A typically developing child progresses through a sequence of movements including lifting the head, sitting unsupported, rolling over, crawling on belly, crawling on all fours, and eventually walking. This series of movements is extremely important for a child's overall development, allowing him or her to become neurologically organized and meet his or her physical, social, emotional, and cognitive milestones with ease. When obstacles interfere with this developmentally necessary process, problems can arise in all areas of growth.
The development of a child's reflexes and these movement patterns work hand-in-hand. Reflexes need to be integrated, or partially integrated, for a child to be able to move in the correct manner. When the child repeats these developmental movements, it allows the reflex to fully integrate (become inactive).
When some of a child's reflexes are retained (active), it becomes more difficult or impossible for a child to move in these necessary ways. For example, the ATNR (Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex) is stimulated when an infant turns his or her head to one side. When this happens, the infant's limbs on that side of the body will straighten and the limbs on the other side of the body will bend. In typically developing children this reflex usually integrates between four and seven months. If ATNR remains active beyond that time, it will be difficult for the child to crawl on the belly and then on all fours (two movements which are especially important for neurological integration). Even if the child manages to do these movements, the body will have to compensate and perform the movement in a manner is not entirely fluid and coordinated, and she or he will not receive the full neurological benefit.
The good news is that neurodevelopmental movement programs allows children to redo these necessary movements. Rainbow Connections Developmental Therapies combines reflex integration and neurodevelopmental movement techniques to create individualized programs for children. The overall goal of these programs is to build and strengthen neural pathways so children can succeed.