“Movement activates the brain, repetition moulds it.”~ Nina Nelson

Primitive reflexes wire your child’s nervous system between conception and the first 6 months after birth. After that, primitive reflexes should become dormant so the learning brain can take over. But, in some children, due to trauma, injury or early complications, primitive reflexes may remain active, trying to complete their function and hampering your child’s cognitive development.

The primitive reflexes assessment will determine if your child is being hampered by retained primitive reflexes, and prescribes a series of Brain Training exercises to address his or her specific needs in order to overcome the related challenges.

Reflexes are involuntary reactions in response to stimulation that brings about a change. Simple reflexes occur throughout life, e.g. you touch something hot, and your hand pulls away without you thinking first. These reactions are controlled by certain areas of the spinal cord. Postural reflexes are reactions to gravity to maintain posture and prevent injury.

Primitive reflexes develop during pregnancy and are present at birth to assist with the birthing process. During the first year of life, primitive reflexes stimulate sensory-motor development. Primitive reflexes are controlled by the brain stem and have a limited lifespan.

Primitive reflexes are considered “aberrant,” however, if they remain active beyond age 6-12 months. They should be inhibited by the brain, allowing more sophisticated neural structures to develop.

Motor (muscle) control lays the foundation for learning and self-control. We acquire new skills by moving our bodies intentionally. To track visually left to right, to shape consonants in the mouth, and to form letters, we need to have intentional control of the muscles involved. When those muscles obey an unconscious reflex instead of responding to our intention, then the activity is confusing and cannot become an automatic learned skill.

The continued presence of any of the Reflexes is a sign of central nervous system (CNS) immaturity, which can have a profound impact upon a child¹s development, learning and behaviour.

Your child may be suffering from primitive reflex retention if they exhibit any of the following:

  • Dyslexia
  • Tactile defensiveness
  • Delayed language development
  • Poor auditory processing
  • Low muscle tone
  • Poor perception
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Poor balance.

Why are primitive reflexes so important to address?

They form part of the most basic wiring in the brain and of the entire body. If faulty, the higher part of the brain that deals with more cognitive skills like reading, writing, comprehension, memory, etc. is not the priority when the brain needs to decide what to pay attention to and what to ignore.

When a primitive reflex is still active it means the first priority of the brain is to pay attention to movement, posture, pencil grip, eye movements, etc.

During normal development, primitive reflexes have a limited lifespan to fulfil its function. The function of the primitive reflexes is to appear to wire (build and integrate) a part of the sensory-motor system before retiring, ready to re-appear when a wired sensory-motor pathway has been affected by illness or trauma.

However, when it does not fulfil its function during the appropriate time frame, the primitive reflex remains active and the child moves / acts in an uncontrolled and reflexive manner in an attempt to complete the sensory-motor wiring needed for learning. These inappropriate movements act as SOS signals, indicating a weakness in the wiring.

Because physical development has first call on brain activity, a child with a weakness on a physical developmental level finds it difficult to sit still, concentrate, access the thinking brain and complete age-appropriate tasks.

Such a child has the potential to do well but stays stuck in a physical developmental stage and may display three or more of the behavioural indicators listed.

Unfortunately, such a child does not just ‘grow out of it’. The child will have to complete the wiring process by mimicking the specific primitive reflex reactions responsible for building and integrating that part of the wiring, before the child can ‘grow out of it’.

What does the assessment involve?

Due to its plasticity, the brain can be rewired through specific Brain Training exercises that are prescribed during the Primitive Reflex Assessment process. Rewiring the communication network between the senses, brain and muscles enables effective learning to take place.

The physical developmental assessment checks for retained Primitive Reflexes, the number of reflexes retained and the extent to which they are retained. The whole process is non-threatening and non-invasive, and kids love it!

Based on the results of the assessment, I tailor make a home program to address specific needs and challenges.

The home programme exercises and activities are designed to be done easily in the home context. They are not time-intensive, and the programme aims to integrate as many aspects as possible into play activities. When included in the daily household routine, the exercises are unlikely to take more than 5-10 minutes per session, with, ideally, 2-3 sessions per day.

Please be aware that the success of the programme is dependent upon you and your child doing the prescribed exercises and activities daily – it is this consistent repetition that will produce positive results.

It’s a drug free alternative!

Assessment duration: 60 minutes
Cost: R1200
Follow Up: R800
Ages: 3 upwards

To book an assessment, please fill in my Contact form, including your contact details and I will contact you to book a session.