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All About The Retained Reflex


The retained reflexes I work with are neo natal and postural. They are automatic movements that help us develop from an embryo state to an upright, fully functioning adult. Not only do they physically help us to grow and stand but also help with survival, when to fight, when to be fearful, help with eating, learning, sight and hearing, how to communicate, as well as the what we generally relate to reflexes, such as breathing, blinking, sneezing. Thinking of sneezing….when we have a stuck sneeze, our body more or less shuts down until this active reflex happens and then becomes inactive. These are:- Fear Paralysis Reflex (FPR) This emerges in the 5th to 8th week whilst in utero (in the womb). It should be integrated before birth. It’s existence is to protect in the face of danger. It is a freezing reaction. It can cause a drop in heart rate, limb muscles contract, the breath is held. It is a response to a threat. If not fully integrated by birth it can cause lifelong challenges related to fear causing anxiety preventing an individual to lead a fulfilling life. If unintegrated it can interfere with the Moro Reflex. Possible long term effects of an active FPR Shallow breathing Anxiety, negativity and low self esteem, depression, shyness, separation anxieties Feeling stuck Eating and sleeping disorders Elective mutism Craving attention Aggressive or controlling behavior Extreme fear of failure Phobias Moro Reflex Also known as the infant startle reflex. It emerges between 9-12 weeks in utero and should integrate by 4 months after birth. It is a reaction to a sudden change in sensory stimuli. Eg sudden loud noise, touch, bright light, temperature. This reflex can be triggered very easily during our day to day life, as an adult, known as the Strauss reflex Eg, if someone shines a torch in your eyes or a car backfires you react by turning your head quickly or by jumping. It is the body’s way of reacting to a threat. Stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol are released. The breathing rate increases and becomes shallow, heart rate and blood pressure increases. Possible long term effects of an active Moro

Easily angered, emotional outbursts Shyness Poor balanced and coordination Sleep disturbance Poor Stamina Motion sickness Sleep disturbance Allergies Sensitive to light, sound, touch, smell and movement Problems with reading, writing and vision Easily distracted, fatigued Difficulty with visual perception, catching a ball

Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex (TLR) TLR Forward is when the head curls forward, chin dropping on the chest. The torso and limbs also curl in making a ball. TLR Backward the head stretches out and backwards with the extension of limbs. This helps prepare and teach gravity and control of the neck and head outside of the womb, helping prepare for balance, it increases muscle tone and develops the proprioceptive and vestibular senses. It also helps prepare for coordination development, correct head alignment and posture, without this balance, muscle tone, vision, tracking by the eyes and hearing is affected. Possible long term effects of an active TLR Balance and coordination Low muscle tone Exhaustion Spacial awareness issues W sitting, toe walking Motion sickness Can be cross eyed Visual, speech, auditory problems Problems going up or down the stairs Following instructions Spinal Galant This reflex commonly works alongside the one below, the ATNR. It rotates the hips when the back is touched, helping with descending down the birth canal. It is also responsible for and will help with tummy time, helping with the wriggling along on the tummy before crawling. A retained spinal galant can be linked to bed wetters over the age of 5 or 6.

Possible long term effects of an active spinal galant reflex Bed wetting Poor posture Fidgeting Scollosis Poor concentration Fatigue Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR) Should be integrated by about 6 months. The movement is when a baby turns its head then the arm and leg on the side that the head is turned, also extend. It helps develop muscle tone to aid going down the delivery canal. Develops vision from near sighted to far sighted and then to near again. Eg the baby sees it’s hands up close in the midline position, in front of it’s face, turns it’s head and extends it’s arm, seeing it’s hand at a distance, then tracks it back to midline. This develops into turning of the head, seeing a toy, grasping the toy, bringing it back to the mouth to chew on. Coordination, muscle tone and vision are all being developed here. Possible long term effects of an active ATNR Problems with vision Dyslexia Reading, listening, handwriting and dyscalculia Following instructions Lack of prominence in left hand or right hand Concentration Balance Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex STNR This reflex emerges at about 5-6 months and is short lived. The reflex is designed to help the baby lift and control it’s head. This is designed to help with far vision and to assist with crawling. By this point the baby should be able to roll over and raise up on its knees. Head control will help strengthen the arms so that the baby is on all fours, being able to look forwards and from left to right and vice versa. If it doesn’t integrate and remains active it will create developmental blocks Possible long term effects of an active STNR Fidgeting and poor posture Slouching Difficulty with vision Writing and reading problems Messy eating Muscle tension Ape like walking

Oral, Hand and Foot Reflexes Can be linked. When these reflexes remain active there is a tendency to move the mouth when writing or to stick the tongue out. Active foot reflexes interfere with walking. Possible Long term effects of an active oral, hand and foot reflex Speech delay Handwriting difficulties and poor pencil grip Loose ankles Walking on sides of feet Swallowing problems Tongue sticking out when concentrating