A few months ago, I visited my friend Art Dykstra for lunch on a weekday. Afterwards, we stopped by the church to continue our conversation. While I was there, I met a retired pastor, serving as an associate. He was intriguing to me because he had been with the Navigators for many decades and had lots of adventures in ministry.
As we introduced ourselves, talking about our families and lives, he mentioned to me that he had an autistic grandson that had been tremendously helped by the “Brain Balance” program. He hadn’t been functioning at school very well, and since the program had made some dramatic improvements and was now doing well at university both academically and socially. He suggested I do some research.
Long story short, we are a month into the 6 month program for one of my children. When we first signed up, they loaned me a copy of Dr. Melillo’s first book “Disconnected Kids” which explained what Brain Balance is and what problems it is designed to address. In short, his analysis is that ADHD, Autism, Asperger’s, ODD and Dyslexia is the result of one (or both) of the hemisphere’s of the brain that are underdeveloped and causes the two sides to be “disconnected” from each other. The remedy is to stimulate the hemisphere that is delayed through non-invasive, physical exercises and activities.
He’s been doing this for over 20 years, has several centres around the country, and boasts a 70% success rate among thousands of kids.
“Reconnected Kids” is his follow up book, this time seeking to help families adjust to the new reality of a child’s behaviour during and after the program.
What he says he found was that they could help the child, but really needed to help parents make some positive and healthy changes to their families and homes in order for everyone involved to thrive and grow closer to their potential.
The book opens with a rundown of the typical American family. I was surprised to read such a traditional understanding of life from a non-religious book. He goes on to talk about how the brain of a child develops from a neurological perspective and then explains what happens when it doesn’t follow that normal path.
From there, he takes the time to tediously go through the various stages of development that children go through as they grow physically, emotionally, mentally and psychologically. This matches what is readily available in research, commonly available in Pediatrics. This section includes an assessment to determine if one (or both) hemispheres may need some work.
In the heart of the book, Dr. Melillo tells a bit of his own story and how a personal health crisis “woke him up” to the reality of the brevity of life and motivated him to become much more intentional with the time, talent, passion and treasure he’d been given.
He becomes incredibly detailed and inspirational as he lays out the roadmap for what he’s called “The Family Empowerment Program” to help parents become intentional about their own lives and families. It’s not theory, as he gives examples of families and people that he’s worked with through the program and their success and setbacks.
He’s really laying his heart out, and in my estimation, providing parents something really helpful. This is parenting that we aspire to, and it’s something that provides every opportunity for our children to discover and use the tools for a meaningful life themselves.
The book closes with a brief explanation of the Brain Balance program, along with a chapter of testimonials from parents.
This book spread quite a few seeds in my thinking. They will need a little time to germinate. Much of what he’s advocating for is already part of my habits, but there’s another dimension to it that I hadn’t considered yet.
The main hesitation that I have to implementing all that he recommends is considering how this intersects with the reality of the Spirit-led life of a Christian as described by the New Testament. I’m not sure of the contours of that intersection quite yet. I do believe these ideas are complimentary, but have only seen where they are contradictory in real life.
This means, that I’m considering Jesus afresh, having been given a new perspective to peer at his example through.
If by some chance, Dr. Melillo comes across this, you’ve given parents a precious and valuable gift in your work. Thank you. May the Lord richly bless you.
How about you? Have you heard of Brain Balance? Do you have any experience with it? What parenting resource did you find the most helpful?