The Asymmetric Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR) also known as the 'Fencer Reflex', trains the baby’s eyes to focus on the extended hand, taking focus away from the body. It also helps the baby prepare for future transitional movements like rolling over from back to front and vice versa. The ATNR reflex is thought to be involved in the birthing process and is reinforced by a natural delivery, if the reflex is weak in the uterus the baby can become stuck in the birth canal.

If it is not integrated the child will struggle to walk normally when turning their head. They may also struggle with any activity that requires movement of the head, such as reading, writing, and looking at a whiteboard and back. When turning the head to look at a page the hand wants to straighten and the fingers open. It takes a lot of effort to override this response and hold on to a pen or pencil. Language skills sit in both hemispheres of the brain, the left side is where the words and language reside, but the right side is where the creativity sits. Integrating this reflex enables both hemispheres of the brain to connect and communicate effectively.

The response is usually inhibited by 6 months of age.

Signs of retention

ADD, ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia
Problems with vision
Visual perception difficulties such as mixing up 'd' and 'b'
Problems with hand-eye coordination
Poor handwriting
Poor cognitive processing
Poor creative writing, expression of thoughts on to paper
Maths, spelling, language, handwriting and reading challenges
Confusion with right and left, so mixed dominance of eye, ear, foot, and hand
Awkward gait, walk, arm swing
Difficulty when playing a sport, catching and throwing
Poor balance
Difficulty crossing the mid-line and passing objects from one side of the body to the other.
Performs tasks on one side at a time
Difficulty marching on the spot, right and left
Difficulty with counter balance such as skipping


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