A newborn baby will grasp your finger and hang on for dear life when you stroke the palm of their hand. This reflex helps them to grip and hang on to things. This response should disappear around the age of 3-6 months. Gradually, during normal development, the hand opens up slowly separating the fingers until the infant is able to pick things up with their thumb and first finger and eventually feed themselves. If this reflex isn't integrated it can cause problems with fine motor skills so you may notice your child can’t grasp their pencil correctly, they grip their pencil too hard, they have poor handwriting as they still use a fist position to write, whether this is a closed fist between the knuckle and first finger or they struggle with directionality. A retained palmar reflex can also cause speech and articulation problems such as lisps, this is because the reflex is connected to the mouth. If retained when using their hands they can open and close their mouths or stick out their tongues when performing fine movements such as writing or cutting with scissors.

Signs of retention

Sensitive palms
Poor fine motor control
Poor manual dexterity
Messy handwriting and poor pencil grip
Struggles to fasten buttons
Sticks tongue out when concentrating
Speech and language problems such as stuttering and lisp
Struggles to put thoughts on paper
Anger control challenges
Back aches when sitting


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