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Primitive Reflexes

What are Primitive Reflexes in Kids?

Primitive Reflexes / Neo-natal reflexes are movement patterns that develop in utero for the development & survival of the foetus. They are controlled by the brainstem and therefore operate at a survival / automatic level. They assist in the birthing process and help the baby to survive the early stages of its life. As the baby matures the reflex becomes inhibited by the development of higher brain functions. Each reflex is inhibited in an ordered sequence. This continues until they are all inhibited and are replaced by postural reflexes which remain for life.


What can happen if the Primitive Reflexes are not inhibited?

If they are not inhibited at the appropriate time they are said to be retained. The Primitive Reflexes should be inhibited by 12- 18 months of age. If this does not happen, the person may have these or other symptoms:

  • Impaired function of the Central Nervous System
  • Poor gross motor skills (jumping, skipping, etc)
  • Poor fine motor skills (hand- eye coordination, manual dexterity)
  • Poor perceptual ability
  • Poor social skills


What can cause the reflexes to be retained?

  • Severe stress during the pregnancy.
  • Traumatic birth e.g. emergency section
  • Prolonged or breach birth
  • Premature birth

The Fear Paralysis Reflex

The Moro Reflex

The Palmar Reflex

Asymmetric Tonic Neck Reflex

Spinal Galant

Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex

Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex11987134_10152946604141455_2114856220342239568_n

Joan Morton is trained in The Child Centre Method – learning and behaviour program. The treatment of Retained Primitive Reflexes is at the heart of The Child Centre Method. Standardised assessments are used to establish the issues at hand as well as the related reflexes involved. A unique plan is then created for the child using this Integrated and Holistic approach. It is non invasive and fun for the child.