The post Retained Primitive Reflexes provides a general overview of early (neonatal) reflexes. These are starting points for us, behaviourally speaking, and provide the foundation upon which we build more complex behaviours that allow us to explore our world.
What follows is an extension of that discussion to focus more on approaches to training/therapy when retained reflexes are present and in need of training for integration to a higher level of function.
Primitive Reflex Training DVDs:
- Books and other ideas: www.inpp.org.uk/
- Therapeutic ‘Astronaut Training’
- Other gross-motor training from drboulet.com:
- Randolf Shuffle: drboulet.com/randolf-shuffle/
- Gross-motor 1
- Gross-motor 2
- Feldenkrais Institute Functional Integration
My great thanks to these wonderful yogis who continue to assist in refining these ideas.
Calgary Area: Silver Tree Wellness, Carlie Nicol
Edmonton Area: Rock Yoga, Quinn Boulet
The following should serve as a starting point, but there’s plenty here to keep even the most committed therapists and clients busy with each activity providing great benefits on their own.
Like for rehabilitation generally, the child should rarely (if ever) be made to compete against another. Watching another, on the other hand, is a great adjunct to most therapeutic activities, but this is only to study and learn. ‘Watching’, that is, playing the role of student, is an important tool in learning, but so is ‘doing’, or playing the role of teacher. Switching roles is far more effective and encouraging for a child than to simply have him compete against another on a playing field that can never be fair – for one, or the other. Have the child focus on doing ‘better than the last time’ for no other reason than to challenge himself to do it better. Always emphasize quality of movement rather than ‘getting through things quickly’ so you can say it’s done. Things to look for:
- Straight arms/legs, or evenly and symmetrically bent limbs,
- Left/right moving at same speed whether fast or slow,
- Avoiding jerky movements,
- Symmetry on contacting hands above the head,
- Supination: keep feet flat on the floor.
These reflex integration activities are arguably the most important parts of any child development strategy, whether or not there are significant visual functional concerns, and for all learning and development-related concerns. For most people, it is awkward to engage in these activities and there seem to be ever more reasons to become distracted. If you can overcome the initial obstacles and engage in this sort of programming following simple guidelines, you will likely see significant behavioural and performance changes in your child within 3 months.
- 5-10 breaths in each pose.
- 8-10 poses per session.
- 3-7 times weekly minimum.
- Warrior 1 – inhale on extending arms up, and exhale as you bring arms/hands to heart centre.
- Nostril Breathing – slow in/out tidal breathing.
- Bead / candle meditation – https://drboulet.com/meditation-setting-the-stage/
And the ‘starfish’. I am reminded by a colleague that this particular portrayal of the starfish is a somewhat ‘lazy’ one. It is presented here as a general illustration only:
- Joint Freeing Series Yoga Notes
- Bee Breath – (make a buzzing sound on exhale)
- Meditation – hands to heart centre, counting beads. Or, here.
- Sunarms: Inhale gaze up, exhale gaze down.
- Superman on all fours (bilateral hold and movement).
- Extended side angle pose to archer (moving with breath).
- Meditation – hands to heart centre, counting beads and breaths. See here.
- Tadasana (mountain pose)
- Tree Pose
- Cat/Cow – All fours, arch like a cat, chest forward, head to sky. Do this also with head turned to the left then right.
- Meditation – Seated breathing using Ting Sha cymbals during at at end. Try hands to heart centre, counting beads and breaths. See here.
Balloon Bumping – have child bump a balloon into the air using different body parts each time. Or, devise a suitably simple version of this: Air Balloons. Remember, the goal is to keep excitement as low as possible so the child can ‘centre’ and not be too distracted, so Air Balloons should not be played as a competitive game.
- Rolling like a ball (tumbling) and side-to-side log rolling.
- Seated side stretch with strap and then gradually use it to open the chest/heart centre
- Line walking (on a rope), arms extended.
- Block or Teddy bear on tummy, lying savasana (shavasana = ‘corpse’ pose, used at end of yoga sequences.)
- Breathing: Straw breathing, or bead/breath meditation.
Spinal Galant Reflex:
- Seated Butterfly Pose – Bring knees together like butterfly wings.
- Lying down, alternating knees bent to chest, the out again.
- Drawing circles on the ceiling using each knee separately, the simultaneously.
- Block or Teddy bear on tummy, lying savasana (‘shavasana’ = ‘corpse pose’, used at end of yoga sequences.)