“Reflex movements trigger neurological development affecting every aspect of life: vision and hearing, fine and gross motor coordination, memory, attention, communication and sense of well-being.” - Eve Kodiak
A reflex is an innate, automatic action: a response to a stimulus. The human body employs dozens of reflexes, and each has a specific job to do.
Some are lifelong reflexes, like sneezing, blinking at an object that’s come too close to your eye, or quickly pulling your hand away from a hot stove.
A KEY DEVELOPMENTAL PROCESS
Infant or childhood reflexes, however, are a patterning process for the nervous system, and profoundly influence developmental movements. Some reflexes are active starting in utero, and others continue through the infant and toddler years.
There are many primitive reflexes; each one is a vital part of the child’s neural development. The earliest primitive reflexes work to ensure safety of the fetus and infant through automatic, involuntary movements that assist in the birth process, allow a baby to nurse, and alert the caregiver as to its needs.
Later, primitive and postural reflexes help to “wire” the child ’s nervous system for fundamental skills like grasping, rolling, head control, eye-hand coordination, pushing up, sitting, crawling, and the postural stability and coordination needed for standing and walking.
PHYSICAL SKILLS SUPPORT COGNITIVE FUNCTIONS
These physical actions provide neural patterns that support cognitive functioning—like the ability to look with attention, focus on a task, or listen and comprehend—that develop into skills such as reading, writing, and working with mathematical concepts.
At this point, the child has access to an “alphabet of movement" patterns that are available for use at will. Reflexes set the stage for voluntary movement—and joyful, spontaneous, coordinated activities of all kinds.
Primitive reflexes develop along a fairly predictable timeline, as each one first emerges as a reaction to a specific stimulus; develops as this reaction is repeated again and again until the nervous system solidly embraces the intended patterning; and then integrates, so the nervous system is no longer triggered by the stimulus.
When a reflex doesn't complete its timeline, we call it "persistent,"
"unintegrated," or “retained.” A retained reflex can result in learning challenges, coordination issues, and the lack of emotional stability.
If you recognize any of the following symptoms in yourself or a loved one, they could be related to retained reflexes:
RESOLVING THESE CHALLENGES
In my work with children, teens and adults, I screen for specific childhood reflexes and use innovative methods to support them in fully maturing.
When retained reflexes are addressed in this way, my clients gain new, natural access to the physical and sensory skills that make learning enjoyable, emotional balance accessible, and executive function available.
Watching these reflex issues become resolved is one of the most rewarding aspects of the work I do. To see my clients settle naturally into their innate abilities serves as a powerful reminder that change is possible at any age.
"Movement gives us the opportunity to develop and use reflex patterns, which help promote the development of our neurological system. Movement is essential for reflex integration and our continued health and well-being." - Bonnie Brandes