Autism, Reflex Integration and The Brain: Building New Connections With MNRI

SugahI have two children. One is on the spectrum with anxiety and sensory processing challenges.  The second (unofficially) has ADHD and some sensory issues.  We have been working on recovery for more than four years.  We have spent that time trying out various approaches and protocols to deal with and remove stored toxins and subclinical infections that are inevitable when your immune system is not operating efficiently.  We made significant progress with both boys with this approach.  Once we started to reduce the toxic burden on their body and remove viral and other pathogen infections, their behavior and functioning improved significantly.  However it was just not enough.  I realized that no amount of detox or immune system work was going to optimize existing brain function and/or grow new neural connections.

It has been almost a year since I wrote The Next Step in the Journey, where I stated my intention to focus on brain integration using the Brain Balance program. It’s time for an update!

I want to be clear and say that I think the Brain Balance program is a good program.  It is based on sound fundamentals and works for many children.  But it didn’t work for us.  Those familiar with the program are likely to say, “Well, they obviously didn’t do the home program,” or “They must have cheated on the diet!”  Nope.  We were diligent and faithful to both.

During the initial Brain Balance evaluation, the director informed me that the core issue for both my children was dysfunctional primitive reflexes.  (I had never heard of that!)  She also said that my ASD child would need at least two 12-week sessions, but my ADHD child would certainly need only one twelve week session.  She also said that any gains would be permanent. As we were approaching the end of the 12-week session, it was clear that I needed to rethink Brain Balance for my children.  What was surprising is that my ASD child had made decent progress, but my ADHD child had made very little progress at all.

During our exit evaluation, the Brain Balance director insinuated that my ADHD child didn’t make much progress because he wasn’t trying hard enough.  At the time this statement really made me mad, but over time I realized there was an element of truth in that insinuation (more on this later).  Also during the exit evaluation, the director made sure to tell me that I must continue doing the home program with my children.  Since I had no intention of returning to the Brain Balance program, we did not continue the home program and soon all my ASD child’s gains in reduced anxiety vanished. Poof!  Gone.

When it became obvious that the Brain Balance program wasn’t going to work for us, I needed to find other options.  I focused my research on the concept of primitive reflexes.  I found books that described each reflex and more importantly the physical, cognitive, behavioral and psychological implications of retaining infant reflexes after infancy.  Lots of bells and whistles were going off.

For my ASD son, it was obvious that he was greatly affected by retention of the fear paralysis reflex. I also learned that the fear paralysis reflex is a precursor to the moro (infant startle) reflex.   In addition, I learned my son must first address fear paralysis BEFORE moro in order for him to achieve permanent gains in reduced anxiety.  Because the Brain Balance program only addresses the moro reflex (with no mention of a fear paralysis reflex), my ASD son’s gains in reduced anxiety vanished as soon as we halted the moro reflex exercises.

Courtesy of retainedneonatalreflexes.com.au

Courtesy of retainedneonatalreflexes.com.au

While researching and consulting with experts I learned that my ADHD son did not make any progress at Brain Balance because his spinal galant reflex was profoundly retained.  Retention of spinal galant results in an inability to sit still and focus on a task.  Kids with retained spinal galant reflexes seem to have ‘ants in their pants.’  It is very hard for them to sit in any one place for long because of a numb sensation in the area from the knees up to the middle/lower back.  That area of the body was not fully integrated into (connected to) the brain during the normal course of development.   My ADHD son needed a deeper, more foundational approach to addressing the spinal galant reflex than the Brain Balance program offered.

Again, I know Brain Balance has been, and will continue to be, effective for many children, however for the reasons stated above, I had to look to other programs to help my children.

MNRI_LogoI chose to move forward with the MNRI (Masgutova Neuro-sensory-motor Reflex Integration) program.  Before I made the time and financial investment in MNRI, I wanted to make sure it was the right choice.  So I drove three hours to the closest core specialist.  After a short evaluation,she gave me insights into how my boys’ neural connectivity dysfunction was affecting their cognitive function, behavior, personality and physical abilities.  It was absolutely amazing the insights she had into my children, whom she had only met a few minutes earlier.  She was able to tell me details about their personality and functioning after ten minutes (or less) of assessment!

You see the Brain Balance director was partially right.  My ADHD child had not given his 100% best effort.  That was a theme in his life.  To look at him you would see a boy that appeared to be athletically gifted, but he never wanted to try any sports.  He was smart, but didn’t try very hard in school.  Quite plainly he had self-destructive tendencies.  The MNRI core specialist explained to me that my son had excessive tension in his body as the result lack of development of his core tendon guard reflex which was contributing to his self-destructive tendencies.

The MNRI core specialist conveyed to me that my ASD son’s anxiety issues resulted from multiple causalities.  She taught me a handful of exercises and implored me to go to a conference.

So we took the plunge and signed up for a conference.

MNRI_bookThe first conference was tough.  I didn’t know what to expect.  Both boys went into what some people refer to as a regression.  I understand now that remapping/rebuilding/building new neural connections can be tough on some of the kids.  Their brains and bodies are used to working a certain (dysfunctional) way . . . and suddenly they are ‘asked’ to work in a new/different/more efficient way. Even really good change can be tough.  We didn’t really notice any improvements while at the first conference.  The changes began to unfold after we had been home for a few weeks. I understand now that for some kids (mine) it takes a few weeks for their brains/bodies to adjust to the new neural connections before the improvements will be seen.

For my ASD son the improvements have been cognitive, physical and behavioral.  He grew two clothing sizes in less than two months after coming home from the first conference.  He has more muscle tone and is more coordinated.  Loud noises don’t bother him as much any more.  His skin isn’t as sensitive.  His anxiety level is better.  Because his sensory system is less sensitive, his brain has a higher capacity to pay attention to his schoolwork.  He is not so distracted by what is going on around him, and now he can complete his math work with very few prompts.  Because his sensory system is less sensitive, his brain is now free to think deeper thoughts. He is starting to plan for his future. He is curious why I have certain opinions.  He is wondering about his world.  These are all significant improvements for a boy who at five years old used to sit in the corner by himself lining up his cars . . . only speaking when he wanted to quote his favorite movie or ask for food.

My ADHD son’s improvements are pretty amazing, too.  I always knew he had so much potential.  I knew he could be really smart in school and could be a really good athlete.  However, he seemed satisfied doing nothing.  No amount of positive reinforcement or encouragement affected him at all.  All of this changed dramatically within three weeks of coming home from the first conference. He now cares about his schoolwork. He asked to join a baseball team. He really wants to do well in life.

Before we began the ‘brain’ part of our recovery journey, I had a vague understanding that working on building new neural connections would improve cognitive function and behavior. What I wasn’t expecting was the changes in personality and improvements in physical abilities.

It has been five months since our first MNRI conference.  We have been working hard on our home program and have enjoyed lots of gains.  But, we are by no means finished.  We continue focusing on creating positive energy through affirmations and other energy work along with MNRI.  We are going to try essential oils and go see a chiropractor.  We will continue to attend MNRI conferences as finances and schedule permits, because the gains come faster with 6 hours of daily therapy.  However, I am also going to attend MNRI training classes.  The classes provide an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the brain and reflex integration while you are learning the exercises to do at home.

I will be attending an MNRI class in Dallas in February.  I would love to meet you there!

MNRI_meme

xoxox

~ Sugah

For more information or to register for the class in February go to:  http://masgutovamethod.com/events/369/mnri-archetype-movement-integration?c=1

For more information on MNRI in general go to:  http://masgutovamethod.com

For more by Sugah, click here.

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51 Responses to Autism, Reflex Integration and The Brain: Building New Connections With MNRI

  1. Tim Lundeen says:

    I wanted to ask how this is working for you? Are you seeing reflexes integrate?

  2. Wanda says:

    Please help with exercises for the fear paralysis. Great info given. We did brain balance too it helped with some things.

  3. Deebiga says:

    Hey Sugah
    I dont know ,whether you remember me but we met in tennessee at internal balance.I was the indian parent with a kid with autism and you came with your friend megan.
    I read your post,it is amazing but i have a couple of doubts-do the kids need to be at certain level in order for MNRI to work.My sons ATEC score is 98 so he is at pretty much autistic.Also you have mentioned that you do energy works in addition to MNRI,what type.And also i recently saw a video of ionic foot bath where you have shared your experience -did you do this after MNRI or along with MNRI or did you stop at certain point and also wanted to know are you still continuing treatment at internal balance.If you could email me about your experience,that would really help me to understand what to do with my son.Do we have to do some kind of biomedical treatment to make them come at certain point in order for these treatment to work.Can you share your whole autism journey,what all things you have learned through experience and by your mistakes.

  4. Jas says:

    you were mentioning about a book you have read about reflex, can you please give me the details of the book?

  5. France says:

    any of these conferences offered in Canada?

  6. worriedmom says:

    Hi sugah,

    Do you know any accredited facility for mnri here in Toronto? I could not afford to go to US.

  7. lisa says:

    All I can find is exercises for Moro reflex, I cant find the “Fear Paralysis” you are referring to. Do you have more info on the exercise for Fear paralysis?

  8. Hello! I’ve been reading your web site for some time now and finally
    got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Kingwood Tx!
    Just wanted to tell you keep up the fantastic work!

  9. Therana Mamachan says:

    Sugah

    Thank you for posting

    Am keen to interact more with you on this subject if thats ok by you.

    Reflex Integration is my core pursuit at a Research level and any / all inputs from your end would be appreciated sincerely.

    Regards

  10. giulia says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I have been looking a various primitive reflex integration and sensory integration approaches to help my sons and the Brain Balance program just felt at the same time, overwhelming and incomplete. Your article confirms this. I have one child who needs help with SPD and visual motor processing, and another that needs help with aggression and hyperactivity. We are going to start with Anat Baniel Method, and then dive in to MNRI. I’ve read that doing ABM first will greatly enhance MNRI. http://www.andrealbowers.com/abm-anat-baniel-method-mnri-nmri-masgutova-children-with-special-needs-disability-reflex/

  11. Peachy Maxwald says:

    Dear Sugah,
    Thank you for publishing this blog post experience on MNRI. When you google MNRI there are no feedback stories except yours. I am deciding on the conference, and as you know it is a huge investment both financially and time-wise ( we live in switzerland and it is so far from all of this).
    I would like to ask what kind of what your experience was in attending the conference. How many hours a day were your sons engaged in the therapy sessions, or in the training exercises? And after the conference, how many hours a day do you need to do at home on a daily basis?
    I was looking at doing RMTI already, until i found out about MNRI. I really do believe that my son needs to have so many of his reflexes integrated and we would like to do so this summer.
    I have just started also essential oils and there have been huge improvements with my son. First, echolalia has decreased, and there seems to be more focus and concentration at school. I wish you well with your journey on essential oils.
    Peachy

    • ProfessorTMR says:

      In case she doesn’t see this, I’ll send her by. I know she and the Count love the conferences as they have both done a number of them. They’ve even gone to Poland where the conferences themselves are cheaper.

    • Katia says:

      Hi Peachy,
      What essential oils are you using for echolalia? My son has this problem too, and I am looking for ways to help him with it.
      thanks,

    • Therana Mamachan says:

      Hi Peachy
      Am pursuing a Doctoral program in Reflex Integration and am of the firm belief that Reflex Integration can lead to changes though of course am at a early stage.

      Would like to discuss more with you on this if it suits you as your inputs may perhaps help me in the research.

      Regards

      • Mimi Birnbaum says:

        I’m an occupational therapist and enjoying this blog. I am working toward becoming an MNRI core specialist.
        I’m commenting in resonpse to Therana Mamachan. Where are you pursuing a doctoral program in reflex integration? How long is the program? Can you please tell me a little more about your program. I would like to look into it. Thanks.

  12. katia says:

    Hi Laura,

    How did you find what supplements to give to your child to help with his symptoms? I have been reading and gathering information on this, but it seems a bit overwhelming and it’s hard to know what’s right and wrong given so many medial opinions.

  13. Veronica says:

    Thanks for posting this!!Sugah do you think MNRI can benefit my twins even though we haven´t finished detoxing and we are still helping them with GI issues and constipation? Or should we wait until these are solved? My girls are 5yo. Thank you !

  14. Liz Wall says:

    Hi! Thank you so much for this great article! My older son with ASD mirrors your in many ways. We took him to the brain balance center and didn’t see many results. We have also seen several OT’s to try and integrate his reflexes. My younger son doesn’t have ASD but walks on his toes and has sensory issues.

    We live in Ohio and I can’t find anyone in our area that does MNRI. Do you have any suggestions for us? If we sign up for a conference, do we bring the kids and they work with them there? Please feel free to email me! I so appreciate any info you have. Liz

    • ProfessorTMR says:

      Yes, the conferences are for in-depth work on the kids. Sugah and the Count have been to multiple conferences. I’ll get them to check in…

    • Patty Lemer says:

      Where in Ohio do you live?

    • Julia says:

      Liz, look into Family Hope Center it is in Philadelphia and the program sounds similar we went there and so far so good. They design the program for you to do at home with reflex integration. It is amazing how thorough they are with the evaluation. There were 2 families from Ohio that drove there.

  15. Pingback: one mom’s report after MNRI | reflex integration

  16. kerry sellers says:

    HI Sugah!! How was the February conference? What did you think?

  17. Tanya says:

    A speech therapist recommended this for my son. It sounds similar to neurological reorganization which we tried in the past but couldn’t get far into the program bc the belly crawls would make my kid vomit. Do you know how similar Mnri is to nr? Maybe I should order the Mnri parents’ guide?
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Sugah says:

      I’ve never heard of NR but from your description it sounds like the exercises are active….meaning the child is ‘doing’ the exercises or movements. MNRI is about 90% passive where the parent or therapist is performing the exercises on the child’s body. I can’t imagine anyone throwing up because of an MNRI exercise!

  18. Deanna Nemes says:

    We started focusing on the brain back over the summer, different program than BB/MNRI, but similar philosophy. We are seeing some nice changes, lots of hard work, lots of time to bond and my daughter seems to enjoy it – gains are slow but real. Our doc that suggested this program also suggested Craniosacral therapy as an adjunct to work on the structural component of the brain as we rewire the brain functionally. I’m curious if this has been suggested to you.
    Thanks for the update!

  19. Lots of great, new, and exciting information. Congratulations on your children’s gains! It is so true that what works for some will not work for all. I am so glad you continued to make connections between treatments and your children. This is yet another testament to the parents… we are shaping the future for viable protocols to heal our children. I am adding this to my webpage!

    Best
    AutismRawData.net

  20. Becky says:

    Sugah-

    I’m so sorry that you had that experience with Brain Balance (BB). I know how hard the program is and I commend you and your kids for giving it your all. I personally have a love/ hate relationship with the BB program. My son actually went through 2.5 sessions. While we did see significant changes in his gross motor planning after the program, I was hoping for other improvements as well. But, any progress should be celebrated, so I am truly grateful for his progress in that area.

    The main complaint I have is that there seems to be this overriding attitude from the directors that our children’s issues are our ( the parent’s) fault. While they never come out and directly say that, it is implied in the way they talk to us and how they treat us. My son has seen countless therapists over the last 4 years and honestly I’ve never felt so deflated as I did after talking to the directors of our BB program. I often got conflicting information and when I questioned it they talked to me like I was “crazy, stupid mom.”

    I also feel they believe that if an issue does not subside after going through their program then it is either the parents fault or it simply needs “behavioral” therapy interventions. For example, my son has flapped his arms since he was 8 months old. When I asked about what they thought the source of this was they said it’s just a behavior that he has never been taught to stop and that I just need to make him aware that he is doing it every time I catch him doing it and give him a consequence for that behavior. In my heart of hearts I don’t believe this will work. Or if it does work he’ll start picking up some other negative behavior to take its place. I believe he flaps because of an uncontrollable physiological reason and that I just need to figure out what is off kilter. If anyone has suggestions I open to hearing them!

    Anyway, I just wanted to put in my two cents on the BB program from our experience. I am still happy we went through the program, because I know now I can cross it off my list. I have met people who have truly benefited from the BB program, so don’t let this deter anyone….this was just our experience.

    Becky

    • dawna says:

      Oh Becky: I am so sorry that you got that feeling from a Brain Balance Center re: your parenting skills. I am a new owner of a Center in Idaho (one year) and I personally feel that we have the most amazing parents in our center. We ask a lot of them and they all do the best that they can…. some kids soar and some make slower progress. I have great confidence in the hemispheric multi-modal approach developed by Dr. Melillo….he is always researching and looking for more answers and wants the best for our amazing children. There are more questions than answers at the moment re: autism…..but progress is made daily. We are proud to be part of that progress. My feeling about his flapping is similar to yours. Repetitive motor mannerisms, such as flapping hands, but also tensing parts of their body, are often linked to strong emotions. These may also be self-soothing behaviors and attempts at regulating overwhelming anxiety. Finding the root cause is the solution. Best to you as you continue to advocate for your child.
      Dawna

    • Kathy says:

      I believe that the flapping may be from a retained Moro. I have taught reflex integration for 15 years, and do the Starfish a little differently than others. I show it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQ4K9sw7by8. Give it a try! And best of luck! I’ve been through so much as well with my children, but now they are successful happy adults. Your son will get there too with a Mom like you working for him!!

  21. Sunflower says:

    This is great information and I definitely want to find an MNRI program in our area. Our son has ADHD, very sensory, always moving, climbing, wants to run, low muscle tone. We have done some sessions of biofeedback which was helpful but the chart you showed shows so many similarities. Always something new to learn that strikes a chord to help our child. Thanks so much for sharing your experience, this program and how much it benefited your children.

  22. Sara Beth McCrady says:

    Thank you for sharing this information. I have been in recovery with my son for 3 years now. The changes we have made have been mind blowing for those who were apart of our early struggles. The more we can share these strategies and techniques with others the faster we can see changes in all our children! Thank you again!!!

  23. Lisa R says:

    We just started Brain Balance and I’m having a hard time getting my son to do the primitive reflex exercises because he can’t follow directions. I have been to an MNRI consultant once and she gave me some exercises for him I’ve been very lax in doing unfortunately, but now I think I’m going to add them in and see what other things I can do to him for those reflexes. I’d appreciate any advice!

    • Sugah says:

      Lisa, I’m not going to be the best person to give you advice on how to get your kids to do the Brain Balance home program. While we were successful in that area…meaning my kids did the home program faithfully….I wish I hadn’t put them through it because we got very little out of it…and it was a significant effort. If you search on something like “Brain Balance blog” I know there are parents out there who were successful with the program and reaped the benefits of their efforts. Best of luck to you. xo

  24. AmyinIdaho says:

    Reflexes and movement therapy is something that every parent should learn. I much prefer learning how to do things that help my child and doing them myself rather than paying and having to rely on someone else to do it. The additional benefit is that you and your child are working together and there is often an emotional connection that occurs in the work.

    This is a great opportunity for those in the area 🙂

    • Sugah says:

      I totally agree. While my kids may fuss and moan a bit when they first get on the table…they are calm, peaceful and happy when it’s finished. It is definitely a bonding experience…and I feel strongly that the love of a parent during hands on work makes a significant difference in the rate of progress.

  25. Rebecca Lee says:

    I am assuming everybody is aware that the only way to remove mercury from the brain is with frequent low dose chelation using alpha lipoic acid.

  26. Mary Cavanaugh says:

    Wow! This is so timely for me. Self destructive is a good description of my daughter. I know it has to do with the connections in the brain. I also know reflexes play a part. Her visual system is also compromised. She definitely has the low muscle tone and chronic fatigue and now we have the debilitating anxiety to where school is no longer possible. I hope I can find someone in Orlando. Thank you so much for sharing!!!

    • Sugah says:

      There are definitely MNRI resources in Orlando! And I could write forever about reflexes, brain integration and the MNRI program. It is very very helpful for all sensory system issues. Visual, auditory, tactile, etc. You will not be disappointed!

    • Flaviana says:

      Mary Cavanaugh ,
      Hi !! Are u in Orlando ?? Were u able to find anybody to help u With MNRI ?? I am also located in orlando would love to hear any info u might have .
      Thank u

      Flaviana

  27. Laura says:

    My son, moderate adhd and mild autism, could be your two children rolled into one. He had deficits in the moro reflex and the galant reflex among others. I do not know if the fear paralysis reflex was affected, but based upon your description of your adhd son, my son’s fear reflex probably is not normal. We received the diagnosis at about age 8 from a developmental opthmologist, but I had just taken a 50% paycut at work and they wanted all the money up front, something I just didn’t have. However, it did start us on a path to recovery from most of the autism symptoms, as in my research, I realized my son;s problems were neurological ( he also had deficient binocular vision). The Hannah Poling story broke about that time, and there were so many parallels to my son’ health that I looked deeper into mito. All this led me to Dr. Frye, who was right here in my hometown at the time. My son was ultimately diagnosed with mito dysfunction and eventually folate autoantibodies. We had been doing DAN! with supplements, which turns out is what you do for mito, so we further refined his supplements, and added in Leucovorin. The binocular deficit disappeared in 3 months after Leucovorin. He still had some immune problems, but after an extensive workup, did not meet the standard for IVIG or SubQ. So I started him on an oral IgG product. It has been amazing with significant gains in not only overall health, but cognitive as well. Reading went ( in his words) from being just words on a page to being like a movie in his head with amazing gains in reading comprehension. His focus and ability to pay attention improved as well. It is all building on layers.

    But, getting back to the reflexes….My son clearly had the rooting reflex up until about 7 yrs old ( normally disappears by 4 months). You could touch his cheek when sleeping, and he would immediately turn to that side with his mouth open. The others are not as obvious, but with adhd, he also clearly had the “ants in pants” syndrome!

    I will be researching more on the links you provided. Can;t make the conference in Feb due to work, but will be watching for more. Thanks!

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