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Delays in Fine Motor and Pencil Grip Caused by these Retained Reflexes |

Delays in Fine Motor and Pencil Grip Caused by these Retained Reflexes

This article provides information about the retained Primitive Reflexes causing issues with fine motor development and pencil grip. Integrated Learning Strategies (ILS) is a learning and academic center. As a reminder, ILS is not a health care provider and none of our materials or services provide a diagnosis or treatment of a specific condition or learning challenge you may see in your child or student. If you seek a diagnosis or treatment for your child or student, please contact a trained professional who can provide an evaluation of the child.

Fine motor development touches a child’s everyday life. From grasping objects to trying shoes, fine motor movements help kids learn functional skills needed for becoming more independent.

However, when a child retains certain Primitive Reflexes, their fine motor skills may be compromised. If you suspect a child has a retained Primitive Reflex related to fine motor delays, you may notice the child struggling with the following:

  • Handwriting development
  • Difficulty picking up objects
  • Light or tight pencil grip
  • Trouble with scissors and cutting
  • Difficulty clapping in a rhythmic pattern
  • Confuses the right and left hands
  • Clumsy hand and finger movements

If the child did not like tummy time as a baby or did not experience time in the prone position, some primitive reflexes may not have integrated naturally.

Retained Primitive Reflexes and Fine Motor

Developing skills like reaching and grasping objects is especially important. Those first foundational skills pave the way for harder tasks that require more refined motor skills. Tasks like buttoning, fastening, zipping and eating may be challenging for kids who have retained Primitive Reflexes.

If your child or students are falling behind in their fine motor development, you may want to check them for one or more of these retained reflexes.

ATNR Reflex

The Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR) is one of the reflexes that may prevent a child from developing their fine motor skills if retained. Retention of the ATNR may cause kids to be delayed in some of the following areas:

  • Handwriting skills
  • Spacing letters and words
  • Fine Motor control
  • Letter Formation
  • Pencil Grip
  • Crossing the midline as the child writes from left to right

If retained, the ATNR reflex triggers the writing arm to extend and the hand to open when a child turns their head to look at the page. This requires the student to use more effort when writing with a pen or pencil. As a result, you may notice the child trying to compensate by using excessive pressure to keep their hand closed to write across the page.

Because this causes the student to use a tight grip, they may often experience cramping or fatigue when writing. In addition, the quality and quantity of writing may suffer because the child can’t spend long periods of time writing.

Children who frequently shake out their hands may show indication of an active ATNR reflex. They will also experience problems with in-hand manipulation and tactile stimulation. Tasks like buttoning, tying shoes and drawing will be very difficult for the child. Research shows close ties between a retained ATNR reflex and delayed fine motor development.

STNR Reflex

The Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR) is another reflex that may impact a child’s fine motor development if retained. The STNR contributes to the baby using cross lateral movements as they learn to crawl. These cross lateral movements are what helps the child develop both their fine motor and gross motor skills as they grow older.

A child with a retained STNR reflex may struggle to control movements of their upper body. This impacts hand-eye coordination and fine motor movements as the child tries to write.

Core muscle is also impacted by a retained STNR. Because fine motor skills are also dependent on trunk stability, you may notice a child leaning over or laying on their desk to grip a pencil. Writing becomes tedious and tiresome because the child doesn’t have the core strength to support writing across the page.

Palmar Reflex

The Palmar reflex is one of the most important when it comes to fine motor development. If retained, the Palmar reflex may prevent a child from developing their grasp, pincer grip and picking up objects.

As a child’s fine motor skills develop, the baby will learn how to use their hands and fingers with more precision. When the Palmar reflex lingers, it has a residual effect on a child’s fine motor development. The child will fail to transition the use of their Palmar reflex to the proper development of the Pincer grasp. This inhibits the child to grasp their pencil correctly.

If a child has a retained Palmar reflex, they often struggle with the following:

  • Cutting with scissors
  • Establishing pencil grip when trying to write
  • Using crayons to draw or color
  • Picking up objects like blocks or Legos
  • Controlling feeding utensils as the child eats
  • Writes letters backward

You may also notice signs or hypersensitivity to tactile stimulation and speech problems if a retained Palmar reflex is not integrated.

Primitive Reflexes Roadmap

If you are interested in learning more about retained Primitive Reflexes and how they affect a child’s learning development, download the Primitive Reflexes Roadmap here:

Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning challenges achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs

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