or interact with an object with whichever hand is closer. By 3-4 children should be skilled in crossing the midline. Establishing hand dominance – a ‘worker hand’ vs. a ‘helper hand’ – is an indicator that the brain is maturing.
Another important foundation in the development of bilateral coordination is body awareness. Body awareness refers to the ability to know where your body is in space without necessarily using vision e.g. how high to lift your leg when climbing stairs.