Many people in the world have special needs and disabilities. Often disabilities arise from brain and nervous system dysfunctions. These changes can be caused by genetic mutations and/or tetragons, which are factors that lead to the malformation of an embryo. Even small changes to brain structure and genetic makeup can lead to one developing a disability. Research has found that many patients with learning disabilities have structural differences in their brains when compared to neurotypical people.
Numerous structural differences that have been found between those with disabilities and those with “normal brains.” Researchers have discovered that the amount of grey and white matter can be different in people with impairments. People with dyslexia have less grey and white matter in the left parietotemporal area, which is involved in comprehending written and spoken languages, leading to language deficits. Kids with ADHD and other attention disorders also have differences in their brains. Their frontal lobes, which control behavior, decision-making, and emotions are often smaller and wired differently. The parietal lobes which have been found to support math can also be less active in some children with these disorders. These are just a few of the structural difference that can be present in people with disabilities.
Genetics can also play a big role in the development of disabilities. Autism and Down Syndrome are two disorders that occur as a result of genetic defects. Scientists think it is likely that a couple of genes interact to cause Autism, as they have not been able to pinpoint a single cause. Children who have relatives with Autism are more susceptible to the disorder, hinting at its genetic basis. Down syndrome also has a genetic basis as the majority of Down syndrome cases are caused by trisomy 21, where an individual has three copies of chromosome 21 instead of two. These minor changes to the genetic makeup of individuals cause them to go on to have a wide range of disabilities, and often the same mistake does not lead to the exact same disability in varying individuals. While science has come a long way, there is still much we do not know about these disorders.
Recently neuroplasticity, the capability of the brain to rewire itself and form new neural connections, has become a big topic in the Neuroscience community. The brain’s plasticity has many implications, an important one being the potential to improve the symptoms of various disabilities. In order to form new connections, one has to constantly work to strengthen them. While changing the brain takes a lot of time and hard work it is possible. In order to establish change the brain has to be in the right state. It has been found that the more incentivized one is to cause change the more change will be seen. While neuroplasticity is not a hard and fast cure for disabilities it is a potential way to alleviate symptoms and could help to open the door for new treatment options.
While those with special needs face some limitations they are also gifted in many areas. Those with disabilities often think in novel ways as they have a unique perspective on the world that those without disabilities do not have. This perspective allows them to interact with the world in a method that allows hidden talents to surface. One example of this is many individuals with autism have different niches and special abilities. Recently an autistic artist, Stephen Wiltshire, went viral for his ability to draw major cities completely from memory. Derek Paraviccini has learning impairments and is completely blind but even still he is a musical genius. These two people are not exceptions, and it is not only those with autism who have special talents. While more research needs to be done to figure out what causes these hidden abilities in those with disabilities it is clear that our friends with special needs are very talented.