Primitive Reflexes

Primitive Reflexes can be affecting your child’s sports and school performance.

Primitive reflexes are a major cause of problems in school and sports which most of the time is never diagnosed. 

What are primitive reflexes? 

Primitive reflexes are involuntary movements that the body makes in the first year of life which are related to the development of the brain. They appear in a specific month during the first year of life and when that stage is completed, they disappear. Most reflexes fade or integrate by 1 year old. 

What do they have to do with sports or school’s performance?

The primitive reflexes integration or disappearance occurs when the brain develops appropriately during the first year of life.  They are retained when something affected early development like trauma, birth thru cesarean section, insufficient tummy time, inappropriate crawling, early walker, head injury, recurrent infections among others. In our medical evaluation, we often find associated metabolic problems that are causing nutritional deficiencies which affect brain function. Every retained primitive reflex affects specific neurologic skills related to motor, sensory, proprioception and executive brain functions.

Let’s use a couple examples of children that have been evaluated and treated in the office.

  • 16 y/o boy basketball player with a sport scholarship in a private school. Excellent basketball player but struggling in school. 

The primitive reflexes evaluation showed an Asymmetric Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR) which causes problems with handwriting, difficulty with eye tracking, difficulty with task that requires both sides of the body. It can be associated to problems with attention and concentration and neck or shoulder pain. 

After 4 months treatment: Primitive Reflex was integrated which improved his speed, eye and motor coordination. He exceeded the coach’s expectations and became the captain of the team. His grades improve dramatically.


  • 9 y/o girl with ADHD


Medications: Adderall, Strattera. Grades B, C’s and failed standardized testing. Problems socializing, occasional oppositional defiant behavior.

Primitive Reflexes showed ATNR and Symmetric Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR) which is associated with poor eye / hand coordination, slowness at copying task, poor sports skills, attention and concentration problems.

After 6 months of treatment, we were able to wean off medications, grades all A’s, 91.8% in standardized test, improved self-esteem, has friends and the oppositional behavior disappeared.


Written by Carmen Baez Franceschi MD, FAAP

Pediatrician with more than a decade treating children and adults with neurodevelopment delay.


Call for an evaluation, today!

Wellness Institute of Neurodevelopment- 5757 Woodway Drive, Suite 190E, Houston TX 77057 / (832) 709-1090

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