Therapy for Retained Reflexes
in Massapequa & East Northport, NY

Babies are born with certain reflexes to help them survive and grow, but sometimes they hold onto these reflexes for longer than they need them. Children with retained reflexes can struggle with other areas of their development, which is why Sensational Development offers reflex integration as part of our comprehensive pediatric therapy services. Keep reading to learn more about reflexes, what happens when they are retained, and how reflex integration can help your child thrive. 

What Are Reflexes?

Reflexes are automatic, involuntary movements that form the foundation of motor development in infants. As your baby grows, these reflexes should integrate, or change from being automatic actions into being self-controlled actions. This is important because it paves the way for more sophisticated motor skills and cognitive functions. 

For example, the Moro reflex (or startle reflex) develops shortly after birth. When baby hears a sudden loud sound or sees sudden movement, this reflex has their arms and legs quickly extend out, then pull back in toward the chest. It is a protective instinct that should integrate by the time baby is about 4 to 6 months old.

What Are Retained Reflexes?

Retained reflexes are what we call it when these primitive reflexes fail to integrate within the expected timeframe. For example, if a child still has the Moro reflex described above when they are 9 months old, that would be considered a retained reflex.

What Happens When Reflexes Are Retained?

Retained reflexes can affect a child’s development. Let’s continue with the example of the Moro reflex: children whose startle reflexes don’t integrate are often overly sensitive to their environment. Sounds, lights, and other sensory input can be overwhelming to them. It can be very similar to anxiety, as children with unintegrated Moro reflexes are very easily startled and have a hard time relaxing. This can also lead to difficulty with emotional regulation or even paying attention. 

There are different symptoms that can occur for retained reflexes depending on which reflex hasn’t integrated. Some common symptoms can include: 

  • Difficulty with speech
  • Low energy or endurance
  • Anxiety
  • Sensory processing disorder
  • Toe walking
  • Poor coordination
  • Struggles with reading and writing
  • Difficulty with social skills

How Pediatric Therapy Helps Children with Retained Reflexes

At Sensational Development, our experienced pediatric therapists do thorough evaluations to identify retained reflexes in your child. We then provide individualized treatment plans that focus on reflex integration through proven occupational therapy techniques. Our therapists use engaging and effective play-based activities to promote reflex integration to support your child’s healthy development.

We also use  sensory integration intervention techniques  to improve your child’s ability to tolerate sensory input from their environment for better overall wellbeing. And we continuously monitor your child’s progress so we can adjust their therapy plan as needed to ensure your child reaches their developmental goals. 

Schedule an Appointment Today

Empower your child to overcome the challenges of retained reflexes with Sensational Development. Give us a call at (516) 799-2900 to schedule an evaluation today and find out how we can help your child achieve a sensational future.