Background: The Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration (MNRI) Visual Reflex NeuroTraining (VRNT) program facilitates improvement in visual perception, fixation, mobility and saccades functionality in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and supports their academic skills of reading, writing, and overall neurodevelopment.
Objective: Our objective was to determine the effectiveness of MNRI VRNT exercises on the eye tracking, ocular-vestibular and optokinetic visual reflex patterns (based on saccades) in children diagnosed with autism (Study Group, n=240). The research hypothesis was that training using these early visual sensory-motor patterns such as: binocular vision and visual fixation, convergence/divergence, eye tracking, ocular-vestibular and optokinetic will improve visual perception and processing resulting in a positive impact on academic skills particularly reading and writing for children with ASD.
Study Design: A controlled trial setting and participants - 360 individuals diagnosed with ASD of moderate severity from 7 to 10 years of age. Children attended the VRNT sessions at MNRI Family Conferences (Poland and USA). The study provided comparative analysis and correlation of results in visual competency depending on specific visual reflex patterns. A comparison of the Study Group and Control Group 1 and Control Group 2 was evaluated.
Study Group of children diagnosed with ASD (n=240) included boys (n=142); 7-8 year-old (n=58); 8-9 year-old (n=40); 9-10 year-old (n=44) and girls (n=98); 7-8 year-old (n=33); 8-9 year-old (n=28); 9-10 year-old (n=37); verbal (n=91) and non-verbal (n=54), with partial ability to pronounce limited amount of words (n=95).
1. Control Group 1: Included children diagnosed with ASD (n=120) included boys (n=83); 7-8 year-old (n=28); 8-9 year-old (n=31); 9-10 year-old (n=24) and girls (n=37); 7-8 year-old (n=12); 8-9 year-old (n=14); 9-10 year-old (n=11); verbal (n=47) and non-verbal (n=24), with a partial ability to pronounce a limited amount of words (n=49).
2. Control Group 2: Included typical children (n=260) with boys (n=120); 7-8 year-old (n=43); 8-9 year-old (n=38); 9-10 year-old (n=28) and girls (n=140); 7-8 year-old (n=52); 8-9 year-old (n=46); 9-10 year-old (n=42); verbal and with normal neurodevelopment markers (n=260).
At the first stage of the study all participants diagnosed with ASD (n=360) in the Study Group (n=240) and Control Group 1 (n=120) and Control Group 2 (n=260) of children with typical development had pre- and postassessments of:
a) Visual reflexes (seven patterns total): Binocular single vision and visual fixation, convergence, divergence, horizontal eye tracking, physiological nystagmus, optokinetic and ocular- vestibular/vestibular-optic. (Children in the control groups did not have the MNRI I Visual Reflex NeuroTraining.)
b) Visual skills (Test): Convergence stability, directionality in perception, form perception/processing, eye tracking (pursuits and saccades), accommodation (eye- focusing), visual- motor integration, visualization, and other.
c) Academic abilities of reading and writing: (Standard School Performance Test - SPT) with age differentiation.
At the second stage of the study MNRI VRNT was given to the children in the Study Group (n=240). At the third stage of the study a comparative analysis of results on visual reflex patterns and visual skills was evaluated considering school competency in reading and writing of children diagnosed with ASD in the Study Group and both control groups compared to educational norms for reading and writing (SPT)