During the development of the foetus a number of automatic reactions or reflexes emerge. In the neuro-developmental field these are called the “Primitive Reflexes”. These reflexes are there to assist the baby to be born and to support the infant during the critical first months. However, they should begin to inhibit during the first year of life and be replaced by so-called “Postural Reflexes”, which will help a person cope with the demands of a gravity-based environment.

Examples of some of these Primitive Reflexes are the root and suck reflexes that help the baby find the nipple and suck. Another well known automatic reaction is the grasp reflex. Stimulate the inside of a baby’s hand with your finger and it will automatically firmly grasp your finger. The purpose of this reflex is not fully understood, but this reflex, if not fully inhibited, can have a detrimental effect on a person’s ability to hold a pen in the more advanced pincer grip and thus affect writing. A sufficiently long period of crawling often assists in inhibiting this reflex.

Some Primitive Reflexes may remain and not cause any serious difficulty; however, it does appear that when there is a cluster of retained Primitive Reflexes or an underdevelopment of Postural Reflexes, this can have an adverse influence on the individual. It may impede efficient development of motor control, eye function, eye-hand co-ordination and perceptual skills. Frustration, hyperactivity and hypersensitivity may be further symptoms because a person finds it difficult to perform daily tasks to their full potential.

If the primitive reflexes do not fully inhibit and remain, then the postural reflexes will be prevented from full development.

Neuro-developmental difficulties can result from difficulties during pregnancy, the birth process or early development, or later in life through accidents, trauma or sicknesses. Any person of any age may be affected and we have found that a developmental remediation programme can be effective for adults as well as children.

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