It’s been a few months now since we left Brain Balance after Maegan’s program and we are still talking about the great things Brain Balance has done to improve our lives. I say our lives because what Maegan goes through we all go through. Maegan has always been a happy-go-lucky girl. She developed normally from infancy through early learning years, but we knew she was developing differently than her twin sister. She was physically more active and less afraid of doing things that seemed risky or dangerous. When we enrolled the girls in a preschool run by Franciscan nuns, the nuns would always tell us that they used every trick possible to keep Maegan from getting up throughout the day or during circle time. When she started kindergarten, she showed the same behaviors of fidgeting and disrupting the class with her constant need to keep moving, touching things or not following instruction and at times throwing fits during class. She had to be removed from her classroom several times during the year and placed in the pre-school classes on those days. Maegan would come home crying saying she was placed in the baby classes because she was behaving like a baby. We would discipline her at home only to see her do the same thing over and over again with some good weeks and some very bad weeks. First grade was a lot like Kindergarten, but fewer bad weeks as she started to make friends and socialize more. Challenges at home were similar to challenges in school. She would often get frustrated when she could not figure out the answers to homework on her own. She would throw fits and toss her books and pencil across the table and refuse to complete the homework. Maegan would cry hysterically and it would take her hours to finish her homework assignments when her sister would do it on her own and in a fraction of the time. This would frustrate Maegan even more. Before 1st grade was over we received Maegan’s Tera Nova test scores (these are the state-wide academic tests) and we were disappointed to see Maegan score in the 15th to 25th percentile of the average scores of a 1st grader. The teacher told us she never finished the exam because she got frustrated and simply stopped trying. We were all worried about Maegan at that point and realized this was not a maturity problem, but that this was a much bigger problem so we took her to the pediatrician for an evaluation. That’s when she was diagnosed her with ADHD. Now we knew what the issue was and we went looking for help. That’s when I found Brain Balance. When we started Brain Balance Maegan was often too afraid to try new things and was too afraid to read out loud. She would read very slowly and often lose her place on the page. She was easily distracted and was difficult for us to bring her back to continue the task of reading. Maegan was skeptical at first, and honestly so were we, but we had to try something to help her. We started her sessions during the summer break and she enjoyed going to each session. Some days she would say she was working really hard and other days she would say she had a lot of fun. Her twin sister Lauren would wait outside and play with the toys and she also enjoyed going to BB each day with her sister. Mid-way through the sessions I could already see a change in Maegan. She was eager to read and she was reading much better. She was attempting to sound-out words when before she would wait for me to sound them out for her. Maegan was also not afraid to do new things anymore. I was amazed with her new found confidence in herself. Maegan continued BB into the early part of her 2nd grade and she started the year with a better view of herself. At this point she was assigned a school aide to her class as part of the school program. Her aide happened to be the aide that was with her during Kindergarten. After the first week in school, the aide pulled my husband aside and mentioned that she had seen a tremendous change in Maegan. She said she did not fidget during class, she didn’t disrupt the class and that she was indeed a better reader. She asked us what we had done to achieve such changes and we said Brain Balance. We are now mid-way through 2nd grade and Maegan still has her days but she and her teachers tell us she’s able to manage herself out of those situations better. What would take her hours to get through an emotional breakdown now only takes 10 minutes at most. She knows and is aware of those situations and tries her best to avoid them. It’s a work in progress but we know this is now easier for her and us to deal with thanks to Brain Balance. As she grows older and deals with different situations, I will always think back at what Brain Balance has taught us about ADHD and I would not think twice about putting her through another session with BB if we think it will help her again. We enjoyed the teaching sessions with Dr. Milello and Dr. Scire – they both offered great learning and tips on how to deal with Maegan’s issues. Thank you to the team that was so patient and kind with Maegan. Maegan continues to ask me to bring her back to say hi to her teachers. She has her star posted to her wall to remind her of all the great things she’s achieved! See you all soon… Yours truly, Sharon B.
Joseph is a sweet, very active 10 year-old boy. Joseph was diagnosed with Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAP), and he had difficulty focusing and attending in the classroom. It wasn’t until the summer going into the 4th grade that I noticed his auditory processing was getting in the way of his keeping up with conversations among his peers. It was heartbreaking for me to watch him and know he wanted to contribute, but just couldn’t get the words together in time. I knew I had to do something, and more tutors were just not the answer. We needed to make a change from within. We were referred to Brain Balance (BB) by a fellow soccer mom. We used to share our concerns for our boys sideline every Saturday, and when she enrolled her son, I began to learn more about BB. My curiosity was peaked: After reading extensively about BB we decided to have our son, Joseph, tested. The test validated many issues and behaviors and actually made a lot of sense in terms of why Joseph would react to certain situations. As it turned out Joseph was holding onto many primitive reflexes. We enrolled Joseph with the main goal of improving his oral expression, ability to focus and attend in the classroom, and his reading comprehension. At first, the program was very daunting, but as my mother always said, “you eat an elephant piece by piece,” and we did. We embraced all the demands and routines immediately as there was no time to waste if we wanted to get the most out of this program. Within two weeks, we had our routine down: we did exactly what was recommended as far as exercises, class attendance and diet. Oddly enough, I thought Joseph would give me a problem going to sessions 3 times/wk, but he loved it! I always got an “Awesome!” when I asked, “How was your session?” He loved each instructor, and they really seemed to keep the kids engaged and motivated. We started seeing positive and negative changes a third of the way through the program. One big positive change was that Joseph started asking more questions about everything, almost like a switch was turned on and he began to notice his surroundings in a whole new way. His teachers noticed a better focused Joseph, and his eye contact was improving. As we had been warned, there was also some regressive behavior (the negative) that was very evident and persistent for a good 4-5 weeks. He became argumentative and obstinate as if he was revisiting his terrible 3’s. We weren’t too worried as we were advised to hang in there while his right hemisphere was actually playing catch up with the other side, and it eventually did. Since Joseph has completed the program he has achieved increased focus and attention in class and at home, is better able to follow written directions, his eye contact is fantastic, his oral expression has greatly improved, and he increased multiple grade levels in areas more specific such as math and reading. He is also more willing to share his experiences with other adults and friends and isn’t as shy. Although we were not looking for increased athletic ability, his hand eye coordination and balance have greatly improved. It is too difficult to pick just one, single-most-important change because there are so many. However, I would say it is Joseph’s overall awareness of where he is and his ability to follow the conversation or topic in the room. In the past he would either drift off or simply walk away as it was too overwhelming. Now he get’s it! We can really see he is following the conversation and shows sincere interest. The best advice I could give anyone considering the program: it is a lot of work, but do exactly what is recommended for your child. There are no excuses for 12 weeks: do the exercises, don’t cheat (you are only cheating your child), stick with it and you will see the results. It really works. This is one of those many commitments in life that truly is you only get out of what you put in. Remember, it’s only 12 weeks! I remember our last session riding up the mountain to Summit and Joseph said “Wow I can’t believe this our last time, this went really fast!” As parents, we will do anything to help our children, and this program pushes the limit, but the reward is priceless. We got so lucky to find such a great program that works, but we also were very fortunate to work with Betsy and her very professional staff. Betsy’s thorough knowledge and experience was always a great source of support. Erin who runs the office was always pleasant and knowledgeable and if she didn’t know the answer she would always get back to me in a timely manner. Sara Ann and Chrissy are wonderful educators who were tough but kind and supportive and always motivating Joseph to try harder. Lastly, Casey went over the top to help with Joseph’s elimination diet, and my endless nutrition questions. She was always suggesting new foods or web sites and couldn’t have been more supportive. Overall, it was very obvious the Summit Brain Balance staff truly cares for their students and they were integral in Joseph’s success at Brain Balance.
Our daughter “Sam” had been suffering with a multitude of issues from a very young age that were getting worse and worse with each passing year – severe anxiety, phobias, frequent temper tantrums, poor eating and sleeping habits, sensory issues, and learning disabilities. In the fall of 2009, she began pulling out her eyelashes at the age of seven, and we began a three-year journey into a disorder called trichotillomania. We sought help for our daughter from numerous health care professionals such as psychologists, social workers, neurologists, and psychiatrists, trying cognitive behavioral therapy, habit reversal training, and ultimately, medication. They all kept saying, “it’s anxiety…” but we felt it was deeper-rooted than that. Anxiety lived inside something else going on in her brain. I read a lot of information online and came across Dr. Melillo’s book, Disconnected Kids. It caught my eye as a revolutionary new approach to treating kids with emotional, social, and academic problems – all issues we were dealing with! At that time, I put the book aside and continued conventional measures, but still saw no real improvement. After a meeting with her IEP team last spring, after a year of her being pulled out to a resource room for her learning disabilities, we decided we needed a new plan. After seeing an add in a Kid’s Guide booklet in my pediatrician’s office for the Brain Balance Center in Summit, I was brought back to a feeling that Dr. Melillo’s approach might be the answer we were looking for. The owner, Betsy, and her staff of coaches there were so knowledgeable and supportive. Everything made sense – we were impressed with the testing process and the in-depth individualized instruction we received there. Most importantly, Samantha thrived with each passing week! She became more focused, calm, and confident. At some point during the course of the program, it was like a light switched on and eyelashes began to come in! By the end of the program, the eyelashes are fully grown in, and we have not seen any evidence of the trichotillomania returning. We had tried everything before, and have no other explanation than that Brain Balance works! We now have a confident, thriving, ten-year-old daughter. As in all parts of life, there is always room for improvement, but we have to say that Brain Balance changed our family’s life and we are forever grateful.
Nicholas was a healthy 9 year-old boy the March he was injured. That night he began making noises that I assumed were a soothing mechanism. Within a few days he sounded like a car horn. It was at that point that Tourette’s Syndrome became all too familiar to me. In June of 2011, he was officially diagnosed. Within a week, I saw an ad for Brain Balance Centers in a magazine. I mentioned it to him, and he was all for trying it. In August 2011, he began his first program term. By the time the 12 weeks were up in November, Nicholas had made great improvements in regards to the exhibiting of tics, as well as improved confidence and socialization. Because tics have been known to peek during the middle school years, we decided to enroll him in a second session to try to “get ahead of the game.” At that time, Nicholas was only exhibiting some mild grunting, unnoticeable to others around him. In March 2012, he began his second program term at Brain Balance. Throughout this session he continued to improve functionally, as well as socially. He also continued to perform well in school. During a class game on his second day of school this year – new school, new classmates, new teachers – Nicholas told his class something unique about himself: he has Tourette’s Syndrome. He did this on his own, his decision, his way. It was a huge difference from me having to be in the room the prior year and explaining it to his classmates while he sat quietly next to me, looking down. His confidence had grown over the year in that he wasn’t ashamed of having Tourette’s and wasn’t letting it get in his way. I had tears in my eyes when he told me after school. Tears, because this disorder is not my friend, but also because my little boy has accepted this disorder into his life and he is giving it his all to overcome it. That has been our philosophy since day one – this is not going to stop him from doing anything that he wants to do. For any parent who sees the ad for Brain Balance and thinks it’s going to be a quick & easy fix: I’m telling you that you’re wrong. It is not going to be easy. What it is going to be is an intense 12 weeks for you & your child. The home exercises need to be done to enhance the program; the music needs to be listened to; the elimination diet needs to be followed without cheating; the positive reinforcement needs to be there; the patience needs to be there; your child needs to see that you believe in this program. The progress may be slow in the beginning but then all of a sudden you will blink and see that positive changes have been made right before your eyes. Your child will balk at the idea of the elimination diet (you may, too – you need to get creative!), but the differences you may see as a result of it all will be your reward. Quick, easy – not at all – but so worth it. We enrolled my son in two 12 week sessions because we saw such a positive change and knew that there was room for more growth & development. We took the challenge full force both times, had the blood work done again as our choice and followed through with the elimination diet again as our choice. Yes, it was tough. Yes, he fought going to the sessions at times because he wanted free time. Yes, he cried at times during the elimination diets. Yes, it was worth it. Yes, I would do it again. Looking back at our time with our Brain Balance family, I am so happy that we gave the program a chance. It has made such a positive impact on Nicholas. As of today, he is ‘tic free’ with the exception of the pencil twirling that is just sticking with him and some very seldom, random noises – but I’ll take it! He is still the same happy child that walked into the program making noises, but he walked out with the confidence to speak about Tourette’s Syndrome for himself and continue his journey to overcome it. The staff in the Summit Center has been so amazing from that first day we walked into their office. The support from each and every one of them as Nicholas gained success was genuine and unconditional. Once he was there, he enjoyed his sessions and built a relationship with each one of them throughout our 24 weeks with them. Nicholas finished the program months ago, yet their support is still there if I need it. It’s a great feeling to know they are vested in each and every child who walks through their door. Janet L. Post-Script Wow time flies! It has been 15 months since my son completed his second program term with Brain Balance. 6th grade starts in three days and he has admitted that he is alittle nervous. He is entering unchartered water, so to speak, as he has been in this school for a year but had his grade/classroom separate from the older kids – so basically he isn’t familiar with navigating the crowded hallways at all. So, we start the year with some anxiety for both of us. Anxiety for me started a couple of months ago wondering what tics will rear their ugly head right before September and interfere with a smooth start, and then wondering how we were going to deal with them. I have not mentioned my concerns to Nicholas because I didn’t want him to start dwelling on it. I wonder if he had the same concerns. I am THRILLED to report that Nicholas continues to be tic free. The mild tics he had over the year were not even noticeable to someone watching him that they were in fact tics. To his teachers they were just everyday ‘movements’ that didn’t draw attention to him (he would try to crack his neck over & over – something I think everyone does, he just did it more often!) So as Nicholas starts this next chapter in his middle school saga, he can do it with more confidence in himself because he isn’t meeting new teachers and friends with a tic on his shoulder. He can be free to be himself instead of having the pressure of trying to cover up something he doesn’t want anyone to see. It will be on his terms if he shares that he has Tourette’s with his friends. However, I have a feeling that that decision won’t have to be made just yet. Nicholas’ Neurologist told me that he would try medication if his tics became difficult for him to be in a classroom environment, embarrassed him or affected his way of life. For us, medication was not an option at that point as he wasn’t exhibiting extreme tics. He told me I didn’t need to go back to him unless I decided to medicate him – he had Tourette’s, medication was the only answer to possibly getting the tics under control. I haven’t seen that Doctor since that day in June 2011…and I don’t ever plan to. If I brought him in now he would have no basis to diagnosis that Nicholas has Tourette’s – there simply aren’t any signs anymore. Medication was not the only answer and I discovered that in a magazine article I found about Brain Balance Centers within a week of his diagnosis. Again, I can’t thank the staff at Brain Balance in Summit enough for their ongoing support of Nicholas…and us. Yes, even 15 months later they are there if I have questions, there to support us and be happy in his success – their success through this program. As a parent there are times when we have to let go and put our trust into someone else’s hands who are more informed, more educated and more experienced. It’s been two years since that August morning when I walked through the doors of Brain Balance with so many questions, a lot of hesitation and all my hopes for my son put into their program…it’s been two years that I put my son into their hands and they’ve never dropped him, never let us down, never made us regret it. And by us, I am including Nicholas. He sees the positive difference the program made in his life and has said many times that he’s glad he went through it. I can’t say it enough – the Brain Balance program is a program that just should be tried for the sake of any child, tried before medication if possible. It is a journey for you & your child that you will no doubt cherish when you see the positive changes in your child. Like I said, it’s not an easy journey but one that is so worth the sweat & yes, the tears.
My son was an easy-going loving boy until he turned 3. Then something changed. He couldn’t stay still and would get very aggressive and abusive. We started getting phone calls from school. That’s when we started looking for a reason and a solution. A Psychologist evaluation, occupational therapist evaluation, neurologist evaluation, the list is never ending. By the time he turned 7, we finally got an ADHD and Sensory Disorder diagnosis. When I was browsing the bookstore, I came across “Disconnected Kids”. I read the first 10 pages in the store, went home, found the closest Brain Balance Center to us and called them. We started the program 2 months later. Can I say he’s a completely different child now that he’s done with the program- no, he’s not. But the small changes that happened throughout the program are amazing. The child, who would only eat one meal a day, forcefully, because he was never hungry, now eats 3-4 times a day. He experiments with his food, and eats foods I never thought he would touch. The child, who never liked to be hugged or kissed (couldn’t stand the skin to skin contact), now hugs and kisses me every day. The child, who used to have tantrums because he couldn’t get what he wanted, now rationalizes, and asks me what he can do to earn what he wants. The child, who I used to spend 2 hours trying to catch so he could do his homework, now comes home and sits down to do his homework all by himself. This is just a small portion of the changes we see. If you look at each change separately- it doesn’t look like a big deal, but all of them together have made our life so much easier. Now I have a mature 8-year old boy, who I can have full and interesting conversations with, who understands his responsibilities, and follows through with his promises. The Summit Brain Balance Center has people who really care about your child and kids feel that. My son loved going there, and not once complained that he wouldn’t go. Would I do it again, now that I see the results? In a heartbeat.