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Retained Primitive Reflexes and Hand-eye Coordination Delays |

Retained Primitive Reflexes and Hand-eye Coordination Delays

This article provides helpful information about how retained Primitive Reflexes can cause hand-eye coordination delays. 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.

Hand-eye coordination is one of the most essential motor skills needed for a child to have good handwriting skills. The child must establish a dominant hand for writing and a supporting hand for holding the paper while the child writes.

What many people don’t realize is the development of hand-eye coordination begins when the child is a baby. Certain milestones, like crawling, aids in hand-eye coordination development as well as reflex integration. As a baby learns to crawl, their eyes will learn to focus as they use their arms, legs and hands to creep across the floor. This same distance is what the child will eventually use for reading and writing.

Hand-eye Coordination and Reflex Integration

If a child has not integrated certain Primitive Reflexes as a baby or as they grow, you may begin to notice trouble with hand-eye coordination as well as other areas of development. Handwriting and spelling are profoundly affected by retained Primitive Reflexes. As a result, you may notice the following signs:

  • Trouble with coordination
  • Poor spatial awareness
  • Poor body image and body awareness
  • Impaired hand-eye coordination

All of these areas of development are important for tracking words across the page, spacing letters and numbers, and using writing tools to write on paper. Kids who have one or more retained Primitive Reflexes also struggle with sports that require hand-eye coordination. Baseball, soccer, kickball and basketball are examples.

When working with schools and therapists, students should be tested for any retained Primitive Reflexes that may be causing delays, especially when it comes to hand-eye coordination.

The Primitive Reflexes most commonly retained when a child struggles with reading, writing and hand-eye coordination are as follows:

ATNR Reflex

The ATNR Reflex provides a mechanism for training early hand-eye coordination and has a profound impact on visual tracking. It is the reflex that is the most important for development of hand-eye coordination and binocular vision. In fact, studies show 50 percent of children with a retained ATNR reflex also struggle with Dyslexia.

When a baby is developing their visual system, the ATNR is the reflex that ensures the arm stretches out on the same side when the head is turned.

Because the head and eyes follow the extending hand, it makes sense that the ATNR is the reflex that supports the development of hand-eye coordination.

At four to six months, a baby is already beginning to develop hand-eye coordination. During this time period, if the ATNR is retained, it will most likely interfere with the development of hand-eye coordination as well as other critical motor skills.

TLR Reflex

If the TLR reflex is retained in school-aged children, it can prevent children from reading and writing. A retained TLR reflex may directly cause problems with eye tracking and hand-eye coordination.

The TLR reflex is responsible for more advanced postural reactions. When retained, the TLR prevents those postural reactions from helping head position when the body moves. As a result, these head righting positions that help balance and coordination of the body will not support and stabilize the control of eye movements. Eye movements may appear jittery and can prevent kids from using their eyes and hands together.

If the TLR is retained past the age of three, parents and teachers will begin to see more problems in the classroom with tracking and writing letters and words on the paper correctly.

STNR Reflex

Children who have a retained STNR Reflex often struggle with eye movements. A retained STNR reflex can affect hand-eye coordination skills like those needed to bring the hand to the mouth when eating. Kids with a retained STNR are often messy eaters and find it difficult to use a fork, spoon or cup without spilling the contents on the way.

The STNR reflex is also linked to problems with vertical tracking. If the child appears to be clumsy with coordinating hand and eye movements or lacks visual development, it can be a sign of a retained STNR reflex. These types of kids often avoid sports and physical education classes when it forces them to use some type of hand-eye coordination.

Head-righting Reflex

The ocular head-righting reflex responds to visual information and functions when the eyes are open. It stabilizes the head and allows the eyes to stay fixed on a target despite the movement of the body. If the head-righting reflex is retained, kids may find it hard to shift their gaze without moving their head. This causes trouble when the child is trying to read and write across the page.

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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