In the end, after a long, long day at the pool on Friday, my husband and I decided that the Brain Balance Center is if nothing else, worth a try. It’s a lot less intimidating and weird than many other things we have tried when we really thought it through, and although the cost is part of the equation of course, what we need to pay for the next 12 weeks is about $160 a session, akin to the psychiatrist and other therapists we have already seen for many months with limited success. So we will start on Friday, beginning with 3 in-house sessions of 1 hour a week and working for 2 x 15 minute blocks each day at home. We are committed to 36 sessions in our first block. I first heard of the Brain Balance Centers after reading a book by Dr. Robert Melillo called Disconnected Kids. As with any therapy there are good and bad reviews, pros and cons.
I admit I have had a hard time find negative or positive reviews for this program, mostly the posts I have found are via CitySearch and are regarding the cost of the sessions not the actual program itself, which limits our ability to decide on whether to proceed or not. I always figured the easiest way to find information was to Google, but with this it seems it isn’t the case. Anyway, we are now committed, we have decided and we will go 100% into the program and see what happens. The worrying part for us is the limited screen time, B will only have 1.5 hours per day of screen time, which as he spends at least that on the Wii each day it will be somewhat stressful. My plan is to remove everything – from experience we know he is an all or nothing child at the best of times, if we allow 1.5 hours of TV we will need to allow him carte blanche, if we remove ALL TV he will (with my help) find something else to occupy his time. It has been difficult and we have been slack simply because it’s the summer and he has had a broken leg for the past 4 weeks. Now the cast is off it’s time to get back into the real world, but I know he will be kicking and screaming the whole way, at least for the first few weeks anyway. He is back in school on Aug 1st and then I predict our days will be smoother. I am aware that mostly it will fall on me initially to provide entertainment for those lost TV hours, bring it on!
Anyway, the need has now become more than just a desire, at one point this weekend we were at a very popular water park. When we tried to leave he became beligerant, annoyed, stressed out and aggressive. He hit me on my chest area several times smacking me on my wet bathing suit top with his palm outstretched. On the third or fourth slap I instinctively reached out and bopped him back. Totally out of character for me as I usually can keep myself in check and buttoned up when he starts his slap fests. I don’t know what happened, whether it was the combination of a 2 day migraine, a trip away, 95+ temps and a very large price tag to enter the theme park only to be told I sucked and he hated me, along with the slapping, but I just reacted. It was brief and no more damaging than a bruised ego on both our parts but I realized how negative our interactions have become. He stands a little over 4 feet, me 5. He is actually on a par with me in regards his strength and agility. His aggression kicks in when he is stressed (admittedly he holds it together more often and far better than he previously did) and still he is rude, belligerant and aggressive when the mood takes him.
After the altercation I was very upset. I explained to him that the law sits firmly on his side, his behavior is of no consequence if someone sees me react in a physical way to him; however brief and reactionary. I am the one who will suffer the consequences of this altercation, me and me alone. The benefit of doubt rests firmly on my shoulders, not his. I know how, to the outside world this looks. I feel people looking at us, judging us, but mostly judging me and my poor parenting skills, because certainly they hold it together, thier child isn’t rude, they raised their child better! Ergo they are better than I in that department. To them I say, come live in my house for 1 week, come experience this level of stress, this level of angst and let me know how that roller coaster works out for you. I am amazed at my own self control most of the time, when it slips I am devastated, simply devastated. I am far harder on myself than anyone else ever could be. I wonder how other people react when their children slap or kick or spit at them. How would they handle it I wonder? Chances are most parents would reply that their child wouldn’t dare to cross that line. How I wonder again? How do their children know where the line is?
My other child certainly has that awareness and we don’t have to drive it home, threaten or punish to get there, she simply understands that it is not acceptable. Did we raise one differently than the other? I am sure not. Did we inadvertantly parent one child with more love or passion? Again I don’t think we did anything different with either child. Did we manage to create one with no fear, no bounderies, no social nuances and one who is totally socialized. Is this the age-old nature versus nurture people talk about? Did we do this? If so, how? It might help me if I knew.
I am tired of being abused mentally and physically. Certainly many people can attest to his aggression and slap-happy attitude, but does this mean anything in the grand scheme of things? Our relationship is often abused and abuser, but not the traditional way that should look. Would it be different if he was 15? Which of course he will be one day. This is where we look to and pray desperatly that we find the answers. At 7.5 he can hit me, scream at me or be derogatory, at this age people see him as a badly parented child, later as an adult he will be seen in a whole other context and this is why we do what we do.
In the end we just have to go with the knowledge that we parent in a way that we feel is right, caring and kind but with enough structure to help them mature to loving, responsible, mature, moral members of society. Along the way we will make mistakes, as all parents do, but our motivation is always from a loving heart and I truly believe that is the most important part of being a parent.
Our first Brain Balance appointment is tonight – check back to see how it went.
Christopher Ortiz says
I just read your posting from July 8th 2011. I have not searched for more posts yet but will following this message. I wanted to find out how the program worked and how your son is doing now. I hope for the best as I feel this is an answer for many.
Hi Chris, the program was well received by B. He did certainly make progress in his anger and some occupational areas (his handwriting went from juvenile to cursive in a short time. Mostly his hands seem to just work better together, holding the pencil and copying from the board to paper and back just seemed to be easier for him). When we first started he was yelling and abusive to anyone who would look in his direction, by the end he would play on the floor with the other kids who were waiting. The nutrition portion and restricted screen time was also a God send and really made him less spacey and more motivated to be active. Unfortunately, life got busy and we became less active, screen time has resumed and he recently was diagnosed with possible bipolar 1 disorder, the gains he did make are still present of course but we have allowed the lack of exercise to impede progress. I think that’s the part I have the hardest time keeping up on. I don’t regret undertaking the BB program, it really did bring him forward in many areas, the only caveat I have is that – for us – it really was another step on the path to recovery and we would still have more beneficial changes IF we had kept up the home-based portion better.