It Might Get Worse

I emailed my son’s Brain Fit Coach in a bit of a panic. We had recently started with weekly sessions and all of a sudden he started having an exaggerated response to noise that he never had before. His teachers were telling me that he was refusing to go into the cafeteria and was covering his ears. The teachers (graciously) allowed him to each his lunch just outside the cafeteria and even allowed him to invite a friend to eat with him.

Our coach responded to my panicked email with a completely calm response. She explained how when we first start working on these primitive reflexes, we might see an uptick in behaviors related to it before we see improvement. You see, she was working on the MORO reflex with him. The MORO is the earliest “fight/flight” response and is typically replaced by a “startle” response at 4 months of age. 

But what’s SO interesting is that the MORO reflex is the reflex that is activated by sensory input. Sensory input such as touch, smell, noise, visual and movement. And what is a cafeteria? It’s the epitome of a sensory overload party! The smells of food, the noisy middle school chatter, not to mention just the shear number of kids all in one room, talking, laughing, eating and moving around. No wonder this was the time that his MORO was getting triggered.

You have to understand remember, that the reflexes go through three stages: 

  • Emerge
  • Develop
  • Integrate

When the reflex is just starting to emerge, it “shows up”. The motor patterns start to show up. During the developing stage, the body is working through the movements- through those motor patterns, the movements in order to build the neural pathways. And during integrate, it finishes its job and gives way to more voluntary movements.

How does this relate to my son? Well, as I mentioned, our coach was working on MORO with him. I believe that he was still in the early stages of emerging at that point. Which, when you stop to think about it makes perfect sense. If the MORO reflex was only just emerging, those behaviors that we would expect to see in response to the activation of the MORO- sensory input or sudden changes would be heightened. We didn’t see the sensitivity to the noise before because (literally) he wasn’t even reacting to it. The MORO hadn’t even started doing its job. He’d been going into cafeterias of that size and noise level for years and never had an issue before that point. 

To our coach, and to me (once I had the explanation) it made absolutely perfect sense. Activate the MORO and you see the behaviors as the body works through what it needs to work through. 

Did that stage last a long time? Nope- maybe a few weeks to a month? And as he continued to work through that MORO reflex (as well as other primitive reflexes) during his Brain Fit sessions, that intolerance for the cafeteria went away just as easily as it had come. He’d worked through enough of the movements involved in the reflex to get it closer to integration and build those pathways in the brain.

It’s an ironic statement, me telling you that it “might get worse”. But, in order to get better, it might have to get worse first.

It doesn’t last. Trust me.

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