How Drug-Free Treatment is Changing the Game for Some Special Needs Kids
By Emily Glory Peters
May is National Mental Health Month, but outside of a social post online, mental health challenges are still unlikely subjects to pop up in your daily conversation. Yet each year, millions of Americans reportedly struggle with mental and behavioral health issues—and kids are no exception.
Notwithstanding advancement in diagnostic techniques in recent years, treatment for these developmental disorders—or even support for kids struggling socially or academically—can be as varied as it is subjective.
Determining the best move is an especially tough call for parents, who bear the added weight of serving as their child’s caregiver, confidant, researcher, disciplinarian, advocate and more. For some, the introduction pharmacological treatment is a last-ditch intervention.
“It is important to understand that while medication does mask some of the symptoms, it does not change why the symptoms are present,” says Lori Sheldon, co-owner with her husband James of Brain Balance Development Center in Pasadena. “Each family must weigh the pros and cons and come to the decision that works for them in that moment.”
Newly minted in the community, Brain Balance Center offers something refreshingly different: a non-medical, drug-free approach to helping kids thrive physically, socially, mentally and academically. As experienced instructors with graduate degrees in education and counseling, respectively, Lori and James were drawn to opening a center when Lori noticed how well her Brain Balance students were fairing compared to others with special needs.
But make no mistake—this isn’t tutoring. After an assessment, young Brain Balance clients receive a personalized program to help them overcome their psychological challenges.
“We impact how the brain takes in, processes and stores information,” says Lori. “Students going through the Brain Balance program will experience increases in areas such as focus, memory and processing, all aspects leading to greater success in the classroom and at home.”
The Pasadena arm of Brain Balance is new, but many of the center’s methods are time-tested. Treatment is integrated, too, blending elements of nutrition, left-brain versus right-brain leanings, physical fitness, even music into a program. Since the center’s inception, franchises have supported more than 30,000 kids and their families—and the results appear to be tangible.
“One of my favorite success stories thus far is about a little guy that’s five years old. He came to us really struggling in all areas—his parents had tried various tactics with no signs of improvement. During his first day at Brain Balance he turned over several tables and shouted ‘no’ repeatedly,” Lori shares. “Within six sessions, he was able to enter our center, take off his shoes, enter the Sensory Motor room and move through each session seamlessly. His growth has been remarkable.”
Naturally, parents benefit from these advancements, too—which Lori emphasizes is of equal importance to the kids’ growth.
“So often behaviors are blamed on the parenting, when, in fact, kids who struggle with aspects of development are often much more difficult to parent,” she says. “While our primary focus is on addressing the gaps in the child’s development, we absolutely work to help and support the parents as well.”
Parents, and even kids’ teachers, are involved along the way. Sessions take place both in-center and at home, with the number dependent on the child’s unique program assessment. The Sheldons’ support continues even after the child completes the program to make sure that clients continue to progress. And while the center itself does not diagnose conditions, there’s one critical element Lori always shares with families.
“There is hope,” she says. “Brain Balance not only changes a child’s life but has a dramatic impact on the family as a whole. We would love nothing more than to join you on your journey.”
Brain Balance Center is located at 155 E. Holly Street in Pasadena. To learn more, contact the Brain Balance Center team at www.brainbalancenters.com/locations/pasadena | (626) 737-5000 | and follow along on Facebook @brainbalancenterspasadena.