[caption id="attachment_948" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Image courtesy of dream designs"][/caption] With the state of most education research today, it takes a lot to get me truly excited. It seems every article I read touts new and better ways to “improve test scores” among benchmark and special education students alike. But, life and education are not about test scores, they’re about learning. That’s why when I read about the several pilot programs across the country that are focused on using research in neuroscience to help customize learning programs for special needs students, I finally got excited. The Brain: Our Last Great Mystery Throughout the course of the 20th century, many of the bodies “mysteries” began to unfold. We began to understand the relationship between diet and heart disease, carcinogens and cancer, and we unlocked the genetic code. However, the workings of the brain remain one of science’s greatest unsolved mysteries, as evidenced by the label Autism Spectrum Disorder (ADS). Autism, as we commonly refer to it, is not one disorder, but a range of neuro-cognitive impairments that we have only just begun to understand. In that vein, neuroscience has focused a lot of its energy over the past few years onto unlocking some of that mystery and understanding how, if not why, one person’s brain functions differently than another. The logical application of these findings into the education of that individual is what makes the marriage of special education and neuroscience so fascinating. The Progress Made There are several, reputable programs across the country that are focused on using a variety of neuroscience research techniques and blending them into the special needs and mainstream classrooms. Like any research, nothing that is being used is perfect, but the progress being made is extremely encouraging for the future of special needs programs as well as education in general. Some of the mist significant programs are:
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