Preliminary & Provisionary Review of Diconnected Kids by Dr. Robert Melillo
Disclaimer #1- I started listening to this because my wife bought the book. But my opinions are my own. :)
I'm a father of 6 kids. We homeschool them all. Taking in both sides of our family, we over 2 dozen of nieces/nephews. I know of at least 3 of them that have been formally diagnosed as being on some end of the Autism spectrum.
Disclaimer #2 - We are not rush to the doctor kind of parents. We read copiously, but are not any kind of trained medical professionals. As such, we have sometimes "self diagnosed" ourselves and or our children - Take it or leave it. My wife, we're pretty sure has un/self diagnosed fibromyalgia. I have professionally diagnosed anxiety/depression. I have been on an antidepressant regularly for more than a decade now. Would I like to not have to take a pill? Sure. I even tried it for about 6 months a couple years back. When winter hit & I was an emotional wreck for a week, I knew it was time to get back on Fluoxetene (generic Prozac). I am not ashamed that I have to take a pill to feel like myself. There are innumerable people I know who I think would also benefit immeasurably from doing so, but won't even consider it.
Disclaimer #3 - Of my 6 kids, I'm pretty sure at least 4 of them are on the adhd-autism spectrum to at least a degree & both my wife & I have adhd to a degree. I've always been an insufferable fidgeter, among other things. NONE of us have been diagnosed or have even really sought out specific medical help for it (I'll get into why later), though we have tried dietary changes that have helped in some cases.
Disclaimer #4- We are Do it yourself-ers when it comes to a lot of health things. Not that we never visit a doctor, counselor, whatever, but we live in the information age. Granted there is certainly some garbage out there in that glut of information, but if you don't actively consume information regularly & evaluate it FOR YOURSELF, you will never really know.
Disclaimer #5 - Before writing this review, I read almost every other review on this book in whatever format they consumed it in (or claimed to do so - "Skimming" something to me does not give you the right to pass judgement on it based on your narrow viewpoint).
Ok. Got the disclaimers out of the way? I listened to this book because as my kids have grown, I have often had conversations with my wife about them & even just in the last week, found myself saying "I just don't know how to connect with X anymore." To which she replied, "Have you ever really?"
I love Each And EVERY ONE of my kids. They are amazing & I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world. But sometimes I just can't comprehend the way their brains work! I'm sure every parent has been there with their kids, but when it is a continual thing, or the same problem over and over, you begin to question your ability as a parent, along with if something actually is wrong with your kid.
Here's the why of our not getting our kids, and sometimes ourselves diagnosed:
1: My wife's Fibromyalgia - In looking up her symptoms & doing our own research, we've found that the medical establishment can do virtually nothing to treat it. We have found some things that have been beneficial in diet & other things. The medical community is very good at diagnosing something based on symptoms. It gives you a LABEL to work with Sometimes, they are spot on correct. Other times... I'm sure they're doing their best.
2: With LABELs, come expectations & stigma. There are times when I think you absolutely need to find out what is going on medically from a medical professional & I'm getting a lot closer to that with some of what has happened with our kids. But not quite yet.
3: I grew up with a cousin who was pumped full of Ritalin for years. At 18 he had a heart condition caused by it. I'm not blaming his parents or the medical professionals that treated him, but the amount of chemical concoctions we pour into our bodies that have only been created in the last 50 years, and therefore don't really have a lifetime of data to back them up, always makes me a little hesitant to pour a new chemical into my kid.
So... to get to my review. First I want to review what other kinds of reviews are out there for this book. They fall largely into 2 categories (with 2 subcategories): 5 stars from parents who have either tried it & it has done wonders from them, or at least parents who are inspired by what they read & are excited to have something to hope for, and 1 Star reviews from members of the Medical Establishment who discount anything Melillo claims because he's a chiropractor and not an MD/PHD (sorry Andy, I do still think its awesome you got yours though) or from those who only believe someone with an MD/PHD who often didn't even read the entire book, and not one of them who have actually tried it. Many of the 1 star reviews felt like it was an infomercial, with Melillo just trying to sell desperate parents his services. I realize some of these reviews may have been for an older version that didn't include his self directed course, but its there now at no extra charge.
Did I feel compelled to go to one of the cities hosting his 12 week Brain Balance course? No. But I do feel compelled enough to try it at home & see what happens! If there are simple exercises that I can do for 12 weeks to help me function better, don't I owe it to my family to at least give it a shot? And likewise, if there are exercises that can exorcise some of the autistic or ADHD demons that have haunted my kids for years, shouldn't we try it out and see? I owe it to my kids to try this and see if it is what he claims. At the very least, I don't see how it can be any worse than chicken soup for a cold.
I found Melillo's writing informative and encouraging. I did not feel like I was being sold a product. Just being able to understand more of why my kids may be behaving a particular way has already enabled me to be more patient with them - and with myself. Again and again, I heard him describing 4 of my kids, sometimes myself & sometimes my wife. Labels can at least help to have a place to start.
For me - I'm giving Melillo a prelimanary & provisional 5 stars. Thank you for your work in this field & trying to help with an epidemic that is touching millions, sometimes amidst scorn for decades. I've narrated a similar book (not on autism) under a different name because of the controversial nature of it. Here's my provisions for the 5 stars - Give my family & me 4 months to try it out. We already printed off the assesment forms last night for each of our kids & started filling them out. If at the end of the 4 months, it's made a good difference in our family, the 5 stars will remain. If it turns out to just be chicken soup, That will be changed to 3 stars. If I find it is in fact harmful, I will join the 1 star crowd, but it will be a qualified 1 star. Either way, I'll check back in 4 months to let you know.
As for the narration - Tom Perkins gets 5 stars either way. He did superb. Engaging enough in a book that might seem pedantic otherwise. I'm already listening to it again at 3.5x speed (a first for me) in order to let the ideas & info percolate a little more, but his narration still holds up, even at that break neck pace. I'm not so sure mine would. Kudos, Tom!