What Are Persistent Primitive Reflexes?

Hello! Today, I want to write about an area that is fascinating to me! I first heard about this idea years ago, but recently have been learning more and more on the subject, and thought I would share it with you, my wonderful readers! This area is the idea of persistent primitive reflexes. There are great people who research and teach about this fascinating piece of the health puzzle. My goal today is simply to introduce this idea to you, so you can look further into it, and see if it seems like it might be important to you or your family’s health journey. We have had guest practitioners to speak on this subject, and you can find their lectures on our YouTube channel (more details below).

My learning in this area began from two main sources: hearing Robert Melillo from Brain Balance speak at an Autism One conference, and reading book by Bonnie L. Brandes called The Symphony of Reflexes. So what are these reflexes I’m talking about? What is a primal or primitive reflex?

Primitive reflex is the term given the reflexes that a newborn have to utilite to keep them safe and help them function, until more sophisticated nervous system responses develop. These reflexes occur or “highlight” at a specific time and in a specific order. When each reflext first appears it is separate or dominate, but then as time and maturity happen, it integrates into the nervous system. We all have them, and they each serve a purpose, from helping us exit the birth canal, protect us if we fall or startle, the sucking reflex to help us feed, and more!

In a healthy child, these reflexes should all be integrated by around age 2. Meaning there should be more mature and complicated neurological responses that we live in and utilize 99% of the time. However, Robert Melillo estimates that maybe up to 1/3 of adults still have at least one unintegrated (or persistent) primitive reflex. There are 19+ separate reflexes that are considered our primitive reflexes.

If a primitive reflex doesn’t integrate, but remains active and separate in its function, certain developmental milestones can’t occur. The delay of milestone achievement depends on which primitive reflex is affected. As a child or adult grows older, most will compensate for the lack of proper neurological connections, but tasks are more difficult. This can lead to trouble in school, anger and temper issues, bedwetting, coordination issues, and more!

Learn more about the topic of primitive reflexes by watching one of our YouTube classes on the topic and contact Be Well Clinic if you feel like you may be struggling with persistent primitive reflexes.

Learn More about this fascinating topic by watching one of our YouTube Classes:

Recognizing + Maturing Persistent Primitive Reflexes with Emily Roper of Early Roots Therapy


MNRI Reflex Integration for Development, Resilience, and Wellbeing

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