Learn more about your children's behaviour

What are Primitive Reflexes?

Primitive reflexes are automatic movements directed from the brainstem and require no conscious control. They are needed for survival and development in the womb and in the early months of life. They help develop the brain connections which are important later on for learning, communication and behaviour.

These primitive reflexes should become inhibited when they are no longer needed and allow more conscious movements and behaviour to occur. When the primitive reflexes remain active, then many difficulties can emerge.

What happens if Primitive Reflexes don’t go away?

If the Primitive Reflexes are retained past the first year of life, they can interfere with social, academic, and motor learning. Children with learning disorders, ADHD, autism spectrum, and various other neurodevelopmental disorders are known to have retained primitive reflexes contributing to their symptoms and level of dysfunction.

Causes of Retained Primitive Reflexes

Retention of primitive reflexes can be caused by a variety of factors. The birth process is a key factor in the integration of these reflexes; therefore, a traumatic birth experience or birth by C-section may lead to retained reflexes. Additional causes can include: falls, traumas, lack of tummy time, delayed or skipped crawling, chronic ear infections, head trauma, and vertebral subluxations. Reflexes that are completely integrated can later reactivate because of trauma, injury, toxins, and stress.

We have a lot of people ask us about signs of retained primitive reflexes in children and also adults. This table is a handy check list for some of the behavioural patterns to look out for and which reflexes they can relate to.

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If you are concerned about any family or friends who may be struggling with some of these behaviours you can seek help through your GP, occupational therapist or family chiropractor who will make sure you are on the correct path to making a positive change.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns that you would like to discuss.