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Unintegrated Reflexes


Oral, Grasping & Foot Reflexes

Possible Long Term Effects:

  • speech delay or difficulties
  • swallowing problems
  • difficulty in social situations
  • drooling
  • manual dexterity challenges
  • poor pencil grip
  • handwriting difficulties
  • TMJ syndrome
  • loose, easily sprained ankles
  • toe walking
  • flatfooted or walking on sides of feet/hip rotation
  • difficulty expressing written ideas
  • addictions

graspOral and Grasping reflexes are linked in infancy. We often see babies kneading their hands while they suckle.

When these reflexes remain active, we may see children and adults moving the mouth or tongue while writing or drawing. Active foot reflexes interfere with our ability to walk, balance properly, think and speak in a flowing rhythm.

Spinal Galant Reflex

Possible Long Term Effects:

  • bedwetting
  • fatigue
  • attention difficulties
  • hip rotation to one side
  • poor concentration
  • poor coordination
  • poor posture
  • poor short-term memory
  • fidgeting/hyperactivity
  • difficulty sitting still
  • irritable bowel syndrome (as adult)
  • scoliosis
spinalgalantThe Spinal Galant Reflex involves hip rotation when the back is touched to the sides of the spine. This reflex most likely works with the ATNR to aid in the passage down the birth canal. It is also thought to help babies balance and coordinate the body for belly crawling and creeping. It may be connected to bladder function because a high percentage of children who are bedwetting past age 5 have an active Spinal Galant reflex.

STNR: Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex

Possible Long Term Effects:

  • squirming or fidgeting; poor posture, slouching
  • headaches from muscle tension
  • difficulty writing and reading
  • difficulty sitting still
  • difficulty copying from blackboard
  • ape-like walking
  • vision disorders
  • trouble staying on task
  • clumsy, messy eater

atnrThe STNR helps the baby lift and control the head for far distance focusing. STNR also prepares baby for creeping (crawling) using automatic movements for raising up on all fours. At this stage in development, movement of the head is automatically linked to movement of the arms and legs.

If the STNR remains active it is another main cause of inability to function in school. This is because up and down head movements remain linked to arm and leg movements, making school work effortful and difficult.

ATNR: Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex

Possible Long Term Effects:

  • dyslexia
  • reading, listening, hand writing and spelling difficulties
  • difficulty with math
  • poor sense of direction
  • confused handedness
  • focus and balance difficulties

The ATNR links head and neck movement to one-sided movement. When the infant turns her head to one side, the arm and leg of that side automatically extend. In utero ATNR provides stimulation for developing muscle tone and the vestibular system. It assists in the birth process, providing the means for the baby to “corkscrew” down the birth passage. ATNR also provides training in hand-eye coordination. By six months of age, this reflex should evolve into more complex movement patterns.

If the ATNR remains active it is one of the most significant causes of inability to function well in school.

TLR: Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex

Possible Long Term Effects:

  • Balance and coordination problems
  • Shrunken posture
  • Fatigues easily
  • Muscle tone usually weak or too tight
  • Difficulty judging distance, depth, space and speed
  • May have a fear of heights
  • “W” leg position when floor sitting
  • Motion sickness
  • Visual, speech, auditory difficulties
  • Tendency to be cross-eyed
  • Stiff jerky movement
  • Toe walking
  • Difficulty walking up and down stairs
  • Difficulty following directional or movement instructions

The Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex has two forms, forward and backward:

  • Forward: As the head bends forward, the whole body, arms, legs and torso curl inward in the characteristic fetal position.
  • Backward: As the head is bent backward, the whole body, arms, legs and torso straighten and extend.

tlrTLR provides the baby with a means of learning about gravity and mastering neck and head control outside the womb. This reflex gives the baby opportunities to practice balance, increase muscle tone and develop the proprioceptive and vestibular senses. Eventually the TLR interacts with other reflexes and bodily processes to help the child develop coordination, posture and correct head alignment from infancy through toddlerhood.

It is critical for the TLR to do its “job” because correct alignment of the head with the rest of the body is necessary for balance, visual tracking, auditory processing and organized muscle tone, all of which are vital to the ability to focus and pay attention.

Moro Reflex

Possible Long Term Effects:

  • Sleep disturbances, difficulty settling down to sleep
  • Easily triggered, reacts in anger or emotional outburst
  • Shyness
  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Poor stamina
  • Motion sickness
  • Poor digestion, tendency towards hypoglycemia
  • Weak immune system, asthma, allergies and infections
  • Hypersensitivity to light, movement, sound, touch & smell
  • Vision/reading/writing difficulties
  • Difficulty adapting to change
  • Cycles of hyperactivity and extreme fatigue
  • Easily distracted, difficulty filtering out extraneous stimuli
  • Difficulty catching a ball
  • Difficulty with visual perception
  • Tires easily or is irritable under fluorescent lighting

moroThe Moro Reflex, sometimes called the infant startle reflex, is an automatic reaction to a sudden change in sensory stimuli. A sudden change of any kind (bright light, change in body position, temperature, loud noise, intense odor, touch etc.) can trigger the Moro Reflex. The Moro reflex is a combination of movements. The baby’s arms and legs open rapidly upward and away from the body. At the same time there is a quick intake of breath, then a momentary freeze of the arms and legs in the outward position. The arms and legs then return to the normal flexed posture of the infant, and the breath is released, often with a cry.

The Moro reflex is a response to a perceived threat and creates instant arousal of the baby’s survival system, or “fight or flight” response. It is also the baby’s instinctual response to summon a caregiver.

The following physiological response occurs with the Moro Reflex:

  1. Release of stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol
  2. Increase in breathing rate, shallow breathing
  3. Increase heart rate and blood pressure
Ideally, the Moro reflex emerges in the womb at 9-12 weeks gestation and is integrated by 4 months of age.

Fear Paralysis Reflex (FPR)

Possible Long Term Effects:

  • Shallow, difficult breathing
  • Underlying anxiety or negativity
  • Insecure, low self-esteem
  • Depression/isolation/withdrawal
  • Constant feelings of overwhelm
  • Extreme shyness, fear in groups
  • Excessive fear of embarrassment
  • Fear of separation from a loved one, clinging
  • Sleep & eating disorders
  • Feeling stuck
  • Elective mutism
  • Low tolerance to stress
  • Withdrawal from touch
  • Aggressive or controlling behavior, craves attention
  • Extreme fear of failure, perfectionism
  • Phobias
  • Obsessive/Compulsive Disorders

The Fear Paralysis Reflex (FPR) emerges at 5 to 8 weeks in utero and is ideally integrated before birth. Among experts there is not agreement about the exact nature of FPR except that it is a fear response from unexpected or threatening events.

Researcher Birger Kaada says FPR can be triggered by fear from events such as restraint of movement, sudden noise, separation from the mother or sudden exposure to an unfamiliar environment. He describes FPR as abrupt motor ‘paralysis’, unresponsiveness, and an abnormal slowing of the heartbeat and respiration. He has hypothesized that the FPR is a trigger mechanism for SIDS. (Birger Kaada: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome—The Possible Role of ‘the Fear Paralysis Reflex’. Norwegian University Press, Oslo, 1986, 56 pp., 6 fig. ISBN 82-00-18204-5.)

If the FPR is not fully integrated at birth, it can cause life-long challenges related to fear.

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