Retained primitive reflexes affect learning and behaviour
Our son was delivered at 37 weeks by emergency C-section due to pre-eclampsia and a placental abruption. He was a demanding baby who never slept through the night, but was otherwise 'normal' - whatever that is! When he went to nursery they told us he had difficulty interacting with other children and was obsessed with sharpening pencils! When he was 4 years old he commenced Reception at a private school and experienced a lot of difficulties. We were informed that he found academic tasks extremely challenging and very tiring, that he had problems with social interaction and was obsessed with uncertainty and the colour yellow. He hated the school bell and always covered his ears when it rang. The teacher sat him away from the main peer group, facing the wall, and a yellow spot was used to mark his place on the floor. She told us that he was 'not normal' and that she had never experienced such a difficult child before. We were advised to consult an Educational Psychologist and find another school for him. Details of a residential school for children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders were passed to us. We consulted an Educational Psychologist and moved him to a state school because other local private schools rejected us. The Educational Psychologist felt that he fitted somewhere under the umbrella of autistic spectrum disorders, but was very mild. The school advised us to get a medical diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome in order to apply for a statement of special educational needs. We obtained the diagnosis, but were refused a statement! We were simply advised to join the Autistic Society. He was made very welcome at his new school and settled in well. We read Tony Attwood's book on Aspergers Syndrome but failed to recognise our son. A friend suggested that we take him to see a Chiropractor. The Chiropractor could tell that he had been manhandled at birth and urged us to consult a Homeopath, whose holistic system could help him to change his behaviour and realise his full potential. Soon after commencing these two treatments we began to get very positive feedback from his teachers. Most noticeable was the disappearance of his obsession with the colour yellow and with uncertainty. The Homeopath suggested that I read "Reflexes, Learning and Behaviour - A Window Into the Child's Mind" by Sally Goddard, and here I finally recognised my son! I learned that in order to survive, each baby is equipped with a set of primitive reflexes designed to insure immediate response to its new environment and changing needs. Primitive reflexes are automatic movements directed from the brain stem and are essential for the baby's survival in the first few weeks of life. They should however have a limited life-span and, having helped the baby survive the first hazardous months of life, be inhibited to allow postural reflexes to take over. In some children primitive reflexes can be retained and cause developmental delay. It is not known why this happens but a difficult birth is thought to be a contributing factor, and children born by C-Section who do not "unscrew" through the birth canal are thought to be at higher risk. Retained primitive reflexes can cause a wide variety of difficulties including motion sickness; poor balance and co-ordination; allergies and lowered immunity; poor stamina; frequent ear, nose and throat infections; speech difficulties; hadwriting difficulties; fidgeting; bedwetting; poor posture; difficulty learning to swim; poor attention; poor social skills; auditory problems; poor spelling; poor reading; poor adaptablility etc etc etc! (www.inpp.org.uk) The Homeopath referred us to Frances Emmett 01494 881600, a Neuro-Therapist based near Henley, and she diagnosed Neuro-Developmental Delay. This meant that our son had a cluster of retained primitive reflexes, the strongest being the Moro Reflex which left him with an exaggerated startle reaction causing him to over-react to certain stimuli. Hence all the difficulties at school! We embarked on an 18-month daily exercise programme designed to shut down the aberrant reflexes, and a completely different child started to emerge! We were eventually able to get him re-assessed by the Paediatrician and have the diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome withdrawn. Once this was complete he underwent a course of Vision Therapy with Owen Leigh, Behavioural Optometrist 01730 710174, to improve his visual skills, focus and concentration. Our son is now in Year 9 and was awarded a scholarship last year. He is mature and focussed and doing extremely well academically. He is very independent, fit and healthy and sleeps well! He has not needed to see a doctor for many years and has not taken any anti-biotics or any other allopathic medicine. Our second son was also born by C-Section and we discovered that he had co-ordination and handwriting difficulties. He too was diagnosed with retained primitive reflexes and has also successfully shut them down. Both boys attend a school where the principal knows all about primitive reflexes. Because they are so common, all children are routinely screened in the primary school and an exercise programme is offered in school to those children who require it. This is very progressive and the reason why we chose the school. There has been a very great increase in the number of children being labelled with various 'syndromes' and I wonder how many simply have retained primitive reflexes that could be dealt with using this non-invasive approach?