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Tag: dysgraphia

Reflex

Primitive Reflexes

Primative Reflexes- The Good, The Bad, The Better!

Have you ever tripped and simultaneously reached out your hands to stop the fall? That is your primitive reflexes at work! They are essential as the first line of defense to protect ourselves but they can also be detrimental to our development.

What are primitive reflexes? 

Primitive reflexes are involuntary motor responses present at infancy that facilitate survival. Pediatricians check these reflexes at wellness visits to ensure the nervous system is working properly. It is important that these reflexes are present but it is just as important that these reflexes mature or integrate in early childhood. 

The Good: 

REFLEX

GOOD

Moro Reflex

The startle reflex

A fear response to sudden movements or noise
Hands PullingHead control reflex and the ability to contract our muscles to sit up
Hands SupportingOur falling reflex. Ability to reach out and catch yourself.
Tonic Labyrinthine (TLR)Develops balance and spatial awareness
STNRHead, limbs and balance system connection
Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR):  Differentiates our left and right side.
Spinal GalantConnects the trunk and lower body
AmphibianActivates nerves between both hemispheres of the brain
Babinski:Supports mature walking and balance
BabkinTongue and mouth coordination for eating and speaking
PlantarProtective response to provide stability
PalmarAdvances fine motor movements of fingers.
Landau Promotes ability to control head in tummy time

Why do reflexes need to integrate?

We unconsciously use these reflexes everyday, but what happens when we are unable to consciously control them? That’s what happens when reflexes don’t integrate. It’s like being in a self driving car and not being able to take control of the wheel, which can be very scary. Sometimes our reflexes do not mature because of abnormal movement patterns in utero or infancy, neurological deficits, or just unknown reasons. These primitive neuro connections are powerful and can inhibit our ability to voluntarily control our body and mind if they are retained.

How do reflexes affect development?

A retained reflex can present in strange ways causing possible behavioral, emotional, sensory and physical deficts. Not all reflexes present the same way in every person but they do have common patterns. The infant’s movements work together in sequence during development. If one reflex does not integrate it can cause others to also be retained. It is not uncommon to see two, three, or almost all the reflexes present during a primitive reflex evaluation. The following are common traits you might see if reflexes are retained.   

The Bad- Unintegrated Primative Reflexes

REFLEX

GOOD

BAD

Moro Reflex

The startle reflex

A fear response to sudden movements or noise
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Insecure
  • Sensitive to light
  • Sound and/or touch
  • Emotional
  • Common in toe walkers 
Hands PullingHead control reflex and the ability to contract our muscles to sit up
  • Poor muscle tone
  • Poor hand, eye, and mouth coordination
  • Delayed gross and fine motor movements 
Hands SupportingOur falling reflex. Ability to reach out and catch yourself.
  • Clumsy
  • Poor personal boundaries
  • Aggressive
  • Avoids interactions
  • Difficulty processing information
Tonic Labyrinthine (TLR)Develops balance and spatial awareness
  • Motion sickness
  • Poor sense of time and organizational skills
  • Coordination difficulty
  • Spatial and balance problem
STNRHead, limbs and balance system connection
  • Crawling difficulty
  • Low muscle tone
  • Slumps while seated
  • Difficulty copying tasks
  • Poor attention
  • W sits 
Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR):  Differentiates our left and right side.
  • Challenged with crossing midline
  • Difficulty catching
  • Focus and memory difficulty
  • Auditory challenges
  • Dyslexia
Spinal GalantConnects the trunk and lower body
  • Postural deficits
  • Hip rotation effecting gait
  • Hyperactive
  • Fatigues with cognitive functions
  • Bed wetting
AmphibianActivates nerves between both hemispheres of the brain
  • Rigid movements
  • Limited stride length
  • Poor coordination
  • No rotational movement
  • No hand dominance
Babinski:Supports mature walking and balance
  • Tripping
  • Stabilizes with tongue
  • Oral motor and articulation deficits
  • Flat feet
  • Walks on toes or sides of feet 
BabkinTongue and mouth coordination for eating and speaking
  • Open mouth posture
  • Poor mouth coordination
  • Lacks facial expression
  • Speech delay
  • Sensory chewer 
PlantarProtective response to provide stability
  • Grasping hands
  • Poor running/jumping
  • One sided crawl
  • Standing delay
  • Fight/flight response to loss of balance.
PalmarAdvances fine motor movements of fingers. 
Landau Promotes ability to control head in tummy time
  • Poor posture
  • Clumsy
  • High tone in legs
  • Visual challenges
  • Depression and fears
  • Poor focus and balance

 

The Better: 

It is extremely common to have one or more reflexes present and you might even identify some of these traits in yourself. That does not mean it needs to be treated unless the reflex is so dominant that it interferes with the ability to learn, be safe and thrive. Reflex therapy helps to identify and create an individualized reflex exercise program to promote integration. The brain responds by taking the wheel and improves control over it’s own mind and body. Now that’s better!

 

If you think your child may have primitive reflexes present we can help! Free primitive reflex screenings are available via Zoom or in person at our Orland Park or Naperville/Aurora locations.