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How Retained Primitive Reflexes are Preventing Kids from Speech and Language Development |

How Retained Primitive Reflexes are Preventing Kids from Speech and Language Development

This article provides helpful information about how retained Primitive Reflexes are preventing kids from speech and language development. 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.

Parents and therapists are becoming more informed and aware of retained Primitive Reflexes. They know more about how reflex retention may create sensory issues or even learning challenges. But what about speech and language?

Some may be surprised to learn that retained Primitive Reflexes could be responsible for delays when it comes to speech and language development. Recently, more research studies and questions are being asked about the relationship between retained reflexes and speech and language development.

Differences between Speech and Language

In case you aren’t as familiar with speech and language development, here is a quick breakdown. Remember, when it comes to speech and language, there are vast differences.


Language is the child’s ability to communicate. It is their ability to understand what people are saying (receptive language) and their ability to respond (expressive language). By 12 months, children should be able to communicate two words with meaning and can follow at least one simple command. If a child struggles with language development, poor balance and postural control may also be an issue.


Speech is the child’s annunciation and pronunciation of letters, words and sounds. Speech development depends on many different factors that include the following:

  • Normal brain functioning
  • Adequate hearing
  • Fine motor control of the lips, tongue and swallowing mechanism

A child’s breathing may also impact speech and language development. If a child does not have enough core muscle built, they may not have adequate muscle strength to produce the air needed for speaking words, sounds, and the pronunciation of those words and sounds.

For more detailed information about speech and language development, click here.

Window for Speech and Language Development

The window for speech and language skills is during the first three years of life. During this time, the ears are also making fine-tune adjustments for words and sounds. Children learn to filter out any unnecessary sounds and tune into the sounds of language.

If a child has not started to put words together by the end of the second year (24 months), it can be a sign of an existing problem with hearing, motor skills, lack of environmental linguistic stimulation, or even a retained Primitive Reflex.

Reflexes and Speech and Language

If a child has trouble with speech and language development, there are many factors in the child’s environment that may have caused a delay. When a child is evaluated for speech and language problems, they should also be tested for retained Primitive Reflexes to determine if there may also be a connection between retained reflexes and speech and language problems.

A few retained Primitive Reflexes to check for if you suspect they may be tied to a speech and language problem include the following:

Spinal Galant Reflex

The Spinal Galant Reflex may be a primitive conductor of sound when the baby is in the womb even before their life begins. In the womb, sound vibrations stimulate the skin of the baby. The Spinal Galant Reflex helps transmit vibrations from the skin to the ear through a combination of skin and bone conduction.

Children who experience chronic ear infections or auditory processing issues are often linked to having a retained Spinal Galant Reflex.

Moro Reflex

If the Moro reflex is retained, it may also cause trouble in the child’s ability to hear and process sounds. Many times, it impacts the child’s auditory system, which also blocks the development of speech and language.

A Moro Reflex that is retained can cause breathing irregularities. Sometimes it may cause rapid or shallow breathing, resulting in mouth breathing. Studies show mouth breathing can cause open lips posture, low and forward tongue rest posture, and lack of adequate muscle tone of the mouth. All of these setbacks can affect a child’s speech articulation.

TLR Reflex

Speech and language disorders may also be related to a retained TLR Reflex. Students who have trouble with sequencing skills when it comes to speech, spelling, and communication concepts, may also have a retained TLR Reflex.

A strongly retained TLR reflex can have a negative impact on motor aspects of feeding and speech. The head extension may cause the tongue to stick out, which makes it difficult for the baby to draw the nipple into the mouth and suck. As a result, a growing child may find it hard to swallow and articulate properly.

ATNR Reflex

The ATNR is associated with speech functions when the child has trouble inserting hands and objects into the mouth when the head is turned sideways. Kids who have a retained ATNR reflex have difficulty with tactile self-stimulation of the oral area.

Speech and Language Programs

In addition to reflex integration and speech therapy to help speech and language development, music therapy and microphone work is recommended to help children with delays.

Students who participate in auditory integration or music therapy show significant improvements in speech and language development. Sound therapy methods are designed to improve auditory processing and ready the ear and the brain for speech and language. After auditory training, children not only showed improvements in speech and language, but retention levels of reflexes like the Spinal Galant reflex had decreased.

Programs recommended for voice work and acoustically modified music through bone conduction are as follows:


This program includes acoustically modified music that help the inner ear, auditory processing and bone conduction using headphones. Children with speech and language delays benefit from doing a combination of music therapy, reflex integration and motor exercises.

To learn more about Soundsory or to get the program, click here and enter our reader code 3A6503610 for a special discount. 


ForBrain is a program also designed to help speech and language development, but through a microphone system. The program was created to help children who struggle with the following:

  • Auditory Discrimination
  • Phonological Awareness
  • Sound Articulation and Fluency
  • Attention Span
  • Sensory Integration
  • Energy and Awareness
  • Verbal Memory
  • Focus and Concentration
  • Reading and Writing

To register and learn more about ForBrain, click here and enter code 3A6503610 to receive a special discount only for our readers.

Primitive Reflexes Roadmap

If you are interested in learning more about retained Primitive Reflexes and how they affect a child’s learning development, download the Primitive Reflexes Roadmap 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

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