Special Education

Linking Neuroscience to Special Education

By Nirvi Shah — October 12, 2011 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Developments in neuroscience could provide new insights into teaching students with disabilities, but more needs to be done to connect scientists studying the brain and educators, says a new policy analysis.

Published by the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, the analysis highlights several examples of the promise of brain research in the lives of students with disabilities.

In the area of dyslexia, for example, brain imaging could help distinguish among students with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, cognitive impairments, and limited language exposure. Teachers with this information could determine which types of students would respond best to which therapies.

In addition, the analysis says, so-called “biomarkers,” visible through brain imaging, can show cognitive or learning impairments even before a child exhibits them through behavior. Research on biomarkers is now underway on specific language impairment, autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, and learning disabilities, including dyslexia and dyscalculia.

The NASDSE analysis cautions, however, that while early identification can benefit children, premature diagnoses could lead to discrimination or stigma.

Another risk of linking neuroscience and education or special education, the paper notes, is that people often hear the term “neuroscientific” and assume that means “evidence-based.” But there is limited evidence that many “brain-based” software programs are effective in improving outcomes for students with or without disabilities.

When the research does catch up to the classroom, however, the results could be dramatic, says Monica Adler-Werner, director of the Model Asperger Program at Ivymount School in Rockville, Md.

“My guess is that as much as what we’re doing now is cutting edge, we’ll look back in five years and see it as very primitive,” she says. “We’re at the beginning of a revolution in human understanding.”

A version of this article appeared in the October 13, 2011 edition of Teacher PD Sourcebook

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Your Questions on the Science of Reading, Answered
Dive into the Science of Reading with K-12 leaders. Discover strategies, policy insights, and more in our webinar.
Content provided by Otus
Mathematics Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Breaking the Cycle: How Districts are Turning around Dismal Math Scores
Math myth: Students just aren't good at it? Join us & learn how districts are boosting math scores.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
How To Tackle The Biggest Hurdles To Effective Tutoring
Learn how districts overcome the three biggest challenges to implementing high-impact tutoring with fidelity: time, talent, and funding.
Content provided by Saga Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Special Education 5 Tips to Help Students With Disabilities Feel Like They Belong
An expert on fostering a sense of belonging in schools for students with disabilities offers advice on getting started.
4 min read
At Ruby Bridges Elementary School in Woodinville, Wash., special education students are fully a part of the general education classrooms. What that looks like in practice is students together in the same space but learning separately – some students are with the teacher, some with aides, and some are on their own with a tablet. Pictured here on April 2, 2024.
A student works with a staff member at Ruby Bridges Elementary School in Woodinville, Wash. on April 2, 2024. Special education students at the school are fully a part of general education classrooms.
Meron Menghistab for Education Week
Special Education Download DOWNLOADABLE: Does Your School Use These 10 Dimensions of Student Belonging?
These principles are designed to help schools move from inclusion of students with disabilities in classrooms to true belonging.
1 min read
Image of a group of students meeting with their teacher. One student is giving the teacher a high-five.
Laura Baker/Education Week via Canva
Special Education What the Research Says One Group of Teachers Is Less Likely to Identify Black Students for Special Ed. Why That Matters
Researchers say their findings argue for diversifying the teacher workforce.
4 min read
Full length side view of Black female instructor in mid 40s with hand on shoulder of a Black elementary boy as they stand in corridor and talk.
E+/Getty
Special Education Video Inside an Inclusive Classroom: How Two Teachers Work Together
This model for inclusive education benefits students of all abilities, and the teachers instructing them.
1 min read