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Reflexes & Learning Difficulties

家長經常問反射神經對孩子的影響。以下是反射神經的一些基礎知識 ~

 

At birth, a baby has minimal control over voluntary movement. Reflexes provide stereotyped reactions to certain stimuli in the early weeks but are soon transformed into more advanced motor skills. Early reflexes also provide training for many aspects of later functioning.

  • Primitive & Postural Reflex
  • Abnormal Primitive Reflex
  • Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex
  • Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex
  • Spinal Galant Reflex
  • Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex
  • The Moro Reflex

These are only some of the reflexes that might be involved in specific learning difficulties and behavioural problems. More than two abnormal reflexes must be present before a diagnosis of Neuro-Developmental Delay is considered.

Further information relating to reflexes, their function and symptoms if they remain in the older child can be found in Reflexes, Learning and Behaviour (Fern Ridge press) by Sally Goddard Blythe.

 

Primitive & Postural Reflexes

As the infant brain develops during the first year of life connections to higher centres in the brain become stronger and increasingly  take over the functions of primitive reflexes. As this occurs, early survival patterns are inhibited or controlled to allow more mature patterns of response (postural reflexes) to develop in their place.

The postural reflexes support control of balance, posture and movement in a gravity based environment. Postural reflex development is mirrored in the infant’s increasing ability to control its body, posture and movements.

Some children fail to gain this control fully in the first year of life and continue to grow up in a reflexive ‘no man’s land’, where traces of the primitive reflexes remain present and the postural reflexes do not develop fully. These children continue to experience difficulty with control of movement affecting coordination, balance, fine motor skills, motor development and associated aspects of learning such as reading, writing and physical education.

Retained primitive reflexes can also affect a child’s sensory perceptions, causing hypersensitivity in some areas and hyposensitivity in others.

 

Abnormal Primitive Reflexes

Primitive reflexes develop during uterine life and should be fully present at birth. They are gradually inhibited by higher centres in the brain during the first six to twelve months of post-natal life.

If they continue to be elicited by minor stimuli in the environment in the school age, they can interfere with the development of more complex skills.

Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflexes

The asymmetrical tonic neck reflex is activated as a result of turning the head to one side. As the head is turned, the arm and leg on the same side will extend, while the opposite limbs bend. The reflex should be inhibited by six months of age in the waking state.

If the asymmetrical tonic neck reflex remains active in a child at a later age, it can affect:

  • Hand-eye coordination – difficulties such as ability to control the arm and hand when writing.
  • Ability to cross the vertical midline. For example, a right-handed child may find it difficult to write on the left side of the page.
  • Discrepancy between oral and written performance.
  • Development of lateral eye movements, such as visual tracking, which is necessary for reading and writing.
  • Control of automatic balance.
  • Bilateral integration – differentiated and integrated use of the two sides of the body.
  • Continued cross laterality or ambiguity of laterality above eight years of age.

Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflexes

The symmetrical tonic neck reflex is present in normal development from circa eight to eleven months of post-natal life. It can affect the ability to crawl on hands and knees. If it remains present in an older child, it can affect:

  • Integration of upper and lower portions of the body, for example when swimming
  • Sitting posture – a tendency to slump when sitting at a desk or table
  • Poorly developed muscle tone
  • Poor hand-eye coordination
  • Ability to sit still and concentrate

Spinal Galant Reflexes

This reflex is present at birth and should be inhibited between three and nine months of post-natal life. If it persists, it can affect:

  • Ability to sit still
  • Attention
  • Coordination
  • Posture
  • Sometimes associated with bedwetting
  • Can contribute to the development of scoliosis (curvature) of the spine

Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex

Inhibition of the tonic labyrinthine reflex is a gradual process involving the maturation of other systems. It should be completed by three and a half years of age. If it persists beyond this time, it is sometimes associated with:

  • Postural problems, specifically hyper- or hypo-tonus (muscle tone)
  • Tendency to walk on the toes
  • Poor balance
  • Motion sickness
  • Orientation and spatial difficulties
  • Oculo-motor problems – affecting reading
  • Visual-perceptual problems – affecting reading and writing
  • Dislike of Physical Education (PE)

The Moro Reflex

The Moro reflex acts as a baby’s primitive fight/flight reaction. It should be inhibited by approximately four months of post-natal life to be replaced by an adult ‘startle’ reflex. If it persists in the older child, it can be associated with:

  • Hypersensitivity
  • Hyper-reactivity
  • Poor impulse control
  • Stimulus bound effect – cannot ignore peripheral stimuli to focus attention on one thing – has to pay attention to everything
  • Sensory overload
  • Anxiety – particularly anticipation anxiety
  • Labile emotions
  • Emotional and social immaturity

文章來自 : www.inpp.org.uk

 

 

 

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