BrainWise concepts elicit an “aha” response, according to a group of professionals who presented their work with special education students at a national conference on brain research held May 7-9 in Washington, D.C. Dr. Gary Swanson, along with Padmaja Chilakapati, MD, and Lynn Scholl, MEd, authored a presentation at the conference titled, “Integrating New Brain Research Findings Into Special Education Settings” that discussed the inclusion of BrainWise in their school-based partial hospital program in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The program, called Wesley Spectrum Highland Services, has been using the BrainWise curriculum for about a year.
“We introduced the curriculum to our elementary age kids, and have recently expanded to include some of our middle school kids,” Dr. Swanson said.
Dr. Swanson first learned about the BrainWise Program after reading a paper co-authored by Dr. Patricia Gorman Barry, program founder, and Dr. Marilyn Welsh, professor at the University of Northern Colorado, published in the book, “Adolescent Psychopathology and the Developing Brain: Integrating Brain and Prevention Science,” that presented cutting-edge programs and research on the brain.
According to Dr. Swanson, “The BrainWise Program appealed to me because of the power of its explanatory model. I think it is considerably easier for children, parents and staff to understand that the behavioral and emotional problems that we see are not due to ‘chemical imbalances’ or ‘ADHD’ but rather, are the result of developmental connection problems that can be addressed through both therapy and medications.”
Dr. Swanson has shared BrainWise concepts with children, parents, nursing and milieu staff, as well as psychologists and psychiatrists.
“I am impressed by the ‘aha’ response that I get from many of them,” Dr. Swanson said. “Children have asked questions that reflect an understanding of the concepts, as have their parents. Professionals have readily recognized the way that the concepts fit our current understanding of the brain, and allow for the integration of different treatment interventions,” he added.