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                           The brain learns through movement

The Reflex System


In an ideal world the development of a child’s brain follows a sequential and predictable pattern that builds upon itself, with early functioning laying the foundations from which further development takes place.  One of the first areas to develop is the brainstem (part of the central nervous system [CNS]) and it completes much of its development in utero and in the first six months of life.  The midbrain and limbic systems are the next to develop and they do this over the first three years of life.  It is during these first two phases that the Primary and Postural reflexes have a significant role to play in order for the child to reach their full potential.  If for some reason, the development of these sequential reflex systems has been interrupted, the subsequent development will be weakened and can cause problems for the child once they begin to enter the school system that may appear as behaviour or learning difficulties. 


Some of the effects that immature reflexes can have on development and learning include:-


  • Poor sense of balance

  • Poor posture when standing and sitting or moving

  • An inability to sit still

  • Lack of coordination and poor motor skills

  • Poor control of eye movement when reading (loss of place or skips a line)

  • Poor hand-eye coordination needed for writing and drawing

  • Disorganised

  • Poor spacial skills (misjudges size of doorway, bumps into things, seen as clumsy)

  • Lack of impulse control

  • Emotional fragility

  • Difficulties with both spoken and written language


 For more detailed information on primitive and postural reflexes (table) and their possible links to learning or emotional dysfunction click here.

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