PRIMITIVE REFLEXES: How Retained Primitive Reflexes are Holding My Child Back in Learning and Motor Development
How Retained Primitive Reflexes are Holding My Child Back in Learning and Motor Development This…
This post for retained primitive reflexes that may cause fight or flight contains affiliate links for your convenience. Integrated Learning Strategies (ILS) is a learning and academic center. As a reminder, ILS is not a health care provider and none of our materials or services provide a diagnosis or treatment of a specific condition or learning challenge you may see in your child or student. If you seek a diagnosis or treatment for your child or student, please contact a trained professional who can provide an evaluation of the child.
You have an important presentation at work in a few minutes and you have to stand before the entire board and give the analysis for the past quarter. Your heart starts beating loud, you breathe rapidly and you feel tense. There is a queasy feeling in your stomach and you start to sweat. These are all physical symptoms of the fight or flight response.
The fight or flight response within each of us was designed to help us deal with feeling fear in our lives. Nowadays, it is more likely triggered by more complex worries such as job interviews, an exam or social situations. This response is normal and needed for both adults and children. The grief and concern for parents comes when their child is constantly in this anxious mode. The problem isn’t the fight or flight system. The problem is when this system activates when no apparent danger is present.
Many parents often say, “My child’s emotions are never grounded.” Frequently this is accompanied with, “It seems like he is always on edge” or “She is in a heightened state of awareness all the time.” These statements may be a clue into your child’s response to stimuli, and may be an indicator of the child retaining a primitive reflex call the Moro Reflex. In previous articles, it’s discussed in depth what primitive reflexes are, but in short, they are what controls a baby’s movement in the first year of life. These important primitive reflexes are critical for the infant’s growth and development of motor, sensory and brain skills. For more information on primitive reflexes, click here.
Before we discuss more about the fight or flight response, it’s good to have a brief overview of these primitive reflexes and why each is present when a child is born, and more importantly, why a child may struggle in school if they do not disappear after the first few years of life.
Each primitive reflex provides essential responses to the world and why children with normal development naturally move into adult reflexes or replacement reflexes. The following is a list of the primitive reflexes seen in infants and the time frame associated with each one:
Now why is this important and how does it have to do with my child’s fight or flight response in the classroom or with their friends and peers? Here’s the link and what you may notice in your child.
As you can see, there are several reflexes that the child begins with at birth. Isn’t it astonishing how primitive reflexes adjust over time to help a small little body work? What happens when one of these primitive reflexes do not disappear or integrate? Well, let’s take the Moro Reflex for example. If a child or adult still has the Moro present, there may be some distinct behavioral or learning obstacles to combat.
As a well-known guru on primitive reflexes, Sally Goddard, explains in her book, The Well Balanced Child, that if the Moro Reflex does not inhibit, the child has exaggerated reactions to sounds, hot and cold, touch, and visual and hearing input. She is clear that the Moro Reflex is not the same as the startle reflex in adults. The Moro is much more heightened than the adult startle reflex, which is why a child may continue to have sensitivities in school or at home even when they grow older. The Moro reflex never left their body. One of the core symptoms we see in a child that displays the Moro reflex past the normal integration time is the constant fight or flight mode.
When kids are in the fight or flight mode, they are reacting and responding on instinct and survival. It is not only scary for the child during these moments, but for parents and other caregivers it can be frightening. The unknown of how to respond can be devastating to the adult if they don’t know how to help their child. In order to understand how to react with understanding, we must be aware of where this fight or flight originates in our child. This constant heightened state or anxiety might be a manifestation of a poorly integrated Moro Reflex.
If your child has retained the Moro reflex, you may see some of the following symptoms:
As parents and other individuals watch and spend time with a child that is frequently in a heightened state or on edge, it can be stressful, exhausting and concerning. You want to help your child calm down, but many times the young person doesn’t allow help or has so many barriers you are not sure what approach to take.
Here are some suggestions that may benefit the situation when the fight or flight mode has taken over:
There are three ways to test your child for the Moro reflex to see if it is still present in your child. From the test, you may be able to determine if the Moro reflex could be the cause of your child’s balance and coordination issues, fight or flight mode, fidgeting and behavior problems.
Have your child lift their arms out straight on the right and left sides of the body. Then have your child balance on one foot and then switch to balancing on the opposite foot. If your child wobbles or falls over it could be a sign they have retained the Moro reflex.
Help your child cross one foot over the other and lift their arms above their head. Then have your child take their arms and touch their toes. When they have completed the first exercise, help them repeat the same exercise by switching legs. If your child displays poor balance and falls over, it could be a sign your child has retained the Moro reflex.
Stand behind your child, have them close their eyes and stand up straight with their hands touching their chest (elbows bent). Tell your child to fall backward into your arms (catch them under the armpits). When your child falls backward, if they flail their arms outward instead of keeping them toward their chest, this is a sign they still have the Moro reflex present. While their eyes are closed you can also snap your fingers close to their ears. If the noise startles them and they flail their arms outward, this is another sign of a retained reflex.
If you suspect your child has one or more retained Primitive Reflexes, there is a way to test your child and help integrate the reflexes with a few simple exercises you can do right in your living room. The Integrate with Success program helps parents, therapists, teachers and professionals integrate six basic and most commonly retained Primitive Reflexes.
To enroll in the course, join the waitlist here.
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning challenges achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs