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All individuals begin life reacting to environmental stimuli with primitive reflexes. These natural reflexes develop and respond to sights, sounds, movements, and human needs. The reflexes repeat themselves until they are “integrated” into the body and replace with more developed postural reflexes. In a recent study of preschool aged children, over 65% of typically developing children (no diagnosis or learning challenges noted) had more than one reflex unintegrated. There are various types of primitive reflexes that may contribute to heightened sensory sensitivities associated with Sensory Processing Disorder, including Moro reflex, Fear Paralysis, Palmar or grasp reflex, Spinal Galant, and more.
The Moro reflex is a fight-or-flight reaction where you will see a child flee out of fear, eyes become wide and pupils dilated, or they freeze. Fear Paralysis is seen in children with extreme anxiety, fear of being around others, and extreme shyness.
The Palmar reflex enables the child to grasp objects, and Spinal Galant is related to fidgeting, squirmy, “can’t sit still” type of behavior.
When primitive reflex integration does not fully occur during the first one to two years of life, reflexes remain intact. The can adversely impact the development of the child’s response patterns, delay postural reflex development (balance, coordination, cross body movement), and contribute to sensory sensitivities and/or sensory processing disorder.
Some signs may include sensory overload, hyper sensitivity, fine motor skill challenges, and hyper reactivity. This adversely impacts individuals with sensory processing disorder and how they react to different situations, such as the sound of loud laughter or multiple conversations happening at the same time.
While retained primitive reflexes can influence sensory processing disorder, it’s not impossible to manage or treat. Brain Connex Therapy helps fix the cause of the problem, which is the brain being underdeveloped, rather than just the symptoms. In this way our treatment is able to create real, lasting change. Children with neurological disorders sometimes need additional stimulation to help integrate these primitive reflexes, which then allows healthy development to continue moving forward. Our program incorporates exercises like primitive reflex integration exercises specific to your child’s unique needs based on a comprehensive assessment conducted at the onset of enrollment. We are currently seeing clients in person at the Sensory Lab in Flagstaff AZ, and virtually around the world.