Molly Banks

Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Julie Grabanski


Primitive reflexes (PR) are survival responses necessary for infants’ health and safety and are the foundation for higher motor skills (Desorbay, 2013). While they usually integrate a year after birth, there are instances when these reflexes stay retained. The retention of PRs often indicates a higher probability of a disruption/delay in motor and cognitive-emotional development. This disruption/delay can be observed in a school setting and can negatively impact a student’s academic performance and behavior in school. There is significant research on the impact of retained primitive reflexes (RPR), but there is a gap in research about effectively implementing reflex integration into the classroom. Additional research has also found that many educators would benefit from education on RPRs, as many are unaware of RPRs and their effects on students (Bilbilaj et al., 2017; Melillo et al., 2020). This project aims to promote awareness of the effects of RPRs in a school setting. School-based occupational therapists can work with students with RPRs as they possess the medical and background knowledge on how RPRs affect the body and have a dense understanding of fine and gross motor skills development. Additionally, they can analyze how delays in typical development caused by the effects of RPRs interfere with occupations (or everyday activities), including school tasks. This project intends to provide resources for schoolbased occupational therapists to use and educate, empower, and give teachers to understand, identify, and help integrate RPRs to improve students’ academic performance.