Finding the Right Balance
By Alex Distefano
Parents say a holistic approach—no pills, no surgery—to treating autism has improved their children’s lives
Although there is debate about the causes of autism and similar disorders, there is no refuting that the number of children diagnosed within the developmental disorder has risen significantly in this country and around the globe over the past decade.
New information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests autism is on the rise.
And while there is no known cure (the cause or causes of autism are hotly debated), there are several treatment options available. Some opt for psychological counseling, often including medication. Other parents, whose children attend public schools, choose the Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Treatment, based on the concept that behaviors can be taught or conditioned through a system of rewards and consequences. There are also psychological and psychiatric interventions.
But one treatment—which several IE parents have turned to—foregoes the use of medication or invasive medical procedures: the Brain Balance Treatment.
The Brain Balance Treatment is a noninvasive form of therapy for not just autism but also ADHD, Asperger Syndrome, Tourette Syndrome and other disorders. This form of therapy is based on an entirely different approach than most forms of treatment, and has been used for the past 15 years, Rae Stewart, program director of a Brain Balance Achievement Center in Encino, tells the Weekly.
“This is not based on taking any medications, medical procedures or intense counseling sessions,” he says. “But don’t get me wrong—it is not easy and it takes work.”
Autism is typically diagnosed by its symptoms which often include but are not limited to verbal, social, physical and emotional difficulties beginning in early childhood. Some children with autism exhibit erratic hand or body movements, twitches or abnormal interests and obsessions. Many also suffer from hearing issues, gastrointestinal problems, immune system issues and dyslexia, among other problems.
Stewart says Brain Balance centers view autism, Tourette, ADHD and related disorders as being the result of one underlying condition or cause. “[W]e view it as a single condition, known as Functional Disconnection Syndrome,” he says. “To put it simply, this is where the two hemispheres of the brain have not developed at the same rate and have trouble communicating. Our goal is to re-program both sides to be on the same level.
“We do a lot of cognitive brain tests, tests to assess motor skills and abilities, and reflexive movements . . . [and] a myriad of other assessments, including blood work, neurological testing, nutritional and physical tests and more. We take the ‘whole child’ approach to treatment.”
Cherry Valley resident Terry Haman says she turned to a Brain Balance center to help with her 7-year-old son.
“My son, Cayden, was never diagnosed with autism,” Haman says. “He is diagnosed with a condition known as Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).”
SPD is a neurological disorder that causes difficulty in processing sensory information. Problems with sensory processing is an oft-cited symptom of the autism spectrum.
“All of my son’s senses were off,” she says. “The biggest challenge we had, and still face, is getting him to eat; he hated all food and still does.”
Haman says she noticed Cayden’s problems when he was a toddler. Haman would later discover that her son had dyslexia. By age 4, Cayden would exhibit uncontrollable outbursts of anger, had difficult sleeping and vomited frequently over the sight or smell of most foods.
After undergoing a year-long program at a Brain Balance center, Haman says Cayden began improving.
Haman said Brain Balance first got on her radar after she read a book titled Disconnected Kids by Dr. Robert Melillo, founder of the Brain Balance treatment and centers.
“It seemed like [the Brain Balance Treatment] would not hurt and we had already tried everything else.”
The treatment wasn’t easy, Haman says, and her insurance didn’t cover the cost. The treatment focused on academics, nutrition, exercises and skills to improve cognitive function and motor skills.
Cayden’s life has changed dramatically.
“Although it was a struggle to commit to the program, do the exercises and change our diets, it was worth it,” she says. “I notice a difference in his personality, he got a reading tutor and is no longer dyslexic and can now sleep an entire night.”
In addition, Cayden has nearly no anxiety issues, his coordination and attention span have improved, his eye contact with others has increased—and he laughs more.
“All of this, with just the Brain Balance Treatment, no medicines . . . I would do the same thing again for Cayden. This program worked for our family.”