At HML we cannot emphasize enough the importance of checking for and making sure there are not any retained primitive reflexes (PRs) in all children. PRs are motor reflexes (a lot like a knee jerk reflex), however most of them involve more motor function than just a leg extending. Some PRs come on at the point of conception, and some come on when we are born and most of them need to be gone by the age of one. There are about 30 of them and 8-10 of them wreak havoc on development if they stay retained when they should not be present.
Motor function builds the brain. And PRs are the basis of motor function in the brain. If PRs are not properly integrated, it can contribute/cause lack of function and symptoms related to Childhood Neurodevelopmental Disorders such as Autism, ADHD and Dyslexia.
Think of development like a tree, and the roots of the tree are Primitive Reflexes. To develop a healthy brain, we need healthy roots! Retained PRs are also not just something to be concerned about in children with needs. They can be present in children that are neuro-typical, or have issues that parents, teachers and caregivers see in kids but are not quite diagnosable. For example, if a child is having issues with word decoding when reading but nothing else, there could be a retained Asymmetric Tonic Neck Reflex.
Primitive reflexes can also come back as adults! One common one that shows up after physical (or emotional) trauma is the Moro Reflex. The Moro Reflex, if found in adults is technically called the startle reflex. Either way, this reflex can be activated after trauma because the reflex is activated by sound, sight, and vestibular (inner ear system) activity. It gets triggered by sudden sounds, lights, or movement to bring attention to the person. When thinking about this, it’s a brilliant way to keep the person aware of their surroundings to prevent injury, or worse… The kicker with this is that if the person does not get appropriate care or therapy, it can stick around and this will turn into being easily agitated (due to sudden sounds/sights, etc.), and/or also can contribute to anxiety because the must benign and mundane sensory inputs like a child playing with a toy, or the TV on in the background can be too much to handle for these individuals.
To learn more about PRs check out our other page: https://hmlfunctionalcare.com/neuro-development-101/ also see our Facebook page on a video that Dr. Lauren did explaining them https://www.facebook.com/100532051555748/videos/1273531413028945 Lastly, check out our Instagram page, HML Functional Care and see our new video series on Primitive Reflexes.