In infants, primitive reflexes facilitate neurological function. Their presence or absence at various stages helps to set the foundation for later development. A baby has the ability to suck from the minute they are born because this provides sustenance. They learn to roll because turning of the head causes automatic movement of the body. So, while they are watching mommy walk away, they suddenly flip themselves over onto their back. This creates learning opportunities, allowing the infant to try and figure out how to make those movements happen again. Movements go from involuntary to voluntary. When reflexes persist, they interfere with development and can affect motor control, visual skills, learning, attention, behavior, and emotional well-being.
The Moro reflex can be associated with anxiety, difficulty interacting with peers, lack of emotional flexibility and security, over sensitivity to sensory stimuli, and poor balance and coordination.
The Tonic Labyrinthine reflex can contribute to problems with muscle tone, balance, visual tracking, coordination, and spatial challenges. The Landau reflex relates to poor muscle tone, poor posture, difficulty with motor activities like hopping, skipping, and jumping, as well as inattention The Spinal Galant reflex is associated with fidgeting and restlessness, distractibility, sensory processing disorders, and bed-wetting. The Asymmetrical Tonic Neck reflex is also related to difficulty with visual tracking, as well as crossing midline, balance and coordination, fine motor skills, concentrating, math skills, and dyslexia.
The Symmetrical Tonic Neck reflex also impacts tone and posture, upper body strength, visual accommodation (looking from near to far), and eye-hand coordination.
It is far more common than you may think to have residual reflexes. If you or your child have a diagnosis of ADHD, Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, learning disability, or have difficulty with emotionality and out-of-control behaviors, I would be happy to perform an evaluation and assist you with inhibiting any residual reflexes.
Konicarova, J. (2012). Retained Primitive Reflexes and ADHD in Children. Activitas Nervosa Superior (54), 3-4.
Wahlberg T, Ireland D. Can Replicating Primary Reflex Movements Improve Reading Ability? Optometry Vision Development 2005;36(2):89-91 Jordan-Black, J (2005). The effects of the Primary Movement program on academic performance of children attending ordinary primary school. The Journal of Research in Special Education, 5:3 101–11.
Goddard, S. Neuro-motor Maturity as an Indicator of Developmental Readiness for Education. Paper presented at The Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology Conference. April 11th and 12th 2010. Miami. Florida.