Cary, N.C. — A special program at a Cary center helps children with disorders like autism and ADHD open connections in their brain, aiding them in learning, playing and making friends.
Twelve-year-old Joey Krevat and 6-year-old Riley Badger are among the children who get treatment at Brain Balance in Cary.
Joey used to hate school.
"He drew a picture of himself in a grave and wrote 'Dear Mom and Dad' on top and wrote 'Joey in second grade,'" his father, Matthew Krevat, recalled.
Joey was diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Riley has autism.
"Around 18 months, he lost a lot of his words," his mother, Jan Badger, said. He also stopped making eye contact and communicating with people.
Both families tried different therapies but felt they needed something more, which led them to Brain Balance.
"This isn't a medical, clinical approach. We're considered an after-school achievement center," Dr. Rebecca Jackson said.
Jackson turned away from her chiropractic training to open the Brain Balance center, one of 47 nationwide.
The centers are based on the idea that disorders like ADHD and autism are caused by an imbalance in the connections among regions of the brain. Children go through physical and cognitive exercises meant to stimulate and connect those areas.
A test showed a possible reason why Joey used to hate reading.
"What we saw is that his eyes were doing many more eye movements than necessary while reading," Jackson said.
Activities that stimulated different areas of the brain seemed to have helped him.
"I just love reading. Reading is my life now," Joey said.
"Compared to what he was last year, it's just an incredible opposite," Krevat said.
Before the program, Riley didn't play with other children, not even his sister. "Now they play together much better," Badger said.
Brain Center staff also design dietary guidelines for each child. Jackson said the program is meant to complement, not replace, other approaches such as physical and occupational therapy.
Some physicians have criticized the program because of a lack of randomized clinical trial that would demonstrate that it works. Parents should consult with their pediatricians before enrolling their children in such programs.
Badger said that she's avoided medications to treat Riley's behaviors and believes the Brain Balance program is a better approach for now.
"I can't even think of an area he hasn't improved in," she said.