End the overwhelm.

Get a head start with my researched and field tested tool kit so that your child can thrive too.

End the overwhelm.

Get a head start with my researched and field tested tool kit so that your child can thrive too.


Toolkit Tuesday: Primitive Reflexes Cheat Sheet

Toolkit Tuesday: Primitive Reflexes Cheat Sheet

Happy Tuesday and welcome back to another Toolkit Tuesday episode! Today I’m taking you through the Primitive Reflexes Cheat Sheet and also talking about the upcoming Expert Masterclass I have with Dr. Scire. But before we get started, here’s a bit more information about the My Child Will Thrive Toolkit.

The Toolkit includes:

  • Researched and field tested guides, tracking tools, checklists and cheat sheets allow you to get to the root of what is causing your child's challenges. so that you don't waste time creating them yourself.
  • Videos to walk you through some of the more challenging topics you will need to learn to help identify what your child needs.
  • Using The My Child Will Thrive Tool Kit gives you a head start so you can focus on what is most important – your child!

In this Toolkit Tuesday episode, I’m taking you through the Primitive Reflexes Cheat Sheet which is a helpful guide to all things primitive reflexes so you can better understand them for your child. You can access that here.

I also mention our upcoming Expert Masterclass with Dr. Scire which will dive into some of the CDC’s changes to primitive reflexes. The free masterclass, Milestones Matter: How Developmental Milestones from Birth to 3 Years Old Influence Brain Development and What You Can Do When a Milestone is Missed, Skipped or Delayed will include:

  • What are the developmental milestones and how they provide insight into understanding what treatments and therapies are right for your child.
  • How missed, skipped or delayed developmental milestones impact the neurodevelopment of the two hemispheres of your child’s brain and how this explains their symptoms.
  • What tools are commonly used to assess your child’s neurodevelopment and how they translate into what your next steps are to help your child.
  • Why functional medicine and nutritional interventions on their own will often lead to temporary improvements and how combining them with neurorehab is essential for long-term success.

Please sign up for this Masterclass with Dr. Scire on September 21 here.

I recommend watching the video on YouTube (see below on this page) to see the tool as I walk you through it. I hope you enjoy this episode!

Things You Will Learn
  • More about the My Child Will Thrive Toolkit
  • What the Primitive Reflexes Cheat Sheet is and why I created it
  • Diving into the Palmer and Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflexes
  • And much more…

Show Notes

  • What Primitive Reflexes are. (4:39)
  • Examples of reflexes like the Palmer Reflex and Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex. (7:08)
  • Tara’s recommendation on how to go through the Primitive Reflexes Cheat Sheet. (11:20)
  • More about the Expert Masterclass with Dr. Scire coming up. (12:11)

Resources and Links

Sign up for the free My Child Will Thrive Toolkit

Sign up for the free Expert Masterclass on September 21, 2022

“Disconnected Kids” by Dr. Robert Melillo

“Reflexes, Learning and Behavior: A Window Into the Child’s Mind” by Sally Goddard


Articles Related to Toolkit Tuesday: Primitive Reflexes Cheat Sheet

How Retained Primitive Reflexes May Affect Your Child

How Retained Primitive Reflexes Impact Your Child’s Brain Development

What You Need to Know About the CDC’s Changes to Developmental Milestones


0:00 Tara Hunkin:
This is My Child Will Thrive and I'm your host, Tara Hunkin, nutritional therapy practitioner, certified GAPs practitioner, restorative wellness practitioner, and mother. I'm thrilled to share with you the latest information, tips, resources, and tools to help you on the path to recovery for your child with ADHD, autism, sensory processing disorder, or learning disabilities.

My own experiences with my daughter combined with as much training as I can get my hands on research I can dig into and conferences I can attend have helped me to develop systems and tools for parents like you who feel overwhelmed, trying to help their children. So sit back as I share another great topic to help you on your journey. A quick disclaimer, before we get started.

My Child Will Thrive is not a substitute for working with a qualified healthcare practitioner. The information provided on this podcast is not intended to diagnose or treat your child. Please consult your healthcare practitioner before implementing any information or treatments that you have learned about on this podcast. There are many gifted, passionate, and knowledgeable practitioners with hundreds if not thousands of hours of study and clinical experience available to help guide you.

Part of our goal is to give you the knowledge and tools you need to effectively advocate for your child so that you don't blindly implement each new treatment that comes along. No one knows your child better than you. No one knows your child's history like you do or can better judge what is normal or abnormal for your child. The greatest success in recovery comes from the parent being informed and asking the right questions and making the best decisions for their child in coordination with a team of qualified practitioners in different areas of specialty.

Today's podcast is sponsored by the Autism, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder Summit. In order to learn more about the summit and to sign up for free, please go to mychildwillthrive.com/summit.

2:04 Tara Hunkin:
Hi, welcome back to the My Child Will Thrive podcast. I'm Tara Hunkin, and I'm really excited to talk to you today on Toolkit Tuesday, about one of the tools that you can find in the

My Child Will Thrive Toolkit. You can find it at mychildwillthrive.com/toolkit for free. So without further ado, the tool I'm going to talk to you about today is the primitive reflexes cheat sheet. So the reason why I created this tool and the other cheat sheets that you'll find in the Toolkit is so that you can have a quick summary of some of the important challenges or issues that we want to take a look at for our kids.

So you don't have to go around and search through maybe some books, great books that you have, and one of them, which I'm going to talk to you about a bit that I always refer back to when I want to go in more depth, or you don't have to search through articles or go through an entire interview process just to get the basics of what a particular topic is about.

So one of the cheat sheets that I created for myself and I am sure that you did this when you were back in school, studying something was for primitive reflexes. And I thought that it would be of use to others, which is why I've put it in this format in the Toolkit.

The other reason why I wanted to talk to you about this cheat sheet today was I mentioned it in our last podcast with Dr. Peter Scire, where we were talking about the CDCs changes, recent changes to the milestones. And we just brought up the term very briefly. We have talked about things like primitive reflexes on the podcast and on throughout mychildwillthrive.com before.

But for those of you that may not be as familiar, I thought I'd walk you through what you can find. It's sort of an overview of what primitive reflexes are and what you can find on the cheat sheet itself. So we're going to just quickly do that today. One of the books that I always refer back to, and it's one of the references that I've used to create this cheat sheet is Dr. Melillo's Disconnected Kids. So I always encourage people to pick up a copy of this book and there's another book that I also referenced and we'll talk about that as well, that there are great full-blown resources in primitive reflexes, and also what you can do if you determine that your child or practitioner determines that your child has a retained primitive reflex.

4:39 Tara Hunkin:
Let's just talk a little bit about what a primitive reflex is. It is a reflex that our children develop in utero and in most cases, and they have them when they're born. These are normal and appropriate part of development, but when these reflexes aren't what they call it integrated and evolve into other reflexes or skills within the body, they can take the development of your child's brain in a different trajectory, which then can result in symptoms that we see in a number of our children.

The great thing about primitive reflexes is they can be integrated through some basic exercises that you can do at home. So depending on which reflexes your child may have retained, you'll be able to, with the help of either a practitioner or Dr. Melillo's book, for example, Disconnected Kids, as I mentioned before, you can actually take steps to integrate those reflexes, and you can then change that trajectory of the development of the brain back onto a more typical and appropriate path. So let's take a quick look for those of you that are listening, I'm going to describe what the cheat sheet looks like.

If you are watching on our website or on the YouTube channel or Instagram, you'll be able to see it there as well. You may not see as well in the Instagram format, but you can always go and download the cheat sheet itself or look on YouTube or on our website directly. So the cheat sheet is basically a chart and what we do is we list out all the different types of reflexes that we want to be looking at, a description of each of those reflexes, the age that that reflex would typically develop and the age that reflex is inhibited in normal or typical development. And that's when we want to see them inhibit or integrate are the two terms, you'll hear people refer to them. And then we have a list of all the signs and symptoms of that reflex, a particular reflex is retained.

None of these things are exhaustive, but it does give you a good idea of what you might be looking for. On a previous podcast, I talked about the Moro Reflex in detail. So that's the first one that I list on this particular cheat sheet. I'm not going to go into that in detail now. I'm going to give you a couple other examples of primitive reflexes and what it would mean and what you'll see on the cheat sheet.

7:08 Tara Hunkin:
So for example, the Palmer Reflex or the grasp reflex, this is the one we all get really excited about when we first have our kids and we put our fingers in their palms and they grab onto our hands and we're so excited because of course they're holding onto us. And that is actually a primitive reflex, meaning that it's sadly not doing it because they want to hold their hands, they're doing it because it's supposed to happen and it happens unconsciously. That's what a reflex is. It's an unconscious response. Light touch or pressure to the palm in the hand, this is the description of the reflex.

So light touch or pressure in the palm of the hand will cause the fingers to close as I mentioned before. The age that this develops for your child typically begins to develop 11 weeks in utero and the age we want to see it inhibited is two to three months of life. What this can result in, if this reflex isn't inhibited, it can result in poor manual dexterity or poor, fine motor skills. And you'll notice that in terms of like, if you have your child trying to, when they start to learn to do up their own clothes and trying to do buttons, they'll struggle with things like that or if you have them doing puzzles or they're learning to hold a pen or a pencil. So that results in poor writing skills or messy writing or pressing too hard.

They break all the pencils, sorry the leads on the pencils or push through paper a lot and rip the paper when they're writing. You'll see that a lot in kids that have retained this reflex. They may also have speech difficulties because of the hand to mouth relationship. So that's one example of the reflexes that are on the reflexes cheat sheet.

8:52 Tara Hunkin:
One of the other ones just to give you another example is the Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex, it's often referred to as the ATNR. And this is one that may not be as familiar to you, you wouldn't have learned this by going to see your doctor, or just noticing in your child, like some of the other reflexes, like the startle reflex, the grasp and the sucking reflexes that we all are looking at when we first have our children. So the ATNR is the movement of the baby's head to one side.

So if they turn their head to one side it will result in the extension of the arm and the leg to the side that the head is turned. So if they turn their head to the left and they're on their belly, they tend to put, stretch out their left arm and leg. And on the other side, they'll bend the limbs on the opposite side of the body.

This particular reflex is there because it actually assists in a vaginal birth. The reflex begins to develop in utero at 18 weeks and obviously we want this to happen so we can have a natural childbirth. It's inhibited, typically this reflex, so this won't happen if you turn the baby's head in one way or the other way, it should not happen at approximately six months of life.

So if you're seeing that reflex still there past six months, it can ultimately result in seeing balance being affected as a result of head movement to one side or the other. So if you see a child that struggles with their balance in particular, if they are needing to move their head at the same time. So you'll see homolateral instead of normal cross lateral movements when walking and marching and skipping.

So that would mean when we walk, we should have arms swing equally on either side, or if they're marching or skipping, that sort of naturally happens. If it's happening on one side, instead of on both sides that can be a sign as well. Difficult crossing the midline. So any activities where they need to cross the middle of their body in order to do them, you're going to see that. You would see poor ocular or eye pursuit movements, so eye tracking. So if they have to follow things with their eyes, which will lead to difficulties in hand-eye coordination and poor handwriting, also poor expression of ideas on paper.

11:17 Tara Hunkin:
So this gives you an idea of the impact that primitive reflexes can have. I'm not going to go through the whole cheat sheet here, because you can just download it for yourself for free and you can go through and I would highly recommend going through each of them and taking a look at what you've tracked in terms of your child's development and seeing if you're seeing some of the signs and symptoms, and you can pick up resource like Dr. Melillo's Disconnected Kids book.

We'll put a link in the show notes for that as well. And there are lots of other resources out there. One of the other ones that was used in creating this cheat sheet is “Reflexes, Learning and Behavior: A Window Into the Child’s Mind” by Sally Goddard. In that book, she also has a lot of more description as well as things that you can do to help your child integrate those reflexes. So I encourage you to pick up the Toolkit.

12:11 Tara Hunkin:
The other thing you can do is you can join a masterclass on milestones. So after we had the conversation in the last podcast, we decided that it would be a great idea to create a masterclass and why milestones matter for your child and what the typical milestones you would see from zero to three years. And even if your child is way beyond that at this point, it is a really good thing to come and attend and listen to because what happens in those early development years can then help us understand what's happening later on.

So even if your child has passed that stage in life, this is going to be very helpful for you to understand some of the root causes of why they might be having some challenges later on in their development. So you can sign up for that masterclass. Again, it is a free masterclass and you can sign up for that at mychildwillthrive.com/masterclass and I look forward to seeing you there. I hope this has been helpful. Again, all the tools that I've mentioned on the podcast, in terms of the digital tools that we create, you can download for free at mychildwillthrive.com/toolkit. I hope this has been helpful and I look forward to speaking with you again soon. Bye for now.

So that's a wrap. Thanks for joining me this week on My Child Will Thrive. I'm so passionate about giving you the tools and information you need to help your child recover. And as they say, it takes a village. So join us in the My Child Will Thrive village Facebook group, where you can meet like-minded parents and stay up to date on everything we have going on at My Child Will Thrive. This is Tara Hunkin, and I'll catch you on the next podcast or over at mychildwillthrive.com.

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