Continuing our discussions about retained reflexes and overall development, here are some observations and questions from Deb and Nick related to the work they have been doing with their son through RDI and through the BIRD programme.
Your discussions on the blog have been very interesting and have come at a time when we have been trying to assimilate our thoughts on the relationship between interventions to address retained reflexes, Sensory Integration Therapy and the RDI approach.
In October 2008 our son completed a course of sensory integration therapy. Through this we learnt how different types and amounts of movements can stimulate his different sensory systems and affect his level of functioning and behaviour in a given situation. We came to better understand what types of movement and sensation we need to 'feed' our son 'in the moment' to help him with his sensory processing and integration to help him in terms of his concentration / attention, posture, physical regulation, gross and fine motor skills etc. We see short lived improvements in these areas – enough to make a positive difference so that he can more fully participate or be more competent in an activity at that time - but this does not result in him being able to sustain these improvements over time without further/ regular feeding.
In April 2011 we commenced Reflexive Rehabilitation Development programme under the direction of B.I.R.D. The initial assessment concluded that our son (who was 7yrs 4 months at that time) had retained all of the primitive reflexes that they test for i.e. babinski, asymmetrical tonic neck reflex, spinal gallant and the symmetrical tonic neck reflex. A year on, May 2012, at his latest assessment it was found that the asymmetrical tonic neck reflex and the spinal gallant reflex are now inhibited completely. The babinski reflex is residual in the left foot only, and we are commencing new exercises to work on inhibiting the symmetrical tonic neck reflex.
In January 2012 we commenced RDI programme and have just completed the initial education module.
Like Kimberley we too have considered the importance of timing, and this has led us to conclude that to get the best outcomes from an RDI approach, the work on retained reflexes has to happen first or be happening, if at all possible, doesn't it? And what about sensory integration difficulties - exercises to address these difficulties - they need to be part and parcel of everyday life don't they.?
We are wondering what the relationship is between retained reflexes and sensory integration difficulties. They must be inextricably linked / interwoven. Can you possibly have one without the other? We are assuming you can't, and that work on retained reflexes and work on sensory integration difficulties have to go together.
But they are different aren't they? Why do some therapists advocate sensory integration therapy and not do any work on retained reflexes, and other therapists lead with work on the retained reflexes and don't mention sensory integration therapy? How can this be?
Finally, for now anyhow, do you think our sons sensory integration and processing will improve and be more sustained, with the need for less 'feeding', once all his retained reflexes have been inhibited?
from Deb and Nick
The question about the difference between sensory integration and reflex integration and inhibition is one that I too have been pondering since this discussion started. I'm hoping that Claire and others can give us the benefit of their wisdom on that one!