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A reflex is an automatic, instinctual movement or combination of movements in response to a stimulus. Many reflexes are developed in the womb and present at birth. The reflex is stimulated through movement providing the baby critical growth and development of brain and nerve networks, muscles, balance, and sensory systems.
An integrated primitive reflex is one that has completed its function and is no longer triggered by its original stimulus. Once integrated, our reflexes mature into postural reflexes that help keep us upright and remain with us throughout our lives. Primitive reflexes remain unintegrated when they are not fully stimulated throughout infant hood, when trauma or toxins enter the body, or when the child isn’t capable of performing specific movements as a baby due to low tone, developmental delay or other muscle impairments.
Unintegrated reflexes can cause stress and adversely affect neuromuscular coordination, sensory perception, visual function, emotions, memory, and reading & learning.
Primitive reflexes are the first foundations of the nervous system. They create a foundation that allows motor patterns to develop and the sensory systems to integrate. This in turns allows the child to be most efficient with higher-level cognitive skills. With unintegrated reflexes a child must bring cortical attention to how their body moves in space, which takes away from their ability to pay attention & focus during school tasks. Unintegrated reflexes also play a part in keeping a child in “fight or fight” which causes stress to the body and is one contributing factor in sensory processing disorders.
Incomplete integration of primitive reflexes can result in:
- Speech delay
- Hearing problems
- Auditory processing disorder
- Behavioral challenges
- Developmental delay
- Learning disorders
- Extreme shyness and self-consciousness
- Lack of confidence
- Sensory processing disorder
- Vision problems
The most recent research in neurological treatment is demonstrating ways in which we can re-establish development where it was disrupted in infancy. Many innovative approaches include integrating primitive reflexes, balancing the two brain hemispheres, using movements in a rhythm, and working with timing & body movements. These techniques help stimulate the growth and myelination of neuro-sensory-motor brain pathways, to help mature the brain and sensory systems; improve balance, emotional regulation, coordination, strength, speech, and cognitive skills.
Our Brain Hemispheric Integration Program provides education in all of the above techniques to help integrate reflexes, balance the brain, and promote neurological growth.
For more information on how unintegrated reflexes can affect learning and motor skills, see the following research articles….
- REFLEXES & ADHD
- “Results indicated that, in general, boys diagnosed ADHD had significantly higher levels of reflex retention than non-diagnosed boys. There was a significant correlation between retentions of Moro, ATNR, STNR, and TLR and ADHD symptomatology & math achievement.
- REFLEX INTEGRATION & ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE
- “ATNR persistence was significantly associated with level of attainments in reading, spelling and math. Movement intervention had a significant impact on reducing the levels of ATNR persistence in children and was associated with significant improvements in reading & math.”
- REFLEXES & READING PERFORMANCE
- “Multiple analyses revealed that persistence of the ATNR was significantly predictive of attainments in reading. The findings suggest that for many children in school, the attainment of core education skills may be affected by the persistence of the reflex system that should be inhibited.”
- INTERVENTION & FINE MOTOR SKILLS
- “The results from this study provide evidence that the primary movement program (including primitive reflex integration) had a significant effect on improving the fine motor skills of the children.”
- REFLEX INTEGRATION and VISION
- “In many cases, vision therapy was not required after the reflexes had matured. In those cases where residual oculo-motor problems remained, the time needed on a vision therapy program was halved. She found improvements in oculomotor functioning and reading skills as persistent reflexes were corrected. Oculo-motor defects continued to persist in the control group, who had not received specific motor-training exercises.”
- “There were significant associations between the saccadic eye movement parameters and the primitive reflexes, especially as related to STNR and TLR, in those children with reading problems.”