After years of observing infant breastfeeding difficulties that often follow the use of an artificial nipple (particularly during early learning but not only during early learning), I opened a kinesiology text and beheld an embarrassment of riches. That text was Richard Schmidt and Timothy Lee's Motor Control and Learning: A Behavioral Emphasis, and of all the new and glorious terms contained within that text and others, the term skill decay provided the greatest thrill of discovery from my perspective as a specialist in infant feeding, working then in a non-Baby Friendly inpatient facility [for information on the World Health Organization's Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, see http://www.babyfriendlyusa.org].
How beautiful is this language of motor learning and motor control? I find the term guidance particularly beautiful, given that so much of our workday is spent providing requested assistance to the mother in the form of verbal and manual guidance, although we provide far greater manual guidance to the preverbal/prelinguistic infant, often in tandem with guidance given to the mother. But let me reorganize the order of things: To learn this work, the clinician does not begin her/his career in this field with expertise, i.e., in possession of skilled movement. We can only begin as a novice, utilizing the didactic portion of our education as well as the guidance shared by a preceptor. In sensory-perceptual-motor learning (or more simply, motor learning), we learn by doing. Rehearsals are most effective when practice sessions are specific to the task, and increasing skill is accompanied by a certain happiness.