"Many of the learning and behavior challenges in children can be directly attributed to babies not integrating basic reflexes that develop into more advanced forms of moving, thinking, and interacting." – Jon Bredal, MA, Sentient Times, Apr/May 2001
According to an inborn program, infants perform rhythmic movements before learning to walk. These movements increase their muscle tone, hence strengthening them to fight against gravity in order to rise (pull themselves up) and eventually walk. These rhythmic movements mature a child’s body and brain.
Some children skip some of these movements or don’t do them long enough. Infant reflexes that have not matured, through these natural movements, are called retained or aberrant. Infant reflexes, those developed in utero and those used for learning to crawl and even walk, need to be stored in order for the brain to "link up" so a child can achieve success in school (physically, emotionally, academically, socially and behaviorally). Research is now helping us to see how retained reflexes can actually affect learning, behavior and/or motor function.
An immature nervous system gives way to poor impulse control, difficulty in reading body language/social cues resulting in unsatisfactory peer relationships, learning to read, write, spell or be accurate doing math calculations. An immature nervous system also negatively affects sensory integration, our ability to process incoming stimuli. The foundation of self-control is body control – balance, coordination and spatial awareness (where one is in space and where one’s pencil is supposed to go on paper).
Reflex integration training is good for all of us. Research is now showing that many children and adults have not integrated these natural reflexes of infancy.
Inspired by the rhythmic movements babies make, Rhythmic Movement Training (RMT) was developed by Kerstin Linde and has been used in Sweden for more than 25 years. Thanks to Dr. Harald Blomberg, M.D., (pronounced Harld Bloomberg) a Swedish psychiatry specialist, the world now has studies to prove its effectiveness with brain integration. Dr. Blomberg’s studies have achieved such dramatic results that this method has been approved by the Swedish Medical Board as an excellent contribution to the therapeutic arsenal.
Rhythmic Movement Training is currently one of many ways to integrate infant reflexes. Other people working in the field of reflex integration, a neuro-developmental approach, include: Sally Goddard Blythe and her husband Peter Blythe (England); Svetlana Masgutova, a Russian psychologist living in Poland; Judith Bluestone, founder of the HANDLE program (USA-West Coast); and Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, Somatic Developmental Movement Therapist/Instructor (USA-East Coast). All of these people have been doing research into how the body, brain and mind are connected and how a "disconnect" may affect behavior and/or learning.
The brain is both biological and chemical. It transmits messages both chemically and electrically. With physical stimulation the brain continues to grow neural connections, even in adults. Many therapies address integrating infant reflexes through specific physical activity, which in turn builds neural patterns necessary to reach one’s full potential. The outcome from evaluating reflexes and using them in therapy, at home and in the classroom helps to develop a well-organized brain that is able to learn with successful efficiency.
Dr. Harald Blomberg’s website explains the benefits of RMT – www.haraldblomberg.com (click on English).
An information meeting about upcoming classes in Rhythmic Movement Training (RMT) with visiting Swedish Psychiatrist Dr. Harald Blomberg will take place from 2-3 p.m. Saturday, July 7, in St. Paul at the Virginia Street Swedenborgian Church, 170 Virginia St. (on Selby, down from the Cathedral). For more information, call Mary Gazca at (612) 870-8785 or e-mail [email protected].