The Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex helps us perform cross body motions; connecting the right and left sides through midline. It is also important for visual tracking and binocular vision. Studies have shown ATNR is significantly associated with children having difficulty in reading, spelling, and math; including dyslexia.
Common symptoms of an unintegrated ATNR include:
- eye tracking difficulties
- hasn’t chosen dominant hand after 3 years old
- reading trouble; dyslexia
- trouble crossing the midline
- poor behavioral control
- difficulty following multiple step directions
- low muscle tone
- poor balance
To Test ATNR:
There are three variations available; perform the movement a few times to elicit an accurate response.
1) Have child stand upright with arms extended straight out in front of them, wrists relaxed. Close eyes. Tester will be behind the child and gently turn their head slowly to each side as far as they can; pause for 10 seconds with head turned, then return to midline and pause for 10 seconds, then turn the other direction pausing for 10 seconds. If the arms follow the movement or there is resistance in the neck, ATNR is retained.
2) Have child in an all four’s position (pictured) with head aligned with the spine. Tester will slowly & gently turn the child’s head to the side, holding at the end range for 15-20 seconds. If the elbows bend or stiffen, or neck is stiff; the ATNR is retained.
3) Have child lie supine with arms and legs by their side. Tester will gently turn head to one side and hold their for 15-20 seconds. Observe any reactions in the arms & legs. Return the head to midline and pause; then turn the head to the other side and hold for 15-20 seconds observing any reactions in the arms & legs. Repeat procedure 3-4 times.
If you notice any increased tone or movement in the side of the body the head turns towards ATNR is unintegrated; also inability to relax the neck muscles is a sign of retained ATNR.
If any of these sound like your child, there is a possibility they may need their Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex integrated in order to improve their function.
Contact us today to get your child started on a program to integrate their reflexes and improve their function.