The Masgutova Method was created by Dr. Svetlana Musgutova during the 1989 UFA train disaster that resulted in many children that were severely injured and traumatized. Dr. Musgutova figured out that these children were not responding to previously used, cognitive approaches to therapy.
These children were not responding because the level of trauma they experienced left them non-responsive and extremely traumatized. Dr. Masgutova found this meaning only their primary reflexes were active.
Since she had just finished earning her Doctorate in Developmental Psychology, Dr. Masgutova would later create the Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration (MNRI) therapies. These are very individual based, as there is an assessment done before therapy begins, so that the results and treatments vary on each person.
Autism Parenting Magazine does not recommend trying any new therapy, supplement, etc. without first talking about it with your child’s doctor.
What is the Masgutova Method (MNRI)?
The Masgutova method’s aim is to restore both the neurophysiological, as well as the sensory motor function of patterns that are dysfunctional, delayed, or potentially pathological.
As each treatment is dependent on the individual according to the Masgutova method website, “Individual MNRI treatment plans vary based on the unique circumstances faced by each individual. Each treatment plan consists of the set of primary motor reflex patterns found to be dysfunctional during an individual MNRI assessment and include reflexes that:
- Integrated when they were supposed to but subsequently re-surfaced and need to be re-integrated
- Did not integrate when they should have and need to be integrated
- Never emerged when they should have and need to be activated and integrated”
Initially, each individual that is considering or that has been referred for MNRI goes through an assessment. This assessment recognizes whether to focus on and see if either,
“dysfunctional or deeper pathological automatic primary motor reflex patterns are present.”
Once the reflex patterns are recognized, the individualized MNRI plan for therapy is produced and the treatment can start.
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How does the MNRI method work?
The MNRI programs focused on the level of dysfunction and number of reflexes are taken into consideration and are dependent on the individual and their needs. The goal is to use reflex integration to address the reflexes that have the highest possibility of success that influences the positive functional change.
There is a main focus, during therapy, on a subset of reflexes that ensures the individual may be less likely to become overwhelmed. The overwhelming feelings can come from the focus of the reflexes that are being addressed during a session, and are able to do the challenging attention they receive to have a significant change for their future.
MNRI therapies are individualized, although each encompasses the support needed to integrate the primary motor reflex of the individual and includes the following:
- Pairing of appropriate sensory reflex pattern with suitable motor responses
This process starts with the pairing up of appropriate sensory reflex patterns with suitable motor responses. These are typically modeled during the sessions to show appropriate stimulus responses can be by starting with basic reflex patterns and building to different types of the reflex patterns
- Integrating the exercises to differing reflex patterns
These exercises focus on integrating and training different aspects of reflex patterns. These start with:
- basic reflex patterns
- then work against the basic reflex patterns
- move towards both working with and against the different variant forms of the patterns
- Repeat the first two steps
The first two steps can typically be repeated three times per individual reflex pattern during a typical session
- Reassess the reflex pattern
A follow up and check of the reflex state helps to reassess progress during therapy
Is the Masgutova method beneficial for those diagnosed with autism?
As with any therapy and/or treatment, this therapy is dependent on the individual. I will share two stories of two young boys that went through the Masgutova method with success.
The first child’s name is Erik, his parents said that he attended his first MNRI camp when he was three years old. They said that he started out lacking verbal communication skills because he didn’t talk or understand basic words and commands that they would say to him and he exhibited extreme sensory defensiveness.
Erik’s parents also stated that he wasn’t able to do stuff for himself, like dressing himself, and was not yet potty trained. Finally they said that he was picky with his food and did not enjoy interacting with adults and other children.
After the first 12 day MNRI Camp, after some sensory motor integration and focus on developing higher level skills, Erik had better stability and gross motor control. His sensitivity to sound and touch lessened and his emotions seemed stabilized.
His posture and coordination systems improved along with his cross-lateral movement, helping aid in his overall stability and ability to walk. He started being able to repeat and articulate sounds and syllables, as well as become more interested in his surroundings which seemed to help him be more motivated to do his activities that stimulated his cognitive development.
The second child’s name is Benji whose mother states that they had attended numerous therapies like Occupational therapy (OT), speech therapy, play therapy, and others. They had seen some progress but Benji would still struggle with changes in his surroundings and schedule.
During one of the Masgutova conferences Benji, his mom, and grandpa attended. After some difficulty at the conference initially, Benji’s mom started seeing results.
She noticed that he was able to self regulate and express himself. She started noticing that he was more curious about his surroundings, as well as having better coordination, so much so that he wasn’t tripping over himself as much and even asked to have his orthotics removed from his shoes.
Although there have been successes using this method, I always recommend talking with your child’s doctor for any clarifications, if needed. Typically if the doctor is unsure, they have resources that they can pass on to parents or refer them to specialists that can help.
As with anything, if you have any concerns with your child’s development, whether it’s social/emotional development, physical development, sensory issues, academic learning, etc. please talk to their doctor. In order to have an assessment or diagnosis, the doctor is generally the first step in the process.
The Masgutova method was originally used to treat children that experienced physical and emotional trauma from the 1989 UFA train disaster. This therapy helped where other therapies were unable to. The use of reflex integration that Dr. Masgutova created helped the children on an individual basis.
This therapy is one that is very individualized and has many different components for different needs to be met through each of the sessions.
Chodyko, R. & Masgutov, D. (2015). Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration – A New Modality in Work with a Child with Autism: Assessment and Intervention Results. https://masgutovamethod.com/_uploads/_media_uploads/_source/Case-Studies-Professional-Experience-With-MNRI-06.10.15.pdf
Gans, D. (2015). Autism After the Masgutova Method. https://masgutovamethod.com/_uploads/_media_uploads/_source/Winners-Coming-Back-To-The-Here-And-Now-07.01.15.pdf
Svetlana Masgutova Educational Institute. (2023). How MNRI Method Works. https://masgutovamethod.com/the-method/how-mnri-method-works
Svetlana Masgutova Educational Institute. (2023). MNRI Method Origins. https://masgutovamethod.com/the-method/mnri-method-origins