What gifts will you unlock?


Cajal Academy empowers kids to optimize their own learning, social and emotional outcomes.


Cajal Academy is a new special education school in Fairfield, CT for “twice exceptional kids” with high verbal reasoning skills and learning, executive function, sensory processing, social, emotional and medical differences. We welcome complex learners and provide individualized yet social learning experiences for kids in a “cohort of one.”

We provide highly-individualized programs tailored to the data in each child’s neuropsychological profile, presenting new content through each child’s greatest cognitive strengths. At the same time, we apply strategies developed in occupational, physical and language therapy settings to target a child’s low-lying cognitive skills, building up the neural network they need to perform them through neuroplasticity. We bring these programs together through project-based learning: building critical thinking, executive function and social-emotional skills through collaborative, real world problem solving.

Cajal Academy launched a pilot program in spring 2019 and is accepting applications on a rolling basis for the 2019-2020 school year. We are a volunteer-run, nonprofit school.

Modern neuroscience reveals that kids’ life-lived experiences, from ADHD to anxiety to learning disabilities are influenced by connections between the body and the brain. We’re using that science to empower kids to have agency over their own outcomes.
— Cheryl Viirand, Cajal Academy Co-founder


We are redesigning education from the ground up, using the neuroscience that informs our learning, social and emotional experiences.

Tremendous advances have been made in the fields of neuropsychology, human health and our understanding of the myriad, complex ways in which our basic physiology informs our social, emotional and learning outcomes—yet these advances have yet to make their way into the hands of the educators who can use them to move our children forward. The science is there — Cajal Academy is dedicated to bringing it together with forward-looking educational practices to empower kids to architect their own futures.


We create personalized, data-driven educational programs based on each child’s neuropsychological profile to leverage their strengths while addressing areas of challenge.

Each child’s program starts with a deep dive into the individual cognitive, auditory processing, social, sensory, executive function and other skills that combine to influence our learning and life-lived experiences. Find out more about how we’re using this data to develop individualized instructional programs to allow each child to experience their own gifts while using strategic, therapeutic interventions to build up capacity in the areas that threaten to hold them back, through the principal of neuroplasticity.



We empower children to start living their best lives today, with personalized strategies that give them agency over their own experiences.

Our mission is not just to deliver academic learning but to empower each child to change their own life-lived experiences, at each stage of their development. Find out more about how we coach children in Personalized Strategies they can use to self-monitor, self-manage and self-advocate for their needs—the core of our commitment to empowering kids to optimize their own learning, social and emotional experiences.



Instead of fighting kids’ need to move, we’re redesigning the classroom to leverage it as a powerful learning tool.

Research shows that using movement and sensory input in learning activities literally increases the number of neural networks involved in the process, with measurable impacts for learning outcomes—so why are traditional schools so focused on asking children to “sit still and listen”? We are re-designing the classroom experience from the ground up to stop fighting children’s bodies and start leveraging them as powerful learning tools. Find out more about how our Body-Informed Learning merges research-backed strategies developed in occupational therapy settings with the emerging field of “embodied learning” through obstacle courses, reduced sensory rooms, on-site OT and PT expertise and more!


We bring our individualized programs together through skills-focused, project-based learning to develop essential critical thinking & collaboration skills.

Schools across the country are recognizing that project-based learning better develops the critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration and communication skills that are essential to success in the post-Google, 21st century world. We are taking this framework to the next level, by integrating each child’s individualized instruction, personalized strategies and neuroscience-driven skill development directly into all phases of the project process, co-taught by our therapeutic specialists to ensure that each child has both the runway and the support they need to experience their best selves throughout the learning process.


An inclusive community for exceptional learners.


Cajal Academy is the first private school in Fairfield County to invite “mainstream” children with high verbal reasoning skills to a level of data-driven, individualized programming and therapeutic expertise that is usually inaccessible outside of the special needs community. We are one of the first schools in Connecticut focusing on the critical 21st century skills of critical thinking and collaboration through project-based learning, and the first to deeply integrate it with individualized instruction and therapeutic support. And we are one of only about twenty schools in the country to expressly provide programming for the population of students known as “twice exceptional”—that is, students who have high cognitive profiles combined with one or more diagnosed areas of learning, social, emotional or medical difference. These include complex learning, social and medical profiles, including dyslexia, ADHD, sensory processing disorder and neurological, immunological and musculoskelatal differences impacting learning, among others. Find out more about our commitment to building a community as we grow that is not only inclusive, but where children are explicitly taught to value and foster diversity of thought and experience, and to recognize and celebrate one another’s gifts.


Both the challenges and support that twice exceptional kids need to thrive


We are committed to giving each child the runway they need to develop their gifts.

Children need to be challenged, regardless of any diagnoses or learning differences, and runway to explore and develop their talents within a supportive community environment. Find out how we are using project-based learning and access to industry-based content experts to make sure that even our most precocious—and asynchronous—learners can go as far and as fast as they need.

Therapeutic expertise is embedded into all we do.

Find out how we are breaking down the silos between traditionally “academic” and “therapeutic” settings to better match the integrated realities of children’s experiences, with additional therapeutic intensives integrated into the day for those children requiring more specialized support, so all our learners have time to play and be kids after school.

We are a trauma-informed school—with a neuroscientific twist.

Children’s behaviors are traditionally presumed to show intent—but may really be the outward manifestation of any number of physiological, emotional or trauma-driven events. Find out how we partner with a child to help them better understand and take agency over the factors that drive their behaviors, through a nuerologically-grounded twist on the Trauma-Informed Approach.



Cajal Academy is reviewing applications on a rolling basis, with open enrollment for the 2019-20 school year. Apply today!



Educating Innovation

Find out more about our program on our blog


What’s in a name…

An inspiring twice exceptional man, and the basis for all we do as an organization—and as humans.

Cajal Academy is named in honor of Santiago Ramon y Cajal (pronounced “Ka-hall”), the Spanish neuroscientist and artist whose “rebellious” nature created a difficult childhood—but led him to receive a Nobel Prize in 1906 for discovering how the brain and central nervous system work. Find out more about this inspiring, “twice exceptional” man, his art and the scientific basis for all we do as a school, as an organization dedicated to scientifically-informed educational innovation, and as humans.

Santiago Ramon y Cajal (1852-1934)

Santiago Ramon y Cajal (1852-1934)