Local family looks outside of medication for answers
All kids face some degree of struggle in school, at home, and in life as they grow older. Some specific challenges may include academic issues, social or behavioral issues, inability to focus, tantrums, struggles with learning and more.
Brain Balance is a non-medical comprehensive program that addresses this wide range of issues. The goal is to help children build skills for improved academic achievement, social integration, interpersonal engagement, and other behavioral objectives or targets.
Dr. Robert Melillo, who founded The Brain Balance Program, contends that “deficits” in the brain occur when the brain isn’t “balanced.”
The brain’s left hemisphere not only controls muscles on the right side of the body, it also governs logic, reasoning, and analysis. The right hemisphere controls muscles on the body’s left side and is home to abstract thinking tied to emotions, intuition, and creativity.
According to Dr. Melillo, when the brain’s hemispheres don’t communicate equally and at full capacity, it leads to underdeveloped areas that cause deficits in learning and behavior.
In 2004, Dr. Melillo published “Neurobehavioral Disorders of Childhood: An Evolutionary Perspective”, described as “a working theory textbook on developmental disabilities.” He later developed The Brain Balance Program and, subsequently, Brain Balance Achievement Centers, based on his research and work with more than 1,000 children in his private program.
Dr. Melillo’s approach is based on the theory of “functional disconnection,” when the left and right sides of the brain miscommunicate based on the transmission of partial information. He proposes stimulating underdeveloped areas of the brain through Brain Balance’s program.
The program involves activities to develop sensory motor skills and cognitive skills, conduct daily at-home exercises, and improve healthy nutrition habits. The idea is to bring the brain’s hemispheres into “balance.”
Dr. Melillo has also published “Reconnected Kids,” “Disconnected Kids,” “Autism,” and “The Disconnected Kids Nutrition Plan.”
Disconnected Kids” resonated with Lorne and Angie Hupp, parents of three biological children and four foster children they adopted. After being exposed to foster children labeled with numerous behavioral disorders, such as ADHD, OCD, ODD and RAD, The Hupps “felt helpless on how to help these children in their home.”
They sought outside resources to help supplement their parenting and researched different treatment options. Their foster/adopt experience led them to Brain Balance.
A vast number of expensive treatment programs and centers exist in the marketplace. They address a disparate range of learning and behavioral issues. Like the Hupps, it makes sense to exercise due diligence, conduct thorough research, ask questions about medical and non-medical treatment options and evaluate any certifications and credentials before making decisions.
“We read Dr. Melillo’s book and it made sense,” Lorne Hupp says. “The testimonies from a vast number of Brain Balance parents validated it all for us. We knew that we had to bring The Brain Balance Program to Zona Rosa so we could help the many struggling children and families within our local community.”
“Brain Balance offers hope,” Angie Hupp says. “We tried everything from physical therapy to vision therapy with little to minimal results. We know first-hand what that is like. Our child was struggling. Our entire family was struggling. We didn’t want to medicate her. The program was life-changing for our kids and our family.”
Dr. Melillo established Brain Balance Achievement Centers in 2006. The franchise consists of 130 centers nationwide and has enrolled tens of thousands of children each year. The Hupps opened their Brain Balance Achievement Center in Zona Rosa in 2016.
Rather than treating symptoms, Lorne Hupp asserts, “Brain Balance addresses the root of the problem.”
Again, the theory is that the problem lies in a “functional disconnection” between each side of the brain.
Potential candidates, typically ranging in age from 4 to 17, begin with a detailed three-hour initial comprehensive assessment to identify areas of needed improvement. Based on the assessment, a plan is drafted to address the child’s specific issues.
“The assessment gives the parent answers to why their child is struggling, identifying areas of weakness and strength,” Angie Hupp says. “We can then determine a specific plan to help the child overcome their struggles.”
Brain Balance maintains a database of information gathered from assessments of thousands of children that have enrolled in the program. Program directors at Brain Balance use that database as a “good predictor of the length of a program,” Lorne Hupp says, when compared to an individual child’s assessment for strengths and weaknesses in the evaluated areas.
Once the after-school program begins, the child receives active support from Brain Balance coaches and the child’s family. Typically, children undergo a three- to six-month program, depending on their needs and the findings of the initial assessment. Coaches conduct one-hour sessions at the center three times per week. The frequency is designed to ensure the child demonstrates improvement.
Parents receive reports on the child’s performance at conferences after every 12 sessions. Brain Balance coaches also coordinate with the child’s classroom teacher to build an understanding of the child’s needs. A follow-up assessment is conducted 12 to 18 months after program sessions are completed to evaluate progress.
Parents have access to support resources from Brain Balance. A dietitian is available through a private Facebook group to address questions. Parents can access a nationwide network of families that use Brain Balance for support.
The Hupps shared anecdotes from parents that have enrolled children in the Brain Balance program.
“The seven months we were in the Brain Balance program were some of the hardest months we have walked through,” Shari Kohne wrote. “I had the support of other parents while I was waiting during the sessions. I had the support of the Brain Balance staff and coaches. I finally knew that I was not alone in my struggles. I had support on our accomplishments and our setbacks. Finally, I saw that my children were making connections I had never seen before. The disconnect was slowly disappearing and to my astonishment, our family was beginning to heal and move forward in a healthy transformation. My hope for their future has never been greater. I have seen a genuine happiness and maturity that I have never thought could come from children with such a battered past.”
Jennifer Magers’ son Jack was tested for ADHD and prescribed medication before enrollment in Brain Balance.
“Jack went through a 36-hour program with Brain Balance,” Magers wrote. “The staff and coaches there were amazing. I could see the results in his performance and attention levels immediately. His realization came more gradually. He just noticed one day that he was paying attention and following along in class, which was making it easier to get better grades and school was magically easier for him. Jack is now medication-free and doing amazingly well in high school.”
As local business owners and parents of children that complete the Brain Balance program, the Hupps are devoted to helping kids.
“When a child is struggling, the whole family is impacted. We feel so blessed to be able to help children in our community overcome their struggles and to ultimately see families restored. It is truly amazing. ” Lorne Hupp adds. “Brain Balance is mission-driven to help kids and their families.”
Brain Balance – Zona Rosa
8602 N. Dixon Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64153