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Arrowsmith Program for Learning Disabilities

Have you heard about the Arrowsmith Program? Most parents haven’t. Arrowsmith was founded by Barbara Arrowsmith-Young in Toronto over 30 years ago. Barbara has been successfully changing lives of children and adults with Dyslexia, ADD and ADHD. How is this possible? In one word, Neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to change.

Barbara’s personal story is one of perseverance. She had multiple learning challenges as a child. As an adult she figured out how to change her brain with cognitive exercises, and went on to identify 19 different areas in the brain that relate to learning. She then developed 19 cognitive exercises to strengthen each area, and in the 70’s opened the first Arrowsmith School in Toronto. Today there are schools throughout Canada, Australia and the US. You can read more about her amazing journey in The Woman Who Changed Her Brain: And Other Inspiring Stories of Pioneering Brain Transformation.

I was curious why I hadn’t heard about Arrowsmith before. If cognitive exercises can change the brain, why aren’t all schools using some form of cognitive training to help children with dyslexia, ADD and ADHD? And more importantly, why are we still spinning our wheels with a learning assisted classroom model when we could be changing brains and lives with a cognitive classroom model? The first time I saw a cognitive classroom in action I cried. I was crying for the years my son lost trying to play catch-up in public school. I was crying for all the shame and heartache I imagine he felt every day trying to do the work designed for a neuro-normal child.

Arrowsmith isn’t the only effective cognitive program. Other established programs include Fast ForWord, Cogmed and Lumosity. But Arrowsmith is the only comprehensive cognitive program that is taught in a cognitive classroom. I believe cognitive classrooms represent the future in Special Education. I see a world where neuroscience and education join together to create a shame-free, independent learning environment for our children who learn differently.

If, like me, you are curious about Arrowsmith and curious about whether the program could help your child, check out their website, visit a school in the states or Canada, talk with Arrowmsmith parents. The Arrowsmith parents I have talked with have convinced me that the program not only works but could change the life-long trajectory of their child. And what parent wouldn’t want that?

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