The Moro reflex is also referred to as the ‘startle reflex.’ The Moro reflex is the earliest primitive reflex to emerge and forms a strong foundation for future life experiences. When you fail to support or hold your baby’s neck and head or if your baby becomes startled by a loud noise, bright light or sudden touch, the arms of your baby will thrust outward and curl in which looks like an attempt to embrace themselves. If retained, the child/adult may be hypersensitive to other sensations, may over-react to stimulation and be in a constant state of “fight or flight.” This will lead to overactivity of the sympathetic nervous system, including the adrenal glands. Due to the constant demands placed on them, they may become fatigued leading to allergies, asthma, a depressed immune system, and, ultimately, chronic illnesses. Other observable social/learning problems associated with a retained Moro reflex include an inability to focus on one thing at a time, poor impulse control, emotional immaturity, a tendency towards becoming withdrawn or timid, distractibility, difficulty playing ball games, and aggressive, anxious, and/or highly excitable behavior. Sensory systems associated with the Moro reflex include the auditory, tactile, visual, vestibular, and proprioceptive systems.
Difficulties associated with a retained rooting reflex include social/learning problems, poor articulation, tactile sensitivity around the face, messy eating, and poor manual dexterity. The tactile and proprioceptive systems are associated with the rooting reflex.
The spinal Galant like the ATNR, is important in the birthing process because it facilitates the movement of the hips as the baby descends into the birthing canal. Observable social/learning problems associated with a retained spinal Galant reflex include an inability to sit still “ants in the pants,” possible scoliosis, poor concentration, poor posture, hip rotation on one side when walking, chronic digestive issues, and bedwetting beyond the age of 5 years. The sensory systems associated with the spinal Galant reflex include auditory, vestibular, visual, and proprioceptive systems.
Signs of a retained ATNR include possible scoliosis, poor handwriting, difficulty expressing ideas in written form, difficulty with eye-tracking, difficulty with visual-motor coordination, difficulty with tasks that require crossing the bodies mid-line (reading/writing), and difficulty with bilateral coordination. Every time the head turns, an arm may follow it with fingers open. It will take the individual a lot of effort and concentration to hold the hand still while writing when the head has to move to look at another paper or the whiteboard. An older child or adult may complain of chronic or recurrent shoulder or neck injury/pain oftentimes on the same side of the body. The sensory systems associated with the ATNR include auditory, vestibular, visual, and proprioceptive.
The symmetrical tonic neck reflex has a very short life span and undergoes inhibition when the child starts to crawl, it enables the baby to get off the floor for the first time but does not allow mobility. Typical developing babies go through a period of "rocking" on hands and knees, a process that inhibits the STNR, so crawling may ensue. If the STNR remains strongly active for too long, then fluent crawling may never be achieved. Bending the legs as a result of head extension assists to inhibit the reflex and encourage the infant to fixate their eyes at a distance. Bending the arms in response to flexion of the head will automatically bring the child's vision back to near point, training the eyes to adjust from far to near point and back again. The retained STNR can also be characterized by poor posture, poor eye-hand coordination and focusing difficulties. Children with a retained STNR may have problems with sitting still at a desk or learning to swim, and usually do not feel comfortable with ball games.
The tonic labyrinth reflex prepares the baby for rolling over, crawling on all fours, standing and walking. Problems associated with a retained reflex include difficulty keeping the head in a flexed position, trouble paying attention when sitting at a desk and/or reading, poor posture, poor balance, motion sickness, dyspraxia, toe walking, hypo or hyper-tonus (muscle tone), a dislike for physical education class, poor sense of rhythm/timing, oculomotor difficulties (reading/writing), orientation and spatial difficulties. The sensory systems associated with this reflex include the vestibular, proprioceptive, auditory, and visual.
The disappearance of the palmar grasp reflex is significantly related to the commencement of the voluntary use of the hands. The absence of this reflex usually reflects peripheral (i.e., root, plexus, or nerve) or spinal cord involvement, especially if asymmetrical responses are noted. Lesions of the upper brain structures can affect the response. The response may be increased and retained longer compared to typical infants, on the affected side(s) of the upper limb(s) in infants with spastic hemiplegia or quadriplegia, whereas it is very weak in infants with cerebral palsy (CP) of the athetoid type.3