Research on Movement Therapies to Overcome Dyslexia & Reading Difficulties



Click on blue study title to view full study. 

1)McPhillips M, Jordan-Black JA. Primary reflex persistence in children with reading difficulties (dyslexia): a cross-sectional study. Neuropsychologia. 2007 Mar 2;45(4):748-54. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2006.08.005. Epub 2006 Oct 9. PMID: 17030045.

The findings suggest that for many children in mainstream schooling, the attainment of core educational skills may be affected by the persistence of a brainstem mediated reflex system that should have been inhibited in the first year after birth.

2) McPhillips M, Sheehy N. Prevalence of persistent primary reflexes and motor problems in children with reading difficulties. Dyslexia. 2004 Nov;10(4):316-38. doi: 10.1002/dys.282. PMID: 15573963.
This study highlights the high levels of primary reflex persistence in children with reading difficulties and it provides further evidence of the association between reading difficulties and movement difficulties in young children.

3) Westendorp M, Hartman E, Houwen S, Smith J, Visscher C. The relationship between gross motor skills and academic achievement in children with learning disabilities. Res Dev Disabil. 2011 Nov-Dec;32(6):2773-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2011.05.032. Epub 2011 Jun 22. PMID: 21700421.
In children with learning disabilities a specific relationship was observed between reading and locomotor skills and a trend was found for a relationship between mathematics and object-control skills: the larger children’s learning lag, the poorer their motor skill scores. This study stresses the importance of specific interventions facilitating both motor and academic abilities.

4) Niklasson M, Norlander T, Niklasson I, Rasmussen P. Catching-up: Children with developmental coordination disorder compared to healthy children before and after sensorimotor therapy. PLoS One. 2017 Oct 11;12(10):e0186126. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0186126. PMID: 29020061; PMCID: PMC5636139.

This study found that children who have developmental coordination disorder (DCD) caught up with typically developing children in terms of sensorimotor maturity (e.g., balance and vestibular functioning, body-space perception, eye movements, primitive reflexes, gross motor milestones) after completing sensorimotor training for 15 min/ day over 36 months (average age = 8 years old). Specifically, the sensorimotor training consisted of vestibular stimulation, tactile stimulation, auditory stimulation, complementary play exercises, gross motor milestones, stereotypical fetal- and infant movements, and sports-related gross motor skills.

Damasceno A, Delicio AM, Mazo DF, Zullo JF, Scherer P, Ng R, et al. Primitive reflexes and cognitive functionArq Neuro-Psiquiat. (2005) 63:577–82. doi: 10.1590/S0004-282X2005000400004

6) Bilbilaj S, Gjipali A, Shkurti F. Measuring primitive reflexes in children with learning disordersEur J Multidiscip Stud.(2017) 5:285–98. doi: 10.26417/ejms.v5i1.p285-298

7) Goddard-Blythe S. Early learning in the balance: priming the first ABCSupp Learn. (2000) 15:154–8. doi: 10.1111/1467-9604.00168

8) Jordan-Black JA. The effects of the Primary Movement programme on the academic performance of children attending ordinary primary schoolJ Res Special Educational Needs. (2005) 5:101–11. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-3802.2005.00049.x

9) McPhillips M, Hepper PG, Mulhern G. Effects of replicating primary-reflex movements on specific reading difficulties in children: a randomised, double-blind, controlled trialLancet. (2000) 355:537–41. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(99)02179-0

10) Reynolds D, Nicolson RI, Hambly H. Evaluation of an exercise-based treatment for children with reading difficultiesDyslexia. (2003) 9:48–71. doi: 10.1002/dys.235

11) Hyatt KJ, Stephenson J, Carter M. A review of three controversial educational practices: perceptual motor programs, sensory integration, and tinted lensesEduc Treat Child. (2009) 32:313–42. doi: 10.1353/etc.0.0054

12) Goddard-Blythe S. Releasing educational potential through movement: a summary of individual studies carried out using the INPP test battery and developmental exercise programme for use in schools with children with special needsChild Care Pract. (2005) 11:415–32. doi: 10.1080/13575270500340234

13) Grzywniak C. Integration exercise programme for children with learning difficulties who have preserved vestigial primitive reflexesActa Neuropsychol. (2017) 15:241–56. doi: 10.5604/01.3001.0010.5491

14) Reynolds D, Nicolson RI. Follow-up of an exercise-based treatment for children with reading difficultiesDyslexia.(2007) 13:78–96. doi: 10.1002/dys.331

15) Foster LM, Hynd GW, Morgan AE, Hugdahl K. Planum temporale asymmetry and ear advantage in dichotic listening in developmental dyslexia and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)J Int Neuropsychol Soc. (2002) 8:22–36. doi: 10.1017/S1355617701020033

16) Watemberg N, Waiserberg N, Zuk L, Lerman-Sagie T. Developmental coordination disorder in children with attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder and physical therapy intervention. Develop Med Child Neurol. (2007) 49:920–5. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.2007.00920.x

17) Konicarova J, Bob P. Retained primitive reflexes and ADHD in children. Activ Nerv Sup. (2012) 54:135–8. doi: 10.1007/BF03379591

18) Miyahara, M., Tsujii, M., Hori, M., Nakanishi, K., Kageyama, H., & Sugiyama, T. (1997). Brief report: motor incoordination in children with Asperger syndrome and learning disabilities. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 27, 595–603.

19) Neurological Dysfunction as a Significant Factor in Children with Dyslexia –  Sally Goddard Blythe  – The Journal of Behavioral Optometry, Volume 12, Number 6, 2001, Page 145

It is an accepted medical fact that the continued presence of primitive reflexes above the age of six months and the absence or under-development of postural reflexes beyond three and a half years of age are reliable indicators of neurological dysfunction, which can affect both motor and perceptual development. A series of standardised neurological tests for abnormal reflexes were carried out on a sample of 54 children who had previously received an independent diagnosis of Dyslexia, to see if neurological dysfunction was a significant factor underlying their Dyslexic symptoms. Additional tests were carried out to assess oculo-motor functioning, visual-perceptual performance and cerebellar involvement including dysdiadochokinesia to see if other areas related to motor development were also a significant factor in the sample.

Abnormal primitive and postural reflexes were found to be a universal underlying factor in this sample. A high percentage of the sample also demonstrated difficulties with oculo-motor functioning, visual-perceptual skills and dysdiadochokinesia, suggesting a positive relationship between abnormal reflex activity and immature postural, motor and visual functioning. 

20) The Correlation between Primitive Reflexes and Saccadic Eye Movements in 5th Grade Children with Teacher-Reported Reading Problems

Sergio Ramírez González, MS,1 Kenneth J Ciuffreda, OD, PhD, FAAO, FCOVD-A,2Luís Castillo Hernández, PhD,1 Jaime Bernal Escalante, MS1

Results: The results suggested that selected resid- ual primitive reflexes were correlated with reduced saccadic accuracy and impaired reading ability. In addition, the laboratory-based saccadic testing provided an objective and confirmatory correlate to the presence of abnormal primitive reflexes. Furthermore, the results provided insight into the child’s gross and fine motor development as related to vision, with possible therapeutic ramifications.

Source: Research Source8

21) Can Replicating Primary Reflex Movements Improve Reading Ability?

Background: Poorly integrated and inhibited primitive reflexes can impact an individual’s visual development, balance system and academic performance, most notably in the area of reading. Children diagnosed with reading learning disabilities were assessed in the areas of oculomotilities, tonic reflexes, balance and fine motor. They were also given a headache questionnaire. Students participated in a movement program designed to decrease the amount of primitive reflex present, improve the balance and visual systems and reading ability.

Read full article here: canreplicatingprimaryreflexmovementsimprovereadingability

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