Reflex Definitions

Reflex Definitions

Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR)

A residual/retained ATNR in the school-aged child can play a part in specific writing problems and interfere with hand-eye coordination. The ATNR creates an invisible vertical midline barrier within the body which can affect coordination in various ways; A right-handed child who has an ATNR will find it uncomfortable to write on the left side of the page; the eyes will not cross the midline easily and this can affect coordination, reading and writing. A residual ATNR is sometimes a factor in the child who can solve problems orally but who cannot produce the same result when asked to write them down.

Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR)

A residual/retained STNR has been linked to difficulties with upper and lower body integration and hand-eye coordination, both of which are needed for adequate performance in P.E. The STNR has also been linked to poor posture, ability to sit still and attention. The STNR is implicated in slow visual accommodation (speed of refocusing between different visual distances), which can affect speed and accuracy when copying or trying to catch a ball.

Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex (TLR)

A residual/retained TLR is significant because it influences muscle tone and can interfere with the development of later righting and equilibrium reactions which provide the basis for proprioceptive integration, coordination and the control of eye movements. Stable eye movements are essential in order to focus and maintain visual attention, for reading, writing and aligning columns correctly in maths.

The Spinal Galant Reflex

A link has been found between a retained Spinal Galant reflex and continued bedwetting above the age of 5 years in certain children. It is also associated with difficulty sitting still and paying attention.

The MORO reflex

The infant Moro reflex acts as a baby’s fight/flight reaction. It is normally inhibited at circa 4 months of post-natal life to be replaced by an adult “startle” reflex. The more mature startle reflex is characterized by a startle reaction followed by scanning of the environment to seek out the source of danger. If no danger is found, the child will ignore the stimulus and return to what it was doing.

The Moro reflex, on the other hand, sets off an instantaneous reaction to the stimulus before the conscious part of the brain has had time to assess the situation and direct an appropriate response. Children who still have a Moro reflex tend to be over-reactive to minor stimuli, exhibit immature behaviour and have difficulty filtering out unwanted sensory stimuli in a busy environment. This can result in “sensory overload” and have an effect on attention and behaviour.

Head Righting Reflexes

Head righting reflexes are linked to centres in the brain involved in the control of eye movements. Under-developed Head-Righting reflexes can interfere with the development of oculo-motor abilities necessary for reading, writing, copying and catching a ball.

Eye Control

Visual Tracking is necessary for the eyes to follow a line of print and send a smooth flow of sequential information to the brain. Problems with visual tracking frequently underlie specific reading problems.

Convergence is necessary for the two eyes to “fuse” the two separate images seen by each eye so that a single unified image is sent to the brain. Convergence at near distance is important for reading, writing, copying, aligning columns correctly in maths and activities such as catching a ball.

I feel smarter and more sociable; I no longer feel nervous going into the classroom anymore. I find it easier to keep my room neat and tidy. Before I would shove everything in together, now I put things in their proper place.

Jack, aged 11 (6 months into the programme)

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