Do it yourself reflex integration: tips and tricks

You have undoubtedly found this blog post because you have an interest in retained primitive reflexes. Welcome!

Have you been thinking about doing it yourself? Either with YouTube videos, or even by purchasing an online course?

Or perhaps you have been trying a do-it-yourself approach, using books, videos and online training? In which case, have you seen the results you wanted over a period of time?

I remember when I first heard of primitive reflexes and how it was like bright lightbulb switching on. My son was always very slow to develop milestones, such as sitting and crawling, but once he had them, he’d do them beautifully. I always had a feeling that there MUST be a way of giving his development a little nudge and a confidence boost. The concept of retained reflexes made absolute sense.

So the first thing I did was to google. I googled like mad. I found YouTube videos and watched them avidly.

I didn’t do any of the movements/exercises that I found on youtube for myself, though – nor did I get my children to do them. I thought that if it’s that simple, why would people charging money to see people in person?

So we went to see a practitioner… and eventually, I started training myself, having seen miraculous change – you know my story already if you’ve been following my page for a while!

I have recently had a couple of prospective clients who have told me that they’ve been following YouTube videos to integrate reflexes, and I’ve been trying to find a polite way to explain why this isn’t a good idea. I’ve also seen people asking about this in various online support forums, and my response would always be to see a professional.

In once case, I noticed that someone had been doing this by themselves from books for the last three years. Apparently, things had moved very fast in the first couple of months, but thereafter, had plateaued.

It is also very important to know that if the very foundational reflexes have not been integrated, emotions and behaviour will be more than likely be negatively affected. That is why it is important to understand that when a professional assesses, we are looking at the earliest point at which development was disrupted – that is where we start.

The other thing I’ve heard people say is “oh yes, we did primitive reflexes, but he/she plateaued after a while so we didn’t think it was worth continuing”. Or people say it simply hasn’t made any difference, in which case, I would question whether they have been doing exactly as they’ve been told. And is there REALLY no change? Most of the time there is, but it can be very subtle – especially at the start. Additionally, if you are not consistent in doing the movements regularly – at least five times a week – you will not see such rapid or obvious change.

Gill Brooksmith, an educational kinesiologist, who has been working with reflex integration for twenty years or so has worked with a client who had trawled the internet and applied everything she had garnered day in and day out to her child.

The child was completely discombobulated and struggled with proprioception – he had absolutely no idea where he was in space. By working gently with the child, she was able to rebuild her foundations”.

It took quite a while to gently integrate. We have reflexes for a purpose and they need to seamlessly slide in and out, propping one moment, integrating the next. We are perfectly created, we only need gentle tweaking with love.

Gill Brooksmith – educational kinesiologist, RMTi, Touch for health and BrainGym trainer, and owner of developing the brain

Svetlana Robertson is a neuro-developmental therapist based in Bedfordshire. Like me, she has worked extensively with her own family before qualifying in reflex integration and the Safe and Sound Protocol herself. I asked Svetlana whether it would be possible a person who has just discovered the concept of retained reflexes to identify ALL the reflexes affecting themselves or their child, using YouTube and books. This is what she says:

If you have just discovered the concept – and this is one good feature of YouTube videos and online research overall – if that made you think about the concept and start looking into it in more detail – this is where the role of YouTube ends. It is useful to wonder, observe and research, and some parts of your observations may prove correct. However, there are so many nuances within each individual reflex pattern, and there are so many reflex patterns, interrelated intricately, that YouTube is powerless to fully address and explain.

I then asked what the dangers of parents (or even other professionals, for that matter) self training, using videos from YouTube or online reflex integration training courses. Svetlana says:

At best, a lot of time will be spent with not much progress. It is, however, possible to confuse the body even further which may mean worsening of the deficits we are trying to address and creating new difficulties, having to ‘undo’ even more counterproductive movement patterns with a qualified specialist. In both cases, one would end up going to a qualified specialist to address the problem. The assessment and recommended movements may look very easy and simple in the videos – it is deceptive however; many people who come to train in reflex integration admit that they only started understanding it when they practised the process over the course of many months, sometimes years. One has to work in person with a qualified specialist to ensure the correct process is being followed

Even when we work with clients and show them movements and explain signs of overwhelm, we tend to get people thinking that the more they do, the faster it will “work” – this is NOT the case at all – it’s always a case of less is more when working with a sensitive central nervous system. In particular with the Safe and Sound Protocol, I’ve had parents simply not able to take in what I tell them, who have then massively overstimulated their child, who, surprise suprise, then has a huge meltdown or dreadful sleep disturbances because they are in overwhelm. Proof of how important it is to work with someone who knows what they are doing – and LISTEN – and ask questions… because there are NEVER any silly questions, and you can never ask the same thing too many times.

The other option is to train yourself by going on courses with RMTi or MNRI, but the caveat here is that it will take several rounds of training sessions and several months or years of practice to fully understand how this works enough to unravel a child’s difficulties sufficiently to make consistent, visible progress.

Additionally, a good neuro-developmental therapist will know their limits and when to refer to a cranial osteopath, when to use the Safe and Sound Protocol or refer for a therapeutic listening programme, or when to give a person’s system a break to allow integration.

Please, folks, just don’t try this at home!

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