Symmetric Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR)
The Symmetric Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR) occurs naturally in the normal development of children, if this reflex stays at an immature level, it can greatly interfere with specific and general coordination tasks. The STNR will stay at an immature level if the child does not crawl enough or properly in infancy. Individuals with an immature STNR will be extremely uncomfortable in what is generally considered the “proper” sitting position: sitting up straight and sitting still
There are many children and adults, at least 10% of the total population, who cannot seem to sit still comfortably for more than a few minutes. They are often classified as ADD or ADHD. The mechanical aspect of writing, just getting the words down on paper, becomes an incredibly difficult task. Many of these difficulties can be traced to an immature Symmetric Tonic Neck Reflex.
STNR children will get up and down from their chairs when they write or will just try to stand up while they are writing. STNR children who are tall enough will often assume the “slouched” position, with legs stretched out in front. Children in this position are considered by many teachers to be “lazy” or “disrespectful,” or “unable to do your work sitting like that.” What many teachers do not realize is that these positions are actually comfortable to the STNR child because the child’s arms and head are not fighting with the position of the legs.
When not allowed to stand or sit in a slouched position, STNR children may frequently become “foot sitters,” sitting in the chair with feet and legs tucked under the body in order to keep the legs bent while the arms and neck are bent in reading or writing activities. Another favorite posture is the hooking of the feet around the legs of the chair to help hold the legs in position while the arms and neck are bent.
Causes of STNR:
The incidence of an immature STNR is increasing in recent years because many babies are being kept on their backs to sleep to help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), but then they are not being put on their tummies when they are awake. If they are never on their tummies, they are never going to crawl. If they don't crawl for at least 6 months and crawl properly, the STNR will remain at an interfering or immature level.