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Why Kids Experience Body and Spatial Awareness Disorientation with Retained Primitive Reflexes |

Why Kids Experience Body and Spatial Awareness Disorientation with Retained Primitive Reflexes

This article provides information about how retained Primitive Reflexes cause body and spatial awareness problems in kids. 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.

Before we dive into how retained Primitive Reflexes can impact a child’s body and spatial awareness, let’s talk about the importance of each.

Body Awareness

Children with a good sense of body awareness are aware of where their body is in space. They have good balance and they understand boundaries when talking with friends and family. If body awareness is impaired, you may notice the following signs:

  • Move awkwardly
  • Avoids physical activity
  • Can’t mimic movement (like looking in a mirror)
  • Does not like to be in the dark
  • Prefers small spaces
  • Gives strong bear hugs
  • Is considered a “close talker” with peers

Body awareness activities can be done with the child to improve these areas of development.

Spatial Awareness

Spatial awareness is the distance between the child and the objects within their environment. Kids who haven’t developed spatial awareness may struggle to follow directions or copying words from the chalkboard onto paper. If a child has trouble with spatial awareness, you may notice the following signs:

  • Runs or bumps into furniture, walls, other students
  • Has trouble spacing letters, words and paragraphs
  • Has trouble with letter directionality
  • Struggles socializing with other students (not sure how close or how far to stand in front of other kids)

Use spatial awareness activities in a child’s routine to help build their processing and attention skills.

Retained Primitive Reflexes and Body / Spatial Awareness

If a child has trouble with body awareness or spatial awareness, it’s good to check for retained Primitive Reflexes that may also be contributing to the problem. There are two main reflexes responsible for causing delays in body and spatial awareness. Research continues to show delays in spatial and body awareness when reflexes are retained. If children have trouble in any of these areas, testing and exercises for retained reflexes may be needed.

TLR Reflex

The TLR reflex develops symmetrical positioning of the limbs and gross motor coordination. If a child has a retained TLR, they often have trouble with coordination and spatial judgement. With a retained TLR, you will notice delays in body awareness, spatial awareness, balance, muscle tone and other motor skills.

Kids with a retained TLR may find it challenging to judge direction, distance, velocity and spatial orientation. They may not understand where they are in relation to objects or other people.

Children with a retained TLR also experience problems with control of eye movements needed for reading, writing, copying notes, math and spatial skills. This is where you will find kids reversing letters and numbers. Or, they may space letters and words too close or too far apart when they write. Visual disorientation is a common issue with a retained TLR reflex. It makes it hard for kids to understand spaces between words, paragraphs and sentences. This happens because spatial awareness and the ability to carry out cognitive operations in space depends on having a secure physical reference point in space.

A retained TLR reflex may also cause dizziness, motion sickness and even vertigo in children. As a result, you may find the child has trouble walking over uneven ground or going up and down stairs. The child may not be able to judge the space between each step or how their body is in relation to the ground beneath their feet.

ATNR Reflex

A retained ATNR reflex is another reflex that may cause problems with body and spatial awareness. When the ATNR is retained, the foundational development of the child may be disrupted by delays in movement, coordination, balance and cognition.

Children with a retained ATNR often appear clumsy, especially when participating in sports like swimming. If a child struggled as a baby with crawling or walking, it could be a sign of a retained ATNR reflex.

Kids who have a retained ATNR reflex are easily confused with directions and have a hard time distinguishing between left and right. This is one of the reasons why children may struggle to complete tasks and follow directions at home and in school. The child may also experience mixed laterality and have trouble choosing a dominant hand, leg or ear needed for reading and writing development.

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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