Scientists Weigh in on Special Needs Learning

“Allowing children to fail, to think they’re ‘dumb,’ is no longer acceptable,” said Dana Alliance member Sally Shaywitz at a recent Capitol Hill briefing on what neuroscience can tell us about educating special needs children.


Shaywitz, co-director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, joined fellow panelists Dana Alliance member Martha Denckla and Damien Fair for a discussion that addressed the importance and the difficulty of early detection of learning disorders such as dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). As reported by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS):

Early identification is the first roadblock that separates special needs children from an effective education. For children with ADHD, that is due in part to the “heterogeneity problem,” in which children diagnosed with the same condition have different underlying issues in their brain, said Fair. Doctors may check the same boxes to diagnose two children with ADHD, but the cause may not be the same, making it difficult to identify the appropriate therapies.

The briefing, attended by Congressional members, their staffs, and the public, was organized by the AAAS with support from the Dana Foundation. Read more about what the panelists had to say in the AAAS write-up or watch the video of the event.

– Ann L. Whitman

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