Dysgraphia and Palmar Reflex

Dysgraphia and Palmar Reflex


Exploring Dysgraphia

What is dysgraphia? How is it different from dyslexia? While dyslexia is focused more on a child’s reading, dysgraphia is more centered around a child’s handwriting. Children with dysgraphia struggle to translate their thoughts into written form, often becoming apparent in early schooling. While scientists aren’t completely sure what causes dysgraphia, it is clear that there is a link between children who have retained Palmar Reflex and children who develop dysgraphia. The child’s struggles to properly grasp a pencil and use their fine motor skills lends to their struggles with writing, spelling and even with their typing. 

Understanding the Palmar Reflex

The palmar reflex, otherwise known as the grasp reflex, is a primitive reflex we see in infants. It is activated when touched or stroked on the palm of their hand. This primitive reflex emerges in the third month of gestation and typically integrates when a baby is between 3 to 6 months in age. However, when this reflex persists beyond 6 months, it can lead to various challenges including:

  • Reduced dexterity
  • Impaired fine motor control
  • Poor hand-eye coordination

These issues can weaken a child’s ability to grasp and control their pencil. It hinders dexterity in their hands and affects handwriting. 

Identifying and Testing for Retained Palmar Reflex

         Now that we know what dysgraphia and retained palmar reflex are, what now? How do we determine if our child exhibits a retained palmar reflex? While testing for dysgraphia can be difficult at times, there is a quick and simple test to show if your child may have retained palmar reflex. 

1. Ask your child to extend their arms in front of them, keeping their arms straight and their palms facing up, fingers spread.

2. Using a gentle motion, stroke along the line in their palm that extends from the base of the thumb across to the wrist—this is known as the life line.

3. Repeat this stroking motion three times on each hand.

4. Look for any involuntary twitches in the fingers or bending of the elbows during the process.

If either hand or elbow shows movement, the reflex is most likely present. For more info on testing check out our free assessment guide

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