Landau Reflex: Possible Reason Behind Lack of Concentration, Organization and Toe Walking?
This article provides helpful information about the Landau reflex and how it may affect your child’s development and learning ability. Affiliate links are included 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.
A huge snow storm can trigger a multitude of problems and complications. If the storm is near an airport, this can mean flight delays and cancellations that produce a domino effect around the country. Roads become a mess, accidents are more frequent, and the risk of traveling becomes higher. People traveling for work, school or vacation will eventually get to their destination, but the process, is usually filled with anxiety and can often be a major disruption to many travelers.
Roads and air travel have a sophisticated system of organization to get people from point A to point B. Just like our road system, a child’s nervous system is initially organized around their primitive reflexes.
Primitive reflexes are survival movements that occur anywhere from when the fetus is in the womb to the toddler years. These reflexes support development of milestones in the infant and lead to mature reflexes and higher-level muscle movement. Reflexes build on each other and support the next landmark in the child’s development journey.
Movements and active play builds those essential pathways in the brain that allow higher learning to take place.
Sometimes primitive reflexes do not integrate (disappear) at the proper time. When this occurs, it is like a road closure or flight delay. Due to the importance of these reflexes, when one or more is retained, it can cause disorganization, sensorimotor issues and attention and learning problems in the classroom.
There are some interesting factors that appear when a child has an unintegrated primitive reflex. For example, did you know that if a child struggles with bedwetting long after the age of five, they could have a retained Spinal Galant Reflex? This is just one example of certain symptoms in children with retained primitive reflexes that is often manifested through developmental delays or learning challenges.
Another common problem is disorganization and trouble with concentration or attention and focus in the classroom. While a few retained primitive reflexes could be connected to a child’s attention and focus issues, the Landau reflex is another reflex that may contribute to some of these signs and symptoms.
The Landau reflex gradually emerges around the 2 to 3 month mark when the child can lift their chest and head while in prone position (tummy time).
The Landau reflex is sometimes difficult to classify. It is not strictly a primitive reflex because it is not present at birth and it is not a postural reflex because it typically does not persist after the age of one. Many classify it as a bridging reflex because it is a reflex that assists other reflexes as they develop and integrate.
Around four months, the child begins to extend the legs so they are raised while the head and chest lift. You can see this reflex in action when you lay the baby on the floor with a blanket. The baby will hold the body up like an airplane with the head, neck, spine and legs extended. This position prevents the child from smothering when face down and also prepares them for movements on all fours and crawling.
A few common signs you may notice in your child if they have retained the Landau reflex may include the following:
- Poor concentration
- Struggles with attention and focus
- Tension in the back of the legs
- Knees extend slightly backward
- Retained Spinal Galant
- Weak organizational skills
- Poor coordination between upper and lower body muscles
In The Rhythmic Movement Method: A Revolutionary Approach to Improved Health and Well-Being, Harold Blomberg says, “If the spinal galant cannot be integrated due to a retained Landau reflex, there may be problems with hyperactivity and sometimes bed-wetting.”
The Concentration Connection
If the Landau reflex does not adequately develop or integrate in the infant within the normal timeframe, they may develop poor muscle tone throughout the back of the body. This could cause insufficient stimulation of the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is responsible for functions like concentration, social decision making, attention and organization. A retained Landau reflex is also commonly linked to the Spinal Galant Reflex, which is also another reflex responsible for attention and focus issues in the classroom.
Because the two are often linked or closely related, both could cause similar issues within the child, but have to be addressed separately when “fixing” these types of learning delays.
Short-term memory and other executive functions can also be affected by a retained Landau reflex, which is often connected to a child’s concentration in the classroom. If you notice your child struggling to retain facts and details they are taught, or they often forget their letters and numbers, or can’t organize their homework, it may be related to this retained reflex.
Balance, Coordination and Toe Walking
If your child has retained the Landau reflex, they may also have tension in the back of the legs, which could cause the knees to extend slightly backward or it could trigger toe walking after age five. You may also notice your child struggling with balance and coordination activities because a retained Landau reflex causes lack of cooperation between the upper and lower parts of the body. This may be the reason why your child struggles with sports, runs into furniture, has trouble with hand-eye coordination and basic activities that often come naturally to other children.
Many of these frustrating and troubling behaviors are often related to retained reflexes and some underlying skills that do not support the learning development of the child. However, many of these retained reflexes can be integrated with exercises to improve weak areas and enhance fundamental skills needed to perform better in the classroom. When brain pathways are opened through movement exercises, the mind doesn’t have to work as hard on lower level issues like paying attention, sitting still in the chair or paying attention to what the teacher is saying. The brain automatically helps the body perform these activities so the child can utilize the higher levels of the brain for higher learning concepts.
Exercises for Retained Primitive Reflexes
If you have tested your child or student for primitive reflexes and are sure they have retained it, then your child may continue to show signs of poor posture, W-sitting, balance and coordination issues, and learning problems in the classroom. There are beneficial exercises that could help integrate the reflex that should have gone to sleep when they were a baby.
To help you with a few exercises that may be beneficial, the Retained Primitive Reflexes 101 e-Course contains videos, instructions and pictures to for retained primitive reflexes. The e-Course is only offered two times a year so join now to save your spot!
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 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
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