Join me at the Educational Kinesiology Conference in Fort Collins, CO on Sunday, July 27 (or hang out with me for the whole conference!) I’ll be teaching a workshop on reflex integration: From Fight, Flight, Freeze! to Breathe, Smile, Move!
It’s always a shock to open your email and see the picture of a colleague above the words In Loving Memory . . . this morning, against a field of faux flowers, Jon Bredal’s dark eyes seemed to meet mine. It is sad to lose someone in the world whose work with children – and adults who used to be children - has been so beautiful, life-changing and deep. We weren’t expecting him to go so soon – and I guess he wasn’t either; he had been seeing children the very day he died.
A movement specialist who built his work on the power of infant reflexes, Jon understood the essentials. He understood that every human being has within the basic movement language to transform the ways they think, feel and move in the world. That it is never too late to address – and often, to fill – the developmental gaps that cause so many of the conditions found in the DSM and in IEP’s. That play is the true medium of learning, growth, and relationship. That through movement and intention, we can transform our lives.
Q: You have stunning results helping clients and children integrate early infant reflexes that have otherwise inhibited them physically, cognitively, and emotionally. Could you explain in the simplest of layman's terms: what are early infant reflexes, what do they signify, what does their incompletion signify, and how are they completed?
Jon: Infant reflexes are inherent, automatic movements that surface while babies are in the womb and during the first several months of life. Their purpose is to help humans develop physically, mentally, and emotionally so they can survive. A safe, loving environment and plenty of floor space are required to complete these natural movement patterns; the baby must be able to move and explore. A child who is stressed or unable to move experiences a domino effect of incomplete and blocked reflexes, remaining stuck at early stages: one undeveloped reflex inhibits those which should be completed after it in the normal sequence of maturing. If these movement patterns do not get completed or stay stuck, they cause a wide range of difficulties including sensory challenges, fidgeting, compulsive behavior, lack of impulse control, anxiety, dyslexia, ADD, to name a few. Today there is an epidemic of primitive reflexes getting stuck in children and causing problems. However, the internal template is always available to be completed. Through specific kinds of play, natural expressive movement, developmental movement, rocking movement, repatternings and plenty of love and acceptance, stuck primitive reflexes can be completed at any age, often with amazing speed.
Q: You have facilitated some healing miracles through your work with children. What have been some of the most striking examples of immediate healing that you have seen?
Jon: One of the most memorable healings I recall is working with a fifteen-year-old young man who had just come out of detention. He had been in special education his whole childhood. He would fidget constantly, had difficulty focusing, could not look me in the eye, had huge anger issues and lacked impulse control. He would fight in class and once jumped on a teacher's back. I worked with him several times over the course of about four months. The next school year he became the best student in the school, so he was mainstreamed into a regular high school. His fidgeting had disappeared, as had most of his inappropriate behavior, plus he was able to control his impulses and maintain his focus. He also had developed more empathy and self-acceptance. The last two years of high school he achieved a 3.9 grade point average.
It is rare that I find people who totally speak my language. It is rare for me to listen to someone talking about “my” subject, and agree with everything they say. Jon did, and I do.
We'll miss his voice in the world. But the lives he touched – and the play he loved – go on.