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Book Review: Disconnected Kids

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

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Disconnected Kids
Cover image courtesy of Perigee

The Bottom Line

By Dr. Robert Melillo; 274 pages. Subtitle: The Groundbreaking Brain Balance Program for Children With Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and Other Neurological Disorders - Achieve Results at Home and Without Drugs

Would you have thought we needed another neurological diagnosis, one even broader than the autism spectrum? Disconnected Kids proposes Functional Disconnection Syndrome, which besides autism covers ADHD, dyslexia, ODD, and more. The book offers a detailed plan for remedying the condition, and though you may not get the big results promised, it probably won't hurt.

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Pros

  • Offers an inexpensive home version of the treatment given at the author's clinics.
  • Empowers parents to make a difference in their children's often hopeless-seeming conditions.
  • Most of the exercises seem fun and harmless.
  • Draws a little from a lot of familiar therapies, including sensory integration and nutrition.
  • Includes explanations of a lot of tests that will be useful whether you use the plan or not.

Cons

  • Surely we don't need another big diagnosis that attempts to explain a wide range of disorders.
  • Case studies throughout describe radical change that seems too good to be true.
  • Claims not to blame parents, but does blame daycare, too much TV, and poor nutrition.
  • Some of the testing and treatment may be hard for parents of lower-functioning kids to do alone.
  • If you have your own theories about why your kid does what he does, some of this may not sit right.

Description

  • Part 1: Disconnected Kids
  • Chapter 1: Different Symptoms, One Problem
    Chapter 2: Children's Brains Really Are Changeable
  • Chapter 3: When the Brain Misbehaves
    Chapter 4: What's Causing It All?
    Chapter 5: Left Brain, Right Brain
  • Part 2: The Melillo At-Home Brain Balance Program
  • Chapter 6: Reconnecting the Brain
    Chapter 7: Master Hemispheric Checklist
  • Chapter 8: Hemispheric Home Sensory-Motor Assessment
  • Chapter 9: Sensory-Motor Exercises
  • Chapter 10: Neuroacademic Assessment and Home Activities
  • Chapter 11: What Should I Feed My Child?
    Chapter 12: Home Behavior Modification Plan
  • Chapter 13: Defining Functional Disconnection Syndrome

Guide Review - Book Review: Disconnected Kids

Disconnected Kids had me swinging back and forth all through my time reading it. Half the time, I'd be rolling my eyes, and half the time nodding my head in agreement. The introduction of a new and incredibly broad diagnosis of Functional Disconnection Syndrome -- and the absolute assurance with which the author promises it's the magic wand that will wipe away all our kids' problems -- had me ready to give the book a big thumbs down. Then I'd read about the tests he suggests parents do on their kids, and the exercises recommended for correcting problems, and they seem pretty reasonable, interesting, and harmless. There's a lot that reminds me of testing and treatment for sensory integration disorder, which did help my son, and after reading the book I have a better understanding of a lot of the neurological and academic testing I've seen.

On the one hand, the author praises parents who've brought their kids to him and respectfully entrusts moms and dads with the tools to help their kids. On the other hand, he makes statements like "Most children who end up with some type of neurological dysfunction start out life (and brain development) in the care of someone other than a parent because both mother and father are working." Take that, parents! Nice work causing your child's brain damage.

There's a lot in this book that didn't sit right with me. And there's a lot that did. That's not unusual for a book that's making a strong case for a particular way of seeing and treating kids with special needs. Maybe after years of parenting I've just become mistrustful of those who are certain about anything. But Disconnected Kids does have the virtue of setting out a clear and detailed plan of action, including physical exercises and nutritional changes, and if you think it might help your child, there's not that much to risk in giving it a try. I'd recommend skipping over any part that makes your eyes roll, and focus on the actual things that help.

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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