Neuromotor Immaturity is a person's central nervous system functioning below their biological age. It is defined by "the continued presence of a cluster of primitive reflexes (beyond 6-12 months old) and/or a cluster of underdeveloped postural reflexes (above 3 1/2 years old)". Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology (INPP, UK)
Our bodies must support us to function, learn and interact with our world. NMI means that a person's body is getting in the way of functioning and learning. It's hindering, not helping.
In utero, we begin to develop reflexes that will help us interact with and survive our environment in the early months of life. These primitive reflexes originate in the central nervous system and are the first part of the brain to develop. In typical development, they inhibit (disappear) in the first year of life and replacement reflexes, called postural reflexes, emerge. These reflexes are more mature patterns of response and are controlled by higher centres in the brain. They control balance, coordination and sensory motor development.
Primitive reflexes lay the foundations for how physically literate a child will be, to how they will behave and even learn. If development does not go according to plan, primitive reflexes can be retained and will likely cause issues with balance, motor control, eye-functioning, hand-eye coordination, perceptual skills, fine motor skills and all levels of social, emotional and academic learning. They can affect behaviour and result in anxiety, frustration, hyperactivity and hypersensitivity.
There are a range of factors that cause the retention of primitive reflexes from a traumatic birth, lack of natural movement, inadequate tummy time, poor nutrition, to the overuse of baby equipment and screens.
Retained primitive reflexes are markers of dysfunction. If a child's involuntary movements (primitive reflexes) have not become more controlled motor responses, it is a sign that their central nervous system has not matured.
The below are symptoms or signs of NMI or an immature nervous system.
Any diagnosis (ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, ODD)
Attention and focus issues
Balance and coordination problems
Learning difficulties (including Dyslexia)
Low confidence and self-esteem
Poor listening skills
Poor organisation skills
Problems with fine motor and gross motor skills
Sensory sensitivities and processing disorders
Slow processing of information
Speech delay and articulation issues
Trouble sitting still and controlling impulses
At Unlock Learning and Health, primitive and postural reflexes can be assessed to see if NMI is the underlying cause of your or your child's difficulties. Help is offered through Neurodevelopmental therapy which integrates any retained primtive reflexes, strengthens postural reflexes and develops sensory integration.