Primary Reflexes and Your Child’s Development:
The Importance of Early Intervention
Learning begins before birth. Ultrasound technology has enabled us to see a developing fetus moving in patterns that will be intertwined with their neurological development throughout life. Primitive reflexes, as they are called, shape our earliest from of self-knowledge, the knowledge of our relation to space, time, movement, resistance, fear, comfort, and pleasure. They are essential for a baby’s survival in the first few weeks of life and serve to provide protection and sustenance. They also form the foundation upon which thinking, reasoning, and problem solving skills are based. Within the first year of a normally developing infant’s life, primitive reflexes become integrated. This means that the lower brain structures have now connected with the cortex, the higher level of the brain where awareness and understanding take place. Problems arise when primitive reflexes remain active beyond the first year of life and do not become integrated within the Central Nervous System (CNS).
Each reflex plays an integral role in setting the stage for later functioning. As a child develops deliberate, more controlled movements, the primitive reflex becomes integrated and incorporated. The child no longer moves in a stimulus-driven, reactive or protective manner, but can now initiate more purposeful, goal-directed behaviors. As the reflexes become integrated, lower level sensory and motor brain areas connect with higher level cortical areas that are responsible for attending to signals, fine tuning, interpreting, and developing a plan of action based upon this information. Hence, retained primitive reflexes can lead to faulty brain connections, resulting in impaired learning, frustration, anxiety issues and behavioral outbursts.
What causes primitive reflexes to persist beyond the first year of life? The possibilities are many, including prematurity, trauma, genetic factors, neuro-developmental disorders, sensory and/or motor deprivation and illness to name but a few. The important thing to recognize is that when a cluster of retained primitive reflexes persists beyond the first year of life, a development delay results, leading to impaired learning, social and academic skills. The good news is that retained primitive reflexes, through proper training, can become integrated within the CNS. One of the primary goals and outcomes of the BrainwoRx program is the successful integration of primitive reflexes into the CNS allowing for proper brain development.