Early on in our journey, our Integrative Pediatrician suggested that we try MNRI® or reflex integration therapy.  Not being too familiar with it, we held off for three years and proceeded forward with the more traditional therapies, speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy.  MNRI® stands for Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration where they use a set of physical patterns to integrate any primitive reflexes that may have been retained. The therapy itself is very hands-on, similar to physical or massage therapy, where the practitioner helps to assist the body through physical patterns that typically occur during natural development. These developmental patterns are often as familiar as crawling or developing a proper grasp but make a significant neurological impact. If the body has some amount of substantial stress, some of these reflexes are unable to integrate properly, which can lead to holes in development.

While I am certainly no expert on MNRI®, in my understanding the integration of these primitive reflexes helps to balance neurotransmitters (i.e. glutamate, among others) and helps the body develop new neural pathways that may have been damaged by neuronal death (often caused by excess glutamate). We have personally seen more improvement from MNRI® over traditional therapies, especially in gross/fine motor development, visual tracking and processing.  We’ve seen slow continual growth in these areas with diet but MNRI® has helped to substantially accelerate these gains.  It seems as though, many choose to attend MNRI conferences to get intense bursts of the therapy if a practitioner is not local to them.  While we have not attended a conference due to time and cost, we have seen additional improvements with longer intensive sessions with our practitioner. For those local to us and looking for more information, we have loved working with Adele!

I know Dr Masgutova recently completed a study on how MNRI helps to balance neurotransmitters, but it has yet to be released.  Until then, this information may help to explain the connection.

“Rhythmic Movement Training in Autism- The rhythmic exercises stimulate many of the areas of the brain which are damaged in autism and improve their function. For optimal effect of RMT the gastrointestinal function need to be addressed. Otherwise toxins, peptides and allergens will cross the mucosa and be transported from the bowels and pass the blood brain barrier, causing continued brain damage by inflammatory and toxic reactions of the brain. It happens quite frequently that the child gets over stimulated by rhythmic exercises and reacts with restlessness and hyperactivity. Such reactions may occur also in children with ADD and ADHD. The cause of these reactions is probably an inability of the brainstem to filter stimulation from the tactile, vestibular and proprioceptive senses. Excessive stimulation reaches the brain and activates its GLUTAMATE RECEPTORS. Glutamate is the most widespread transmitter substance in the brain. If there is an inability to convert stimulating glutamate into inhibiting GABA the child will soon become restless and start wriggling and try to get away. Therefore a child with autism should be on a diet free from gluten, casein and preferably soy. This is especially important for children who do rhythmic exercises. Self stimulating Behavior – If the concentration of glutamate rises to toxic levels outside the neurons they start firing uncontrollably causing self stimulating behavior or stims. These are repetitive body movements that stimulate one or several senses in a regulated manner. They include- hand flapping, body spinning or rocking, mechanically lining up or spinning toys, repeating rote phrases, echolalia, i.e. mechanically repeating what others say
perseveration, (repetition of a particular response, such as a word, phrase, or gesture, despite the absence or cessation of a stimulus). Rhythmic exercises improve speech – Almost all children with autism or ASD have more or less obvious difficulties doing simple active rhythmic exercises. Such difficulties are also common in children with ADD, ADHD and late speech development and indicate a damage of the cerebellum. Such damage is especially common in autism and has been confirmed by many research studies. Damage of the cerebellum may prevent speech from developing since speech cannot develop if the speech areas of the left hemisphere don´t get sufficient stimulation from the cerebellum. By stimulating the cerebellum with rhythmic exercises speech development will be promoted. The Purkinje cells of the cerebellum use GABA as a transmitter substance and the rhythmic exercises will in the long run cause more GABA to be produced provided inflammation of the cerebellum and glutamate accumulation can be prevented by an appropriate diet. http://www.blombergrmt.com/autism-and-rhythmic-movement-training/