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Primitive Reflexes and your Child's Development


What happens when you put your finger in an infant’s hand? They curl their fingers around it, right?

What happens when you touch a baby’s cheek by their mouth? They turn their head in that direction and open their mouth, right?

Those are primitive reflexes.


Primitive reflexes are the reflexes that develop in utero and ensure the infant’s survival within the first year of life. We are all innately born with them. As your child’s brain grows and develops, these primitive reflexes should fade away and new, more advanced postural reflexes and neural wiring should take over. If a child fails to develop automatic control over balance and motor skills, many other aspects of learning can be affected negatively, even though the child has average or above average intelligence. If the brain is not developing properly and is stuck in a fight-or-flight stress response, these primitive reflexes will not go away and they will actually inhibit the brain from further development.

Problems can arise from two levels in the brain: higher and lower order processing.

While it is generally accepted that during the process of maturation, higher centers in the brain should take increasing control and direction over lower centers, the persistence of lower dominance over certain functions will nevertheless have an effect on how a child functions, its ability to learn and its behavior. Being in a state of fight-or-flight also known as sympathetic dominance, shifts the brain to be functioning from the lower centers.

As a chiropractor who specializes in helping kids and teens with neurodevelopmental issues such as Autism, ADHD, and Sensory Processing Disorder, I specifically test for these primitive reflexes. If a 7-year-old has retained primitive reflexes, I know their brain is operating from the lower centers and is stuck in a sympathetic state. Those tests along with the non-invasive thermography and sEMG scans that I perform in the office, give clear and insightful information for what’s actually going on neurologically with your child.

Once we know what’s going on inside your child’s brain, then we can put together an action plan to change it and therefore change the quality of life your child is experiencing. The brain has an amazing ability to change, if it’s given the proper tools to do so.The chiropractic adjustment calms down the nervous system and sends proper information into the brain from the spine. That allows the brain to shift out of the lower centers or sympathetic dominance and operate from the higher order brain centers. Once the brain and body are communicating the way it should, those primitive reflexes can fade away since the brain no longer needs them.

Your child’s brain wants to grow and develop, but it needs a calm and clear nervous system to do that and that is exactly what Dr. Julia is fortunate to provide your child with.

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