A Child With Low Muscle Tone

We have know that Little C has had low muscle tone for quite a while. It has played a factor in all her delays of her motor skills, as well as her speech. Little S and Little P both had speech delays, and some fine motor delay, but I recently learned that Little S was dealing with so much more.

Early in his speech therapy days, he was sent for an assessment from an occupational therapist. Sadly, the system failed him. Despite early intervention, he never received effective therapy. In attempting to have someone work with him, I learned something. The original therapist noted that he had low muscle tone in the file, but never informed me. What she was required to do was arrange physiotherapy. That was not done. Now, Little S is almost 7 years old, and as a home schooling family, we are not eligible for provincial services outside of the school system. Another fail for the system for my family.

Now, I am looking into what I can do to help Little S go forward from where he is.

What is Low Muscle Tone?

A child with low muscle tone is said to have  muscles on the loose, floppy side. It can also be refereed to as “Hypotonia.” It basically can be summed up as weak and underdeveloped  muscles.

What does it mean?

Children with low muscle tone often have delayed motor skills, muscle weakness, and / or coordination problems. It can be caused by hypothyroidism, Down syndrome, or a neurological problem.

What are the signs your child may have Low Muscle Tone?

Low Muscle Tone is easiest to detect in infants. Picking up as infant with low muscle tone is similar to picking up a rag doll. In Little C’s case, this was exactly what it felt like. The more sever the case, the earlier it is usually noticed. In the case of Little S, he was 3 years old when it was written in the file. His case is not very sever, however he does have symptom.


People with low muscle tone typically struggle with balance. We tease Little S about the fact he falls up the stairs almost daily. I alway thought his balance was just his goofiness. Now I know that Low Muscle Tone affects balance.

Developmental Delay

Our muscles are instrumental in all areas of development. In more sever cases, a child with low muscle tone will have trouble lifting his head, sitting up, rolling on his stomach and crawling. Speech delays and difficulty eating are also common,  s the jaw muscles can be weak. The developmental delay also affects fine motor skills and might cause trouble in things that require coordination, such as using scissors, holding on to a pencil or dressing themselves. This is the area that Little S struggles with.

Tiring Easily

Children with low muscle tone often tire easily during activities. They often feel as though their legs or arms are “giving out.” In Little C’s case, she would sleep longer and more often than her peers.

What can I do?

If you suspect your child may have low tone, see a paediatrician. Expert advice and early intervention can be a key, especially in more severe cases. Most mild cases can improve in time with or with out treatment. The key is to keep the child active. Activities such as swimming, walking, running,and lifting all develop the muscles. In the case of Little S, we have began a “Gym class.” We have him lift weights, and help with carrying the groceries and shovelling snow. Find activities that they enjoy. If your child doesn’t like it, it becomes a chore. Things like puling a sled, or wagon, or climbing.

You know your child better than you think. Trust your instincts. I knew something was “off” with Little C much earlier than any one else did. As mothers, we often doubt our own intuition. Learn to trust your gut. You’d be surprised how often your gut puts you in the right direction.

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