Kyle with Mozart playing in left ear only.
First up: Brain re-balancing
There are a lot of snarky “it’s a scam” reviews of Brain Balance out there on the interwebs. I, however, am not writing one of them. I am sharing our experience. I learned about this approach through another biomed mom, who swears up and down its been the single most effective thing she’s tried for her son–and she’s tried everything.
That’s anecdotal evidence. I understand that’s the starting point for good scientific query. Ask a question, form a hypothesis, test it.
Dr Robert DeMellilo is a chiropractor who has done additional study to become a chiropractic neurology specialist. It’s not the same as a Board-certified neurologist, but there is additional education beyond the DC degree. I let you know this up front, so you don’t get your knickers in a twist because he’s not an MD. Because someone’s always going to take the opportunity to sport the twisted knickers.
Dr Mellilo wrote a book called The Disconnected Child, which was my starting point. He theorizes that uneven brain development and maturation are behind a wide range of behavioral and developmental challenges, including ADHD, sensory integration dysfunction, and learning disorders. Poor coherence and communication within the brain stalls everything from reading to growth to immune system regulation. Since we’ve got all that, and more, I was intrigued enough to pursue it.
We ended up at Slone Chiropractic in Fremont, CA. The practice is owned by four brothers, who are all chiropractors AND firefighters. There is an office in Fremont and an office in Sacramento. My boys work with Dr Mike Slone and Dr Dan Slone in Fremont.
Kyle walking backwards and forwards on balance beam and playing catch with Dr Dan
As an aside, my boys have spent years in therapies with lovely, well trained, insightful young women, but they JUMPED at the chance to work with Dr Mike and Dr Dan, getting in some extra sports-focused training, tossing a football…you know, guy stuff. Plus, they’re just fun, nice guys. They grew up in a family of 5 boys and always reassure me, having grown up with just a sister, what’s normal brotherly behavior. WWIII in the family room over control of the TV remote is, apparently, par for the course.
There are more ways to play here…
Dr Mike did the assessment, which was illuminating. There are a battery of tasks you get scored on–how well you walk forward and backward on a balance beam, do you favor your right ear or right eye? One test–where my son was asked to high step along a straight line on tip toes–produced some odd hand posturing as he struggled to coordinate its execution. Not what I expected to see, but very interesting. (That’s resolved as he’s progressed through the therapy.). Dr Mike said it showed how his brain pulled in resources to accommodate a novel and challenging motor task.
The smells…to stimulate olfactory senses and sense memory. Also, strong scents can regulate emotions. I kid you not. A whiff of peppermint or lemon essential oil in the right nostril can just shut down a tantrum. No lie.
The therapy consists of a set series of sensory inputs–smell, touch, sight, sound, balance, timing, right-left coordination, balance– that target the less mature side of the brain. The idea is to strengthen the half that’s weak, then start working on coordinating both sides. Focusing on the weaker side makes it challenging and a little frustrating at the beginning–seriously, if someone tied my right hand behind my back and told me I had to rely on my left hand for everything, I’d be miserable. Time and practice, though, do bring improvements in speed, accuracy and cooperation. It’s not hard anymore, it’s fun.
Bosu ball, vibrational stimulation on left arm, music in left ear, foam paddle in left hand for a game of keep-it-up with a balloon.
What we’ve seen from it
The short coming of my scientific inquiry methods is that I never isolate the variables. Meaning, I never do just one thing at a time. So sue me. We’re burning daylight here; lots of intervention to get through, not a lot of childhood left to do it. My middle son Kyle started a school for kids with learning issues 3 weeks after we started with the Slones. That said, his improvement has been remarkable and has outstripped some of the other kids who started at the same time with similar reading profiles…as in can’t read a lick. After 2 years, Kyle can read, he can write, and his math work is at grade level. One of the kids Kyle started with still can’t read.
These cool shades have tiny little, low level LED lights facing the eye that can be turned on so only the left field of both eyes has extra input.
His coordination and athletic ability have blossomed. When he was 18 months old, he was the kid who would fall down for no reason. We didn’t know what was going on or what exactly the problem was. Initial screening for visual processing issues didn’t turn up anything…but later testing did. Whatever the cause was, it has since evaporated. Kyle has become a daring and graceful skateboarding, a demon trampoline dodgeball player, and a very smooth and confident bike rider. My husband and I are convinced that if we can work to eliminate the shortcomings with additional therapy, he will be a truly gifted athlete. All these skills indicate he possesses a brain that is better able to coordinate incoming stimuli and respond appropriately, to process visual, proprioceptive and auditory input for appropriate response…basically, his ability to think and react has improved by an order of magnitude.
Outside, walking on something called pongo balls, music in left ear, lights on left sides of eyes, playing catch while moving.
My oldest has also done the testing and more than a few sessions with the Slones. He reports better mood regulation, improved posture, less fatigue…and homework is easier. (Insert sound of angels singing Taaaa-daaaa!) Once upon a time, it took my husband most of the weekend to actively coax, scaffold and cheerlead our son through about 30-45 minutes of homework. We did 2 things: 1) moved homework away from home and over to after school study hall and 2) the work with Slone Chiropractic. And now 30-45 mins of homework takes…wait for it…maybe 20-30 mins tops. The kid is a rock star in study hall. His attention is better as well.
Visual tracking work on the computer with Dr Dan
Dr Dan has extra training in the Tomatis method of auditory training. I had considered Berard AIT for Kyle, which is effective but intense, but his epilepsy rules that out. I think the Tomatis method may be what we’re looking for. Heck, I may even try it myself.
Dr Dan adjust the earphones for auditory therapy.
What’s more, for parents with kids on the autism spectrum, I wanted to be sure to mention that Dr Mike recently became certified in ABA and they are currently developing an interdisciplinary therapy that combines the best of ABA with chiropractic neurology and neurological rehabilitation. Powerful stuff, indeed.