(Connections - Sue Masenheimer)
For years, the parents of children labeled with ADD/ADHD, Dyslexia, Tourette's, Asperger's and Autism Spectrum disorders have been told they can only expect so much from their children. That doesn't have to be the case. Brain Balance Achievement Centers give parents and children a reason to hope for a brighter future.

Brain Balance is a comprehensive, individualized program that integrates both physical and cognitive exercises, along with dietary change, to help children with neurobehavioral and learning difficulties. The ultimate goal is to correct an imbalance between the two hemispheres of the brain. It's all about correcting what Brain Balance creator, Dr. Robert Melillo, calls a "communication breakdown" and essentially working to stimulate the weaker hemisphere so it can work in conjunction with the other.

Dr. Melillo started using the Brain Balance methodology in 1994 with his patients as an educational program. He started seeing positive results with this drug-free approach and Brain Balance Achievement Centers officially became a franchise just five years ago. Currently, there are 52 in 22 states.

Brain Balance is coming to York; enrollment is going on now. Under the direction of Dr. Michael Swank, the Brain Balance Achievement Center at 2300 Carlisle Road will continue the dedicated work of Dr. Melillo and his team. "Our mission is to make the Brain Balance Program available to as many children as possible, so that each child may reach their greatest physical, mental, social and academic potential," says Swank, Center Director of Brain Balance of York. Swank himself is a chiropractic neurologist. He studied under the program's founder and has known him since 1989, when Dr. Melillo was Swank's senior neurologist.

To enroll in the Brain Balance program, a child must first undergo a complete assessment.

This is to determine if the child and the parents are a good fit for the program; and to determine that the child has a brain imbalance, not a behavioral problem. The analysis process takes two days (two hours per day) and involves physical and cognitive testing. If your child is accepted into the program, additional nutritional testing will be done.

The Brain Balance team will look at 1,000 data points to discover which areas of the child's brain aren't functioning as well as they should. There is no guesswork with the program. From all of this compiled information, "we know what's going on with their children and what we need to do," says Swank.

The program itself is intense but not difficult. It requires commitment from both the parents and the child. The 3-month after school program meets three days a week for one hour. A lot of the work is done at the Achievement Center, though parents are given tasks to carry out at home with their child. The work at home is crucial to the success of the program. 100% of children will show some kind of improvement within the three-month period so long as the parents and the child do the work asked of them at the Center and at home. Children can continue on after the initial 36 sessions if they wish.

"We work the brain like you work a muscle," says Swank. Two children work alongside each other at a time. Paired together specifically, each child works on his/her own specific plan while also socializing and growing with each other.

The Achievement Center at 2300 Carlisle Road is an accommodating, bright facility complete with a conference room for informative lectures and two rooms designed for the children. Parents can watch their children in action through mirrored windows or via video cameras. In these rooms, the children refine eye exercises, fine motor skills, balance and coordination and cognitive skills. It's a rounded program, wherein each child begins at his or her own starting place and moves forward from there. Also within the Center is a nutrition room where parents meet for progress reports and to set behavioral goals for their child. There's a lounge with refreshments as well.

Brain Balance has been changing lives for nearly 10 years. Take for example the story of Christina*. Before the program, Christina's parents described her as having a high level of anxiety. She was unable to tolerate people sitting too close to her and made few verbal exchanges. Since going through the Brain Balance program, her parents happily report that Christina's anxiety has greatly diminished, she engages in conversations, and changes to her schedule are not met with tantrums like before. Christina's family credits the program for their daughter's change. Perhaps more importantly, they attribute Brain Balance for making all of Christina's other therapies finally click.

The Brain Balance program is for children age 5 through high school. Parents who've enrolled their children in Brain Balance have witnessed positive changes. Their children are more confident, more social and most importantly happier and healthier. For more information about Brain Balance or to start a conversation about enrolling your child, contact them at 717-793-3684 or visit them at www.brainbalancecenters.com.