For starters, let me just say that I am not receiving any compensation to talk about the Brain Balance Achievement Centers or Hemispheric Integration Therapy. I’m talking them up because their program worked for my son and has worked for thousands of children with developmental delays. The program not only makes an impact, but causes dramatic and lasting improvements, while changing the lives of these children for the better.
Brain Balance Achievement Center was founded by Dr. Robert Melillo and William Fowler. They recognize that a myriad of disorders are manifestations of one underlying condition called Functional Disconnection Syndrome. And as a result of their noninvasive treatments, they have had success reversing these disorders.
The following is a list, but not all inclusive, of the disorders that Hemispheric Integration Therapy can resolve: ADD/ADHD, Dyslexia, Tourette’s, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Asperger’s and other Autism Spectrum Disorders, Academic Delays, Behavior Problems due to a brain imbalance, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder, Nonverbal Learning Disability, Auditory Processing Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Selective Mutism, and more. Due to the plasticity of the brain, these issues can be healed, even in old age.
By the way, the diagnosis a child is given by his or her doctor depends on which side of the brain is the most delayed. Each side is in control of particular behaviors and functions.
So many people in our society have ADD/ADHD, sensory issues, and auditory processing delays. It’s worth noting that these imbalances are a right hemispheric brain delay. And using the protocol in the Disconnected Kids book by Dr. Melillo can correct this problem. However, please also see my page on Mercury Toxicity. Ritalin is not the answer for ADD/ADHD. Developing the frontal lobe is. In the meantime, supplements can help with it, until the brain is balanced, which will help balance out the biochemical issues. And the Primitive Reflexes need to be inhibited and possible neurotoxicity from mercury, Lyme, etc. should be addressed.
My understanding of how the program works is that they use a multi-modal brain balancing method called Hemispheric Integration Therapy. The idea is to assess which side of the brain is delayed (or the most delayed) and stimulate the various delayed areas on only that side and all in one session with perfect timing and rhythm. They work the body and the brain using various, non-invasive therapies, in order to cause both sides of the brain to reach equal development and to cause both sides to communicate with one another. Then both sides of the brain, being in sync, will change and develop together, even months after the program ends. They’re program improves both brain and body function, since they are interrelated.
One of the methods that Brain Balance uses in their therapy is the Interactive Metronome. This is only a small part of their overall therapy, but it is an amazing tool. And they use it in a unique and effective way that is based on extensive research and experience on how the brain grows. They use this in conjunction with other therapies that stimulate the delayed parts of the brain all in one session.
Dr. Melillo is all about research. Everything they do in their clinics have been shown to be effective in helping children to recover from their Functional Disconnection.
Dr. Melillo wrote the books Disconnected Kids and Reconnected Kids. They are must reads for anyone with developmental delays, even adults. Although, the Centers are just for children. They explain in layman’s terms how the brain develops. Disconnected Kids provides assessments to help determine in exactly what areas of the brain your child is delayed, and gives exercise how to’s to fix the problem. It would be best to go through the program, as they have equipment that we don’t have at home. But if there is not a Center near you, then the book is a great choice and will produce the same results. It will probably just take a little longer.
Reconnected Kids is the book to read, especially while your child is going through the therapy. It has a section in there on how to deal with the fast changes in behavior that your child is experiencing. It can be confusing for the whole family to deal with. The chapters called, “How A Child’s Brain Grows” and “When Things Go Wrong” are so helpful in explaining more about how the delays occurred. The Family Empowerment Program section is especially helpful in dealing with your developing child.
Brain Balance also approaches the issue of metabolic imbalances and food allergy and sensitivities using an on-staff nutritionist. My son, Jacob, had already been on supplements that the DAN! doctor and nutritionist had put him on when he began the program. Brain Balance custom designed a supplemental program for Jacob, and it was very close to what he was already on, which was encouraging and gave us more faith in their program.
The doctor’s research has shown that while his therapies cannot change a person’s genes, it can, in fact, change the way a gene expresses itself. One benefit of that is in the way the immune system responds to food allergens.
HOW WE GOT STARTED IN THE PROGRAM
Someone told me about a lecture on autism, and I went reluctantly. They had a mom in there who had put two of her kids through the program. She cried happy tears as she told her story of how her children are forever improved. I felt that there was finally an organization that really understood our son and what we were going through as a family, and who offered real hope of permanent healing and not just a better life after years of therapy that we were still facing.
After the lecture’s conclusion I called my husband crying and full of hope. He trusted this therapy was the real deal and must be God’s leading for Jacob because we had been praying for more direction and because I never react toward organizations that way. Once we started the program, a couple of the moms in the lobby at Brain Balance said they had the same thoughts as they sat crying during one of the lectures.
Just before this I began sending out an email to some of my loved ones giving updates on Jacob’s condition and asking for prayer. The emails were titled “Operation Rescue Jacob”, which is an idea I got from a friend whose son had autism, and years ago she had also sent out group emails asking for prayer.
Jacob went through the program for six months, which is pretty typical. Right from the beginning he began “waking up”, maturing and playing with his sister a bit.
The brain is expected to rapidly change for six to twelve months after the program ends, even longer. And that’s what we’ve seen! So fascinating! Everything that Brain Balance told us would happen with Jacob did happened. They know the brain so well, it’s amazing!
Jacob entered the program one child and came out a different boy, the one he was meant to be, although there is still room for improvement and he continues to improve. While I waited in the lobby those six months, I saw many children come through the door. Some of them were Autistic, some of them had learning problems. When the Autistic children began the program, they behaved one way, not talking to anyone there, yet within weeks they were already changing, smiling and interacting.
This program worked for Jacob! And I suggest that you talk with a Brain Balance Achievement Center. They will tell you whether or not their program is for your child. They know what they’re doing there.
There are various programs out there that have helped other children recover from Autism Spectrum disorders and other developmental delays. Sometimes a child will have an issue with food allergies and this may cause them to be nonverbal. Eliminating the bothersome foods will allow them to sort of “wake up” and begin talking. Or they may improve tremendously through occupational, physical and speech therapies. ABA therapy has done wonders for so many children. With Hemispheric Integration Therapy, after the brain and body’s functions have been fully assessed, the Center tailors a program precisely to the child’s needs. Their method corrects the underlying imbalance, improves function, and reduces, even eliminates negative behaviors. The program encompasses several of the therapies out there into one program.
If you or your child has already recovered from Functional Disconnection Syndrome, that’s wonderful. Praise the Lord! But if you are still in need of some help or you are just starting out in your search, please consider Brain Balance/Hemispheric Integration.
If you choose to have your child go through the program, know that it is not just the coaches who are doing all the work. You will be given a set of exercises to do in your own home program with your child. I encourage you to do them, and do them as often as they say.
You will need to push your child to do the exercises. However, do this with patience, tenderness and gusto at the same time. Be encouraging and build their confidence and self-esteem. Don’t get angry with them. There is a lot going on with these kiddos that we can’t see. You may see a lot of strange behavior in your child as he or she does the exercises. For one thing the brain is changing rapidly and even reacting immediately to the exercises. He or she may also not be doing them like you taught them to, which may be because they are not developed enough to do them correctly. So please don’t be too hard on them.
Make games out of the exercises. I heard one dad had made an obstacle course with his program. With Jacob, we had a fun exercise where we would say, “Okay, another exercise. Raise your arms up, spread them out, then hug me”. He would hug us and try to knock us down. This was great because hugging correctly has always been an issue for him. For a couple months we used cards that had the names of each exercise on them. Then Jacob would pick out which one he wanted to do. When he was no longer required to do the exercise, I would have him find the card with the name of that particular exercise on it, then he could rip it up and throw it away.
The Center suggests that you reward your child with a toy or fun activity after graduating from the program. We did this and gave him small rewards at the end of each week. This motivated Jacob greatly some weeks and only slightly other weeks. We also gave rewards to his little sister because she was putting up with a lot through all this.
WHAT ABOUT SCREEN TIME?
If your child is watching TV, playing video games or utilizing any other form of screen time, Brain Balance will recommend that it is quite limited. It is said that each hour of screen time adds to autism (or learning problems). My son never watched a whole lot of TV, but we still needed to cut back. During the program, and even now, our rule is usually zero to 45 minutes a day and one full movie per week. Whenever Jacob would watch more, he was awful to be around when he was done and his autistic symptoms would become exaggerated for the next couple hours.
In his book Disconnected Kids, Dr. Melillo explains that there is a part of the brain that is affected by violence on TV. During a violent film that part of the brain is actually suppressed or sort of numbed, if you will. It’s been proven that violence on TV can actually cause the brain to not react negatively to it. This can result in dangerous consequences.
By the way, they say that most people have some sort of imbalance in their brains. We’re not all “firing” correctly; It’s just a fact of life. There’s no shame in it. But we can actually improve our brains.
WHEN THE PROGRAM ENDS
We learned the hard way not to stop the exercises cold turkey once Jacob finished the program. We wanted a break for a couple weeks, but it just made things more difficult for everyone. Jacob almost seemed to be regressing, although some temporary regressions are normal, he was having some major meltdowns and felt stressed. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but he just struggled with everything and sobbed and held his head. It was similar to when he used to have such severe sensory processing problems.
So after the program, you’ll be given a new and easy exercise plan. Please continue to do them. After it ended for Jacob, we considered putting him into speech therapy, social skills, or behavior therapy again. However, we quickly recognized that, like Brain Balance told us, by exposing Jacob to other children of all ages, getting out and exploring his world, having life experiences with a balanced lifestyle, and doing the occasional post program exercises, we saw that his brain is continuing to rapidly change. We see that as we teach him about something, such as social nuances, he can now understand what we’re teaching him, rather than always having to use negative or positive reinforcements to get him to behave a certain way.
IS IT WORTH THE DRIVE, TIME AND EFFORT?
Yes! We drove to the Center in another town an hour and ten minutes away three days a week for a one hour session for six months, and it was well worth it. We even did this during a couple snow storms. One mom made the trip from another state, two and a half hours away. Many people have uprooted there lives and moved to a new house or stayed in a hotel to be close to a Center, while they attended the program. They knew this was going to work, and it did. Their dedication is humbling.
Our Center has a binder in the lobby that is full of success stories to read while you wait. Reading these stories gave me hope and confidence that we were doing the right thing. We now know that we did.
IS IT WORTH THE MONEY?
Absolutely! When you break down the total amount by how many therapy, nutrition and testing visits you get, and any times you talk with the coaches there, it’s really not that much per hour. If you compare that to how much money and time you will put into all the separate therapies for the years to come that your child needs for the same issues that Brain Balance can help with, it can still end up being less expensive. This can be the case, even if your insurance covers the other therapies and you only have to pay a co-pay. On top of the fact that going through the program, your child will have a great hope for a future of not living in your basement as an adult and being out on their own instead. This can continue to be costly for many, many years. Before we found out about Brain Balance, we had probably already spent about $15,000 on Jacob’s treatments, even though we had insurance coverage.
MORE MONEY FOR SUPPLEMENTS?
That depends on what you were doing before. The supplements that Brain Balance’s doctor recommended for Jacob were much less expensive than the various supplements he was already on that we had bought in the stores, even though they recommended a supplemental program that was quite similar to it.
By the way, they also put Jacob on Amino Acids that he was not previously on. Once he started on them, there was an even bigger jump in how well he was responding to his therapies. That was good stuff! Of course, they had us do a blood test first to be sure he needed them. Although, they taste terrible, we made him drink them anyway. And they can only be put in water or juice because they can’t be taken with protein.
Jacob cannot have juice because of his issue with oxalates and phenols. And my husband and I just don’t believe in giving the kids juice. The sugars from the fruit enter the blood stream at a rate that is much too fast to process correctly. Jacob drank the aminos anyway, even though they were in water only, and we know they made a huge difference.
Brain Balance also suggests giving your child good brain foods while in therapy there. Cabbage is a great one, and so is red bell pepper. After being in the program for a while, Jacob’s oral issues began diminishing, his appetite expanded and he started wanting cabbage often. That made this Mommy happy.
Brain Balance Achievement Center has found that often times after going through the program for only four weeks after eliminating food allergens or sensitivities, the kiddos have actually stopped being allergic to them. The brain changes so much in that time frame that it sometimes stops an immune system reaction to the foods. However, if the food allergy is hereditary, then it’s in the genes and cannot be changed with therapy.
IS BRAIN BALANCE ACHIEVEMENT CENTER OR HEMISPHERIC INTEGRATION THERAPY RIGHT FOR YOUR CHILD?
It may or may not be for your child, but I encourage you to talk with a Center to find out for sure. They will be able to tell you whether or not your child is a candidate for their therapy. And even if your child has developmental delays that are truly in their genes, Brain Balance still may be able to help cause some new brain development, so that the effects of the disorder are not as severe.
Now that you know your child’s condition can most likely be reversed, there’s no stopping you. Go full force, and make this suffering become a thing of the past! And pray for help along the way.
TO FIND A PROFESSIONAL TRAINED IN HEMISPHERIC INTEGRATION THERAPY OR FUNCTIONAL NEUROLOGY, GO TO:
If you are over the age of 18 and you find that Hemispheric Integration therapy might help with your own developmental issues, you’re in for a real treat. The therapies won’t change who you are. You will actually become a better you and happier with yourself.
I believe this website: http://acnb.org/locator/index.php can also be used to locate a doctor trained in Hemispheric Integration Therapy or Functional Neurology, which is helpful for those who are either over the age of 18 or who don’t have a Brain Balance Achievement Center near them.