Primitive reflex integration work is a newer technique beginning to be embraced by many different health professions. We are all born with reflexes to help us survive and learn as infants. Primitive reflexes are repetitive, automatic movements that occur in response to a stimulus, such as an infant sucking a nipple or bottle in order to eat.
Reflexes help to develop movement patterns, from involuntary (reflex pattern) to voluntary movement, and cognitive development. They are also the foundation for sensory integration as well as fine and gross motor coordination. If reflexes are not properly integrated, it could cause difficulties in daily life related to balance, coordination, gravitational insecurity, anxiety, reading and more.
Primitive reflex integration work is often called the “missing link.” It has been thought many children who have received therapy for years with minimal or no progress in a certain area, or are unable to maintain that progress, may have a reflex that has not been fully integrated. This interrupts the child’s ability to complete tasks efficiently or create a good foundation on which to build other skills. Once the reflex is integrated, gains in this area can then be seen.
In one particular case, a child, struggling with sensory integration, was highly anxious about most sensory input, refused to play on swings, was aversive to touch, had poor attention to task and was easily frustrated. The therapist began to work on some basic reflex integration exercises for gravitational insecurity and grounding the body. A little more than a month after starting the exercises, this child began to tolerate, and even initiates, playing on the swing. He is better able to self regulate and can attend to play tasks without running away for 10-15 minutes. The child also tolerates touch from the therapist with minimal resistance now, which previously, had been a struggle. Overall, this child has shown remarkable progress in the clinic, at home and school and has led to great improvements in daily living.