As more children in American are being diagnosed with autism and ADHD, Dr. Robert Melillo is trying to help kids overcome these challenges in a unique way.
Instead of prescribing medication, Melillo, a specialist in childhood neurological disorders, has developed a program that uses physical, cognitive exercises and special diets to stimulate brain activity.
William Fowler, Melillo's nephew and business partner, said his uncle's approach is based on research that shows disorders like ADHD and dyslexia are triggered by an imbalance between the hemispheres of a child's brain.
Strengthening the weaker part of the brain is a way to correct the imbalance and improve a child's behavior and learning ability over time, said Fowler.
In 1998, Melillo opened Brain Balance, a center to treat children with behavioral challenges, in Long Island, N.Y. Eight years later, he decided to franchise the concept to make it available to more families nationwide.
Fowler, a former investment banker, left Wall Street to help grow the business. Brain Balance today has 61 franchised locations in 27 states, and 20 new locations are expected to open in 2013.
"[Our] schools are already overwhelmed and underfunded and they can't help these kids," said Fowler. "We are trying to fill the increasing need for special education services."