Our development is a little bit like walking up steps: we need one thing to happen before we move onto the next stage. Sometimes (often), people say that their child has missed milestones altogether, such as cross crawling. This is a little bit like skipping a few steps on a staircase: we can still move forward, but not as efficiently, because part of our central nervous system is stuck.
When we are born, our brainstem is the only fully functional part of our brain. The movements we make as foetuses and newborns are all reflexive, rather than voluntary. These early (inter-uterine and primitive) reflexes should all mature into adult postural reflexes by the time we are a year old. However, sometimes, “typical” development is disrupted – due to trauma, hereditary or environmental factors, meaning that these early reflexes cannot mature as they are supposed to.
This means that while our bodies grow, our neurology does not allow us to mature fully – we may have immature emotions, behaviour and not neurologically ready to learn. Skipping these steps in development may cause learning challenges for children, such as issues with eye tracking, core strength or difficulties crossing the midline. We may sail through to adulthood, unaware that we have in fact compensated for these difficulties all our lives, and then become anxious or depressive as adults.
Retained reflexes and delayed postural control are at the root of diagnoses such as ADHD, ASD, Anxiety, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia and OCD. In fact, these labels are a way of bundling symptoms together to explain the behaviours of those on a neuro-developmental spectrum – people with retained reflexes.
We can give the central nervous system a second chance to mature in people of ALL ages, and help the brain to make new connections, by means of a simple neurosensorimotor programme, which replicates the movements that we make as foetuses and babies.