In blog 61: Primitive reflexes – Your baby’s friends, but your child’s enemies: Zani simply cannot get through a normal workday anymore. She figures out what to do in case she’s not allowed to work from home – clever girl that she is – and then turns her attention to Very Important Info concerning reflexes.
I stare at the note I made in my notebook, marked in bold and underlined: Spinal Galant. What’s that about?
For the life of me I can’t remember, but a quick visit to the university of Google jogs my memory: “The Spinal Galant is a primitive reflex that disassociates hip and shoulder movement, and is said to be involved during the birth process.”
Ah, the audio talks by Dr Melodie de Jager! Yes, my note was a reminder to listen to the last programme in the series. My memory is so shocking that I have completely forgotten about it. No wonder the folks at work have taken to calling me ‘preggy brain’! My excuse is that it is in the best interest of my baby to feel more and think less … But, truth be told, the guys at the office have been amazing. I would have fired myself long ago if I were the boss and noticed the drop in output. It hasn’t been easy for me, or them – I need to work as long as possible in order to save up as much as we can before Brandon is born, but at the same time neither my head nor my heart is in my work anymore and it shows. I need to get my act together. Maybe they would consider that I work from home? That way I could juggle my time between resting and working, because the days are just too long for me without a nap.
As I get up to find get Dr De Jager’s talk, a folded piece of paper slips out of my notebook. Bending down – not so easy now that the bump is in the way! – I steady myself against the table and awkwardly manage to pick it up. It is a printout from some website. Pity I didn’t note which one.
Great timing! So if it’s a NO! to my request for working from home, I’m off to my car for a power nap and a snack!
In the meantime though, I remember the dishwasher needs unpacking and lunchtime is not too far off so the good development specialist and her words of wisdom will have to wait.
Somehow the rest of the day goes by with a steady flow of activities – dishwasher unpacked, showering and changing, lunch made and eaten, dishwasher packed, pottering around while Jake replaces the cat litter and packs his overnight bag and finally waves goodbye. Only then do I get cosy on the couch with legs raised and Alfie draping himself graciously in my lap. Hi, Doctor. I’m back, ready to hear about primitive reflexes and spinal galant.
This is the last in the current series of eight talks. We have been taking a look at the ever-increasing number of behaviour and learning problems children experience. We are approaching these problems from a neural developmental basis rather than from a psychological basis. In layman’s terms, we can say a ‘neural developmental basis’ refers to the mechanics of the senses, nerves, physical brain and muscles that are necessary to learn and to respond, while a ‘psychological approach’ would be what a child feels and thinks about the information received from the senses, physical brain, nerves and muscles. In other words: ‘neural’ comes before ‘psycho’. We’ve also said previously that neural development is an internally driven process propelled by a series of primitive reflexes that wires up the whole brain and body so a baby can feed, can crawl, stand, walk, and later can sit up and still; can tie his shoe laces, cut along a line, concentrate and learn the ABC. If any of the pathways are not wired up properly, the child behaves immaturely and battles to learn. To summarise: The withdrawal reflex is responsible for sensitising the skin and connecting these sensations to the brain using stereotype movements. The Moro reflex does the same with the vestibular system and is a pivotal part of wiring for the remaining senses and muscles, because it integrates input from the senses and is involved in the development of muscle tone. Thought for the day – primitive reflexes are your baby’s friends but your child’s enemies. Why? Your baby’s development is taken care of by these reflexes while Baby is immature and mother and father are overwhelmed. As soon as baby has developed, these reflexes have served their purpose and should go to rest. But, if they stay active, they undermine the development of the child emotionally and mentally, which can be seen in the child's behaviour, delayed development and learning difficulties.