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SPECIFIC TECHNIQUES&TIPS TO INTEGRATEPRIMITIVE REFLEXESCarolyn Blok, OTS
The Background: Why doesthis matter to my child? Primitive reflexes develop during gestation and infancy and usually become integrated by the central nervous system during the first few months of life. (Integrated means they no longer occur involuntarily.) Incomplete integration of primitive reflexes may be a contributing cause of ADD/ADHD, autism, learning challenges, developmental delay, sensory integration disorders, vision and hearing challenges, behavior challenges, extreme shyness, lack of confidence, addiction, and constant feelings of overwhelm.
The Theory Behind Integration As the central nervous system develops, reflexes are either integrated or transformed. If this does not occur, these reflexes will interfere with subsequent development and may be an indication of neurological damage. Integrating or transforming these reflexes allows for the child to ascend the “hierarchy” of neurological development relatively undisturbed. About 70 primitive reflexes have been discovered, but I have only included 5 important ones. The reader should be aware, however, that there are many different reflexes that can be integrated, and the reflexes that need to be integrated will be dependent on the individual child. Also, the reader should be aware that the exercises that are included are not necessarily the „exclusive‟ exercises for integration of these reflexes, but there are many variations and different exercises that may be effective at integrating these reflexes.
The Moro Reflex What it is? The Moro reflex is a normal reflex for an infant when he or she is startled or feels like they are falling. The infant will have a "startled" look and the arms will fling out sideways with the palms up and the thumbs flexed. How does this interfere with normal function if not integrated? Since the Moro Reflex is an alarm reflex of sorts if it is not integrated, it will become an uncontrollable overreaction over-riding developed higher brain function as well as conscious thoughts and decisions. It also over stimulates the „fight or flight‟ response leading to hypersensitivity to sensory stimulus. Exercises to Integrate the Moro Reflex http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rh9I1thxmdw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5OxpfFL_CI
The ATNR (Asymmetrical TonicNeck Reflex) What is it? The ATNR is elicited by a sideways turning of the head. The turning of the head will cause the arm and leg on the side that the head is turned to extend, while the limbs on the opposite side of the body will flex. How does this interfere with normal function if not integrated? If this persists, it will interfere with development of fine and gross motor skills especially those that are symmetrical and cross the midline. Exercises to Integrate ATNR http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qm9NfP4cx0M http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70viOJZti1s
The Symmetrical Tonic NeckReflex (STNR) What is it? When the head flexes, the arms flex and the legs extend. Conversely, when the head extends, the arms extend and the legs flex. How does this interfere with normal function if not integrated? Poor eye/hand coordination, difficulty with copying tasks, and poor balance. Exercises to Integrate STNR http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDfWFiEb8ik http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ktfq8ySodYg
The Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex What is it? Tilting the head back while lying on the back causes the back to stiffen and even arch backwards, the legs to straighten, stiffen, and push together, the toes to point, the arms to bend at the elbows and wrists, and the hands to become fisted or the fingers to curl. How does this interfere with normal function if not integrated? Slouched posture, low muscle tone, balance problems, dislike/avoidance of physical activity, and visual/perceptual difficulties Exercises to Integrate TLR https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xLGf-ijmMg http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krNwDklS_Ro
The Galant Reflex What is it? This reflex is elicited by touching the sides of the child‟s spine. Touching the side of the child‟s spine will cause the child to rotate their hip to the side that has been touched. How does this interfere with normal function if not integrated? If this reflex persists, it may cause bedwetting, fatigue, attention difficulties, difficulties with concentration, posture, coordination, short-term memory, as well as hyperactivity and difficulty sitting still. Exercises to Integrate the Galant reflex http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWB63IRddzQ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCW4tKcmdxE
Further Reading to Learn Moreabout the Primitive Reflexes andIntegration Prevalence of Persistent Primary Reflexes and Motor Problems in Children with Learning Difficulties by M. McPhillips and N. Sheehy Stopping ADHD by Nancy O‟Dell and Patricia Cook
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