Decade of the Brain: A Step in the Right Direction for Autism

The rates for autism diagnosis seem to be rising by the day, but fortunately, there has been a research overload the last few years. So much so, that science (and Congress) has named this period of time the “Decade of the Brain.” Specifically, research has discovered information about neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to change and develop. This notion, that the brain is in fact dynamic rather than static, is beneficial for the improvement and treatment of many learning and developmental disabilities: dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, Tourette syndrome, and autism, to name a few. Researchers now have a new approach to assessing these disorders, to create and implement effective therapies.

Many learning centers pride themselves on implementing the most recent methods with their students, including Permanent Learning Solutions in Overton, New Jersey, and Brain Balance Achievement Center in Henderson, New Jersey. In fact, there are only 54 Brain Balance Achievement Centers in the United States and only 15 centers similar to Permanent Learning Solutions. Parents want the best possible therapy for their child, and end up driving long distances or relocating to attend one of these facilities.

The make-up of these centers is not that of a typical academic tutoring setting. Rather, the therapists utilize “fun” techniques to work on brain connectivity. Studies have shown a disconnection between the hemispheres of the brain of someone with autism. The student will then do activities like jumping rope, cross-pattern marching, and pencil push-ups to “stimulate the brain’s ability to change physically and chemically (neuroplasticity) and encourage the two hemispheres to work in harmony.” [i] The directors of these programs are proud to share success stories, including one 10 year old who progressed from first-grade level in reading and math to third grade levels in just six months. Tuition, although viewed as worth it for the child’s education, can be costly for some parents, encouraging the development of non-profit organizations such as Gateway Opportunities for Exceptional Learning to fund these costs.

 



[i] “Las Vegas Review Journal” ‘Decade of the Brain’ yields answers for learning disabled, autism, others. 14 Jul 2013. Web. < http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/education/decade-brain-yields-answers-learning-disabled-autism-others>

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