Retained Primitive Reflexes

How learning to crawl relates to learning

I adore watching babies make involuntary movements in their first few months of life. These involuntary movements are primitive reflexes, and are governed by the brainstem – the only part of our brain that is mature when a baby is born.

Very soon, babies start to be able to control their movements, and start being able to explore in the world. A baby has to inhibit primitive reflexes before moving to the next stage of development.

This video is a fantastic demonstration of how we should learn to crawl.

In some cases, babies do not get onto their hands and knees and push up to crawling like this. Some babies get around by rolling or “bum shuffling”.

Is this “normal”? Should we worry if we have a bum shuffler? Take a look at this video: these children will more than likely find it impossible to concentrate for any length of time at school, and will develop vision difficulties.

We must give babies every opportunity to cycle through the developmental stages themselves – that means no props to sit them in, no walkers, no bouncers, and as little time in car seats and even slings/carriers as possible.

As demonstrated by Baby Liv in the video, the Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR) is a reflex that helps babies learn how to start crawling by rocking back and forth on hands and knees. It strengthens the core, and is a pre-cursor to the integration of the ATNR reflex. Crawling is an extremely important step of development because the associated movements myelinate and strengthen connections in the corpus callosum, which is the part of the brain that connects the two hemispheres.

In fact, it is very important to have a well-connected corpus callosum in order to learn how to read and decode efficiently, as well as to be able to write numbers and letters the right way around and even to ride a bike. Children who have not learned to cross crawl (opposite hand and knee on the floor at the same time) do not have such dense neural pathways, which often leads to problems with convergence and near and far vision.

There is an interesting theory that a child is ready to learn to read once they loose their top front teeth, and I’ve heard that Steiner schools look at tooth loss as an indication of readiness for learning to read and write. I do not know how true this is, but it is true that children with neuro-developmental delays often lose teeth much later. Please take this statement with a pinch of salt, however, as I’m not sure how much peer-reviewed science there is behind it – but there is indeed plenty of anecdotal evidence.

A child who bum shuffles, or misses the crawling stage altogether has missed an important stage of development, and will almost certainly have an active STNR reflex. If you recognise this situation, you can always book in for an appointment.

Here are a few fun activities to try yourself, or to ask school to include in PE lessons:

  • play row, row, row your boat with another person, holding hands and touching feet
  • get children to cross crawl as much as possible, through tunnels etc
  • do push ups against a wall
  • do a snow angel movement on your back
  • use a balance ball to sit on while you work/watch tv

Could you be compensating for baby reflexes?

 

I keep using my own experiences as a private pilot to explain compensation to new clients – the concept of working extra hard as a result of retained primitive reflexes:

I was an average child who grew up in the 1970s. I played outdoors in all weathers, possibly a lot more than the children of today – skipping, French elastic, climbing frames, gymnastics, tree-climbing, getting muddy etc.

I was talking in full sentences when I was a year old, could read my name at 15 months and was reading when I was tiny (not sure how old). I remember being shocked that children had to read out loud when I started in Reception, though – I’d been reading in my head for ages before that. I didn’t really crawl – I went straight to walking at about 15 months. I can remember trying and failing to crawl – because I have a ridiculously early memory. I was also EXCESSIVELY shy. I found nursery school just too noisy and scary and remember hiding until I was picked up the ONE time that my mother left me at a big nursery school. I ended up going to a small playgroup at someone’s house, and have very fond memories of it, even now – even though I was only about three years old when I started going there.

Oh… also, nobody ever believes quite how early my memories go back. You won’t either, so I’m not going to tell you. But it’s not normal to remember anything from the first few months of life, and yet I do.

At school, I learnt to write easily. I wasn’t brilliant at maths, but not everyone is, right? My forte was always language and music. Well, I now think I may well be dyscalculaic, and I know that I have slower than average processing speed. I found times tables horrific to learn, and would always be last to finish in maths tests. I also found swimming front crawl particularly difficult, and found sitting comfortably still all day at school a challenge!

So, when I started training in primitive reflex integration, seven years ago, I was slightly shocked to discover that I am not “neurotypical”. Walking at 15 months, skipping crawling, being excessively shy, not being able to master that cross-lateral front crawl movement and being as atrocious at maths as me is not “normal” development. But who cares? I have been successful in life! I did really well in my previous career. I can also fly light aircraft, so surely my brain must be functioning reasonably well? And yes, it is…

But… when I went on a course on the effect of retained primitive reflexes on reading and writing a few years back, I discovered to my great surprise that I had not developed a head-righting reflex! This is an adult postural reflex, which should start to emerge at around 3 months of age, and its absence causes vestibular issues, and makes reading – in particular copying from a board – and maintaining attention particularly difficult.

To test, you get a person to sit look at an object a few metres away. You then move their shoulders from side to side, and watch what the head does. If the reflex is present (as it should be), the eyes will remain level with the horizon. If it has not emerged, the head will follow the rest of the body.

The trainer showed us some isometric pressures that can be applied to help develop the head-righting reflex, and, as if by magic, within minutes mine started to emerge! I remember hearing gasps from the other course participants.

Out of interest, I went flying in a two-seater plane a couple of weeks later and did a few steep turns to see whether anything had changed. Well… normally, steep turns had the effect of making me feel disoriented and I would always lose hundreds of feet, no matter how many times I practiced and no matter how much I concentrated. However, with a head-righting reflex in place, my eyes stayed on the horizon and I maintained height for the first time since I started flying in 2003! I no longer felt disoriented either.

I often see private pilots in the early stages of training saying that they feel sick, and receiving advice on motion sickness bands, ginger etc – I often wonder whether they have a head-righting reflex or whether I could help them with it.

I’ve also brought this adult postural reflex online in several children and adults that I’ve worked with – it’s always a thrill. If it doesn’t happen immediately, something else is blocking it, however.

I digress….

The point of this post is to show that almost all of us are walking around compensating for difficulties that we are unaware of. To us, these difficulties are the norm, but they need not be! If a child is struggling with confidence, attention or the three Rs, it is well worth taking a look to see whether their reflex profile might be causing them to compensate.

So what can we do about it?

As a neuro-developmental therapist, I test for active baby reflexes, and help people to gradually mature these reflexes, using a combination of gentle foetal/newborn baby movements and pressures. Until you have experienced this for yourself, it is very hard to explain how it feels to suddenly have a challenge you have been used to for your entire life suddenly removed.

In my case, while my brain has indeed always allowed me to cope very well in the world and achieve things like learning to speak multiple foreign languages with ease, play the violin and fly light aircraft, things still could have been easier for me if I’d had integrated reflexes earlier.

Integrating primitive reflexes simply means that connections from the brainstem to higher levels of the brain will work more efficiently and not take the long way around all the time.

I now find that I can do things that I used to struggle with far more effortlessly – for example,

  • Getting butterflies before a stressful meeting: gone
  • Ability to listen and concentrate: vastly improved
  • Processing speed: vastly improved
  • Auditory processing: vastly improved
  • Ability to express myself clearly under stress: vastly improved
  • Procrastination: greatly reduced – especially when it comes to writing a blog post or completing a daunting form

If you would like to find out how reflex integration might help you, please do get in touch – emma@move2connect.com.


Could you be compensating for baby reflexes?

 

I keep using my own experiences as a private pilot to explain compensation to new clients – the concept of working extra hard as a result of retained primitive reflexes:

I was an average child who grew up in the 1970s. I played outdoors in all weathers, possibly a lot more than the children of today – skipping, French elastic, climbing frames, gymnastics, tree-climbing, getting muddy etc.

I was talking in full sentences when I was a year old, could read my name at 15 months and was reading when I was tiny (not sure how old). I remember being shocked that children had to read out loud when I started in Reception, though – I’d been reading in my head for ages before that. I didn’t really crawl – I went straight to walking at about 15 months. I can remember trying and failing to crawl – because I have a ridiculously early memory. I was also EXCESSIVELY shy. I found nursery school just too noisy and scary and remember hiding until I was picked up the ONE time that my mother left me at a big nursery school. I ended up going to a small playgroup at someone’s house, and have very fond memories of it, even now – even though I was only about three years old when I started going there.

Oh… also, nobody ever believes quite how early my memories go back. You won’t either, so I’m not going to tell you. But it’s not normal to remember anything from the first few months of life, and yet I do.

At school, I learnt to write easily. I wasn’t brilliant at maths, but not everyone is, right? My forte was always language and music. Well, I now think I may well be dyscalculaic, and I know that I have slower than average processing speed. I found times tables horrific to learn, and would always be last to finish in maths tests. I also found swimming front crawl particularly difficult, and found sitting comfortably still all day at school a challenge!

So, when I started training in primitive reflex integration, seven years ago, I was slightly shocked to discover that I am not “neurotypical”. Walking at 15 months, skipping crawling, being excessively shy, not being able to master that cross-lateral front crawl movement and being as atrocious at maths as me is not “normal” development. But who cares? I have been successful in life! I did really well in my previous career. I can also fly light aircraft, so surely my brain must be functioning reasonably well? And yes, it is…

But… when I went on a course with Janice Graham on the effect of retained primitive reflexes on reading and writing, I discovered to my great surprise that I had not developed a head-righting reflex! This is an adult postural reflex, which should start to emerge at around 3 months of age, and its absence causes vestibular issues, and makes reading – in particular copying from a board – and maintaining attention particularly difficult.

To test, you get a person to sit look at an object a few metres away. You then move their shoulders from side to side, and watch what the head does. If the reflex is present (as it should be), the eyes will remain level with the horizon. If it has not emerged, the head will follow the rest of the body.

Janice showed us some isometric pressures that can be applied to help develop the head-righting reflex, and, as if by magic, within minutes mine started to emerge! I remember hearing gasps from the other course participants.

Out of interest, I went flying in a two-seater plane a couple of weeks later and did a few steep turns to see whether anything had changed. Well… normally, steep turns had the effect of making me feel disoriented and I would always lose hundreds of feet, no matter how many times I practiced and no matter how much I concentrated. However, with a head-righting reflex in place, my eyes stayed on the horizon and I maintained height for the first time since I started flying in 2003! I no longer felt disoriented either.

I often see private pilots in the early stages of training saying that they feel sick, and receiving advice on motion sickness bands, ginger etc – I often wonder whether they have a head-righting reflex or whether I could help them with it.

I digress….

The point of this post is to show that almost all of us are walking around COMPENSATING for difficulties that we are unaware of. To us, these difficulties are the norm, but they need not be! If a child is struggling with confidence, attention or the three Rs, it is well worth taking a look to see whether their reflex profile might be causing them to compensate.

So what can we do about it?

As a neuro-developmental therapist, I test for active baby reflexes, and help people to gradually mature these reflexes, using a combination of gentle foetal/newborn baby movements and pressures. Until you have experienced this for yourself, it is very hard to explain how it feels to suddenly have a challenge you have been used to for your entire life suddenly removed.

In my case, while my brain is indeed functioning extremely well and allowing me to cope very well in the world and achieve things like learning to speak multiple foreign languages with ease, play the violin and fly light aircraft, things COULD have been easier for me if I’d had integrated reflexes earlier.

Integrating primitive reflexes simply means that connections from the brainstem to higher levels of the brain will work more efficiently and not take the long way around all the time.

I now find that I can do things that I used to struggle with far more effortlessly – for example,

  • Getting butterflies before a stressful meeting: gone
  • Ability to listen and concentrate: vastly improved
  • Processing speed: vastly improved
  • Ability to express myself clearly under stress: vastly improved
  • Procrastination: greatly reduced – especially when it comes to writing a blog post or completing a daunting form

If you would like to find out how reflex integration might help you, please do get in touch – emma@move2connect.com, or to find a provider near you, please see https://rhythmicmovement.org/consultants


Could you be compensating for baby reflexes?

 

Whenever I try to explain compensation to anyone, I find myself relating to my own experiences to be the easiest and most neutral way to explain:

I was an average child who grew up in the 1970s. I played outdoors in all weathers, possibly a lot more than the children of today – skipping, French elastic, climbing frames, gymnastics, tree-climbing, getting muddy etc.

I was talking in full sentences when I was a year old, could read my name at 15 months and was reading when I was tiny (not sure how old). I remember being shocked that children had to read out loud when I started in Reception, though – I’d been reading in my head for ages before that. I didn’t really crawl – I went straight to walking at about 15 months. I can remember trying and failing to crawl – because I have a ridiculously early memory. I was also EXCESSIVELY shy. I found nursery school just too noisy and scary and remember hiding until I was picked up the ONE time that my mother left me at a big nursery school. I ended up going to a small playgroup at someone’s house, and have very fond memories of it, even now – even though I was only about three years old when I started going there.

Oh… also, nobody ever believes quite how early my memories go back. You won’t either, so I’m not going to tell you. But it’s not normal to remember anything from the first few months of life, and yet I do.

At school, I learnt to write easily. I wasn’t brilliant at maths, but not everyone is, right? My forte was always language and music. Well, I now think I may well be dyscalculaic, and I know that I have slower than average processing speed. I found times tables horrific to learn, and would always be last to finish in maths tests. I also found swimming front crawl particularly difficult, and found sitting comfortably still all day at school a challenge!

So, when I started training in primitive reflex integration, six years ago, I was slightly shocked to discover that I am not “neurotypical”. Walking at 15 months, skipping crawling, being excessively shy, not being able to master that cross-lateral front crawl movement and being as atrocious at maths as me is not “normal” development. But who cares? I have been successful in life! I did really well in my previous career. I can also fly light aircraft, so surely my brain must be functioning reasonably well? And yes, it is…

But… when I went on a course on the effect of retained primitive reflexes on reading and writing a few years back, I discovered to my great surprise that I had not developed a head-righting reflex! This is an adult postural reflex, which should start to emerge at around 3 months of age, and its absence causes vestibular issues, and makes reading – in particular copying from a board – and maintaining attention particularly difficult.

To test, you get a person to sit look at an object a few metres away. You then move their shoulders from side to side, and watch what the head does. If the reflex is present (as it should be), the eyes will remain level with the horizon. If it has not emerged, the head will follow the rest of the body.

Janice showed us some isometric pressures that can be applied to help develop the head-righting reflex, and, as if by magic, within minutes mine started to emerge! I remember hearing gasps from the other course participants.

Out of interest, I went flying in a two-seater plane a couple of weeks later and did a few steep turns to see whether anything had changed. Well… normally, steep turns had the effect of making me feel disoriented and I would always lose hundreds of feet, no matter how many times I practiced and no matter how much I concentrated. However, with a head-righting reflex in place, my eyes stayed on the horizon and I maintained height for the first time since I started flying in 2003! I no longer felt disoriented either.

I often see private pilots in the early stages of training saying that they feel sick, and receiving advice on motion sickness bands, ginger etc – I often wonder whether they have a head-righting reflex or whether I could help them with it.

I digress….

The point of this post is to show that almost all of us are walking around COMPENSATING for difficulties that we are unaware of. To us, these difficulties are the norm, but they need not be! If a child is struggling with confidence, attention or the three Rs, it is well worth taking a look to see whether their reflex profile might be causing them to compensate.

So what can we do about it?

As a neuro-developmental therapist, I test for active baby reflexes, and help people to gradually mature these reflexes, using a combination of gentle foetal/newborn baby movements and pressures. Until you have experienced this for yourself, it is very hard to explain how it feels to suddenly have a challenge you have been used to for your entire life suddenly removed.

In my case, while my brain is indeed functioning extremely well and allowing me to cope very well in the world and achieve things like learning to speak multiple foreign languages with ease, play the violin and fly light aircraft, things COULD have been easier for me if I’d had integrated reflexes earlier.

Integrating primitive reflexes simply means that connections from the brainstem to higher levels of the brain will work more efficiently and not take the long way around all the time.

I now find that I can do things that I used to struggle with far more effortlessly – for example,

  • Getting butterflies before a stressful meeting: gone
  • Ability to listen and concentrate: vastly improved
  • Processing speed: vastly improved
  • Ability to express myself clearly under stress: vastly improved
  • Procrastination: greatly reduced – especially when it comes to writing a blog post or completing a daunting form

If you would like to find out how reflex integration might help you, please do get in touch – emma@move2connect.com, or to find a provider near you, please see https://rhythmicmovement.org/consultants


W-Sitting – what does it mean?

Does your child sit in this position?

w sitting 2

This is known as “w-sitting”, and you may or may not have heard that it’s not a great position for the hips.

Your child sits like this because they are comfortable sitting like this.

However, I’m about to tell you what causes a child to sit like this, what consequences it may have for attention and learning, and what you can do to help them.

This W position is very comfortable for a child with a weak core. Your child may have been diagnosed with hypermobility – or perhaps not. They may fall over frequently, they may get exhausted easily compared to their peers. In class, they will find it hard to sit comfortably in a chair, and will perhaps keep experimenting with several different positions in a chair in one sitting, and never truly be comfortable with feet flat on the floor. This is because of a lack of core strength.

This wonderful video demonstrates beautifully how it *should* happen, within the appropriate developmental window:

Let me make a very important point:

Merely stopping a child from w-sitting will not address the neurological cause, and will not address the knock-on effects of having poor core stability, nor the future problems it may cause.

Jacob Rees-Mogg is a very visible example of someone with a weak core and poor stamina

I was talking to my son’s teacher when he was in Reception. She told me that there is a noticeable reduction in stamina and core strength in children these days, and that a large proportion of children in Reception classes are unable to support themselves when sitting, drawing, at a table – or even on the mat during story time.

Why this epidemic?

Well… we are simply not allowing our children to move enough. We are restricting movement by using “equipment” and props. Some babies end up sitting in car seats for hours at a time, or end up in jumparoos, Bumbos, or even being “worn” for longer than absolutely necessary. Later on, children tend to move less, glued to screens for long periods of time. Play areas are now hyper-safe, with protection against knocks, bumps etc. When I was growing up, most children had a scab on their knees several times a term.

What babies REALLY need is to be given plenty of floor time and as children, plenty of opportunities to explore surroundings, in order to work out how to organise their bodies for themselves, how to integrate their reflexes and move on to the next stage of development – unprompted.

After all, if you help a chick hatch, it will fail to thrive.

So, what causes w-sitting?

As I’ve mentioned, w-sitting is a symptom of a weak core. It is likely that a child will have skipped a stage of development. It is almost certain that these children will have an active STNR reflex, which is a transitional reflex that follows the Moro, TLR and ATNR. It emerges at around four to six months of age and integrates between nine to twelve months of age – but only if rolling, sitting, rocking on hands and knees, crawling, pulling to standing and walking have happened within an appropriate timeframe.

The STNR reflex allows a child to understand arm, leg and body movements without moving the head. It also affects the development of binocular vision and binaural hearing.

Children who have never integrated the STNR often have learning challenges. These children find it hard to sit in chairs or at tables, often slumped, with their legs wrapped around the legs of their chair for support.

Having an active STNR often means that vision and hearing senses have not properly developed. STNR children often find sport a challenge as their hand-eye coordination tends to be poor due to not developing sufficient connections between the left and right hemispheres, which will affect reading and writing.

It is also important to know that just because someone has a six pack, it doesn’t mean that their STNR has integrated. Reflex integration will not happen unless the body re-patterns in a specific way. So, no, I do not want to see your abs as proof of your core strength, thank you.

The STNR reflex can be integrated using the rhythmic movement patterns observed in foetuses and new-borns. You may be able to help by allowing your child to MOVE as nature intended – take them to the park, get them to walk around in a crab position, get them to wheel themselves around on their tummy on a skateboard, get them to use a balance ball, try family yoga classes or ballet…

In order for the STNR to integrate fully, it is sensible to look at what else is active and work through a movement programme to help the brain make the appropriate neural connections. These movements can take as little as five minutes a day.

For your nearest RMTi practitioner, please go to https://rhythmicmovement.co.uk/where-is-my-nearest-provider/


Retained Primitive Reflexes

Learning to crawl – how our development relates to learning

I adore watching babies make involuntary movements in their first few months of life. These involuntary movements are primitive reflexes, and are governed by the brainstem – the only part of our brain that is mature when a baby is born.

Very soon, babies start to be able to control their movements, and start being able to explore in the world. A baby has to inhibit primitive reflexes before moving to the next stage of development.

This video is a fantastic demonstration of how we should learn to crawl.

In some cases, babies do not get onto their hands and knees and push up to crawling like this. Some babies get around by rolling or “bum shuffling”.

Is this “normal”? Should we worry if we have a bum shuffler? Take a look at this video: these children will more than likely find it impossible to concentrate for any length of time at school, and will develop vision difficulties.

We must give babies every opportunity to cycle through the developmental stages themselves – that means no props to sit them in, no walkers, no bouncers, and as little time in car seats and even slings/carriers as possible.

As demonstrated by Baby Liv in the video, the Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR) is a reflex that helps babies learn how to start crawling by rocking back and forth on hands and knees. It strengthens the core, and is a pre-cursor to the integration of the ATNR reflex. Crawling is an extremely important step of development because the associated movements myelinate and strengthen connections in the corpus callosum, which is the part of the brain that connects the two hemispheres.

In fact, it is very important to have a well-connected corpus callosum in order to learn how to read and decode efficiently, as well as to be able to write numbers and letters the right way around and even to ride a bike. Children who have not learned to cross crawl (opposite hand and knee on the floor at the same time) do not have such dense neural pathways, which often leads to problems with convergence and near and far vision.

There is an interesting theory that a child is ready to learn to read once they loose their top front teeth, and I’ve heard that Steiner schools look at tooth loss as an indication of readiness for learning to read and write. I do not know how true this is, but it is true that children with neuro-developmental delays often lose teeth much later. Please take this statement with a pinch of salt, however, as I’m not sure how much peer-reviewed science there is behind it – but there is indeed plenty of anecdotal evidence.

A child who bum shuffles, or misses the crawling stage altogether has missed an important stage of development, and will almost certainly have an active STNR reflex. If you recognise this situation, you can always book in for an appointment.

Here are a few fun activities to try yourself, or to ask school to include in PE lessons:

  • play row, row, row your boat with another person, holding hands and touching feet
  • get children to cross crawl as much as possible, through tunnels etc
  • do push ups against a wall
  • do a snow angel movement on your back
  • use a balance ball to sit on while you work/watch tv

So, what is it that I actually “do”?

I went along to a business networking meeting on Tuesday. I thought it would possibly be a good place to spread the word and also find people to help me with things like printing flyers, graphic design and perhaps even some social media help.

What I wasn’t prepared for was telling people what I “do” in a minute! I then had to do an elevator pitch on the spot. Silly me!

When people ask what I do, some think it’s some sort of wacky alternative therapy. Some think it’s massage. Some think I’m somehow conveying energy or something like that to “recipients”. I don’t do ANY of these things, and to me, neuro-developmental therapy is anything but alternative! In fact, it’s something that could save squillions – if our health service would only adopt it.

So, what do I actually do, then?

I work with central nervous systems and brains! I give the central nervous system and brain a second chance to develop typically if there has been a glitch in development. I do this by working with primitive reflexes and neuroplasticity, using foetal and newborn movement patterns.

Our development is like a very complex chain reaction: If a foetus’ development is interrupted in utero or during childbirth by some kind of stress/trauma, or a new-born’s development is interrupted by restricting movement or by some trauma, the next link in the chain cannot be completed, so neural connections are not as efficient as they would be without the interruption.

What this means going forward is that a person will have challenges – some noticeable and some that they are able to compensate for. As a matter of fact, most people have several glitches in their development that are not obvious to the untrained eye, but it is worth mentioning that our behaviour and personalities are shaped by our reflex profiles.

To give just a few examples:

  • Someone who blames everyone else for everything: nothing is ever down to them. These people have a strong Moro reflex. They act without speaking and cannot regulate their emotions. People with sensory issues tend to have a strong Moro reflex
  • People presenting with specific learning difficulties will more than likely have a reflex that relates to left/right hemisphere integration
  • Someone with extreme anxiety and/or depression is more than likely to have a very strong fear/paralysis reflex. These people are living in survival mode all the time and withdraw from stressful situations
  • Those with a very weak core, hypermobility and who fatigue easily have probably still got reflexes active from the time they learnt to roll, sit, crawl and walk

So… how do I do help?

I carefully observe my clients. I look at everything. Even how someone expresses themselves, eye contact, gestures, gait, the way they sit… I get children to draw a picture for me, and notice whether they are left or right handed, how they hold a pencil, what colours they use, how their pencil control and colouring is… after observing, I will home in on a few reflexes that I want to assess. I’ll then get my client to do some work with me, which involves a series of rhythmic and pre-birth movements and pressures that I get the client to resist.

Sometimes I can get a person to notice differences almost immediately. Sometimes it takes months of peeling back layers to get to the root of a problem.

This is not magic. It won’t work as well for one person as it will for another. However, it’s worth a try.

In the future, it is my dream to get the NHS to recognise neuro-developmental therapy as a way to help children (and adults), but in the meantime, you can visit me at my Cranleigh and Horsham clinics.

They say that if you find a job you love, you’ll never work another day. For me and my colleagues specialising in neuro-developmental therapy, this cannot be more true. I feel that I’ve found my vocation: seeing people transform through movement is the most rewarding experience I could ever wish for,


Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia – what are they and how can you help?

Everyone has heard of dyslexia, but perhaps most people are less familiar with the terms dyspraxia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia, which are also specific learning difficulties…

So, what do all these terms mean?

Dyspraxia is a neurological spectrum that involves difficulties in motor planning, coordination as well as organisation of thought, sequencing and working memory and often extreme difficulties in setting thoughts down on paper. Dyspraxia can also come with sensory processing difficulties, anxiety and difficulties socialising, and can often be misdiagnosed as autism.

Dyslexia can be defined as a specific learning difficulty that is neurological in origin, which results in difficulties learning to read and spell.

Dyscalculia is a numeracy equivalent of dyslexia, involving extreme difficulties with numbers, calculations and numerical reasoning.

Dysgraphia is characterised by extreme difficulty or avoidance in getting thoughts down on paper, with poor or often illegible handwriting.

What causes these specific learning difficulties?

All these dys- diagnoses are caused by under-developed connections in the corpus callosum and irregularities in the parietal lobe. This causes a disconnect between left and right hemisphere and means that information between the two hemispheres cannot be processed as efficiently as someone with a fully functional corpus callosum. Added to this, problems with balance and coordination.

Underlying all these specific learning difficulties is a cascade of retained reflexes. Most with these SPLDs will have the following reflexes active: Fear Paralysis, Moro, Landau, Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex, Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex and Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex. It may be that these children/adults did not learn to roll effectively, get up on hands and knees and start to rock before reaching a hand out and starting to crawl, or to cross crawl during the appropriate developmental window, or that they skipped crawling altogether, perhaps they were late to meet milestones…

Does this sound familiar? If so, never fear! It is possible to repattern the brain to a certain extent, which will reduce or even eliminate these challenges.

You see, these developmental milestones aren’t simply there for fun – as they happen, our primitive reflexes gradually integrate. If we hit developmental milestones early or late or skip them altogether, we can expect to see reflexes hanging around in our systems. In fact, every one of us has a few, but it’s the extent to which they are retained that may or may not cause problems or learning difficulties.

I worked with a little boy of seven with extreme difficulties with the three Rs. He also had problems learning to ride a bike and had an extremely uncoordinated gait. So we got to work, and within a week of starting Rhythmic Movement Training, we saw improved eye tracking and he was suddenly able to ride his bike without stabilisers after two years of trying really hard to do so!

Difficulties learning to ride a bicycle can be related to the Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex

His difficulties were all related to the Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex, and his inability to separate head movements from arm movements. This stems from the time that this little boy was a baby, preparing to roll over, and turned his head to look at an outstretched arm, bending the opposite arm – something he never managed to get out of his system, because all his milestones were delayed – crawling at only 13 months and walking at 19 months.

We are now well into an Rhythmic Movement Training programme, and the differences are staggering. Many of his sensory processing signals – spinning, flapping, problems with sudden loud noises etc, have completely disappeared. His coordination has improved, his hypermobility has reduced noticeably, and his balance is much better – in fact, the latest is that he is learning to snowboard!

Rhythmic Movement Training is so called because we are training our brains to make the connections we should have made as babies, and training our bodies to notice small differences that can help us move forward – behaviourally, emotionally and academically.

Check https://rhythmicmovement.org/consultants for your nearest Rhythmic Movement Training consultant.