CHESAPEAKE -- Bill Bosley of Chesapeake remembers when his son Gabe started to seem more disconnected; it was about 13 years ago and Gabe was about two and a half years old. His vocabulary slipped from around 60 words to 30, then 10 and then zero.
"The neurologist saw him hanging off the ceiling tiles and said, 'Oh, this child is autistic,' and that was his assessment," says Bosley. "It's pretty much the word you don't want to hear as a parent."
Bosley started therapy right away but after years at Southeastern Cooperative Educational Programs in Chesapeake, he realized his son needed more help.
At the advice of a former therapist, Bosley enrolled Gabe in the Brain Balance Program in Cary, North Carolina.
For three months, Gabe had daily physical exercise and cognitive therapy, meant to develop parts of his brain that weren't thriving.
Bosley said when Gabe returned to school this year his teacher asked, "What did you do with your son?"
Dr. Robert Melillo is a chiropractic neurologist who developed the Brain Balance Program. Melillo believes that learning disabilities and autism are a result of one side of the brain developing more than the other. Melillo works to balance out the brain through various physical exercises that speak to the parts of the brain that proved to be deficient on an initial assessment test.
During the initial assessment at the Brain Balance Center, the therapist will check to see if the child still possesses primitive reflexes. They then work to develop the primitive reflex the patient displays.
For example, Gabe Bosley does not have very good rhythm. That is a typical deficiency for children with autism. He practices clapping with a metronome. Today Gabe is having a very good day and claps to the beat.
Gabe then does abdominal work, which stimulates the brain.
Bill Bosley says he learned through the assessment that Gabe was right-brain deficient. Since the intense therapy, his child now has better handwriting and seems more present when talking with his parents.
In a recent study published in July 2013, Dr. Melillo's team studied 122 children. After 12 weeks of "brain balance" therapies, 81 percent of those children were no longer considered ADD and ADHD.
But, Dr. Dimi Barot, MD told 13News Now he's not so sure. Barot is a neurologist and sleep physician who says many times ADHD can be treated with setting a better sleep pattern for children.
Barot says there isn't enough data to prove whether the therapies at the Brain Balance Center are effective.
"The jury is still out," says Dr. Barot.
The Brain Balance Center opened a new location two weeks ago in Virginia Beach in the Fairfield Shopping center and is assessing children. It costs anywhere from $3,000 - $6,000 for 12 weeks of therapy, depending on the child's deficiency.