Care for Developmental Delays

What does chiropractic have to do with developmental delays? EVERYTHING!

Kids with delays could be under-functioning in so many ways, but the most common way is MOVEMENT. We get incredible results with kids by getting them moving the way they were intended.

Abnormal movement and muscular development are the most consistent findings in kids with developmental delays. These kids have abnormal development of posture, gait, and muscle tone. The same centers of the brain that coordinate these movements also coordinate BEHAVIOR, LEARNING, and ATTENTION. If your child isn’t moving appropriately, they can’t develop these appropriately either.

Kids with delays have abnormal development of: primitive reflexes, core stability (muscle tone), postural reflexes, vestibular system (balance, coordination), eye tracking and stability, and complex movements.

We perform a thorough exam to determine your child’s development, identify their weaknesses, and put together a comprehensive plan to help your child catch up developmentally and help them function to the best of their abilities.

In order to help your child, their care plan could consist of one of more of the following:

  • Gentle, specific chiropractic care
  • Gross motor development exercises
  • Balance and coordination exercises
  • Eye tracking and hand-eye coordination exercises
  • Nutritional modifications

No matter where your child is in their development, our job is to determine where they are stuck and what we need to do to help them HEAL and FUNCTION to the best of their ability.

Also known as the startle relflex, the MORO reflex is an automatic reaction to a sudden stimulus. A quick change in body position, a loud noise, flash of light, or a surprising touch can all trigger this reflex.

This reflex actually trains the baby’s nervous system to develop a proper “fight or flight” stress response. This is also their natural way to summon their caregiver.

When triggered, this reflex follows the same physiological response as the normal stress response in adults: Release of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, increased heart rate, increased respiratory rate, and increased blood pressure.

A retained MORO reflex can lead to hypersensitivity (over reacting) to incoming stimuli and lead to conditions like allergies and asthma.

Ideally, this reflex is integrated between 4-6 months of age, and then the child can develop more mature startle reflexes.

Common long term symptoms from a retained MORO reflex are:

  • Anxiety
  • Behavioral outbursts
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Poor digestion
  • Weak immune system
  • Hypersensitivity to light, sound, touch, or smell
  • Fatigue/poor stamina
  • Difficulties with vision, reading, and writing
  • Easily distracted
  • Difficulty with visual pereption (i.e. catching a ball)

The TLR is a two part reflex. There is a forward/flexion and a backward/extension TLR.

The forward TLR is present when the head is flexed forward and the torso, arms, and legs all flex into the characteristic fetal position. In the backwards TLR, when the head is extended back, the whole body, torso, arms, and legs straighten and extend.

This reflex helps develop the baby’s head and neck control against gravity. It also gives the baby the opportunity to develop balance, muscle tone, and their proprioceptive and vestibular systems. Eventually the TLR helps develop coordination, postural muscles, and proper head alignment. 

Head alignment is necessary for balance, visual tracking, auditory processing, and muscular development. All of which are vital for their ability to focus, pay attention, and learn.

Common symptoms if this reflex is retained:

  • Balance and coordination issues
  • Poor/shrunken posture
  • Easily fatigued
  • Muscle tone that is too weak or too tight
  • Difficulty judging distance, depth and/or speed
  • Visual, speech, and auditory difficulties
  • Motion sickness
  • Tendency to be cross eyed
  • Toe walking

The ATNR is the most common reflex found in our office and it creates some of the largest symptoms when not developed properly.

This reflex happens when the infant turns their head and their arm and leg on the side they turned the head toward automatically straighten. The arm and leg the child’s head turns opposite of will flex inward.

The ATNR provides stimulation for development of muscle tone and the vestibular system. It also helps to develop hand eye coordination. By 6 months of age this reflex should be developed and evolve into more complex movements.

It should be inhibited prior to crawling and if not developed well, creates abnormalities in crawling. It is also the most significant cause of inability to function well in school!

Common Symptoms when the ATNR is retained:

  • Dyslexia
  • Reading, listening, handwriting and spelling difficulties
  • Poor sense of direction
  • Confused handedness
  • Difficulties with balance and focus
 
 

The STNR is a reflex that helps to develop neck and low back control so a baby can lift their head and focus far distance. The STNR also prepares the baby for crawling.

The STNR is a reflex that links head movements to arm and leg movements, so when still present it allows the baby to move their head and create automatic movements of the upper and lower extremities. This is important because it allows us to build muscle that is vital for later movements like crawling and walking!

This is another reflex that if still present will create problems in school! This is because up-and-down head movement causes the arms and legs to reflexively move. This takes attention away from concentration and makes learning more difficult!

Common symptoms when this reflex is retained:

  • Poor posture/slouching
  • Squirming and fidgeting
  • Headaches from tension in neck muscles
  • Difficulties reading and writing
  • Visual disorders

This reflex can be seen when one side of a child’s low back is stimulated and they make a “C” shaped motion away from that stimulus. Their hips will rotate away from the stimulus as well.

First developed in mother’s womb, the Spinal Galant reflex is thought to assist with the birth process. Then it helps an infant develop balance and coordination for the crawling stage.

Bladder control is also linked to this reflex as it’s thought to help their child fully empty their bladder. That is why we almost always see this reflex retained in children who still wet the bed after the age of 5.

Common symptoms when retained:

  • Bedwetting
  • Poor posture
  • Hip rotation
  • Poor concentration
  • Fidgeting/Difficulty sitting still
  • Fatigue
  • Scoliosis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome

We can see some of these reflexes at work when a baby kneads their hand while suckling. This can lead to a child or adult moving their mouth or tongues while writing if retained.

Many of the foot reflexes can lead to gait and walking issues, like toe walking, when retained as well.

Other commons symptoms when retained:

  • Speech difficulties/delays
  • Handwriting difficulties
  • Loose, easily sprained ankles
  • Over pronated or supinated feet (i.e flatfooted or walking on sides of their feet)
  • Difficulties swallowing
  • Drooling
  • Poor pencil grip
  • TMJ issues
  • Toe walking
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