startle reflex: the art of learning to jump safely

Startle reflex is one of the most popular subjects on my blog and I have written extensively about it, but because you seek more insight into it, I thought I would give you just that.

I don’t remember the first time I became mindful of feeling what it was like to jump. I do however remember the events around it. When I was little I remember furniture walking basically I would walk holding on to a chair or couch for balance. One day, my dad was in an adjoining room, and sneezed. As is common with cerebral palsy and the Moro reflex I jumped while standing which caused my knees to buckle. As a child the therapists in my life taught me how to fall safely when standing to ensure I didn’t injure myself, although I have never fallen when startled, I have always managed to catch myself I am comforted in knowing how to fall correctly.

It may sound strange needing to learn how to fall, but when you factor in the fact that you are generally intertwined with some form of mobility equipment you can see how this will complicate things. Startle reflex is as normal to mean as breathing. A lot of people have never heard of it, or if they have it is something that they associate with infants because it is commonly known as an infant reflex. People don’t realize that given the nature of Cerebral Palsy that this causes a prolonged startle reflex that is never lost.

I recognize that startle reflex can be a little nerve wracking to witness, but I do my best to explain it as quickly as possible and reassure the person they didn’t do anything to cause me to startle.

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About lifeofthedifferentlyabled

Laura Forde founded her blog through my eyes: my life with cerebral palsy in December 2009 out of a great need she had, realizing that there was a vast gap in firsthand accounts of what life was like living with Cerebral Palsy: she knew then that the only way to see this reflected online was to create the change herself and thus this blog was born Laura was born four months premature, weighing a mere one pound three ounces and given ten percent odds for survival. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of three. After graduating from college, she continued writing and doing what she loves to do most; speaking to groups about her life experiences and sharing what she has learned from her journey. Her blog lifeofthedifferentlyabled was created after discovering that the online community lacked the voice of people in her situation. In its first year, the site saw over 20,000 hits from all over the world. Her readers are from all walks of life; some with disabilities, parents of children, professionals, and others who seek to gain a better understanding of the world of the differently abled. You can follow her on Twitter or Facebook
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5 Responses to startle reflex: the art of learning to jump safely

  1. Allison says:

    I also have startle reflex. Mine has gotten better compared to when I was a child. I think exposure to as many noises in the outside (and inside) world as possible has helped. Maybe listening to music has also helped, especially new music.

    I would like to continue improving on it, and to make more progress. I want to improve it because I have to cope with anger/embarrassment from people who are with me because it embarrasses them or makes them feel badly because it wasn’t their intention. Also, I feel singled out and different because when I jump everyone looks and maybe feels scared or angry. My family will tell me “stop jumping!” or “it’s OKAY!, buck it up” but I can’t make them understand it’s not an emotional thing, like I’m not scared. It’s just a body thing with CP. And it’s annoying! Not to mention the leg twitches and muscle spasms. Sometimes I hit people unintentionally with my arms or legs due to the constant jerking. I don’t want to hurt anybody or make people around me feel awkward or invade their personal space.

    Do you have any suggestions to help with the startle reflex and/or muscle spasms? Any insight would help and be greatly appreciated!

    • Crip Video says:

      Music can change how the brain is wired. I think they have proven this in able bodied and disabled people. I know the feeling. Until someone with CP explained the Moro Reflex to me and my family, my family just thought I was scared/hyper emotional.I also have hit people in the face involuntarily. There are supplements that quiet my Moro like “Calmax”(google it) so it can be improved but never completely stop.

    • unfortunately i haven’t found a way to deal with startle reflex really sorry if you do let me know

  2. I never really thought about it being something from my CP. Hubby said he is going to give me a heart attack. I taught myself how to fall correctly. I know its weird but not to us. :)

  3. Steve Taseff says:

    Hi Laura , I have a 15 year old Daughter Tayla who has CP , balloons are the biggest thing that freak her out , its the fear of expecting it to burst , I was thinking of looking into hypnosis for her startle reflex , have you heard of anyone trying this , Steve

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