Research on the Reflexes

The connection between retained primitive reflexes and a child’s learning, developmental or behavioural challenges, is a new concept for many parents and educators.

And we live in an era where everyone wants or needs to see evidence in the form of research.

So here it is folks, a compilation of the research that exists today, with a summary of the findings. Click on the title to read it yourself of just stick to my mini take away version.


Effects of replicating primary-reflex movements on specific reading difficulties in children: a randomised,double-blind,controlled trial

The gold dust of research in reflex land, are these findings from The Lancet, published in 2000. 3 groups of 20 children, equally matched by age, gender, IQ and a retained Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR), were selected to participate. 1 group had targeted reflex integration movements alongside their regular classroom teaching, another had non specific movements and the third group had no additional movement. Scroll down to the findings table to see the results for yourself. But here’s a spoiler…“The reading gains achieved by the experimental group in this study are clinically significant”.


Infantile Reflexes Gone Astray in Autism

This article explores the connection between movement difficulties in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and reflex development-both late integration of primitive reflexes and delayed onset of postural reflexes. This research is limited by exploration of only the ATNR, head righting and parachute reflexes. Its focus is on early detection of ASD.


Retained Primitive Reflexes and ADHD in Children

I can’t say it better than this…“results of this study show that ADHD children have high occurrence of primitive reflexes compared to the control group, which indicates that ADHD symptoms may present a compensation of unfinished developmental stages”.


The Grasp Reflex and Moro Reflex in Infants: Hierarchy of Primitive Reflex Responses

I will confess that reading this one made by brain a little gooey. It discusses the connection between specific reflexes (Moro, Plantar and Palmar) and the early detection of Cerebral Palsy.


Movement Programs as a Means to Learning Readiness

This small study from the University of South Africa showed significant gains in learning readiness after students engaged in a 10 week movement and visual program within the classroom. Prior to detailing the research, it shares valuable information about the connection between movement and learning from existing literature in the field


The impact of using the Move to Learn motor sequences on young children’s performance in the classroom

This study from New South Wales included 650 students in their first 3 years of school. The children who participated in Move to Learn over the period of 1 school term (10 weeks) made significant academic gains in contrast with those who received only the academic curriculum. Writing was the area of most significant gain and reading levels also improved.


Move to Learn Programme in Polish Educational Practice

147 students aged between 5 and 8 years participated in this study, which included the control group (those who did not participate in Move to Learn). Daily time was spent engaging in the program sequentially, over a period of 10 weeks. In that period of time, significant improvements were seen physically, academically, socially and emotionally. Educators also contributed feedback about the ease of the program and the changes they saw within individual students.


This is a start

What’s worth noting here is that to be taken seriously in the world of academia, we need more extensive research that connects movement and learning.

This is a start.

And in the meantime, I’ll continue to place more weight in the real life transformations that I see before me. The individual stories of positive change.

Comments 2

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *