Our Son, Barrett’s Story
The Story Goes...
When we had our first son, Barrett, life had a new meaning to it. I am sure parents reading this know the feeling of awe seeing their little one smile or laugh for the first time. That overwhelming feeling of pride when they crawl for the first time. This is kind of funny, right? They are crawling. Everyone has crawled before, but when your child hits that milestone it feels like a huge achievement. The inverse of this is when your child doesn’t hit that milestone and you are overwhelmed with worry.
Where It Went Wrong
Our Barrett was an 8 lb. 10 oz, handsome baby (Maybe I’m a bit biased). He learned to roll early. He learned to crawl early. He was trying to walk by 8 months and running by 10 months. At the time I would tell friends, he has the physical ability but not the intelligence to know not to hurt himself. We thought he was excelling, until the speech milestone was missed. Barrett didn’t babble, nor did he try to form words. He and I communicated completely non-verbally, with only looks and hand gestures. As he turned three, things weren’t getting any better. He now had a little sister, and he was getting frustrated not being able to communicate with anyone except for me. As Isabelle grew, she babbled and learned words quickly. Soon, they were both at the same level of speech, even though they had an 18-month age gap.
By this time, he had been in private speech therapy. We had found him a preschool with the sole purpose of getting him around kids that could talk. He was placed in a 4-year-old class as a 3-year-old so that they could model language for him. Later, we would turn to the school district for an IEP in speech to add speech therapy through the school district as well. We were trying any and everything we could think of.
Then the Answer Came
This is when we met a Chiropractor, Dr. Josh Madsen, who specialized in pediatrics. Even more than that, he utilized functional neurology to treat kids who weren’t hitting their milestones. Dr. Josh assessed Barrett and would ask Dr. Coty and I things like, “does your child get anxious in front of bigger groups of people?” and “Is he still wetting the bed?” Dr. Josh did a primitive reflex check on our son and found that he had retained a few primitive reflexes – the MORO, the ATNR, and STNR.
What are primitive reflexes?
Primitive reflexes are like the kick reflex that doctors check by tapping below your knee cap. These primitive reflexes should all be present at birth and suppressed by one year of age or earlier.
The Moro Reflex
This reflex should be suppressed by 4 months. It is the reflex that people usually refer to as the startle reflex. Think of when you are holding a baby and they hear a loud noise which startles them, and their arms dart out to their sides. This happens because when the reflex is stimulated the baby’s survival systems are triggered. The child then responds as if they are reacting to a threat. The Moro is how your body develops it’s fight or flight response. When retained this reflex can cause varying issues; motion sickness, difficulty sleeping, poor digestion, difficulty with balance coordination or visual perception, even easily triggered anger or emotional outbursts.
The Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR)
This reflex links head and neck movement to one-sided movement. Think of babies crawling and looking around. What you may not have known is that when an infant turns their head to one side, the arm and leg of that side automatically extend. This reflex helps in providing infants with muscle tone and their vestibular system. If this reflex is maintained past 6 months of life, children can have long lasting learning difficulties. Children with a retained ATNR may have dyslexia, reading, handwriting, and spelling difficulties, focus and balance issues among others.
The Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR)
This reflex helps the baby lift and control their head when they are trying to focus on things that are far away. This helps prep babies for crawling when they see something far away that they want to break into. For our kids, this was when they found our cabinets and pulled out all our pots and pans. If they retain this reflex, you’ll notice the child has poor posture, they can’t stop squirming or fidgeting, they can have headaches, difficulty reading or writing and trouble staying on task.
Spinal Galant Reflex
This reflex is a small hip rotation when the back is touched on either side of the spine. This reflex helps babies wiggle down the birth canal, and with crawling and wiggling around. It also has a strong connection to the bladder as children who maintain this reflex past age 5 have bedwetting issues. Children may also present with poor posture, difficulty sitting still, fatigue and even scoliosis.
For us, working on his reflex gave us who God intended our son to be. While we always knew he was intelligent because he could follow our requests of him, we were unable to communicate. Once Barrett’s reflexes became suppressed, he caught up to his peers in speech. While we were blown away just from his explosion in language, a bigger change was his demeanor. His emotional outbursts nearly disappeared, he was able to regulate his emotions, relax, and became a happier kid. This was world changing for us to the point that Dr. Coty then went and trained under Dr. Josh to be able to bring this treatment to the St. Louis area. In our office, it has been a blessing to see similar changes to the children in our office, as well as the lives of the parents.
If you know a child struggling with any of the things I mentioned, we do free primitive reflex checks in our office to assess a child. Call me and we can get one scheduled for a child you know and love.