Retained Infantile Reflexes

Retained Primitive Reflexes

Also known as Infantile Reflexes

No two children with learning difficulties show exactly the same physical problems. One child who is out of sync and doesn’t like touch on their own skin may touch and fidget others continually whilst a child with generally poor balance can learn to ride a bike through persistent repetitive practice. Some children are clumsy whilst others appear well coordinated and yet another can be continually car sick. Every child with a learning difficulty seems to be poor at some of the following:


  • Movement
  • Coordination
  • Balance
  • Rhythm
  • Handwriting
  • And even the way their sense of touch gives them a message.

The classroom usually focuses on reading, writing, arithmetic and other academic subjects and in our society there is a tendency to forget that movement has anything to do with academic results. In particular areas there may be a lack of opportunity for adventurous outdoor play. There is even a tendency to ignore the importance to children in such things as crawling, touching, exploring and putting things in their mouths and missing some of these opportunities leaves a “gap” in the organisation of their nervous system. A well organised nervous system learns easily. As we learn through our senses, there has to be a connection between muscles, skin, balance, eyes, ears and our ability to learn.

What Are Retained Primitive Reflexes?

Primitive Reflexes are given to babies in order to help them get down the birth canal and to protect them as well as get them moving in the first weeks after birth. These reflexive movements are automatic and do not require a baby to think before they act. An example of this is the reflex of sucking – after a certain amount of practice the baby can suck when it wants not just when its mouth is touched. Most of the other reflexes have to do with moving around, for example when the head is turned an arm goes out. Without these and other automatic reflexes a baby would not learn to roll or crawl properly.

Most of these reflexes however should disappear at a certain prescribed time or else they start to INTERFERE with good development. For example, every baby must go through a period of rocking when they first get up on their hands and knees – this helps get rid of a reflex that would otherwise interfere with a child crawling on hands and knees.

    Our Left And Our Right

    • Crawling is probably the best preparation for learning that has been designed. It is a necessary element in development to ensure that both sides of the body and the brain are integrated.
    • One characteristic of most children with learning difficulties is that the two sides of their bodies do not work well enough together, ie they are not well integrated. Examples include a child walking right arm and right leg forward first and then left arm – left leg instead of the usual left arm – right leg, right leg – left arm method that gives good balance. Others don’t use both sides of their body in a coordinated way to bowl or throw a ball and still others are inconsistent about which hand and leg is dominant one or even which is the left or right hand. (Don’t confuse this with a truly ambidextrous person who can use both hands with equal ease, is well integrated and write neatly with either hand). Children can survive doing things this way but these are important indicators of poor organisation of the nervous system and an inefficient method of learning.
    • Another example is the toddler exploring and trying to climb onto a chair – even when they fall off it or crawl under it they are developing awareness, about space, distance and their position within that space. Eventually they can run and walk around objects without bruising themselves of knocking something over.

    About Us

    Our aim is to provide quality educational assistance to students in a rural situation in the South East of South Australia

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    PO Box 1176

    5 Pinkerton Rd