Adults are hardwired to find babies cute because babies need to be taken care of, fed and protected. But apart from their cuteness, babies are born with what scientists call primitive reflexes. These primitive reflexes include the essential functions needed by a baby to survive for the first six months of his or her life, including how to breastfeed and how to get the attention of the adults caring for him or her.
Over time, as the brain develops, these primitive reflexes become integrated. Following this integration and the further maturity and development of the brain, the baby learns new skills. Generally, when the child reaches his or her first birthday, the many of the primitive reflexes should be fully integrated.
However, there are instances wherein primitive reflexes persist. This may indicate either damage to the brain or problems with the child’s nervous system. Children who have been diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disorders like ADHD, Autism and sensory processing disorder have been known to retain primitive reflexes.
There are several reasons why a child retains primitive reflexes. One of the most common causes is birth trauma. Other causes include early birth, falls and traumas, vertebral subluxations and chronic ear infections.
Why is it essential for primitive reflexes to be integrated? Integration is necessary to free up areas in a child’s brain for higher learning. Simply put, if these areas of the brain do not develop, there is no room for further learning and development, like childhood motor development.
It is crucial to look at childhood motor development due to its close relationship with cognitive functions. These motor skills provide the building blocks for learning and academic success. This is the reason why students with learning disorders have poor use of their bodily senses and motor skills.
Symptoms of retained primitive reflexes are numerous and may include the following: anxiety, over-reaction to stimuli, reading problems, poor handwriting, restlessness, poor concentration and short term memory, poor posture and a history of not crawling.
Fortunately, retained reflexes can be remedied. Chiropractic can help the brain can be rewired and primitive reflexes can still be integrated. Dr Veronesi, Chiropractor, at NeuroBalance Chiropractic on the Northern Beaches can assess and discuss the best treatment options for many primitive reflex problems.
A chiropractor can do this through the effective design of movement-based exercises to address a specific retained primitive reflex as well as address any motor skill deficiencies in a child. A chiropractor can also work on the nerves that are found in the joints and correct spinal dysfunction, both of which can hinder a child’s information processing or may distort the information received by their environment.