girl reading a book

Improving Reading Comprehension in Kids

Many kids struggle with reading comprehension, and parents often have a tough time finding a solution to help them. Most often, kids that have a reading comprehension problem have above average intelligence, but it’s an issue within their nerve system that’s at the root of the problem.

Every child who has come into my office that has a reading comprehension problem, an eye tracking problem, or a combination of the two, has what is called an Asymmetric Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR). It’s a primitive reflex, and its initial role is to provide feedback to the brain for the first 6-12 month of life. It’s the training wheels for your brain while everything is coming online, and once it has done its job, it’s supposed to go away. What happens is some kids retain it and hold onto it. It it is an inefficient thing to have once you’re past that first year of life, and it slows down your ability to do complex things like reading, writing, critical thinking, etc.

When you retain this reflex, you have difficulty “crossing the midline.” Your eyes track from left to right and they should do so smoothly when reading. When you have an ATNR, every time you reach the midpoint of crossing from left to right, your eyes will make a slight jump. They might jump up a line, down a line, jump forward, or backwards. This is something you don’t consciously notice you’re doing, but as you can imagine, it makes reading comprehension a very tough task.

Step 1: How do you test to see if your child still has this retained primitive reflex? We do primitive reflex assessments in the office or you can even search online for a simple tool to help test for it.

Step 2: What do I do if my child does have this reflex? Once again, you can look up “ATNR remediation exercises” online. This can take up to 12 months to successfully remove the reflex. We can speed up the process by giving adjustments that specifically target the weak hemisphere of your child’s brain. From my experience, when combining specific chiropractic and at-home primitive reflex exercises, these reflexes remediate in one or two months time.

If you’d like to schedule an initial primitive reflex assessment and nerve system testing call our office at 402.504.4676. We’d be happy to answer any of your questions on the phone or over email:

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