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  • Writer's pictureAnnmarie DeMarco

What Are Primitive Reflexes?

Primitive reflexes are present for our survival and to facilitate development. These reflexes develop in utero and are present throughout the first year of life; some of them are present until approximately 2.5 years.

When these reflex do not integrate (or go away) after 2.5 years of age, we may see children struggling with learning, attention, focus, and memory. Social emotional difficulties are common, lack of coordination, and fine and gross motor tasks can also become challenging. Sensory processing difficulties are almost always present as well since primitive reflexes assist the sensory systems in development. Higher level learning is frustrating for children with retained primitive reflexes; especially reading and writing. As children grow, activities such as riding a bike and pumping on a swing can also be challenging as these tasks require coordination and motor planning (among many other skills). A retained ATNR and/or STNR could be the culprit if a child is struggling with those activities as they require the use of the upper & lower body and the right and left sides of the body.

The good news about retained primitive reflexes is that we can help these kiddos to integrate them! By creating an individualized treatment program with specific exercises and activities that are focused on the retained reflexes, we are able to help these kiddos progress.

Please see the list below for some resources I have found to be helpful with regard to evaluating and treating retained primitive reflexes.


Children's book:

Courses and additional education:

I highly recommend taking courses and reading books from different sources as you can really begin to utilize bits and pieces from each source to create an individualized program for the child you are working with.

I hope this was helpful, please reach out if you have any questions!

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