The influences of a primitive reflex integration programme within the classroom : teacher/parent perspectives and student results.

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Theses / Dissertations
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Doctor of Philosophy
University of Canterbury
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Grigg, Tessa Maude

The birth of a human is facilitated by primitive reflexes which assist with the infant’s survival. Once the reflexes have been engaged, they then integrate and cognition takes over the functions needed to survive and thrive. Typically this process is completed within the first year of life. However, for some people, the primitive reflex integration process is interrupted, varying degrees of immaturity may persist and this may be associated with delays in skill acquisition. Movement-based interventions have been developed to assist the integration process. This thesis focuses on the phenomenon of primitive reflexes and the use of one reflex integration programme: Rhythmic Movement Training, with an aim of addressing the research question ‘What influences does the use of Rhythmic Movement Training (RMT) have in a classroom?’ The mixed methods methodology allowed the complexity of the issue to be explored hermeneutically and statistically. Ninety-eight New Zealand children, divided into two groups, intervention and control, used the RMT movements for between five and ten months. Seven teachers and 26 parents were interviewed and test results relating to the children’s reflex profiles, Draw-A-Person Test, Reading, Writing, Mathematics and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire were analysed. The findings and results of this thesis are organised around three emergent themes: the classroom, student achievement and student behavioural outcomes. The intervention’s focus on the ‘whole child’ was seen as a strength and recommendations for further research are made to extend what is known about how and why primitive reflex integration enhances children’s development. The teachers found the generic RMT programme easy to use with their children and they noticed positive changes in focus, achievement and self-worth. Statistically significant differences were detected in student reflex profiles, reading scores, social and emotional challenge scores when RMT was used four or more times each week for five months. This research also found that there were gains noted by teachers and parents, and improved results for children when they were engaged in this reflex integration programme using generic movements for five minutes per day, four or more times a week for five months.

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