At SensoryWellness, our treatment approach is based on sensory processing and reflex integration techniques, and is individually tailored to meet the needs of each client.
Sensory experiences are a part of everything that we do in our day - hearing the alarm clock awaken you in the morning, smelling the morning coffee, and feeling the warmth of the sun on your face.
The way that you feel when sharing a hug with your child or loved one, driving to the grocery store, and riding the elevator at your office each day - these are all understood by your brain in “sensory terms.”
- Does touch from others feel comforting or irritating?
- Is it challenging to decide when to make that left turn, or how much distance is needed between cars?
- Does the upward movement in the elevator feel routine and uneventful or do you need to avoid this and take the stairs?
How do these experiences affect your success in routine activities - your relationship with loved ones, your comfort running everyday errands, your anxiety level at the start of the workday?
The way that our brains “read” sensory information affects how we feel and act throughout the day.
It is important that we experience routine sensory experiences as just that - routine.
Your success, freedom, and flexibility are all influenced by the way that your mind “perceives” your world. It sets the tone for your mood and social interactions as well - feelings of anxiety, lethargy, and impulsivity are often rooted in the way your body interacts and understands the world around you.
Positive change to the way one perceives sensory information can occur at any age - allowing you to achieve more comfort in the way your body feels and moves, participate in activities that were previously stressful, and improve relationships with others.
Primary reflexes are those automatic movement patterns that help a new baby learn to navigate this world. These patterns are a gift we acquire from before the time we are born, generally lasting with us through the first year of life. They serve as a mechanism for survival, protection, and as building blocks for developing the skills we need to move and function in the world.
Primary reflexes help us learn to move our bodies against the force of gravity, turn our head and reach our hand toward an object of interest, and develop the motor patterns for crawling and walking to begin exploring the world.
Primary reflexes are the building blocks of:
- Gross and fine motor skills
- Speech and language
- Attention and focus
- Cognitive and emotional development
- Ocular-motor skills (coordination of eyes for vision)
- Processing sensory information from our environments
As we learn to move freely, manipulate objects in our world, and walk, run, and explore – these reflexes no longer are necessary and become integrated into our systems. We can now override these movement patterns and use our bodies in more interesting and sophisticated ways.
In some cases, these primary reflexes don’t become properly integrated. This results in these early movement patterns staying a part of our active repertoire in the way that we use our bodies, which may interfere with daily functioning. This can contribute to poor fine motor skills, decreased attention to task, and a fear of heights to name a few consequences. Should early protection and survival responses stay active, the result may be frequent startling to stimuli in our environment or the development of anxiety. Not allowing for free movement and exploration to occur, the extended presence of primary reflexes often prevents optimal development of our sensory systems, interfering with the processing of information about the world around us.
As the fundamental role of primary reflexes is for survival, protection, and the means to navigate the physical world, a lack of proper integrations infringes on one’s ability to use the “thinking” parts of the brain to make judgements on how to best move safely and function effectively in the world.
Instead of relying on our natural ability to learn from our experiences and create mental maps for what is safe and what is not, our bodies react reflexively and in more rigid patterns. While we are wired to creatively develop the variety of ways in which our bodies can act to accomplish our goals, the long-term presence of early reflexes limits the input of conscious thought.
When primary reflexes take a front seat in the way we interact with the world, physical stimuli trigger a “pattern”rather than relying on our “working brain” taking charge.
- We may startle in response to a train bell in the distance or a sudden door opening in a room
- It may be challenging to sort out relevant information, decreasing attention and focus
- We may develop back pain or a slumped posture from imposed patterns of body positioning
- Fatigue and decreased endurance for physical activity can limit our activities
Lack of proper reflex integration limits the flexibility that we experience in navigating our world, and has a secondary effect as well. The presence of primary reflexes blocks the optimal development of the next stage of automatic reflexes from developing – postural reflexes. Poor development of postural reflexes can contribute to the experience of poor core strength, the inability to sit and move comfortably with an upright posture, and the lack of feeling balanced and grounded. Proper integration of primary reflexes and the development of postural reflexes is necessary to successfully accomplish familiar tasks automatically and without fatigue.