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The proven, drug-free program to treat the cause-not just the symptoms-of autism spectrum disorders and related conditions.
Each year, an estimated 1.5 million children-one out of every six-are diagnosed with autism, Asperger's syndrome, ADHD, dyslexia, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Dr. Robert Melillo brings a fundamentally new understanding to the cause of these conditions with his revolutionary Brain Balance Program(tm). It has achieved real, fully documented results that have dramatically improved the quality of life for children and their families in every aspect: behavioral, emotional, academic, and social. Disconnected Kids shows parents how to use this drug-free approach at home, including:
?Fully customizable exercises that target physical, sensory, and academic performance
?A behavior modification plan
?Advice for identifying food sensitivities that play a hidden role
?A follow-up program that helps to ensure lasting results
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Dr. Robert Melillo, the creator of Brain Balance Program™, is an internationally known chiropractic neurologist, professor, researcher, and expert in childhood neurological disorders. He has been in private practice since 1985 and opened his first Brain Balance Center™ on Long Island, New York, in 1998. There are now 66 centers across the country, with more opening ocerseas in the coming year. His study, “Autism Spectrum Disorder as a Functional Disconnection Syndrome – a Model for Rehabilitation” will be published in The International Journal of Neuroscience later this year.
Dr. Melillo is president of the Foundation for Cognitive Neuroscience and executive director of the F.R. Carrick Institute for Clinical Ergonomics, Rehabilitation and Applied Neurosciences, a non-profit university-based brain research center dedicated to researching methods and products to assist victims of brain injury, chronic pain, and other neurological and neuro-behavioral challenges. He lives in Rockville Centre, New York, with his wife and three children.
I dedicate this book first and foremost to my wife, Carolyn, and my children, Robby, Ellie, and Ty—I love you all, you are my life’s true inspiration and the foundation of all I am and all I do. Second, to my parents, Catherine and Joseph, for all their love and support. Third, to my sister, Susan, and my brother, Domenic, and all of their families: Bill, Susan, Billy, Jeffrey, Katie, Colleen, Joey, Alexandra, Olivia, and Nick. You all have played a role in this accomplishment, and I love you all. I would like to thank Janet Groschel and Gerry Leisman for their professional inspiration and support, and Debora Yost for all her help, advice, expertise, and patience. Last but not least, I would like to thank my agent, Carol Mann, and her staff, and all those in my Brain Balance family, especially my nephew and partner, Billy Fowler. You have all helped greatly in the development of this book, the Brain Balance Program, and the Brain Balance Achievement Centers. A special thanks to Denise Festa, who started me on this journey all those years ago.
Stopping the Worst Childhood Epidemic of Our Time
I keep on picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around—nobody big, I mean—except me. I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff. I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.
—J. D. SALINGER, THE CATCHER IN THE RYE
We live in a world and a time of great contradiction. On the one hand, we are experiencing unprecedented advances in technology. The world’s information is literally at our fingertips. We can access high-tech entertainment on a giant screen in a flash. We can communicate with anyone anywhere in the world with a smartphone.
Yet at the same time, we are experiencing an alarming escalation in the number of children who cannot fully function in this world because they don’t have fully functioning brains. Today, there are some 21 million children who have been diagnosed with severe attention, behavioral, or learning problems. Every day thousands more are being diagnosed with ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia, Tourette syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, or other frightening conditions that confirm that something is not right in the brain.
This is an unprecedented phenomenon and the most important health issue of our time. Just a generation ago, autism was considered a rare disorder that was diagnosed in about 1 out of every 10,000 children born in the United States. Six years ago, when I first published Disconnected Kids, 1 out of 150 children was being diagnosed with autism. Today, the rate of children being diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder is 1 in 68, including 1 out of every 42 boys. Other conditions are skyrocketing at a similar rate. ADHD is now considered the most common childhood health problem of any kind worldwide and the most common childhood mental issue, with kids as young as three years old being prescribed Ritalin or Adderall. These statistics are making headline news everywhere almost daily, yet no one is explaining why. Why is this happening? How can we stop it? What can we do about it?
When I first started researching neurobehavioral disorders back in the nineties as a parent of a child with ADHD and as a neurology expert, I was very frustrated by the lack of good, accurate information that could explain what was happening in a child’s brain. When I asked professionals, I got vague answers about chemical imbalances and genetics and little else. When I read books, I found that they all said the same things. They reviewed the symptoms and then related a number of case histories and examples. They talked about basic treatment with medications. They said these conditions were mostly genetic and couldn’t be cured. That was about it. They never clearly stated what the actual problem was and how it produced the symptoms of ADHD, autism, dyslexia, and other disorders. In fact, they were even unclear as to what the actual symptoms of these disorders are.
I began to realize that the lack of real concrete answers was due to the fact that they didn’t have real facts as to what these problems are and what is causing them. I could find no single, established neurological theory that was accepted and used in the scientific or educational community. What I did know and could clearly see was that the problem was increasing dramatically. It was obvious to me that whatever we were doing was not working.
Einstein once said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. After a while I realized that the reason I was having difficulty finding an answer was because there is not a single answer.
Childhood neurological dysfunctions share many features in common and are often referred to as learning disabilities or behavioral disorders, implying that the primary symptoms affect only behavior and that the rest of development proceeds smoothly and without incident. This is not the case. Each disorder is complex and often involves every system of the body. Science, however, doesn’t take a whole body approach to seeking a solution. It has been searching for a solution by focusing on what appears to be the major issue. With ADHD, they say it’s an attention problem or impulsiveness. Dyslexia is a reading problem. Autism is a socialization and communication problem. No one has been looking at the other issues these children have—problems that could help provide clues to the underlying cause. But I did, and I could see that they involve every system in the body, not just the brain. That’s how the Brain Balance Program was born.
These disorders may manifest with different symptoms but they are really one and the same problem: a brain imbalance. There is even a name for it—Functional Disconnection Syndrome, meaning areas in the brain, especially the two hemispheres of the brain, are not electrically balanced, or synchronized. This electrical imbalance interferes with the ability of the two hemispheres to share and integrate information, meaning the brain cannot function as a whole. The result is that a child with a brain imbalance has normal or even unusually good skills associated with the higher-functioning area or side of the brain, and unusually bad skills associated with the underactive area or side of the brain. The problem seems to come about because one side of the brain is maturing at a faster rate than the other. As the child develops, this imbalance becomes more significant and the two hemispheres can never fully function as one. The brain is functionally disconnected. Fix the disconnect—that is, get the immature side of the brain to catch up to the other side—and the symptoms go away. So does the disorder.
This is what the Brain Balance Program does and why it is so revolutionary. Despite the program’s success and all the scientific studies proving how and why it works, most professionals have not changed. They are still approaching and treating each of these conditions as a single condition—and they are content to only treat the symptoms, instead of arresting the problem. I have found that most of these children have a combination of many different symptoms that include sensory, motor, cognitive, academic, emotional, and immune challenges, as well as dietary and digestive problems. As I said, they involve basically every system of the body.
The Brain Balance Program addresses all these symptoms by stimulating the slow side of the brain without affecting the other side through a series of sensory-motor and sensory-academic exercises that address the symptoms of the individual child along with dietary, nutritional, and behavioral changes. It gets the two sides to integrate and start working as a whole. There is no other program like it in the world.
Unfortunately, most parents of children with developmental neurobehavioral disorders do not have a good understanding of the nature of their child’s dysfunction. They do not understand what is wrong with their children and why they are behaving the way they do. They are also led to believe that there is no solution to the problem. The best fix, they are told, is through medication that will mask the symptoms but not make them go away.
I have been working with children who are labeled with these disorders since 1994 without drugs or other medical interventions and I know all symptoms can be resolved. ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, and even autism, among others, can become a thing of the past.
Parents and teachers need to know not only that this is possible but that they can make it happen themselves. This is why I wrote this book. Disconnected Kids not only offers a clear understanding of what is going on in the brains of children today, but also gives parents and teachers the power to correct it on their own.
Disconnected Kids is based on the same principles of the Brain Balance Program that are being used in the Brain Balance Achievement Centers that can now be found in more than eighty cities around the country. When I first published Disconnected Kids, in 2009, just a little over 1,000 youngsters had successfully experienced the program. Today, that number tops 20,000. It is the most successful and comprehensive program available anywhere today. It is the only truly holistic approach to the brain, and the only one that addresses all the symptoms that are troubling these children. Disconnected Kids is the culmination of my research and what I hope to be the catalyst to stopping this epidemic that is threatening the mental health of children around the world. It is intended to provide a clear understanding as to what is going on inside the brains and bodies of the children who are victims to this epidemic. It is also intended to empower everyone involved in the lives of these children to do something about it.
Since Disconnected Kids first came out, there has been a lot of remarkable research conducted around the world as to what is causing this epidemic rise in childhood neurological disorders. Most of it points to our environment—the way we choose to live our lives and the toxins and chemicals that surround and bombard us daily—as the primary force behind the epidemic rise in these conditions. Understanding these causes, which I discuss in this new revision, is not only important in helping to correct the problem, but it also gives us insight into how we can stop it.
There is no more important social issue today. There is no greater problem that threatens the future of our country and our world than what is happening to the developing brains of our children. I have seen this problem coming, and I have created a program that will stop it. I believe that raising awareness through Disconnected Kids and giving parents real tools to take immediate action is the quickest way to make an impact now, before it is too late.
DIFFERENT SYMPTOMS, ONE PROBLEM
Understanding the Minds of Disconnected Kids
My teacher asked if anyone in the class ever heard of autism, so I raised my hand and said, “I have because I used to have autism.” My teacher said, “That can’t be because nobody used to have autism; you have autism.” Then I stood up and explained to everybody about Brain Balance and how it made my autism go away.
—BECKY, AGE TWELVE
A generation ago, you could go a lifetime and never cross paths with a child with autism. Today, it’s rare if you don’t know one, or know someone who knows someone who has an autistic child. Fifty years ago, a hyperactive and disruptive child was viewed as a “discipline” problem. Today, attention deficit/hyperactive disorder, commonly called ADHD, is the most prevalent childhood problem throughout the world. Fifteen years ago, most parents had never even heard of Asperger’s syndrome, bipolar disorder, or oppositional defiant disorder. Today, it is in the consciousness of most every parent of a school-age child.
Childhood neurological disorders—mostly described as behavioral, social, or academic dysfunctions—are rising so sharply that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has declared the problem a “major health threat.” That is putting it mildly. According to the CDC, one out of every four or five children born today will be diagnosed with some type of behavior or learning disability before the age of eight. I believe the startling rise in these disorders is, in fact, the most serious threat to the health and well-being of our children that this country has ever faced and one that has been increasing in epidemic proportions. Consider:
Autism, which fifteen years ago was considered a rare disorder, is considered rare no longer. It affects 1 out of every 68 children, up from 1 in 88, or 29 percent, in just two years. In 2007, the nationwide rate was 1 in 150. And it strikes more than four times as many boys as it does girls. In the United States, 1 in every 42 baby boys born today will be diagnosed with autism before the age of three. In girls, it’s 1 in 189. According to one sixteen-year study, the number of males diagnosed with autism quadrupled and the number of females increased sevenfold over the last fifteen years.
ADHD is 10 times more common today than it was a generation ago. And it is expected to increase at a rate of 15 to 20 percent a year. The CDC points to studies showing that 11 percent of kids, or 1 out of 9 children and 1 in 5 high school boys, have been diagnosed with the condition, up from 7.8 percent in 2002. During an eight-year period ending in 2012, about 2 million children were diagnosed with ADHD, an increase of 42 percent during that time. Of those kids, 60 to 70 percent have been given at least one other diagnosis—something that is becoming more common with all of these conditions. For an approximate 30 percent of kids, ADHD will follow them into adulthood, when they are likely to experience other psychiatric disorders.
One in every five students, or 15 to 20 percent of the school population, has a language-based learning disability. Dyslexia is the most common type. It is estimated that 38 percent of fourth graders have “below basic” reading skills. Another 7 percent struggle so hard with math there’s even a name for it—dyscalculia—and it’s considered a neurological disorder.
Other disorders are increasing at the same rate. “Recent increases in reported autism diagnoses might not be unique among childhood neuropsychiatric disorders and might be part of a more widespread epidemiologic phenomenon,” Danish researchers were already reporting in 2007. This study focused on an increase in Tourette syndrome, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), as well as ADHD.
ADHD medications are th...
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