Primitive Reflexes


Primitive Reflexes



Tonic Neck




To rotate down the birth canal during labour


When the head is turned to one side the arm and leg on that side extend and the arm and leg on the other side bend up.


 prevents crawling

 movement of head to side results in straightening of limbs on that side - affects balance (kicking, throwing etc) robotic walk

 difficulty crossing the midline (invisible barrier) – hesitancy at the midline when following a horizontal line in front of the eyes preventing reading fluency

 unable to establish dominant hand, eye, ear

 vision may be tethered to arm’s length

 affects writing - perpetual invisible pull - immature

Moro To start breathing when born

Danger alert pencil grip, excessive pressure, rotates page to 90 degrees, affects visual perceptual ability

Sharp intake of breath, then rapid breathing, increased heart rate, high colour.

Arms extend outwards then back

Loud cry

The Moro can be activated by a sudden and unexpected change in position, sound or vision.

 balance and co-ordination problems/car sickness/tense muscle control

 oculo-motor and visual perceptual problems - eyes drawn to perimeter of shape

 poor pupillary reaction to light - difficulty reading black print on white paper, tires easily in fluorescent light

 poor auditory discrimination

- difficulty shutting out background noise

 allergies - lowered immunity, frequent nose and throat infections

 poor stamina


Rooting and



From when babies had to cling to the mother for safety

Hand closes over thumb if palm lightly touched

Also activated when feeding.


Spinal Galant To aid the birth

Baby turns to find nipple or teat when side of mouth gently touched.

Hip and leg turn out when spine

 dislike of change, poor adaptability, difficulty accepting criticism

 continuous anxiety, low self esteem

 mood swings

 Fine motor control

 articulation

 difficulty eating solid foods

(tongue too far forward)

 articulation

 dribbling

 manual dexterity (Bapkin response)

 Fidgeting


Labyrinthine process and to stimulate the kidneys

Adjustment to gravity touched on the one side.

Head and arms adjust forwards/backwards when position altered in space.

 Poor bladder control, bed wetting

 Hip rotation when walking -

“limp” if on one side


 poor posture, stoop

 weak muscle tone

 poor sense balance (car sick), centre of balance


 visual perceptual difficulties

- eyes play tricks, difficulty with figure/ground, near/far, fear of heights


 poor posture, walks on toes

 poor balance and co-


Tonic Neck


Prepare for crawling


Bottom down/head up

Vice Versa ordination (car sick)

 stiff, jerky movements

 Visual perceptual difficulties

 poor spatial awareness

 problems with sequencing

 poor organizational skills

 difficulty locating sound

 crawling may be inhibited as movement (important for developing postural reflexes)

 poor posture - slumps at desk

 ape like walk

 W leg position on floor

 poor hand/eye co-ordination

- clumsy, messy eater

 difficulty with visual adjustment e.g. board to desk

 slow at copying

 poor at swimming