Carissa is also trained in The Alert Program®, with its user-friendly approach, helps anyone articulate their inner experience of self-regulation (how alert they feel). The program emphasizes how to change alert levels throughout the day, making it easy to get out of bed, work, play, learn, relax, socialize, and go to bed
Reflexes are automatic movements that happen without conscious thought. Reflexes help us to survive, search for food (rooting and sucking reflex), protection (moro), avoid danger (grasping from falling), to walk (stepping reflex). Primitive reflexes are the neurological building blocks of learned skills and motor development, coordination skills, cognitive skills and behavior patterns. Each reflex has an associated sensory stimulation and corresponding pattern of movements that can be integrated or unintegrated.
Integrated reflexes are important for developing motor control. A child needs motor control to maintain proper posture at a desk in school, ride a bike, read a book, cross midline, write, and get dressed. A child with integrated reflexes has normal movement patterns to complete these functional tasks at home and at school.(2,3) A child with unintegrated reflexes could benefit from skilled reflex integration therapy which will essentially train a child’s brain by establishing an efficient movement pattern that supports higher level motor skills or cognitive tasks.
An example, the Moro reflex. The Moro reflex develops in utero and typically integrates when a baby is 2-4 months old. Moro is a protective reflex that is triggered by a sudden change in head position or suddenly bringing the baby down and up. The infant response is to breathe in and open the arms and legs, and then breathe out and close the arms and legs.
If unintegrated, the child may have trouble with gross motor coordination, poor adaptability, hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli, and distractibility. The child may have difficulty looking up and down between a whiteboard and desk at school. The child may be in a constant hyper-alert state, stressing the body and decreasing immune function. All these factors negatively affect the child’s behavior and concentration.
An unintegrated Moro reflex in childhood may present as an exaggerated startle response as an adult. Reflex integration techniques help the child to progress through all the phases of the Moro reflex movement pattern, promoting more normal movement and responses to stimuli.
There are different kinds of reflex integration techniques. At Pediatric Therapy Center of NJ, LLC we use both the manual, hands-on exercises of the Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration method and sensory integration therapy.
The Neurosensorimotor Reflex method uses hands-on facilitation to guide the child through patterns of exercises to integrate reflexes.The exercises increase core strength and coordination, improve motor control, and stimulate the nervous system to integrate the targeted reflex.
Sensory integration therapy facilitates reflex integration through fun and creative sensory motor activities.
SIGNS OF UNINTEGRATED REFLEXES
- Poor attention
- Poor sitting posture
- Immature grasp on writing utensil
- Assymetrical movement patterns
- Poor balance and coordination such as difficulty riding a bike
- Learning difficulties, challenges with emtional regulation
- Sensitivity to sensory input (vision, sounds, tactile)
Who benefits from Occupational Therapy Services?
Children might require occupational therapy for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:
- Gross and fine motor delays
- Sensory processing delays
- Sensory defensiveness
- Visual perceptual deficits
- Decreased attention and focus
- Coordination difficulties
- Handwriting deficits
- Social interaction
- Clumsy or poor balance
- Low muscle tone
- Poor endurance
- Poor motor planning new activities
- Anxious or resistant to new activities
- Difficulty transitioning
- Poor organizational skills
- Craving for, or hypersensitivity to: movement, heights, touch from others, feel of clothes, tastes/textures of foods, sounds, and smells
- Poor awareness of surroundings or attention to detail
- Hyperactive, distractible, or lethargic behaviors
- Easily frustrated (showing withdrawn or aggressive behaviors)
- Difficulty calming down or falling asleep
- Difficulty with coloring, cutting or handwriting skills