Primitive Reflexes and the link to Classroom Challenges

20 October 2020
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This could be the culprit behind your classroom chaos.

What are primitive reflexes?

Primitive reflexes are present during the earliest stages of life to aid in birth and survival- these are normal and healthy at this time. Retention of these reflexes as a child grows can play a factor in learning outcomes, emotional behaviour, and development. More specifically, retained primitive reflexes may lead to poor coordination, abnormal movement patterns, issues with handwriting, difficulty reading and spelling, emotional regulation, and attention problems. 

One study showed that approximately 60% of children still had these reflexes in their early education years which can directly affect their learning potential. Some students spend more energy on fighting these reflexes instead of actually learning, which may cause them to fatigue much sooner than a child without these reflexes.

How do retained primitive reflexes affect a child’s learning?

Several studies have presented a direct relation between certain characteristics and retained primitive reflexes. Below is a short list of some examples:

Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex

  • Poor eye-hand coordination.
  • Abnormal movement patterns and difficulty crossing the midline.
  • Poor visual tracking affecting reading and looking at the board.

Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex

  • Poor posture.
  • Difficulty with copying tasks.

Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex

  • Poor balance, posture and coordination.

Grasping (Palmar) Reflex

  • Poor fine motor skills.

Moro (Startle) Reflex

  • Sensitivity to sudden noise, light or movement;
  • Anxiety or mood swings;
  • Impulsive or inappropriate behaviour;
  • Emotional and social immaturity.

Spinal Galant Reflex

  • Fidgeting, attention and concentration difficulties.

Can you integrate these reflexes?

In short, yes! Slow repetitive movements can help to retrain and reset the brain in order to properly integrate these reflexes into a child’s life and help dampen them. For example, to help remediate the grasping reflex, repetitively squeezing a ball overtime can help to correct the movement and improve a child’s fine motor skills. 

Where do I start?

Brain 1st’s primitive reflex program takes students through an easy to follow set of activities and movements targeting all the reflexes mentioned above.  This may help them remediate these reflexes so your students can reach their full potential!

Sign up for a free 7 day trial today!


Gieysztor, E., Choińska, A., & Paprocka-Borowicz, M. (2018, January). Persistence of primitive reflexes and associated motor problems in healthy preschool children. Retrieved from

Retained Primitive Reflexes as a Sign of Brain Imbalance. Retrieved from

2019, September 23. Is It ADHD, LD or Is It Primitive Reflexes? Retrieved from

Rhythmic Movement Training in Dyslexia. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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