Primitive reflexes are present at birth and are key elements of human development. Many are essential to survival. They are the fundamental neurological building blocks for learned movement and have a profound influence on intellectual processes. They are specific, automatic movements that originate in the brain stem and are performed without conscious involvement. Each reflex lays the foundation for higher level motor and cognitive skills. Primary reflexes must eventually be integrated with intentional movements. They typically remain active until the age of 6-12 months. If a primitive reflex is not integrated by 12 months of age, there is an indication of immature central nervous system development.
Abnormal movement patterns develop in children where primary reflexes remain active. These unintegrated reflexes impede the development of intentional movements and motor skills. When muscles respond to an unconscious reflex instead of one's motor intention, it becomes confusing and hinders the learning of more advanced gross motor skills as well as self control, emotional stability and cognitive abilities.
Once primitive reflexes are integrated, postural reflexes can emerge. Postural reflexes are automatic reactions for the maintenance of balance, stability and flexibility throughout the body. When postural reflexes are absent or underdeveloped, an individual's balance, coordination, adaption, problem solving and ability to process information coming in from multiple sensory systems may be effected. Decreased postural reflexes are associated with disorders such as dyspraxia, apraxia, developmental coordination disorder, among others.
Reflex Integration is a treatment procedure involving natural, non invasive movements designed to further the maturation and coordination of primitive reflex patterns. The techniques can easily be taught to parents and caregivers so they can continue the process at home.