As the infant brain develops during the first year of life connections to higher centres in the brain become stronger and increasingly take over the functions of primitive reflexes. As this occurs, early survival patterns are inhibited or controlled to allow more mature patterns of response (postural reflexes) to develop in their place.
The postural reflexes support control of balance, posture and movement in a gravity based environment. Postural reflex development is mirrored in the infant’s increasing ability to control its body, posture and movements.
Some children fail to gain this control fully in the first year of life and continue to grow up in a reflexive ‘no man’s land’, where traces of the primitive reflexes remain present and the postural reflexes do not develop fully. These children continue to experience difficulty with control of movement affecting coordination, balance, fine motor skills, motor development and associated aspects of learning such as reading, writing and physical education.
Retained primitive reflexes can also affect a child’s sensory perceptions, causing hypersensitivity in some areas and hyposensitivity in others.