Did you know that retained baby reflexes can affect everything from reading and writing to fidgeting and more? These primary or primitive reflexes are designed to help babies survive in the early, helpless months as their brains are developing and they slowly become more conscious of the world around them. If these reflexes integrate properly our kids can develop rationally and if not, then essentially these reflexes are controlling them.
There are several primary reflexes and they are all automatic responses designed to help a baby feed and respond. The Moro reflex is basically a startle response with its roots in a baby needing to hang on to its mother for dear life. Imagine any situation where the parent has to take off fast and this sudden movement may startle a baby, who flings out their arms and then tries to hang on. This baby survival instinct is triggered by sudden movements or loud noises etc. and while this reflex is present, this is the way the baby is primed to react for the first four to six months of life.
Now fast forward to an older child who has not integrated this reflex. This is likely to be the over sensitive, over reactive child who jumps and startles easily. The chemicals involved here are adrenalin and cortisol, needed for the occasional real fight or flight but not healthy for a child to be permanently wired this way. This primes them to mainly use their peripheral vision and hearing on the lookout for potential threats. You can imagine how this would make concentrating really hard, either visually or listening and if they can’t do that well then how can they progress well in the classroom? This whole wired existence is also really unpleasant for the child, so they can seek to avoid anything new or rough or unpredictable and can alternate between timidity and aggressiveness to try and control what is a generally scary life for them.
If you have concerns, the best thing you can do is have your child checked by a qualified health practitioner. As a chiropractor I will always check your child’s structure and function because dysfunction here could be contributing to a retained primary reflex. Once this is all working then their body will be capable of accepting further changes, such as the integration of primary reflexes without being overloaded. There are fun exercises to do and it’s wonderful to watch a child become self-confident and free to learn fully.
By Karen Hall, Chiropractor, Practitioner @ The Medical Sanctuary