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March 13, 2014 - Image 25

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Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2014-03-13

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Brain Balance

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Brain Balancem

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Stacy Gittleman { Special to the Jewish News

arents of children with challenges, whether or not they
have been diagnosed with things like Attention Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), OCD, ODD, PDD-
NOS, Asperger's Syndrome or other learning or processing
disorders like Dyslexia, often hear the same story from a
teacher or coach. Their child is bright but disorganized. He
cannot sit still and is easily distracted in class. She tries
hard but her grades are suffering. Her impulsive nature and
awkwardness make it hard to make friends or work within
a group. At home, sibling squabbles and a lack of ability to
follow through on the simplest chores are a daily source of
frustration.
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar? The possible root
cause of the problem may be a lack of communication, or a
disconnection, between the two hemispheres of the brain.
The good news, however, is that with proper training, the
communication breakdown between the left and right sides
of the brain can be remedied. This theory has been put into
practice across the country at learning centers known as Brain
Balance Achievement Centers.
Developed by Dr. Robert Mellito, an affiliate professor of
rehabilitation sciences at Nazareth Academic Institute of
Israel, Brain Balance Centers are opening in cities throughout
the United States to help thousands of children overcome
their learning and developmental issues through the strategy
of treating the whole child.
In October 2013, Amy and Frank Firek
opened up the Brain Balance Achievement
Center of Birmingham. According to Amy Firek, Brain Balance
Centers are witnessing impressive results in helping children
overcome learning disabilities. In fact, in a recent study, 122
students who were diagnosed with ADHD completed a 12-
week Brain Balance program and afterwards 81% no longer
showed symptoms of ADHD and 100% improved in their
academic testing scores.
Brain Balance gets results because, rather than working
with a child's strengths to compensate for a weakness, they
tackle and address the root cause of the disability. Often, this
disability can be linked to a breakdown of communication
between the two sides of the brain.
Think of your child's brain as an orchestra. In order to
make beautiful music, each musician on either side of that
orchestra must not only play the right notes, but at the right
time with the right rhythm. When one side of the brain is out of
harmony with the other, it is a condition known as Functional
Disconnection Syndrome (FDS). FDS can be seen as the root
cause of a long list of neurological disorders.
FDS does not mean the brain is damaged, only that it
needs to be retrained. Research conducted all over the world,
including at the National Institute for Brain and Rehabilitation
Sciences and the Oranim Academic College of Education in
Israel, is proving that the brain is not static, as once thought,

sit at a desk most of the day, a lot of the work involves getting
but remarkably adaptable and able to create new neural
pathways if properly stimulated. This discipline of study is
physical.
known as neuroplasticity.
The exercises are designed to improve functional areas
like visual, auditory, fine motor, balance, coordination, core
"The Brain Balance program is supported by the theory
of neuroplasticity. Because the brain is changeable, a child's
strength and academics.
problems and struggles with learning disabilities do not have
And as their functional and academic success rises, so
does their confidence and self-esteem" said Firek.
to be permanent," said Firek.
While medication is the most common approach to
Since opening the center on Woodward Avenue, Firek has
minimizing symptoms tied to learning and behavioral
received notes of appreciation from local parents, including
those of 11-year-old Jake W.
disorders, it does not address the root cause of the problem.
Firek said Brain Balance has a different approach — we
Jake, an avid soccer player, had problems on the
address the root cause.
field and in the classroom. His coach
At Brain Balance, a team of qualified
noticed him having problems staying
SIGNS OF IMBALANCE
professionals evaluates a child to
focused on team objectives. In the
determine if a child's weaknesses lie
classroom, his teachers noticed
Left Brain Weakness Right Brain WeaknE
within the right or left hemisphere
him having challenges working
of the brain. According to Firek, a
for stretches of time.
child with weakness in right brain
Now, his teachers note
• Paw *Lath Ski*
• Awkwatii/Oudtpor
that since starting work
function can read a piece of fiction
• Poor verbal Slulk
• Oppr•iert..e1A•••so4n
or non-fiction and may remember
at Brain Balance, Jake
• Pm., Spagina
•Pont Han-Viffinall IRAs
individual facts. However, they are
has had some of his best
school days of the year. He
unable to grasp "the big picture"
• Pow Refidirto 54ilh
irriDuk•WiUrc
ks
Fora•

of what they have just read. They
needs fewer breaks and
• Flew Herta, Nislairrris
•Laud Ember& Crottel
may be impulsive, distractible,
can stay on track when
working independently or
demonstrate some obsessive
• POCK ilItylf RICOpritleel
•Poo, Rueng
behaviors, act inappropriately
with a partner.
• Poor Autdtory Proceiting
•ObsesslyarquoitlUve fiettintio•
in social situations, and have
At home, Jake is getting
•1••eod• ImmwM Iowans.
- inimatur. Sooal O•na...cr
on better with his brother
poor math reasoning and reading
comprehension skills.
and sister. There are more
• Pgcyr Mignon for Da tails
• aliani Wits/A u Ca won t
A child with left-brained
loving and happy moments
• mas
laft•ili
• LISIRS Igetprwr In Sptrts
than there used to be.
weaknesses can see the big picture
jr

Poo.
SW
Em
-
rat oe 49x1 Fag Puce.
but will struggle with details and facts.
"To hear from a parent
They may demonstrate poor math,
that their child has had an
• Poor Moliwiklon
• PON Eye Ccottsti
unexpected string of positive days
reading and spelling skills, poor auditory
• teak Avoulance
• %MCP 1 1Wedio r
processing, poor verbal communication,
in school while only half way through
have poor memory and exhibit task avoidance
the Brain Balance program lets us know
that we are making a profound difference in
especially when it comes to academics.
The evaluation process is an extensive one and includes
that child's life," said Firek. Some other comments
many state-of-the art tests. For example, to determine a
we are hearing include: Teachers and coaches are noticing
child's reading efficiency, the child will wear a pair of specially
that kids are more focused. Behaviors are changing and
designed eyeglasses that monitors and tracks individual eye
improving. Last week a mom reported that her son had the
motion as they read over a page of text. For children who
best behavioral report from school that he has ever had. Kids
say school is coming easier for them and they feel stronger
seem constantly distracted in the classroom, a child will be
evaluated for auditory processing skills by wearing a special
and more confident.
Firek said that after their time with Brain Balance, kids
pair of headsets, to determine how well they can distinguish
will still have their ups and downs. However, their brains will
between competing sounds. They also measure a child's
rhythm and timing at responding to sounds and how well they
continue to grow and academics will improve because of the
training they received in the program.
can block extraneous noises.
If you are ready to get your child back on track, call Brain
At Brain Balance, professionals work not to avoid the child's
weaknesses, but to attack it at its root. Once evaluated,
Balance today at 248-BALANCE to schedule an assessment
children enroll in the program and attend 1-hour sessions
for your child. The center is located at 33535 Woodward Ave.,
in downtown Birmingham. ❑
three times a week. To the delight of a child who may have to

March 13 • 2014

25

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