It May Not be What You See- But What You Don’t See

“She’s no longer waking up at night.” “He’s not having melt-downs every afternoon.” “She’s not fighting every step of our morning routine!”.

These are the types of comments we often hear from parents when their child has been working through the program at Brain Fit Academy

When we are working to integrate Primitive Reflexes, we tell parents that it might not be what you see that changes, but what you don’t see.  

Why is that? Well let me explain. You see, unintegrated (not finished) Primitive Reflexes can cause a host of symptoms that you (and others) might not necessarily connect to, or realize, could be an indicator of a certain reflex needing work. 

Take for example, the MORO Reflex. One indicator of this reflex not being fully integrated is that someone may experience tight muscles in the back of the body. The MORO is the “fight/flight” part of the Fight/Flight/Freeze response so when the MORO is still active, it can keep the body in a constant state of fight/flight- the muscles primed and ready to fight or flee.

Now for a child, that tightness might manifest itself in the parents hearing things like “My legs hurt.” or “My back hurts”. If there is no apparent physical injury or reason for that pain, the parents might dismiss it as “growing pains” or a pulled muscle. But what is so interesting is that once we start to integrate the MORO reflex, that tightness lessens as the nervous system calms down and the muscles relax. 

That absence of pain happens. The parents notice that their child stopped complaining of those pains. They stopped because they no longer felt it, right? But how often do we stop to think “Is my child still in pain today?” I would hope that it’s a rare time when you would need to ask that. And so, in order to help see the changes that are happening we encourage parents to look for “what is no longer there, what is no longer happening”.

Another example would be the ATNR reflex. This reflex, (the Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex) can contribute to an awkward pencil grip or contorted writing position. The ATNR reflex is the reflex that causes the arm and leg on one side of the body to extend when the head is turned to that side (while the limbs on the opposite side bend). So when the reflex is active, when the person turns their head, the arm wants to extend. To fight the reflex activity, the body develops compensations and that may include the awkward pencil grip or writing position. 

Work on the ATNR and what happens? The pencil grip changes, or the writing position improves. You no longer see that behavior. Again, if we don’t stop to notice that change we might miss it. It’s a subtle, but awesome- indicator that the ATNR is becoming more integrated!

There are so many more examples of this that I could give, but I think you get the picture. Integrating the Primitive Reflexes changes things. Just don’t forget to look for things you don’t see anymore.

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