Neuro Developmental Delay or Retained Primitive Reflexes

The medical profession has created checklists of developmental milestones of various skill sets that children need to meet by certain ages. We all know that when we have had our child, we are constantly being asked by the GP or the Health visitor:

“Is your child crawling/sitting up/speaking/walking/holding objects etc etc….”

And we always feel very proud when we can say “Yes – he is!” But…what if your child ISN’T hitting those milestones? It’s just possible that he could be struggling with what is known as Neuro Developmental Delay (NDD)

Neuro Developmental Delay Signs and Symptoms

Neuro Developmental delays occur at different times during our life.  For instance, at a certain stage your child should be crawling. You may not notice, though, that your child isn’t crawling as you’d expect until he reaches the age when that should be a mastered skill, and sometimes, some children do take a bit longer to master things! My own son didn’t walk until he was almost two! Whereas my daughter was running by a year old!

Another example: By eight weeks old, your baby should start smiling at others, making funny little noises, moving his head toward sounds, and starting to push up on his arms so that his head is up.

Expert Child Psychologists have based neuro – developmental skills on averages, but if your child seems to be taking a bit longer than what’s generally accepted as normal, then there could be a problem. Some children who are diagnosed very early with something like Autism or cerebral palsy will undoubtedly have some delays in their development but its always a good idea to keep a good eye on your child’s progress.

The Diagnosis

At this moment in time, there are no lab or blood tests available that can tell us if your child has developmental delays – it literally is a case of moving through the stages as the child develops. If you keep an eye on your child and just check that he is moving quite close to the milestones, you will soon notice if he seems to be behind in something, especially if you attend mum and toddler groups where you will see other children of a similar age!

Retained Primitive Reflexes

A reflex is a physical response to a trigger that occurs without us thinking about it.  For example, if an insect were to fly very close to your eyes, you would automatically blink. This is a reflex.New-born babies have a set of reflexes that are checked out by the paediatrician as soon as they come into the world. These reflexes are known as primitive reflexes and are necessary for our early development, but by the time we have reached about five years old we don’t need them.

The primitive reflexes appear in a certain order, each one teaching us a certain function (sucking, rooting, walking etc).  Once a primitive reflex has done its’ job, it disappears (or inhibits).  it is generally accepted that by the age of four or five years old, a child should not show any signs of these reflexes.  If the primitive reflexes are retained, for whatever reason, the child will show signs of neurological development delays that will affect further progress in his development.

  • Bad behavior
  • Temper tantrums
  • Panic attacks
  • General anxiety
  • Separation anxiety
  • Shyness
  • ADHD symptoms
  • Shyness
  • Sensory processing problems
  • Unable to focus
  • Aversion to loud noises or bright lights
  • Sensitive with clothing
  • Balance or coordination
  • Difficulty with reading or writing
  • Speech difficulties
  • Travel sickness
  • Sleep issues
  • Bed wetting or stool holding.

So, what does Neuro Developmental delay Therapy Consist of?

Therapy programmes for primitive retained reflexes are quite different from normal therapy sessions. At my clinics, in London and Berkshire, I normally send the parent a very in-depth questionnaire to fill in. From this I can ascertain if we need to move forward to the assessment to establish if the child does have retained reflexes. (simple exercises that I make fun for the kids!)

Once I have all the information ready, I then devise an exercise regime for the child – these are very simple little exercises that have to be done every day – they take no more than 10 -15 minutes. I then see the child every 4-6 weeks for the next 9 months. Normally in that time, the progress is vast – the parents are amazed how fast things child.

One client said: “I took my son Josef to see Elaine as I was convinced he had retained reflexes. I was right – most of them had been retained! Within the first month of him doing the exercise plan that Elaine devised for him my husband and I noticed a huge difference in his behaviour, he stopped wetting the bed and his anxiety really slowed down, then by the end of the nine month programme you would never have known there had been a problem – it was amazing!” (Jackie Purdew, Reading)

If you are struggling with a child who you think may have retained reflexes do contact me and I will send you a questionnaire.

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