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What is Reflex Integration?

REFLEX INTEGRATION Working with the body and reflex patterns allows the brain to be fully present and able to respond to the environment appropriately. There are a whole range of reflexes that aren’t given much attention but that are essential for the developing child to learn about their own body and to develop voluntary and controlled movements – some call this motor planning or motor control. When you hear the word reflex, you might think of a doctor using a rubber mallet to test the reflexes in your knees, or an instinctual movement we make unconsciously, such as blinking. However, reflex integration targets “primary reflexes” or reflexes that emerge in the womb and during infancy. Some of these reflexes develop for survival, such as the sucking reflex while some develop for motor skills, such as Spinal Galant. As the child ages, these reflexes ideally lay the foundation for advanced movements and skills. When they don’t integrate properly, children have to put forth more effort into basic activities that should be automated; if the reflex system isn’t working the way that it should, children have to “think” or use their cortical brain for something as basic as sitting at a desk and writing – leaving not much brain space leftover for higher level learning. Worse, they are constantly trying to make sense of their environment and their body and are therefore in a continuous state of stress. Reflex integration is necessary for movement, survival, and emotional regulation. Proper organization of the reflexes is foundational to formal academic learning, motor skill competency, and self-esteem.

Why is Reflex integration Important? Primary reflexes serve as the foundation of our learning. These reflexes integrated with our postural reflexes and motor patterns lead to development of our perception, language and cognition. All development depends on the integration of primitive reflexes. For example, the Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex (TLR) is a primary reflex that allows the baby to learn about gravity and head and neck control both in and out of the womb. The balance gained from the TLR is integrated with other bodily processes to help develop coordination and posture. The integration of this reflex lays the foundation for the ability to focus, pay attention and learn due to roots in visual tracking and auditory processing.

What Happens When the Reflexes Do Not Integrate When the reflexes do not integrate, the body remains in a state of stress. A reflex pattern that remains unintegrated will result in decreased attention span, problems with motor skills, anxieties and troublesome behaviors. Unintegrated reflexes affect the physiology of the body to be continually responding to environmental threats resulting in chronic stress that makes everyday tasks more difficult. Unintegrated reflexes make learning and regulating emotions more challenging. Unintegrated reflexes can contribute to anxiety, ADHD, developmental delays, autism and learning disorders. What Causes Unintegrated Reflexes Unintegrated, active childhood reflexes can be caused by:

  • Trauma or injury.

  • Chronic stress, illness.

  • Complication with vaccinations, exposure to environmental toxins or electronic pollution.

  • Complication with pregnancy or birth

  • Lack of enough movement in early childhood. Too much time spent in movement-restricted devices such as walkers, playpens, swings, jumpers and car seats.

Even reflexes that are completely activated may become reactivated after trauma, injury or exposure to stress or toxins. THE MASGUTOVA METHOD (MNRI) The MRNI Method was created by Dr. Svetlana Masgutova to facilitate in the emergence, maturation and integration process of the primary reflex patterns by targeting motor reflex movements and tactile, visual, auditory, and proprioceptive sensory systems. The primary focus of the MNRI Method is to support the integration process of primary motor reflex patterns regardless of a person’s condition or age. While MNRI primary motor reflex pattern techniques alone have the power to improve general function, when combined with the additional MNRI programs Dr. Masgutova has created, the potential for improvement becomes even greater. (Information provided by Learn More With These Helpful Resources Masgatova Method Website The Importance of Integrating Reflexes by Sonia Story

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