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The Reflex Inhibition Programme


The purpose of the first part of our treatment (the reflex-inhibition) programme is to complete those stages that are lacking. Stimulation of specific neural pathways will inhibit early foetal reflexes and other early reflexes that 'block' the development of the adult reflexes that are required for developmental maturity. The treatment is carried out at home and requires a commitment of no more than 10 minutes per day to perform a series of brushing exercises or some slow movements.

Treatment is easy and very effective. Removing the early reflexes and allowing adult responses to be present lays the foundations; auditory stimulation and kinesiology can then help to fine tune, intellectual, physical and emotional systems - allowing the child to reach full potential.

Foetal Reflexes:
Foetal reflexes are known to be present from approximately the sixth week after conception. They can be elicited through tactile stimulus in very specific areas. These reflexes provide Developmental Integration practitioners with the first stage of stimulation in children and adults with neuro-developmental delay. Some children only have a few reflexes showing, and in these cases it is possible that the reflex has either never developed or has already been inhibited. As stimulation begins, very often a foetal reflex that was not present in a previous test will emerge and will itself, over time, be inhibited. Through a process of stimulation and inhibition of the foetal reflexes, subsequent reflexive stages will change.


Primitive Reflexes:
These begin to develop while the baby is in the womb ( usually from around 3 months) and will gradually diminish in strength after the baby is born.


MORO - (The baby startle reflex):
The Moro Reflex begins to develop from approximately the 10th week after conception and should be fully inhibited by the time baby is 4 months old. It can be seen in babies who are suddenly startled - they fling their arms out wide with extended fingers and take a sudden deep breath. They then gradually bring the arms back to the body and breathe out. This is the normal reaction in babies to threat. If this reflex persists in a school-age child, it is likely that they will be extremely anxious and over-reactive. Some children respond by being shy and withdrawn; others by becoming aggressive. Parents will often notice their children swing from one state to another. Children whose stress hormones are continually activated are more likely than others to be prone to illness and to need frequent nourishment as blood sugar levels drop more rapidly than is usual. These children have a need to control their environment to make it manageable. They do not respond well to change. Concentration will almost certainly be poor. The reflex is triggered by over-sensitivity to sound, light, temperature changes, movement or a combination of these stimuli. Adults with this reflex have the same symptoms as children and adapt their environment to their needs. Some adults will crave outlets for their over-stimulated bodies and will be continually active. Others will tend to withdraw from stimulus as much as possible in order to control their internal restlessness.


Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex:
The TLR has two-phases, the first in flexion. There is evidence that this reflex emerges before the 12th week after conception. It should be fully inhibited by the time a baby is 4 months old. The second phase is present at birth and is inhibited slowly, usually by the time a baby is 3 years old, depending on the development of other reflexes. The flexion phase is evident as the baby's head is moved forward towards it's chest; the baby will curl up into the foetal position. The extension phase can be seen when a baby's head is tipped backwards and the baby will extend its arms and legs. The reflex is activated in the labyrinths which indicate changes of location in space to the brain. A child with a retained TLR reflex will generally have problems with balance and with spatial awareness. This extends to writing. Reversal of letters is linked with poor spatial awareness or insufficient proprioceptive information reaching the vestibular system. If the TLR is inadequately inhibited, creeping and crawling stages will be underdeveloped. Children with a retained TLR reflex in flexion will often have poor posture and muscle tone. Those with a retained TLR in extension will have a tendency to poor posture with angular movements. Difficulties with spatial awareness and balance often cause motion sickness and poor sequencing skills which affect organisation and awareness of time.


Assymetrical Tonic Reflex -ATTNR:
The ATNR reflex begins to develop from the 18th week in the womb and should be inhibited by the time the baby is approximately 6 months old. It can be seen as a baby's head it turned to one side. The arm and leg on the side to which the head is turned will extend and the arm and leg on the other side of the body will flex. This reflex is used in the birth process by the midwife who turns the baby's head in order to aid the delivery of one shoulder and then the other. The child who retains this reflex will have difficulty in crossing the midline, both in body movements and in eye movements. Dominance will not be fully established. Turning the head in either direction will cause simultaneous extension of the arm and fingers in the direction of the turn of the head thus causing balance difficulties and problems with co- ordination. There will also be difficulties with visual perception especially beyond arm's length. An adult with a retained ATNR will continue to have difficulties with co-ordination and often also with balance.


Spinal Galant Reflex:
The Spinal Galant reflex develops at approximately the 20th week after conception and should be fully inhibited by the time the baby is 9 months old. It can be seen on a newborn by stimulating the area to one side of the spine at the base of the back. It assists in the birth process by causing small movements of the hips which help the baby to move down the birth canal. The full development and inhibition of the Spinal Gallant reflex is dependent on the inhibition of earlier foetal reflexes on the back. In a school age child a retained Spinal Galant (or earlier foetal reflexes) will cause the child to squirm and wriggle as the reflex is continually stimulated with the light pressure of clothing or stronger pressure of chair backs. Some children will insist on wearing waistbands very tight in order that no friction between fabric and skin can take place. If this reflex (or an earlier foetal reflex on the back) is stronger on one side than the other, differing muscle tension can cause the spine to twist to one side and cause movement and posture problems. The full inhibition of this reflex is necessary for the development of segmental rolling reflexes which in turn affect accurate oppositional rotation of the shoulder and hip and cross-patterned movement. Bedwetting is often a problem. Concentration is likely to be poor due to discomfort and fidgeting. An adult will have similar difficulties. Using their hands will be a problem and they will tend to be clumsy while trying to manipulate objects.


Primitive Rooting Reflex:
This begins to develop at around the 24th week after conception. It is located around the mouth, extending to the cheeks. Touching the baby around the mouth or on the cheeks will cause the baby to turn his head in the direction of the touch, open his mouth and put out his tongue, ready to feed. A school age child will often have a difficulty with speech. The muscles around the mouth will be underdeveloped and these children often speak with limited lip movement. If the reflex persists on one side of the mouth, tension will cause the mouth to be pulled in that direction.


Primitive Suck Reflex:
This reflex should have developed by the 36th week after conception. Placing an object in the baby's mouth elicits a strong sucking action which includes the ability of the mouth to hold the correct amount of tension, together with an ability to move the tongue correctly. Premature babies often have difficulties with feeding due to an underdeveloped primitive suck reflex and some full term babies are unable to feed for similar reasons. Earlier foetal reflexes affect the full development of the primitive suck reflex. A school age child with a retained Primitive suck reflex will tend to find mouth articulation difficult. Eating is often very messy - the tongue movements involving in sucking are different from those involved in eating solid food. Speech is also likely to be affected.


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