I recently read a book by Dr. Robert Melillo called “Disconnected Kids,” which is about his Brain Balance Program™ to treat neurological disorders such as autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD and dyslexia. He lumps all of these disorders into one category of brain dysfunction, calling it Functional Disconnection Syndrome (FDS), as he believes they are all related.
Dr. Melillo believes that the reasons that we have been seeing such an increase in the percentage of children who are diagnosed with these disorders are due to a lack of physical exercise, too much time spent watching TV and playing computer games, environmental toxins and more incidences of stressful pregnancies and birth, to name a few. All of these factors contribute to brain dysfunction, which he describes as a disconnect between the right and left brain, with one side being less developed (smaller) than the other so that both sides are unable to work in harmony. Some researchers believe that even bipolar disorder and schizophrenia may fall under the FDS diagnosis. His Brain Balance Program is designed to correct this imbalance, which he believes can be fixed by strengthening the weak areas.
According to Dr. Melillo, children with FDS feel different from other kids; they feel disconnected from their bodies and senses and their sense of selves in space, which often causes such symptoms as clumsiness and socialization problems. This disconnection, he believes, can be due to one of the following: (1) a decrease in electrical activity in either of the brain’s hemispheres; (2) a higher-than-normal level of activity in the higher-functioning (larger) brain hemisphere or (3) a combination of decreased activity in the weak hemisphere and increased activity in the higher-functioning hemisphere. Because he believes that the body and mind are co-dependent, this brain imbalance can affect digestion, food sensitivities, the immune system, motor skills and emotional reactions.
To correct this imbalance, Melillo focuses on the weak hemisphere with various exercises through both his program and activities that can be done in the home. He describes this as hemispheric integration therapy.
I found the book to be very interesting and informative, including case studies of children he claims have been cured of some of these disorders, as well as checklists of ways to identify whether or not your child may have a brain deficiency or delay and what side of the brain may be involved. I’m planning to check into this further with some professionals in my area to see if it is possible for this to work with adults, although he does mention in his book that the program is not intended for those with physical brain damage, which my adult son does have. Nevertheless, it does seem to bring a ray of hope, as many of us have come to believe that there is no cure for disorders like autism.