primitive reflex integration, coordination, lower brain stem functions

What are Primitive Reflexes

Primitive reflexes are automatic, involuntary movement patterns that help an infant survive outside the womb. They are controlled by the lower brainstem and help initiate movement in infants. These central nervous system motor responses are eventually replaced with voluntary motor movements around the age of 6 months however they may not always integrate.

Impact of Retained Primitive Reflexes

Retained primitive reflexes can impact the development of voluntary and postural movements that contribute to higher level learning and development. This means, children with retained reflexes are at higher risk for social emotional, academic, sensory, behavioral and motor skill challenges. They can interfere with the development of higher level cognitive and motor skills.

“Most of us can relate to the annoyance of having to shop with an ‘off-kilter’ cart. Imagine the frustration a child feels when his body is constantly pulled off-track by un-integrated reflex movements. It’s no wonder children become irritable and have trouble focusing at school.” (Carr)

The following can prevent integration or reactivate reflexes:

  • Trauma, illness, or shock during pregnancy
  • Premature, traumatic caesarean or lengthy deliveries
  • Extended time in car seats, carriers, walkers and jumpers
  • Illness, injury, chronic stress, trauma
  • Other neurological or developmental disorders

Primitive Reflex Integration Therapy

Retrieved from Cooee Speech Pathology


Carr, Connie. What is primitive reflex integration? Retrieved from on 12/2/2023.

“What are retained Primitive Reflexes?” YouTube, uploaded by Cooee Speech Pathology, 29 January 2021,

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