Reflex integration is about using Neurodevelopmental Movement and other tools to develop and mature the body’s reflexes for optimal functioning.
Reflexes are a fascinating set of automatic movements that every human being is designed with from the womb on. From infancy, the reflexes are vitally important for proper development of the brain, nervous system, body and sensory systems. Some reflexes are meant to stay with us our whole lives. Others are designed to be dormant after their function is fulfilled.
There are many reasons why the reflex system may not develop properly.
When the reflex movements are underdeveloped or incomplete by the end of early childhood, it causes challenges, from mild to severe, in learning, development, emotions and behavior.
It's like a shopping cart with a wheel out of alignment...
A parent in a recent class made a brilliant analogy describing what it’s like to have un-integrated reflexes: “It’s like a shopping cart with a wheel out of alignment. You have to keep working to pull it back on track.”
Most of us can relate to the annoyance of having to shop with an ‘off-kilter’ cart. Imagine the frustration a child feels when his body is constantly pulled off-track by un-integrated reflex movements. It’s no wonder children become irritable and have trouble focusing at school.
What kind of movement is used to integrate reflexes?
The movements we use are based on reflex patterns and rhythmic movements that babies make naturally from the womb on. Most of the movements are done on the floor either with a partner or solo. Some movements involve light touch, and for younger children, many of the movements can be done playfully.
In infancy, reflexes are integrated through repeated use. We use the same or similar natural reflex patterns for integration. We enhance these natural movement patterns through light touch. Touch provides the brain with extra feedback and helps integrate the reflexes more quickly.
Many people are familiar with the idea that crawling in infancy is important for future learning. There are also many other movement patterns, beginning in the womb, that are important for future learning, emotional and social skills. Using these natural movements is deeply nourishing for the brain.
Learn more about reflexes and why integration is important:
Research on Reflexes: Clinical Studies from the past 30 years.