CSS Approach

cropped-footerreachinglogo.jpgNeurodevelopmental Framework

CSS uses a neurodevelopmental framework to help students, their parents, teachers and health care providers fully understand how a student learns (“neuro” = of the brain; “developmental” = changing over time).  The framework is built on a set of principles which guide all aspects of CSS services.

Guiding principles of the Neurodevelopmental Framework

new-star Asset (strength) based — Focus is on determining students’ current strengths and competencies, as well as the competencies that will be needed for continuous growth and success. This requires parents and teachers to have a paradigm shift from the traditional diagnostic deficit model.

new-star Proactive/preventative — Focus is on well-being of student, not on  pathology.Emphasis is placed on description of observed behavior and practical strategies to support school success, rather than the use of labels in assessments, reports and discussions with student/family/other interested parties.

new-star Developmental — Consideration is given to the developmental stage of each student, as well as the impact of related health, social, emotional factors, when determining modes of instruction, assessment measures, and when interpreting outcome. Students are involved as active participants; adults include developmentally appropriate explanations/resources for the student about how s/he learns so that they can become self-aware and begin to self-advocate.

new-star Functional — Consideration is given to skills that students need in order to function well in a variety of settings with an emphasis on a student’s ability to successfully integrate his/her emotional and cognitive abilities across various settings.

new-star Family-Centered — Acknowledgement that families are the one constant in a student’s life. Family members are important collaborators in identification and support of a student’s strengths and challenges.   Therefore, effort must be made to include the family/guardian so that all parties can work together to help the student/family understand and manage the student’s learning profile.

The framework includes an approach founded on the belief that successful teaching and learning involves consideration of three factors: 1) a student’s individual profile of strengths and weaknesses; 2) academic demands; and 3) the learning environment. The diagram below shows the context in which learning occurs. CSS’ neurodevelopmental approach serves as a bridge to support successful learning when a student’s strengths don’t match the demands of an academic task.


The CSS neurodevelopmental approach includes a general understanding of eight broad neurodevelopmental categories, or constructs. These are: attention, language, higher order thinking, memory, neuromotor skills, social skills, spatial and sequential ordering skills. These eight constructs, and their respective sub-categories, provide a shared language which students, parents, teachers and health care providers can use to understand and discuss learning. It also includes consideration of the impact biological, psychological, social and emotional factors can play in learning and overall well-being. Read more about the 8 Neurodevelopmental Constructs.

The neurodevelopmental approach can be incorporated into any learning environment, instruction or program (e.g., homework, math, writing, RtI, Differentiated Instruction). It provides parents, teachers and health care providers with a specific lens through which they can observe, examine and describe student learning. The approach allows those who live/work with students to implement strategies that are linked to specific areas of concern and that leverage areas of strength to help students achieve intended learning.