Primitive Reflex Remediation


Primitive reflexes are automatic, involuntary movements necessary to a baby's survival in the first few weeks of life. These involuntary reflexes are quickly inhibited as higher centers of the brain develop and voluntary responses dominant. Primitive reflexes persisting beyond 6-12 months of life are considered abnormal.

Normal neural development shows a progressive inhibition of the primitive reflexes and progressive development of new skills such as gross motor skills, fine motor skills, along with crawling, walking, balance, coordination, and speech. Children sometimes have a number of persistent primitive reflexes present with neuro-developmental disorders. The severity of this neuro-developmental delay depends upon the strength and number of the persistent primitive reflexes, as well as other factors.

Below you will find common signs and symptoms associated with a persistent primitive reflex. The list is not complete, but is intended to offer some insight regarding the importance of primitive reflex testing and correction.


The Moro Reflex emerges at 9 weeks in utero and is the earliest form of "fight or flight" (reaction to stress) which is fully present at birth and is usually inhibited between 2-4 months of life.

  • Over reactive
  • Hypersensitive
  • Stimulus bound
  • Difficulty with ball games


The Spinal Galant emerges at 20 weeks in utero, is actively present at birth and inhibited by 3-9 months. If fully retained, or only retained on one side may affect posture, gait and other forms of locomotion and is responsible for bedwetting, fidgeting, poor concentration and short-term memory, and hip rotation to one side when walking. When retained can interfere with the development of amphibian and segmental rolling reflexes.

  • Inability to sit still or remain silent
  • Poor concentration
  • Continued bed wetting above the age of 5 yrs


Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR) emerges 18 weeks in utero to stimulate the balance mechanism and increase neural connections ATNR. It assists the birth process and is reinforced by the birth process. It is fully present at birth and develops eye-hand coordination, trains one side of the body at a time and extends ability to focus from 17 cm to arms length. It is inhibited about 6 months of life (so that focus on distant objects can develop). It ensures free passage of air when baby is in the prone position and increases extensor muscle tone.

  • Handwriting: expression of ideas in written form
  • Eye tracking problems; difficulty crossing the midline
  • Ambilaterality or cross laterality


The Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex (TLR) emerges in utero, is fully present at birth and is inhibited by 4 months and is closely linked to the Moro Reflex as both are vestibular in origin and activated by movement of the head. When retained can lead to spatial problems, poor posture & muscle tone, motion sickness, visual perceptual difficulties, poor sequencing skills and a poor sense of time. The Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex (TLR) Backwards emerges at birth and is inhibited gradually from 6 weeks to 3 years and is involved in the simultaneous development of postural reflexes, symmetrical tonic neck reflex and the Landau reflex can result in poor balance and coordination, organizational skills and stiff jerky movements if retained.

  • Poor balance, rigid or floppy muscles (seen in PE or in running)
  • Oculo-motor dysfunction, tracking, convergence, reestablishment of binocular vision
  • Visual perceptual difficulties
  • Possible auditory problems
  • Organizational problems
  • Poor sense of time and rhythm


The Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (Flexion & Extension) emerges at about 6-9 months of life and is inhibited about 9-11 months. If retained affects posture, hand-eye coordination and swimming skills. Also results in the tendency to slump when sitting at a desk, ape-like walk, difficulties with binocular vision, "clumsy child" syndrome, slowness at copying tasks and messy eating habits.

  • Posture lies on desk when writing
  • Poor eye hand coordination
  • Problems with refocusing from far to near distance
  • Clumsy