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Dr. Nageena Akhtar at work

What is the Hands-Pulling Reflex?

  • By Nageena


The Hands Pulling Reflex is activated when you hold an infant by the forearms near the wrists and pull him towards you into a sitting position.
The baby should respond by bending the arms to get up.  The neck should be strong enough to bring the head of the baby up without the head lagging back.
Research in the October 2012 issue of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy indicates that weak head and neck control at six months where the head lags may be another sign of increased risk for children with autism.

Some symptoms of a retained Hands Pulling Reflex

  • Poor handwriting
  • Poor fine motor skills, like drawing, writing, knitting, playing musical instruments
  • Problems bringing arms to midline (catching balls)
  • May have problems keeping arms bent which can affect throwing an object like a baseball or switching objects from one hand to another easily
  • Difficulty with reading, writing, listening and comprehension; dyslexia
  • Arms may be constantly bent and the hands may have a tendency to remain clutched
  • In autistic children, waving or flapping the forearms can be a common behaviour