A Growing Diagnosis Rate

Receiving an autism diagnosis for your child can be intimidating and overwhelming, but the fact is, more and more children across the country are diagnosed each year, creating an increased need for autism therapy options like ABA therapy and Brain Balance. According to a recent study done in 2018 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 1 in 59 children are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Of those children, approximately 30-61% of them are also afflicted with Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

That’s a 154% increase in autism diagnoses since the year 2000.

That’s a lot of children.

On the plus side, you know you are nowhere even close to being alone in battling the struggles that come with an autism diagnosis. But wading through the potential treatment options can be overwhelming, misleading, and confusing. You want the best for your child, and you’ll do whatever it takes to guarantee them a successful future.

1 in 37 Boys


with ASD

1 in 151 Girls


with ASD

Choosing the Right Autism Treatment for Your Child

The first thing you probably did after receiving your child’s autism diagnosis was what almost anyone would do: turn to Google. Then came the onslaught of conflicting ideas, suggestions, experiences, and opinions on your available treatment options.

You no doubt found information on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) because it is the most researched and proven treatment for children with autism, delivering lasting results for a happy and productive life. But you probably also saw other treatment options like Brain Balance, focusing less on re-learning behaviors and more on attempts to “rewire” the brain.

But which one is better for your child? Brain Balance or ABA Therapy?

There are countless articles on the successes of ABA, but there are also blog posts and reviews of Brain Balance, praising them. So how do you know which one is the better choice?

It’s a pretty simple answer, actually. ABA therapy is the smarter choice for a variety of reasons. But before we get into that, let’s clarify what Brain Balance and ABA therapy have to offer.

What is Brain Balance?

Brain Balance is a non-scientifically-backed program touting a drug-free approach to overcoming ADHD and Autism through sensory exercises, academic skill training, and nutrition. Robert Melillo, the developer of the Brain Balance program, believes learning disabilities and autism stem from brain imbalance, therefore, his program centers around balancing out both sides of the brain through nutrition, academic focuses, and a series of complex sensory exercises performed in their centers and at home.

In his book, Disconnected Kids, Melillo suggests autism and ADHD result from a weak right brain hemisphere, which is the emotional half, while learning disorders like dyslexia stem from a weak left hemisphere, which is the logical half. According to Melillo, Brain Balance can fix those issues, making autism and ADHD a thing of the past.

Too Good to Be True?

Most ASD experts think so. Many agree that Brain Balance’s idea of imbalanced hemispheres is too simplistic. In fact, it’s based on the myth of us having an intuitive right brain and the logical left brain – something that has long been discredited.

One pediatric neuropsychologist in Baltimore explains that every activity we do highly involves both hemispheres of the brain, so “balancing” one side just doesn’t make any sense. It’s not that simple, which means the idea behind Brain Balance is theoretical way oversimplified.

 What is ABA Therapy?

Applied Behavior Analysis is the most research treatment program for children with autism and has been helping children and their families navigate through and overcome the obstacles that come with an autism diagnosis.  Research shows ABA helps children develop skills for socializing, communicating, playing, and self-care, as well as helping them reduce behaviors that often interfere with learning and interacting with friends and family.

ABA therapy is individualized to each child based on their needs. It helps children decrease unwanted behaviors and increase wanted behaviors through interactive play, practice, and reinforcement. Complex skills like reading, conversing, and understanding another person’s perspective are also a part of ABA therapy through one-on-one sessions, at-home therapy taught to parents, and interactive social therapy with other children.

ABA Therapy given to a child from a licensed professional

Why ABA Therapy Is Your Best Choice

Now, the part you’ve been waiting for: the reasoning behind why ABA therapy is a better choice than Brain Balance for treating your child with autism. You don’t have to do much digging to uncover the positives behind ABA therapy, especially when compared to Brain Balance. ABA therapy is the smart choice because it is:

  • Backed by Science
  • Proven with Overwhelming Evidence
  • Administered by Certified Professionals
  • Covered by Most Insurance

Even looking at the positives of ABA therapy at a high-level, you can see it’s a trusted treatment option for children with autism. But don’t simply take our word for it, let’s dive a little deeper into each of these points to fully understand why ABA therapy is a smarter choice over Brain Balance when treating children with autism.

ABA is the Most Scientifically-Backed Treatment for Autism

Since its introduction into the autism treatment world in the 1970s, there have been hundreds of scientific research studies on the effectiveness of ABA therapy, including single case studies, group studies, and consecutive controlled case studies. It is the most researched treatment out there today and has proven its success through studies time and time again.

Without going into scientific detail, each research study resulted in a positive outcome in 80-95% successful change in behavior, whether it was focusing on severe problem behavior or increased functional behavior such as communication, social skills,  and self-care.

In direct contrast, Brain Balance is not backed by science. Currently, there have only been two research studies looking into the effectiveness of Brain Balance, and neither study is trustworthy. One was written by the developer of the program himself, which would make it biased, in which he asked parents to rate their own child’s improvement, but he didn’t use a control group. Even if you aren’t a science-scholar, you have to know that every MUST have a control group to compare results. So, in essence, the study is null and void.

The second study did have a control group but was not set up to deliver solid scientific results. The control group kids were different from the Brain Balance children in many different, yet extremely important ways, so it was like comparing apples and oranges. The results were unreliable and contained discrepancies. Dr. James McGough, a professor of clinical psychiatry at UCLA, deemed this so-called “scientific research” as merely a “marketing piece,” not a strong scientific study with conclusive results.

Evidence-Based Therapy

ABA therapy is labeled as an “evidence-based” therapy option for treating a child with autism by the US Surgeon General and the American Psychological Association. That means ABA therapy at home or in clinics has passed multiple scientific tests focusing on its quality, effectiveness, and usefulness.

Speaking of ABA therapy at home, ABA telehealth services are now rising in popularity since we have COVID-19.

Brain Balance is not evidence-based and is not recognized as such by the US Surgeon General or any other reputable organization.

Professional Expertise is Important when Treating Autism

This is another biggie. At Brain Balance, who is administering the sensory-altering treatment to the children? Are they certified in something? Probably not. Sure, they may have gone to college and learned about helping children in one way or another. Then again, maybe not.

When you choose ABA Therapy to help your child overcome the obstacles of autism, you’re getting help from certified professionals: people who know what they are doing. ABA Therapy, unlike Brain Balance, is practiced by Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs). A BCBA certification means that the caregiver has gone through graduate-level certification in behavior analysis and are independent practitioners who provide behavior analysis services.

BCBA’s also have to maintain their certification through continuing education and submit recertification applications and fees every two years. Some BCBA’s practicing ABA therapy may actually achieve a higher level of behavior analysis certification through doctoral training and become a BCBA-D.

In contrast, although it depends on the location and who they hire, the caregivers at Brain Balance centers are not guaranteed to be certified professionals.

Don’t you want to trust your child’s future to a professional? Then you must contact Sandcastle Centers for professional ABA therapy services that is worth the buck. Sandcastle Centers already opened 2 branches in Florida. They have Orlando location and Pensacola location as well. The services at these clinics will surely help your autistic child develop skills in playing, communicating, socializing and improved overall well being.

Consider the Costs

Americans spend $66 billion per year on autism treatments for children, but don’t let that deter you from seeking help. 48 of our 50 states require private health insurance to cover costs for ABA therapy services, while the other two still may require some coverage under mental health provisions.

Although there may still be some out-of-pocket expenses, even if your insurance does cover ABA therapy, it will be significantly less than if you didn’t have insurance.

Many ABA therapy clinics also offer free assessments, so you don’t have to worry about anything out of pocket to get an introduction to the highly successful therapy option.

Brain Balance? Well, that’s not covered by any insurance. Their assessments, suggested nutritional supplements, and blood tests to take part in the program cost hundreds of dollars. Not to mention, the average price for the typical 12-week Brain Balance program is somewhere between $6,000-$12,000.


There is a deluge of information out there on the “best” treatment for your child with autism. Brain Balance may seem like an intriguing idea, but it lacks the overwhelming proof of success that ABA therapy offers. When it comes down to it, why not trust the proven, long-lasting, science-backed, reliable option: ABA therapy. As Brain Balance attempts to gain better credibility, ABA therapy holds strong as the world’s most trusted autism therapy treatment. Stick with the best, and you can’t go wrong.