By Kay Quinn, Healthbeat Reporter
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - When we saw the commercials, we wanted to know if this could possibly be true.
Children diagnosed with ADD, autism and more who no longer have the symptoms. Can one person hold the key?
NewsChannel 5 talked with many nationwide experts in autism spectrum disorders and met a family who is coming to the end of their sessions at Brain Balance.
The Weilers first heard of Brain Balance in the summer of 2012. Dad Jeremy was very skeptical but agreed to drive an hour from their home in Festus to Edwardsville to hear about Brain Balance. They did it for their almost 10-year-old son, Dawson.
"We started noticing issues with Dawson when he was about 2 ½, 3-years-old," said Jeremy.
As Dawson got older, things only got worse.
Mom Janelle said, "He'd flair his arm out. He'd have major facial tics. He'd throw his head to the side bad enough that he'd give himself migraines."
The Weilers tried family counseling, saw neurologists and tried occupational and physical therapy and, a lot of medication.
"He started his very first med at 3 ½," said Jeremy.
"He wasn't the Dawson that we knew was in there," his mom said.
Then they heard about Brain Balance, a learning center with a program based on the theory of functional disconnectivity.
Dr. Robert Melillo is a researcher based in New York City and is the founder of the program. It is not clinical therapy and it is not medicine. He said, "An imbalance in the brain, especially between the two hemispheres that is actually causing these problems."
He says the program improves communication in the brain.
"Motor activities or sensory stimulation, diet, exercise, academic, cognitive skills that targeted the weaknesses of the underdeveloped side of the brain and this literally causes them to grow," said Dr. Melillo.
He claims an 80 percent success rate for children with mild learning disabilities, processing disorders and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder.
According to the American Psychological Association, "There are no known cures for Asperger's syndrome, ADHD or Tourette's syndrome. There are treatments that can reduce symptoms in some individuals, but no intervention that can eliminate all of the symptoms in most people. Some individuals will 'outgrow' symptoms, but that trajectory is not attributable to any particular clinical intervention."
As for Brain Balance, the APA said it "does not endorse specific therapy techniques; we therefore have no policy position on Brain Balance as a clinical intervention. APA supports the assessment of any psychotherapy technique through well-designed research studies. Applications of all therapy techniques should be based on what is learned through research about their effectiveness with specific clinical populations for specific mental health problems. We also encourage consumers to seek mental health services from licensed providers."
Jeanne Marshall heads autism services for TouchPoint, part of the non-profit organization LifeSkills. It works with people with developmental disabilities.
Dr. Melillo says they get the more than 80 percent success rate from their own studies involving their more than 60 Brain Balance locations nationwide. Marshall says such success with autism spectrum disorders is rare.
"That does not mean you cannot overcome a great deal of the symptoms and characteristics and be extremTouely high functioning and fit into society perfectly well, but I do believe you would always be able to see some of the quirks there," said Marshall.
As for the Weilers, they take Dawson to Brain Balance three times a week and will soon wrap up a full nine months at the center. They could not be happier with how far Dawson has come, largely thanks to his own hard work.
Thursday, February 28, 2013, TouchPoint will host Autism Awareness and Understanding the African American Community. VisitLIFESKILLS for more information and to register for the community education event.