The integration of primitive reflexes is an important part of my sessions with students, because the lack of integration is often closely related to ADD, ADHD, autism, learning disorders, sensor-integration disorders and much more. That’s why I’ve recently decided to re-enroll in an online class by Sonia Story, who is an expert on primitive reflexes and its integration through neurodevelopmental movement. You can learn more about her at www.moveplaythrive.com.
Today, I wanted to share with you some of Sonia’s expertise and several things that I’ve already learned from her. And since there is so much to cover, I’m going to be spreading it out into multiple blog posts!
1. Primitive reflexes grow in the womb and infancy, and are designed to become inactive after the toddler stage. A reflex is an automatic, instinctual movement that assists in development, growth and survival, such as sucking and grasping with the hand. Eventually, a primitive reflex merge into more sophisticated movements. Once the primitive reflex is integrated, then it is no longer active. And that’s a good thing!
2. Sometimes, primitive reflexes are left unintegrated. This can be caused by lack of proper movement such as no tummy time or too much usage of carriers and jumpers. Other factors can be stress caused during the pregnancy, illness or environmental toxins.
3. When primitive reflexes are unintegrated, it can trigger the “fight or flight” response, creating chronic stress. The child can also have difficulty moving body parts independently. For example, moving the head can automatically cause movements in the limbs, hands or feet. This can create difficulties with growth, coordination, reading, writing, speaking and even thinking.
4. What can we do then? According to Sonia, movement and play can help integrate the reflexes at any age. The brain is an amazing, flexible muscle that can be rewired and reworked. When a reflex is expressed repeatedly and fully used, then the reflex will become “finished” with their job, so the key is plenty of neurodevelopmental movement and play.
In my next blog post, I’ll be covering key primitive reflexes that need to be integrated, such as the Fear Paralysis Reflex, the Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex, Moro Reflex, Spinal Galant Reflex and the Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex. Stay tuned!