Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR)

This reflex assists the child in getting up on his hands and knees and eventually crawling using a cross lateral movement pattern.  The STNR becomes integrated when the infant kneels on all fours and begins to rock back and forth.  This final rocking pattern needs to be smooth, easy and rhythmical in order for the infant to be able to crawl well.

The STNR is another very important reflex for academic success in school.  A child may have difficulty maintaining certain postural positions if the STNR is not integrated.  The upper and lower parts of the body will remain at odds with each other.   This is most notable when the child sits at a desk or table and is asked to read or write.  When the child looks down, the arms bend causing the child to lay their head on the table instead of maintaining an upright reading or writing posture.  The STNR is not only important for overall posture and muscle tone of the back and neck, but is also important for training vision, especially near and far visual focus.

Some symptoms of a nonintegrated Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR)

  • Problems crawling
  • When reading or writing often supports head with hand or ends up slumped and lying over the table or book.  May prefer to read or write while standing.
  • In order to sit upright in a chair, a child sits on his legs or wraps them around the legs of the chair.  If he has to sit on the floor, he will often sit with his legs in a “W” position.
  • Attention and focus difficulty; trouble staying on task; squirming or fidgeting
  • Vision difficulty; focusing at far and near distances
  • Poor cooperation between the upper and lower body (e.g. somersaults, swimming butterfly and breaststroke); often clumsy; weak upper arms

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