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Sensory and motor approaches

Why ?

  • A very large majority of neuro-atypical children have sensory and motor disorders and weaknesses in bodily perception.  

  • For children with ASD, ADHD or with a developmental delay, these disorders are often not very visible and little accompanied but are often at the origin of the appearance of other disorders, in particular behavioral. They notably have sensory disturbances and poor body perception. Sensory and motor approaches will help them to have a better perception of themselves and to make sense of their environment.

  • For children with motor disorders, the need is different: babies, they have not been able to perform many of the random then voluntary movements that allow the brain to create a complete self-perception and differentiation of all parts of their body. These are not innate, they are based on the sensory and motor experiences of the first months of life.  

  • Between 0 and 2 years, up to 1 million new neural connections are created per second, and this thanks to purely sensory and motor experiences: it is mainly for these children to compensate for experiences that have not been experienced or not properly integrated to consolidate a fragile base

How? 'Or' What ?

  • Improve body perception

  • Create a complete body image, a clear self-image

  • Differentiate all parts of their body

  • Improve sensory perceptions, reduce hypersensitivity

  • Improve motor functions, balance, coordination

  • Reduce unnecessary effort and make the movement more integrated and automatic

  • Reduce stress or anxiety created by sensory hyper or hypo-sensitivities 

What approaches?

  1. Classic physiotherapy

  2. Specific physiotherapy (Le Metayer, Bobath, Votja, induced stress)

  3. Occupational therapy

  4. Psychomotricity

  5. ​ Feldenkrais or Anat Baniel Method Neuromovement

  6. Medek

  7. Sensory integration

  8. Integration of reflexes: RMTi , MNRI, IMP

  9. Stimulation by movement and filtered music: Tomatis, Neurologic music therapy, Integrated Listening system

  10. Functional neurology

  11. Padovan

  12. Rolfing

  13. Brain Gym

  14. Basal stimulation

  15. Yoga, Reiki, Tai-chi

Main scientific publications

Autism: the movement perspective - Elizabeth B. Torres and Anne M. Donnellan, Rutgers University and University of San Diego USA - 2015 (375 pages,)

Autism: the micro-movement perspective - Elizabeth B. Torres and  Maria Brincker, Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science, Movement Disorders, Neurology

An exploration of sensory and movement differences from the perspective of individuals with autism - Jodi Robledo, Anne M. Donnellan, and Karen Strandt-Conroy

Motor development and motor resonance difficulties in autism : relevance to early intervention for language and communication skills - Joseph P. McCleery and Natasha A. Elliott, School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, West Midlands, Birmingham, UK

Movement analysis in infancy may by useful for early diagnosis of autism - Philip Teitelbaum, Osnat B. Teitelbaum, Joshua Fryman, and Ralph Maurer

Rethinking autism : implications of sensory and movement differences for understanding and support - Anne M. Donnellan, David A. Hill, and Martha R. Leary

Somatosensory processing in neurodevelopmental disorders - Carissa J. Cascio, Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 2010

A Biomarker Characterizing Neurodevelopment with applications in Autism - Di Wu, Jorge V. José, John I. Nurnberger & Elizabeth B. Torres - Revue Nature, 2018

Empathizing with sensory and movement differences: moving toward sensitive understanding of autism , Steven K. Kapp

Meta review of systematic and meta analytic reviews on movement differences , effect of movement based interventions, and the underlying neural mechanisms in autism spectrum disorder, M. Miyahara, Movement Development Clinic, University of Otago, New Zealand

Primitive Reflexes and Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder: Developmental Origins of Classroom Dysfunction - Myra Taylor, Stephen Houghton and Elaine Chapman - The University of Western Australia - International Journal of Special Education 2004, Vol 19, No1

Reflexes Gone Astray in Autism - Philip Teitelbaum, Osnat B. Teitelbaum, Joshua Fryman, and Ralph Maurer

Retained Primitive Reflexes and ADHD in Children - Jana Konicarova and Petr Bob - Activitas Nervosa Superior 2012, 54, No. 3-4

Principles of Dissolution and Primitive Reflexes in ADHD - Jana Konicarova & Petr Bob - Activitas Nervosa Superior 2013, 55, No. 1-2

Persisting primitive reflexes in medication-naive girls with attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorder - J Kornicarova, Petr Bob, Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 2013

Primary re fl ex persistence in children with reading dif fi culties (dyslexia): A cross-sectional study. - McPhillips M, Jordan-Black JA. - Neuropsychologia 2007

The effects of the Primary Movement program on the academic performance of children attending ordinary primary school . - Jordan-Black JA. - Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs 2005

Prevalence of persistent primary reflexes and motor problems in children with reading difficulties - McPhillips M, Sheehy N. - Dyslexia 2004

Effects of replicating primary-reflex movements on specific reading difficulties in children. - McPhillips M, Hepper PG, 2000

Motor deficits in children with autism spectrum disorder: a cross-syndrome study. Autism research., 7 (6). pp. 664-676. McPhillips, M. and Finlay, J. and Bejerot, S. and Hanley, M. (2014)

Primitive Reflexes and Postural Reactions in the Neurodevelopmental Examination Dimitrios I. Zafeiriou, MD, PhD - Pediatr Neurol. 2004 

The Effectiveness of the Feldenkrais Method: A Systematic Review of the Evidence Susan Hillier , Anthea Worley , International Center for Allied Health Evidence, March 2015

Partial synthesis

  • 83% of children with ASD have motor scores at least one level lower than the general population, with greater impairments observed in children with more severe autism (compared with 6% of children without ASD).

  • The motor differences are little or not perceived because they take place at timescales much smaller than  our conscious perception, but are measurable and very precisely quantifiable by motion sensors (E. Torres)

  • This research identifies movement as a marker, allowing a diagnosis that is both reliable and early.

  • They also identify movement and therapeutic approaches involving motor and sensory stimulation (particularly visual, auditory and vestibular), as practices that make it possible to act positively on development (from an early age) and to promote other learning (such as language, cognitive, social interactions)

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