Why Reflex Integration?

October 1st, 2015

Webster defines foundation as a basis upon which something stands or is supported.

This is exactly what reflexes do for us. They provide the foundation upon which physical, cognitive and emotional growth can happen.

The following is an article written by Dr. Leah Light, Audiologist and NeuroDevelopmental Specialist, titled, “Retained Primitive Reflexes May Be the Culprit for Learning Disabilities.”

“Learning begins before birth. Ultrasound technology has enabled us to see a developing fetus moving in patterns that will be intertwined with their neurological development throughout life. Primitive reflexes, as they are called, shape our earliest form of self-knowledge, the knowledge of our relation in space, time, movement, resistance, fear, comfort, and pleasure. They are essential for a baby’s survival in the first few weeks of life and serve to provide protection and sustenance. They also form the foundation upon which thinking, reasoning, and problem solving skills are based. Within the first year of an infant’s life, primitive reflexes become integrated. This means that the lower brain structures have now connected with the higher level of the brain, the cortex, where awareness and understanding take place. When the primitive reflexes remain active beyond the first year of life, they are considered to be evidence of a structural weakness or immaturity within the Central Nervous System (Goddard, 2005).

Each reflex plays an integral role in setting the stage for later functioning. As a child develops deliberate, more controlled movements, the primitive reflexes become inhibited or integrated. The child no longer moves in a stimulusdriven, reactive or protective manner, but can now initiate more purposeful, goal-directed behaviors. As the reflexes become integrated, lower level sensory and motor brain areas connect with higher level cortical areas that are responsible for attending to signals, fine tuning, interpreting, and developing a plan of action based upon this information. Hence, retained primitive reflexes can lead to faulty brain connections, resulting in impaired learning, frustration, anxiety issues, and behavioral outbursts.

Retained primitive reflexes result in a waste of time and energy with the child developing compensatory movements around the reflex. A child with a retained Moro or startle reflex, for example, may present with clumsiness and show an overreaction to certain stimuli, such as covering their ears whenever loud sounds are present. When the Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex (TLR) persists, the child will have trouble sitting, often resorting to standing while eating or using strange body postures to keep from falling out of a chair, such as hooking their feet around the chair legs. Furthermore, when the TLR is not integrated, the Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR) will remain locked in the system, in an attempt to override the TLR, which may prevent appropriate crawling on hands and knees, a critical milestone for developing neural connections between the visual, vestibular and proprioceptive systems. A retained Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR) will contribute to a child’s difficulty establishing hand dominance, crossing midline, tracking eyes horizontally for reading, learning to write, playing sports, and a multitude of other skills. These are only a few of the developmental consequences that can result from poorly integrated primitive reflexes and affect performance in school as well as on the playing field.

What causes primitive reflexes to persist beyond the first year of life? The possibilities are many, including prematurity, trauma, sensory and/or motor deprivation, illness, etc. The important thing to recognize is that when a cluster of retained primitive reflexes persists beyond the first year of life, a developmental delay results, leading to impaired learning, social, and academic skills. The good news is that primitive reflexes can be retrained using specific movement techniques provided by professionals with special training in this area. Parents can also learn these simple techniques to use with their children on a daily basis for faster results. The activities take only minutes per day and are enjoyable and easy to do. The results can lead to happier, better coordinated, more organized and able to learn youngsters who are prepared for future growth and development.” http://www.brainchildinstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/primitive-reflexes-article.pdf

Deana is a core-specialist in training with the Masgutova Method of Reflex Integration.

Completed Coursework: Dynamic & Postural (3 times), Tactile Integration, Archetype, Oral Facial 1, Auditory/Visual, Neurostructural, Proprioceptive/Cognitive. 30 hours of family conference observations.