Reflections on Reflexes

Posted: 9th January 2018

Have you ever had a ‘light bulb moment’ – a sudden flash of understanding when you have been mulling something over for a long time? Mine came out of a confusion as to why, when one of my dyslexic students was putting in so much effort and I, for my part, was putting before her the best spelling and handwriting interventions possible, was she making so little progress.

I remember observing her, during one session – the pain of concentration on her face – and thinking, ‘There is something that I’m missing, here; what is it?’ As if that question somehow expanded into the cosmos, I received a message, from an old friend, just a few days later, asking if I had ever heard of Rhythmic Movement Training. No, I definitely hadn’t. It’s based on the integration of retained primitive reflexes – you what, now?!

It sounded prehistoric to my twenty first century mind; something akin to voodoo maybe but the friend left some internet links and the contact details of an RMT instructor who, as it turns out, lived within reasonable driving distance and so began a journey that flipped my fixed way of looking at learning difficulties right onto its tail.

I began to learn how the natural infant reflexes, which are both sequential and essential to fetal and neonatal development, sometimes get retained or ‘held onto’ by the developing child, long past the time when they should have completed their function and been integrated into the body. This retention or ‘holding on’ serves some purpose in functioning but conversely causes other difficulties, which manifest as the child grows older. For example, a fetus subject to shock, either physical or due to the emotional distress of the mother, may retain either or both of the reflexes known as the Fear Paralysis Reflex or the Moro. In the early months after birth, the baby may appear to be developing quite normally but later exhibit behaviours such as anxiety, obsessive compulsive behaviours, social phobias or the opposites of either social withdrawal or aggression and acting out. Children on the autistic spectrum often present with retained FPR and/or Moro reflexes.

For my students with dyslexia, I also found that work needed to be done around their awareness of being able to cross the mid-line of their bodies, work with vision and hearing and retained reflexes that affect hand flexibility. I soon began to learn that by utilising simple movements, which powerfully act on the neural pathways of the brain, these young bodies began to ‘free up’ and, used alongside other interventions, became a force for positive change.

I was even more delighted when I realised that it was not only my students who could benefit from RMT. My husband, who has a chronic auto-immune disease, began to use the movements to improve his general well-being and to help control phantom limb pain, which still haunts him several years after a below the knee amputation. I have since used it with clients who wanted to free themselves from compulsive obsessive and self-harming behaviours. I have also had great results with balance issues and poor sleep patterns.

My journey is not over; not by a long way. I am currently adding Touch for Health Kinesiology to my tool bag. I am finding that the added information about a client’s difficulties, given through muscle testing and balancing, adds a further dynamic, which powerfully shifts blocked energies, enabling the necessary adjustments to be made. This synthesis of muscle testing, Rhythmic Movement Training and tried and tested interventions, along with the common sense advice gained from being a teacher, mother and grandmother, can be summarised as balance, education and movements, with a little bit of ‘me’ thrown in. I’m hoping BEAMKR will become a ‘go to’ service, when a client needs that ‘missing something’ on their road to positive change.