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  • Writer's pictureNancy Sokol Green


Here’s how autism symptoms may also be explained by retained primitive reflexes and incomplete lower brain development.

High tolerance of pain can be a sign of an underdeveloped pons. Therefore, self-injurious behavior, such as head banging, may actually be an attempt to seek extraordinary stimuli just to “feel” something.

Appearing unaware of visual and auditory input can also be signs of an underdeveloped pons. Until the pons is developed, such kids just see and hear whatever is right in front them. When these people are not directly in front of a speaker (and even then, some additional tactile stimuli may be needed), that person no longer exists.

Extreme reactive behavior can be signs of retained primitive reflexes. In such cases, these people immediately react, rather than reflect, as soon as something does not go their way. While these survival reflexes are helpful to small babies, they were never intended to remain active once a person was upright.

Repetitive, self-stimulating movement, such as rocking, pacing, and spinning, can be signs of poor vestibular processing. People will often initiate such movements to awaken a sluggish vestibular system. Note that poor vestibular processing also affects the ability to pay attention, as well as how information is processed by the other sensory systems.

Hitting a particular body part over and over again may actually be in response to poor proprioceptive processing. Such people will often hit body parts that their brains do not innately “sense.”

People who resist cuddling or snuggling may have distorted sensations to touch. When the midbrain is not fully developed, such people’s brains may register light touch as anywhere from unpleasant to painful.

Perseverating over a thought or object can also be a sign of an underdeveloped midbrain since this part of the brain helps us “shift gears” easily. When midbrain development is incomplete, these people often get stuck on an idea or object, and they can’t seem to move on to something else.

People who have problems with communication may be missing several automatic functions that are associated with a well-organized brain. Here, the brain is preoccupied with survival and seeking ways to compensate, and so developing language becomes a low priority.


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