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  • Writer's pictureDr. Stephens-Sarlós Erzsébet

Testing for the presence of infantile or primitive reflexes

a small child with her mother

Without infantile reflexes, we wouldn't be able to enter the world, experience the stimuli arising within us or around us, or have the protective mechanisms that help us survive the first year of life. Precise adjustment of our muscle tone would also be impossible. So, the presence of infantile or primitive reflexes is essential at the beginning of our lives. I have written about this in several blog posts, such as "Just because we have no knowledge of something doesn't mean it doesn't exist."

As the higher functioning structures of our brains begin to develop, these automatic movement patterns that have assisted us so far should be naturally inhibited ("go away"). By the age of two and a half to three years old, none of the primitive reflexes should still be active.

But if they remain present, it indicates a slowdown in the maturation process or some kind of obstruction. Paying early attention to this can prevent many later problems. The issue can be addressed through the use of exercises and physical therapy. Every kind of movement benefits the maturation of the nervous system, but there are specific exercises which if done daily will more effectively support this process, known as reflex-inhibiting or reflex-integrating exercises.

In the best-case scenario, the child only needs sufficient movement in their everyday lives, and their development will proceed smoothly. However, unfortunately, more and more children experience a disruption in this process for various external or internal reasons, and the infantile reflexes remain active beyond three to four years of age. In others, they are suppressed as expected but can reemerge due to chronic stress or changes affecting the body, especially the central nervous system. It's important to pay attention to these signs!

There are many clear manifestations of the presence of primitive reflexes, but the clearest indicator involves just simple physical tests (click here). These tests are easy and safe. I would like to think that one day they will become as well-known as measuring one's pulse or blood pressure.

When primitive reflexes can be triggered, either in children or in adults, it's highly advisable to perform appropriate exercises daily to inhibit them, to make them “go away”. These exercises can be found in my book "The Stephens-Sarlós Program" and in the video packages I created for the most common primitive reflexes and for specific conditions like ADHD, Sensory Process Disorder, Bedwetting, Speech development problems, and others.

The exercises are simple to perform. In the past, many of them were performed in physical education classes in schools and kindergartens. Unfortunately, this is frequently not the case nowadays, despite the benefits they bring for the nervous system.

Also in older age, the presence of primitive reflexes can predict certain problems and diseases. Fortunately, more and more research is now being conducted on preventing the development of dementia through the use of targeted exercises, with promising results.

an older man and woman exercising

Remember, when a primitive reflex can be triggered by a test, it simply indicates that the individual's brain requires "specific movements" which can be done using the appropriate exercises which can be found in my book and videos.

So, get moving and start exercising!

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