Several of my clients have come to me, because they have difficulties with their handwriting and getting their ideas down on paper. I trained in teaching handwriting and know what it is like to try and help children who are struggling and see relatively little progress. Through learning about childhood reflexes, I have discovered that there is much more to learning to write, than just ‘practise makes perfect.’ If someone is finding learning to write, difficult, there is a reason.
There are three key reflexes in the hands, that we work with in RMTi:
Babkin Palmomental: a reflex that is found in the middle of the palm. If you press into the palm of the hand and there are sensations in the jaw, or mouth movements, then the Babkin Palmomental is retained. If it is retained, it makes it difficult for the fingers to move efficiently and to isolate movement and control for letter formation, to just the fingers. Usually the individual will struggle with the tri-point grip and hold their pen in a fashion where the whole hand is required to be involved in letter formation. If retained, it will also have an effect on speech development.
Palmar Grasp – is closely linked to the Babkin. It is found by pressing gently across the top of the palm, just below the fingers. If retained, the fingers will curl over, with the stimulation. The palm can be very sensitive to touch. It is also linked to the emotional ability to let go of things. If the fingers don’t understand that they can move independently of the rest of the hand and arm, it makes the process of writing, very tiring and effortful. Usually, the whole hand and arm will be engaged in the writing process and there’ll be a great deal of stress and tension, running up the arm, into the shoulder and neck.
Hands Pulling – This reflex is one that is assessed in new-born babies – You may have seen it on ‘Call the Midwife.’ When you hold a baby around the wrists and pull them up from laying on their backs – it triggers a reaction in the arms, so they bend slightly, to help assist with the transition of movement. The head and core engage in the movement, too. A retained Hands Pulling Reflex shows up in tension in the forearms, which makes the process of writing, really difficult. Assisting in the sitting up process, should be an automatic, effortless and unconscious response.
So how can RMT help?
I assess the retention of these reflexes, and recommend gentle exercises and games that help these reflexes to integrate. Hand massage is really effective, as well as clapping games, cat’s cradle and many other games, we used to play when we were children. Another activity that is really useful, is spending time in a playground, climbing on climbing frames, hanging from ‘monkey bars’ and so on. These help to build up strength and control, naturally.
We also work with the postural reflexes that are linked to the development of the hand reflexes – Asymmetric Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR), Symmetric Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR) and Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex (TLR) – and the results are remarkable.
Here is an example of how one client’s handwriting control changed in just three months. The first sample was from before he started with RMTi. The second sample was done one week after his first session, and the third sample was done two weeks after his second session. In all the years I spent teaching handwriting in school, I never saw results like this! All we had done was work on his postural reflexes and one simple hand massage. The icing on the cake, was receiving a four – page story, which he wrote for me, as a Christmas present. What a thrill – for someone who simply could not get his ideas down on paper, when we started. What a change!
Bottom line is, if your child finds things difficult to do, there is a reason. Find the reason, and work on that – and you’ll get results more quickly, more naturally, and with life changing results. Practise does not necessarily make perfect.