When children are born, they emerge from the womb with primitive reflexes – physical responses that are initiated without conscious thought or intention. These reflexes allow the child to cope with the influx of new sensory information from the post-utero environment. These initial reflex patterns but should within the first few years be overtaken and inhibited by voluntary actions – these are referred to as postural reflexes or postural control. It has been found that problems with neurosensory integration may be attributed to uninhibited primitive reflexes.
The retention of primitive reflexes does not always present clearly. One example is the palmar reflex, where the fingers automatically close when the palm is stimulated. A child who has partially retained the palmar reflex will not demonstrate this precise characteristic at the age of 6, but instead may have poor pencil grip and trouble with fine motor coordination or manual dexterity. Each primitive reflex has its own set of consequences if it has not been fully inhibited by its postural equivalent.
Treating developmental disorders involves an assumption that effective functioning cannot exist without normal development. While most developmental milestones are acknowledged through physical achievements (crawling, standing, walking), these milestones have their basis in the brain’s interconnections – that is, motor development is dependent on neuro development. This makes the brain an ideal focal point for intervention.
The rationale behind Developmental Movement Exercises is that sensory systems and reflexes are indivisible, and that any existing partially retained primitive reflex can be actively inhibited by exercising the postural reflexes. Postural reflexes have the effect of maintaining and controlling posture, physical actions and equilibrium, which is why the activities in DME involve these elements of functioning. More specifically, the systems targeted in DME are those involved in learning through motion.
Developmental Movement Exercise is, in a sense, the reliving of the experience of sensory development so that partially retained primitive reflexes are revisited and overtaken as they ideally would have been during the child’s infancy.
How it works
Developmental Movement Exercises consists of a series of movements designed to stimulate and open up the sensory system. The program of exercises is developed following an assessment by a qualified professional at the Listen And Learn Centre. These should be enjoyable and interesting for children. Developmental Movement Exercises will involve different activities depending on the child’s sensory profile.