an EXCERPT from my new book titled:
The dragonfly approach
A practical guide from a 'girlfriend's' point of view and a professional one too for parents with or without CHILDREN of special needs
Primitive Reflexes Part 1
A lot of folks think of the knee jerk reaction when they hear the word ‘reflex.’ The knee jerk reaction is when your doctor clobbers your knee and it involuntarily kicks out and yes, that it a reflex but there are A LOT more. There are actually 70 known primary reflexes but for our purposes, I am referring to the ones that most affect children from the ages of 1 to 18. However, many adults still have retained reflexes, just saying.
Retained primitive reflexes, as I see it, are affecting probably 80% of the general population of kids, my opinion and not researched, just years and years of being around people and children and again, this is the girlfriend/professional book of knowledge. I could throw big huge ‘researchy’ words at you but really, what good would that do? You’d put the book down or better yet, get on your Amazon app and hit return, so no, that’s not how I am rolling here. Let’s keep it awesome but simple.
Primitive reflexes are found in the brain stem, which is the most primitive part of our brain. It’s the roots, if you will, where everything essentially starts. The brain stem is responsible for breathing, swallowing, heart rate, blood pressure, consciousness, and whether one is awake or sleeping. It is also controls the messages between our brain and our body.
I once saw a picture of a brain and it explained that the brain essentially develops from the brain stem up so as you get to the tip of the brain where your halo would be for those that are angelic, I’m not, I’m just saying . . . anyway, that’s where the much more complex things happen such as language, vision, etc. hang out.
An aside here…I have seen many a therapist treat from the top of the brain down. You may ask, “What does this strange crazy OT mean?” Well, if a child is having trouble with handwriting and you keep throwing fine-motor exercises as well as hours of practicing handwriting at them and you just don’t seem to be making any progress with their handwriting, then you’ve started at the wrong end of the brain essentially. Ya gotta go back to that brain stem, the roots of the brain and figure out what’s going down there.
I’d equate what I’m talking about in practical terms to sitting in front of an unlit campfire with your marshmallow on your stick holding it over the non-fire to make those awesome s’mores you love. Um, well, what’s wrong with this picture? Is your marshmallow gonna cook without a fire? Proper steps must be taken to ensure a mouth-watering s’more. Make sense?
Okay, so now that you know the primitive reflexes come from the brain stem, let’s talk about this.
First of all, a reflex is an involuntary or unconscious response to a stimulus. In a baby’s case, these reflexes start in the womb to help protect the baby and prepare for the birthing process. Sometimes, these little reflex helpers get messed up for several reasons that have been observed over the years:
- Lots of stress put on the mother during pregnancy
- Eating this food that the food people keep putting bad crap into thus creating a platform for several of the diseases and syndromes we are seeing today. Why do you think there is such a large rise in autism, allergies, and genetic disorders? Just saying. I’ll get to diet later on.
- Cell phones, microwaves, computers . . . yes, the waves that come off of them are messing stuff up y’all. For example, if a man keeps his cell phone in his pocket next to his scrotum, these waves can effect sperm health as well as sperm count. This is real, I’m not kidding.
- C-sections! If you don’t absolutely have to have a C-section, DO NOT HAVE ONE! This is, in my opinion, THE reason why these reflexes are being retained. Not every C-section, but the majority of them. The vaginal birthing process gets the crank turning, if you will, and out comes the reflexes to aide in the birthing process, thus launching the proper order of things. When a C-section is done, those reflexes get all confused like how you would feel if you accidently walked into the wrong bathroom at a restaurant and saw a man’s hinny that was not your husband’s/boyfriend’s or men, you walked in on a chick pulling down her shirt in the mirror having just finished adjusting ‘the girls,’ it throws you, right? Although, really, you men are kinda freaky and you’d probably take a pause and stare, I’m just saying. Anyway, it’ll disorient you a bit and in the case of reflexes, it can mess them up a little or a lot depending on the already laid down platform that is being built.
- If you had a severe viral infection while you were pregnant during the first 12 weeks or between 26 and 30 weeks.
- Drinking or drugs while pregnant. Don’t drink and prego and certainly don’t drug and prego. Come on, y’all, really? Does this need to be said? Oh, I’m about to get on that dang soapbox but I gotta write a book, so later on I suppose.
- If you were exposed to radiation.
- Uncontrolled diabetes-get your check-ups ladies!
- Smoking . . . okay, really, don’t smoke and prego. Okay,
10. If you had hypertension or high blood pressure during your pregnancy-go to your check-ups.
11. A traumatic birth, I’ll explain in a bit.
12. Undiagnosed thyroid disease (this one happened to my aunt)
Now, the only thing on this list that is your fault, ladies, is drinkin’, drugs, smokin’, you didn’t go to your checkups therefore neglecting knowing that you had high blood pressure or diabetes or a thyroid issue, but I guess if you couldn’t afford to go then I’ll digress on that one, although I’m pretty sure there are some free clinics out there, just sayin’.
I got a new sweet precious little girl on my caseload a few weeks back and God bless her she has a mess of retained reflexes but we are working on them and she’s making lovely progress. So much progress in fact that when she came to me at nearly 36 months old, her PT told her mom that she was functioning at about a 15 month old level and in the one month I began seeing her, she went back for her final evaluation from her PT because she aged out of early intervention, and lo and behold, she shot up to 23 months age equivalency! IN 1 MONTH!!!
When I met my sweet OT kid and her mother for the first time, the mom explained the way this poor child was born and I literally nearly threw up all over my clinic. Here’s why . . .
Picture this . . . its New Year’s Eve and someone has just suggested some lovely bubbly and as you stand there watching, you see that the opening of the bottle individual is struggling to get that dang cork out. He’s grunting oh, and oops, he just farted to boot, bless him and finally, he yanks the sucker out and it hits the ceiling. The sound of the cork being sucked out of the bottle is a familiar one if you have ever had wine or champagne.
Now, picture this . . . your doctor has just announced that a C-section is going to have to be done because the baby is in trouble, you agree, reluctantly but you do, birthing docs will sometimes treat you as if there are no other choices so you panic and agree. Remember that cork getting yanked out?
As my sweet mom describes it, they did the unsavory cutting of her belly and as they were trying to get this tiny baby out, she was in an awkward position and was a bit stuck . . . you see where I’m going with this. Not only did the C-section mess the whole reflexes falling into place gig up, they literally had to put a foot on the bed, grab this child by a body part, oh I’m gonna barf at this y’all, and pulled that cork-like baby out of her mother with that fun cork coming out sound. The force they applied to this child literally jostled the whole bed violently her mother told me . . . can you even imagine what this did to that poor baby? What an unbelievable and unnecessary trauma that this child had to endure and the unfortunate snowball affect it has had on her, her retained reflexes, her development, but especially, especially the guilt her mom had and the counseling she had to go through to get over what had happened.
This woman is now a part of a group that educates the general public about the dangers a C-section can have on a child and that women have a choice! I am actually going to speak to the group in a few months explaining the after-math and to also let them know, IT IS NOT THEIR FAULT!!!!!!
Now, OBGYN people, I completely understand that I have not walked in your flip-flops for miles and I don’t completely understand at your mental/emotional level what is going on in your mind with a bleeding screaming woman in front of you or the nature of every situation, I don’t claim to and I won’t claim to, however, you practitioners know who you are who just decided to take the lazy way out because you had a barbeque to go to later and just wanted this birth over with. You are also the ones convincing these ladies that a C-section is a lot easier on everyone and a C-section baby is just beautiful. Shame on you, you have created a domino affect now stop it right now or I’m telling all y’all’s moms!!