I had the great pleasure of being interviewed on the site of VaudFamille. Here is the translation.
Primitive reflexes, what is it?
Did you say primitive reflexes?
Stéphanie Cherdel, Kinesiologist in Pully/Lausanne, talks about the importance of archaic reflexes in the motor, emotional and cognitive development of infants and children.
LaFamily – What are primitive reflexes for?
Stéphanie Cherdel: They have a survival role first. They emerge in utero and remain active several months after birth.
What are some examples?
One can mention at the moment of birth, the reflex to crawl to the breast of the mother, to grasp it and to suck. These are the crawling, sucking and grasping reflexes.
Is that the kind of reflexes you check for when you give birth?
Yes. If they were absent, this could indicate a risk of a serious neurological problem. Afterwards, medicine and paediatricians forget them, even though they are the basis of our movements and our development.
We end up assimilating these innate reflexes?
They are supposed to integrate during the baby’s first year of life and evolve into life reflexes. However, that is not always the case, and in some children, they do not fully integrate.They then come to parasitize them and prevent them from having access to their full potential.
And this can have repercussions?
Indeed, it can impact learning, leading to persistent attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Children may have difficulty listening, writing, reading, speaking, or even playing sports because these reflexes are always active.
Sounds like dys disorders, right?
Dys-type complications can result from poorly integrated archaic reflexes. I intervene upstream and in addition to the speech therapist, osteopath or occupational therapist who will act on the child’s posture and motor skills. My intervention is done jointly and without replacing their work.
How do you do it? How do you take stock when a child comes to you for the first time?
At the first session, I will test a set of reflexes to see which ones are not integrated. As a kinesiologist, I use the muscle test to guide me and to see how the body is impacted by these reflexes. Depending on the parent’s request and especially on what the child would like to change the most in his life, we will set a goal that will guide the sessions.
What exactly do children want?
Not being afraid of the teacher anymore, being less shy and making new friends, being comfortable and playing sports in the playground are often some of the things that are important to them. There are of course also all the problems encountered in class and in their work.
And for that, the integration of archaic reflexes will be able to help them?
Yes, just as they can be effective for concerns about bedwetting, speech, sleep disturbances or for hypersensitive and anxious children. In a few sessions, they will become aware of their body, feel more comfortable and regain self-confidence.
Archaic reflexes play on both the body and the psyche?
They are managed by the most primitive part of our brain, the brainstem, which is responsible for the automatic functions of our nervous system. When poorly integrated, they affect a child’s emotional balance, and self-esteem and confidence can suffer. It is then possible to deal with children who are easily irritable, hypersensitive or with “intense” behavior.
How do you reintegrate these reflexes during your sessions?
It works on two main axes, rhythmic movements and isometric pressures. The rhythmic movements mimic what baby does naturally to mature his reflexes.
Examples of actions you perform?
There is a lot of head, back, chest rocking. These are movements that can be passive – it is I who initiates the movement – or active – it is the child who initiates it. Often the child will choose two or three movements to do at home with mom or dad that only take a few minutes before bedtime. Children are often happy to have this little ritual with their parents.
How long does it take to see progress?
In 4-5 sessions, we get very interesting results and we unravel a lot of things. Even if this is not a miracle recipe, children and teens feel better afterwards, more serene and regain control of their movements.
There are several methods?
Several methods have emerged since the 1970s and 1980s in Anglo-Saxon countries in particular. Personally, I am trained in the RMTi method – Rhythmic Movement Training international -, based on the movement and the innate programs of the baby. I also often use Brain Gym moves and kinesiology as needed.
Finally, any advice for parents who might be concerned?
There’s no point shouting or arguing with children who can’t keep still or have trouble concentrating, they can’t help it. The archaic reflex approach is a natural and playful way that will unlock them. It’s as if after many years they took away the stone they had in their shoes and suddenly they could walk freely again …
To see the article in French: