Whole Movement Center

Overview of Reflexes

“Understanding Retained Infant Reflexes and Their Effect on Learning and Behavior

Kathy Brown M.Ed.

Claire Hocking is a gifted educator and Brain Gym® instructor in Australia who has illuminated a vital link in the use of the Brain Gym balance process to support resolution of childhood reflexes that stand in the way of personal and academic performance. The following is a glimpse of the course she taught following the July 1999 International Brain Gym® Conference. 

What are Childhood Reflexes?

Many people who have cared for an infant are familiar with childhood reflexes, perhaps without knowing what they are: Put your finger in the infant’s hand and her fingers and thumb grip tightly around it (Palmar Reflex). The infant’s head turns, and the arm and leg on that side extend away from the body, and the other arm and leg bend (Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex). Startled, the infant instantly throws his hands wide, head back, eyes open, breathing in – often followed by a cry – and then slowly closes arms and legs again (Moro Reflex).

Infants are biologically prompted to go through this series of reflexive movements. Some are for survival (Root-and-Suck Reflex – finding food), some are for upright posture and coordination (Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex – learning to differentiate the two sides of the body, as well as the beginning of eye-hand coordination; Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex – develops the capacity for muscle tone).

Each reflex has a specific timeline for development. The infant is born with several reflexes operating; others emerge later. The whole process is sometimes referred to as the “infant reflex continuum.” Doctors often gauge the development of the child by the orderly progression of these reflexes.

Under optimal circumstances all reflexes emerge during the appropriate stage of the child’s growth, develop as a firmly functioning reflex, and then integrate into the overall neural system. At this point that stimulus will no longer trigger uncontrolled, reflexive action. It is vital that this occurs.

If various reflexes fail to emerge, develop, and integrate, the infant may become locked into a developmental holding pattern that prevents natural maturation of neural systems, leading to mild to severe learning and performance challenges. ”

Click this link below to read the whole blog below with examples of how the reflexes manifest in different children


Understanding -retained infant reflexes