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Hidden Retained Reflexes Contributing to Poor Core Stability and Lying on Desk |

Hidden Retained Reflexes Contributing to Poor Core Stability and W-Sitting

This article provides information about the retained Primitive Reflexes contributing to poor core stability. 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.

Building core muscle and core stability starts from the very beginning. Infants use tummy time as the primary way to develop the inner muscle of the trunk. Establishing a strong core when the child is an infant is important for many different learning areas. It’s how a child develops depth perception, visual stimulation and hand-eye coordination.

Children who show signs of poor core muscle may have one or more retained Primitive Reflexes. If you have a child or student who shows signs of a weak core, they may display some of the following symptoms:

  • Often hunched over their chair
  • Frequently in the W-sitting position when sitting on the floor
  • Rocking in the chair
  • Lies on desk while writing or listening to the teacher
  • Falls out of their chair
  • Lacks attention
  • Poor balance and coordination

In a recent research study, a growing number of preschoolers displayed one or more retained Primitive Reflexes.

Retained Reflexes and Core Stability

If one or more retained reflexes are causing poor core stability, a child may be delayed in several learning areas. Core muscle helps kids manipulate a writing instrument, track words across the page, and calm their bodies so they can attend and focus. When the reflexes below are retained, you may notice other areas of development falling behind.

STNR Reflex

The Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR) plays a role in developing certain neck and postural muscles. Children who have a retained STNR reflex often struggle to hold their torso and back upright while sitting at their desk.

To compensate for weak core stability, the child will wrap their legs around their chair. This is a common symptom that comes with a retained STNR reflex.

When the STNR reflex is activated, the child appears to have attention issues or poor concentration. The reflex makes it difficult for kids to sit for long periods of time and causes them to fidget. It expels both mental and physical energy from the child so they are unable to learn in the classroom. A high percentage of kids who were diagnosed with ADHD or other attention disorders still had an active STNR reflex.

A retained STNR reflex can also prevent children from reading and writing. The child must have control over their body before they can gain control over their head and body position. Integrating the reflex and working on core stability exercises provides kids with opportunities to gain that control so they can focus on learning instead of worrying about their body.

Landau Reflex

The Landau Reflex contributes to the development of posture and muscle tone. If the Landau reflex is retained, the child may struggle to lift the head and chest to maintain postural control.

This reflex also supports the performance of other reflexes like the STNR and TLR. If all three of these reflexes are retained, the child may display clumsiness or awkwardness in the lower body. As a result, the child may experience stiff or jerky movements. The child may also show weakness in activities like jumping, hopping and skipping because of poor muscle tone that stems from a retained Landau reflex.

TLR Reflex

When it comes to a retained Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex (TLR), both muscle tone and proprioception are affected by retention. The TLR reflex influences the distribution of muscle tone throughout the body. If the TLR reflex is not integrated at the correct time, the following could be thrown off balance:

  • Core Muscle
  • Coordination
  • Head and shoulder movement
  • Sensory integration

Like the Landau reflex, retention of a TLR reflex can cause floppy muscle tone as well as jerky and stiff movements of the body. Children with a retained TLR reflex often sit in the W-position as a way of compensating for poor core stability.  

ATNR Reflex

The Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR) stimulates movement of the limbs, which helps develop muscle tone. As an infant, a baby continues to develop their muscle tone and core stability through tummy time and crawling. If a child does not establish much-needed core strengthen as a baby, they may be susceptible to a retained ATNR reflex as they grow older.

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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