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Home > Development, Reflex Integration & More Essentials > Reflex Integration is ESSENTIAL

Reflex Integration is ESSENTIAL

Fear Paralysis Reflex

What is the Fear Paralysis Reflex?

  • The fear paralysis reflex is the very first reflex that appears.

  • It is a withdrawal reflex that emerges in the embryonic stage. This happens when the embryo reacts to stress by withdrawing and freezing.

  • As the fetus’s tactile awareness develops, the reflex response lessens gradually.

  • The fear paralysis reflex ideally should merge into the Moro reflex and become inactive before birth.


Benefits of the Fear Paralysis Reflex?

  • It is thought that this reflex is the first step in learning to cope with stress.

  • Helps protect the infant from dangerous stimuli.

Signs and Symptoms of a Retained Fear Paralysis Reflex- FREEZING responses

  • Low self esteem

  • Extremely fearful Anxiety

  • Shallow, difficult breathing

  • Depression/isolation

  • Extreme shyness

  • Phobias and Separation anxiety

  • Fear of embarrassment

  • Withdrawal from touch

  • Low tolerance for stress


Activity for Integrating the Fear Paralysis Reflex

  • Knees Side-to-Side

    • Have the child lie on their back on a yoga mat with their arms out in a “T” and have them bring their knees and feet up off the ground and towards the midline. Instruct them to slowly bring both legs down to one side. Count to five and then bring the knees slowly back to the center and hold for a count of one. Repeat on the other side. This exercise should be performed one time, twice a week.

    • Tapping methods training done at reflex integration courses

    • Vibration on entire body

    • Slow rocking with deep pressure and vibration

    • EFT therapy with trained counselors

    • Pulsation, tapping and talking about how to work through stressors (visual 5 point scale example) Start TX at most relaxed state. Combine tapping, vibration, brushing with visual tracking exercises try the heart beat rhythm (60-70 bpm)

    • Slow vestibular rocking with eyes closed with vibration

    • If adopted or new parent, need to bond with parent doing this- have caregiver hold them and do exercises or be on swing with them while doing.

The Moro Reflex

What is the Moro Reflex?

  • The Moro Reflex is a primitive reflex pattern that emerges in utero and integrates four months after birth. It is an involuntary reaction to what is perceived as an outside threat.

  • Some threatening sensory stimuli includes sudden and/or loud noises, sudden change or movement in the visual field, and the feeling of being dropped or startled.

  • Motor Responses include fanning or clenching of fingers, spreading or extending the extremities, quick flexion of the extremities, and crying and/or anger.


Benefits of the Moro Reflex

  • The Moro reflex is the first primitive reflex to emerge, and it is necessary for an infant’s survival.

  • The Moro reflex helps the infant to take the first breath immediately following birth.

  • It also helps protect the infant from dangerous environmental stimuli.

  • It is considered a building block to all the other reflexes and overall development.


Signs and Symptoms of a Retained Moro Reflex

  • Sensitivity to sound and difficulty tuning out background noise

  • Poor coordination and balance

  • Reduced attention

  • Gravitational insecurities; excessive fear of falling and heights and fear of swinging head back motions or being flipped or laying down for diaper changes 

  • Motion sickness

  • Increased distractibility

  • Easily startled and fearful in new situations

  • Overreacting

  • Increased “fight or flight” responses and anxiety

  • Hypersensitivity to touch as well as light sensitivity

  • Difficulty making decisions

  • Difficulty with social skills; behavioral and emotional issues

  • Low immune system


Activity for Integrating the Moro Reflex

  • Popcorn on floor Have the child lie down on their back on a yoga mat with arms and legs extended. Encourage the child to bring chin to the chest and curl up by supporting knees with hands. Hold for 3-5 seconds. In a smooth and controlled movement, have the child bring the body back to its original position. Repeat 5-10 times.

  • Starfish full extension to full flexion over ball ~Swinging with head back looking behind

Tonic Labyrinthine (TLR) Reflex

What is the TLR Reflex?

  • The tonic labyrinthine (TLR) reflex emerges at birth and integrates at 6 months of age.

  • There are two labyrinthine reflexes: the prone TLR reflex and the supine TLR reflex.

  • The prone TLR reflex occurs when a child is placed on his or her stomach. Gravity acts on the inner ear, pulling the head, trunk, and limbs toward the earth. This reflex must occur in order for a child to develop the muscles that are used when the body is in a flexed position.

  • Integration of the TLR reflex must occur in order to gain the skills and strengths necessary to lift the body off the ground when lying on the stomach.

  • The supine TLR reflex is just the opposite. When the child is placed on his or her back, the body will extend and pull the trunk, head, arms, and legs toward the earth.

Benefits of the TLR reflex

  • The TLR reflex is linked to our vestibular system, which helps us to maintain our balance.

  • It helps us learn about gravity and master head and neck control.

  • It also increases muscle tone and develops proprioceptive senses.

Signs and Symptoms of a Retained TLR Reflex

  • Toe walking

  • Difficulty judging space, speed, distance, and depth when walking

  • Slouching in chairs

  • Motion sickness

Activity for Integrating TLR prone:

  • Spinning on a large ball

    • You will need a large therapy ball and plenty of space. The child will lie face-down over the ball with his stomach over the center of the top. The child will look up and hold his arms “like an airplane” while you spin the ball around. For variety, after 3-5 revolutions hand the child a small foam ball and tell him to toss it into a box or at a target. See how many revolutions the child can do before lowering his head. Increase the number each time.

Activity for Integrating TLR supine:

  • Balloon Volley

    • Lying on their back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and toes touching the wall, the child will use their hands to volley a balloon against a wall. Count the number of times they make it before the balloon hits the floor or goes out of control. Two people can also lie with their toes touching and volley the balloon back and forth.

    • Prone extension over swing, ball, stool and head swings while on swing


Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR)

What is ATNR?

  • The ATNR reflex is a primitive reflex pattern that emerges in utero (at approximately 18 weeks) and integrates approximately 6 months after birth. It is an involuntary response from turning the head to the left or the right.

  • Sensory stimuli that may cause the head to turn include sound, light, and touch.

  • Motor responses include extension of the arm and leg that the head turns towards and flexing of the opposite arm and leg from which the head turns away.

Benefits of the ATNR reflex

  • The ATNR reflex influences developmental skills.

  • During the birthing stage, the ATNR reflex prepares the infant for transitional movement through the birth canal.

  • It affects the ability to cross the body’s midline.

  • It affects visual skills, auditory skills, and vestibular skills

  • Influences gross motor coordination

Signs and Symptoms of a Retained ATNR Reflex

  • Difficulty rolling and crawling

  • Lack of balance and coordination

  • Challenges with crossing the midline

  • Difficulty following multiple step movement instructions

  • Difficulty and frustration with sports

  • May appear clumsy

  • Does not have right or left sided dominance

  • Challenges with eye-hand coordination

  • Handwriting difficulties

  • Visual and auditory challenges

  • Attention and concentration challenges

Activity for Integrating the ATNR Reflex

  • Cross Crawls- Start from a standing position. Ask the child to tap the right knee with the left hand, and the left knee with the right hand. Variations: March forward and backward while tapping right knee with left hand, and left knee with right hand; Tap the left knee with the right elbow, and the right knee with the left elbow; reach back and tap the right ankle with the left hand, and the left ankle with the right hand, Read code charts while creeping patterns, head turns R and L while creeping, creep to a metronome beat, Bicycle in supine, Angels in Snow, Infinity loop patterns


Palmar Grasp Reflex


What is the Palmar Grasp Reflex?

  • The palmar grasp reflex is a primitive reflex that integrates by 6 months of age. When any object is placed in an infant’s palm, their fingers will automatically close around it.

  • This reflex can be activated by placing an object, such as a finger, into the infant’s palm.


Benefits of the Palmar Grasp Reflex

  • The palmar grasp reflex is essential in developing fine motor skills, such as grasping a pencil or picking up small objects.

  • It is important in developing grip strength.

  • Integration of the palmar grasp sets the foundation for learning many other motor skills.

  • It helps a child to grasp and manipulate objects, develop handwriting skills, and much more.


Signs and Symptoms of a Retained Palmar Grasp Reflex

  • Weak hand strength

  • Difficulty using the two hands together

  • Reduced hand-eye coordination

  • Delayed writing skills

  • Poor dexterity

  • Little to no interest in coloring or drawing

  • Difficulty with cutting, spelling, and writing


Activity for Integrating the Palmar Grasp Reflex

  • Ball squeezes- Have the child squeeze a small ball, such as a tennis ball or a stress ball, several times. Gradually increase the number of squeezes.

  • Vibration on palms of hands

  • Texture play in hands (rice, carpet, hands on play in textures)

  • Wheelbarrow walking and creeping on carpet and over different textures


Spinal Galant Reflex


What is the Spinal Galant Reflex?

  • The spinal galant reflex is a primitive reflex that causes a baby to bend sideways if the lower body is stroked next to the spine.

  • The purpose is to encourage movement and develop range of motion in preparation for crawling and walking.

  • This reflex should integrate by 9 months of age.


Benefits of the Spinal Galant Reflex

  • This reflex helps the baby to work its way down the birth canal.

  • It is important in maintaining balance when a child starts to creep and crawl.

  • It is also thought to be connected to bladder function.


Signs and Symptoms of a Retained Spinal Galant Reflex

  • Toe Walking

  • Auditory Processing delays- direct effect on light touch system and bone conduction to sounds

  • Poor visual attention

  • Scoliosis Fidgeting

  • Bed wetting

  • Poor posture Poor concentration

  • Hip rotation to one side when walking

  • Sensory issues with tags on clothing and food textures


Activity for Integrating the Spinal Galant Reflex

  • Snow Angels- Have the child lie on his or her back on a yoga mat. Instruct them to simultaneously open the arms and the legs, as if they are making a snow angel. To progress the exercise, have them simultaneously open and close the right side while keeping the left side still. Then, have them open and close the left side while keeping the right side still. After they have mastered that, instruct them to move the right leg and left arm simultaneously, and then switch to the left leg and the right arm. Other- Lizard Crawling on back, back massage, vibration up and down muscle area around spine, therapeutic brushing on back near spine, tapping on back and writing on back.

Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR)

What is the Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex?

  • The STNR reflex is a primitive reflex that should integrate by twelve months of age.

  • This reflex is responsible for developing strength and coordination in infants in preparation for creeping and crawling.

  • When an infant’s head moves forward (their chin toward their chest), their legs straighten and their arms bend.

  • When their head moves backward (away from their chest), their legs bend and their arms straighten.

  • The STNR reflex helps the infant learn to use the top and bottom half of their bodies independently from one another.


Benefits of the STNR Reflex

  • It helps develop good posture

  • Helps with focus

  • Develops and-eye coordination

  • Develops strength and coordination


Signs and Symptoms of a Retained STNR Reflex

  • Inability to coordinate crawling or creeping movements, poor crossing midline, Dyspraxia

  • Poor posture

  • Uncoordinated

  • Difficulty maintaining posture while sitting in a chair

Activity for Integrating the STNR Reflex

  • Balance and Toss- Have the child lie on a therapy ball on his or her stomach, with hands and feet touching the floor. Place several small objects (like balls or bean bags) by the child’s hands and a bucket a few feet away from the objects. Instruct the child to pick up a ball with one hand, look up at the bucket, and toss the object into the bucket. To increase difficulty, have the child try this with his or her feet off the floor. Next, have the child lie on their back over the ball. Place the bucket near his feet. Hand the child one object at a time and have them toss it into the bucket.

  • Tiger cross crawl with hands crossing midline or scooter with hands crossing midline, tuck a soft ball or bean bag under chin while doing this.

  • Creep to a BEAT (for hyper children a slower metronome 20-30 bpm and for coordination delays faster beats 60 bpm)

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