Chicago Parent Magazine features Brain Balance Center of Vernon Hills in their May 2010 issue:
‘Brain balance’ may hold answers for autism, ADHD, other developmental disabilities
- By Rick A. Richards
Monday, April 26, 2010
“We actually noticed differences at 3 to 4 weeks,” Reiter says. As Jack grew, Reiter realized her son didn’t do the things her daughter Catelyn did at that same age-point, clap, respond to voices.
She didn’t know what was wrong, but she knew there was a problem and started looking for answers. She won’t say exactly what his diagnosis is, to avoid labeling him, but after years of doctor visits, counseling and medical tests, Reiter and her husband, Adam, found an answer.
It came when Brain Balance opened an office in Vernon Hills just over a year ago. She immediately enrolled Jack. Now in the third grade, he is, in her words, “blossoming.”
Brain Balance has been around for more than 15 years. The company, started in New York, is founded on research led by Robert Melillo, a chiropractic neurologist, that looked at the developmental “balance” between the left and right lobes of the brain. It has since spread to 15 locations around the country, with seven centers scheduled to open this year.
According to Jeremy Fritz, executive director of the Vernon Hills office, Melillo’s research suggests that an imbalance between the two lobes of the brain may be the root cause of such disorders as ADD/ADHD, dyslexia, Tourette syndrome, autism and Asperger’s syndrome. Fritz says Brain Balance lumps each of those under the general heading of “functional disconnection syndrome.”
How they find a balance
The Vernon Hills office is bright, airy and full of classrooms, testing rooms and an area for physical activity. All of it, says Fritz, is used to assess and analyze specifically what a child’s problem might be and then create a specific course of action to mitigate the imbalance.
“You have to look at the brain as a muscle,” says Fritz. In the case of a child with a learning or attention deficit, one lobe of the brain has been exercised as it should and the other hasn’t.
“Let’s say you have a 10-year-old child. We will conduct tests on each lobe of the brain to find out where they are in relation to their age,” Fritz says.
For instance, tests could involve tactile stimulation or smells. More pleasant smelling items stimulate the left side of the brain and stronger, less pleasant odors stimulate the right lobe.
The child’s response to those smells is just one test that helps Fritz determine the age of the brain.
“There could be a three-year difference between the child’s age and the response of the brain. … We call it the maturity gap,” says Fritz, noting that essentially the two halves of the brain are not in sync.
Once the maturity gap is determined, computer skills, math and writing exercises and in some cases, a special diet, are set up. And, says Fritz, it’s done without medication.
Medication too often treats the symptom and in so doing, masks the problem, he says.
“I think the biggest disappointment I have is the number of kids being medicated. No parent wants to medicate their kid. This is not to say there’s something wrong with medication, but you need to try a program without medication.”
Amanda Wright, a sensory motor coach at Brain Balance, says by the time parents come to Brain Balance, they’ve been dealing with the problem for years and are frustrated.
“That’s because everywhere they’ve gone, the symptoms have been treated and not the problem,” she says. “We go through all of this stuff to find out where the real problem is. Once you treat the problem, the symptom could take care of itself.”
She and two other coaches spend their day in hour-long, one-on-one sessions with children. Half the session is spent in the sensory room and half in the academic room.
“Everything we do here is to strengthen the weaker side of the brain,” she says. “If you hurt your arm and need to strengthen your bicep, you don’t exercise your leg.”
In the case of ADD or autism, Wright says that once both sides of the brain are in balance, the symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity or inability to speak or express emotions can diminish greatly.
Fritz and Wright both say treatment at Brain Balance has to include the entire family.
“Parents can have some issues, especially fathers,” says Wright. “Some of the parents of the kids we have are in denial. They just don’t want to accept their child has a problem.”
Fritz explained that one of the goals of Brain Balance is to treat children so the things they see and hear are translated properly by the brain.
“The greatest satisfaction for me is seeing the difference our program makes in the lives of children, being able to see a parent who comes in hopeless and leaves with understanding and a child who is learning,” Fritz says.
Reiter sings the praises of Brain Balance but warns the process is not quick or easy.
“When I first started this, I felt like I was alone. Coming to Brain Balance, I realize I’m not. There are people here to help my son, and I can talk to other mothers going through the same thing,” she says.
Reiter has become so enthusiastic about the progress her son has made, she has begun setting up panel discussions about the Brain Balance program.
Contact Brain Balance Center of Vernon Hills in the Chicago area to learn more!
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