The NEARI Brain-based Education and
Alternative Assessment and Educational Services
For Chronic Learning and Behavior Problems
Beginning in 1999, NEARI has been developing a brain-based approach to evaluating and teaching the children and youth referred to the NEARI School. This method translates the latest neuroscience, psychology and education research about how the brain learns best into practical classroom and counseling strategies. It is grounded in the beliefs that: every child can learn and has unique learning needs; not all learning disabilities are life-long problems requiring compensatory interventions; and, success depends on identifying and treating the underlying weaknesses rather than just the symptoms of class-room and social failures.
At NEARI, brain-based strategies are designed to favorably impact on the specific, intractable learning and behavior problems students bring with them. Often, these are problems that parents and professionals have tried to ameliorate for years in other settings without success. Such chronic problems include:
- developmental delays in cognitive and social functioning;
- math, reading and vision issues;
- auditory and language processing problems;
- vestibular, object control, reflex and fine-motor weaknesses;
- memory and attention issues;
- sensory integration and mood regulation and;
- forming relationships and demonstrating acceptable behaviors.
Upon entrance to NEARI, students are assessed using a battery of screens and tests to identify areas of weakness. The assessment results are then fashioned into an individual learner profile, which guides NEARI teachers and other staff in their work with students. Each learner profile includes a set of intervention strategies to address identified problems. Such interventions are carried out both during academic classes and at other non-academic times during the school day.
In addition, NEARI has special classrooms at both the elementary and middle/high-school levels for students who need more intensive neuro-developmental interventions. These students have traditionally carried labels such as. Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), Aspergers, High-functioning Autism, and Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NVLD.). These young people present with significant weaknesses in social pragmatics, inference-making, sensory-motor integration, hyperfocus, attention and organizational problems. Their profiles call for very focused work in the areas just named as well as specialized, cognitive and physical exercise programs to jumpstart changes in performance.
In the past five years, major changes in student performance levels and motivation have occurred again and again. Reading scores for low and non-readers have increased as much as two and half grade levels for each year at NEARI. Restraints have been reduced up to seventy-five percent year over year, and the current norm for confrontive interventions is markedly lower than in the past.
Last, NEARI has now expanded its brain-based work into several public schools and the greater valley community with private fee-for-service clients (children and adults). NEARI continues to evaluate its outcomes, explore and integrate new research-based methods, and expand these unique services to the larger community.