Welcome to the world of Neuroplasticity and the Arrowsmith Program!
Neuroplasticity simply means the ability of the brain to change.
For almost four decades, Arrowsmith Program founder Barbara Arrowsmith Young has argued that when the brain is stimulated in precise ways, its physiology and function change and cognitive deficits can be addressed. Barbara’s own life story (told in her bestselling book, The Woman Who Changed Her Brain) is ample evidence of this, for she overcame her own quite severe learning disabilities by applying those principles to herself and devising – and, over decades, revising — specific, targeted brain exercises. The goal of the Arrowsmith Program is to identify, intervene and strengthen areas of cognitive weakness that affect learning. It deals with the root causes of a learning disability, rather than managing its symptoms. The goal of the Arrowsmith program is for everyone with learning disabilities to become effective, confident and self-directed learners for life. *Extract taken from the Arrowsmith website. Click hereto read more about the Arrowsmith program.
Did you know that learning difficulties don’t have to be permanent?
Here are the top 10 cognitive functions the Arrowsmith Program strengthens.
Motor Symbol Sequencing
Ability to learn and produce written sequence of symbols
Writing out the alphabet, or a sequence of numbers, or expressing thought in speech are problems for children and adults with this dysfunction. Words may be misread, or handwriting may be messy and irregular. While focussing on writing, the content is often neglected, and sometimes the same word is spelt different ways on the same page.
Ability to understand the relationships among two or more concepts Children and adults with this dysfunction oftentimes have an inability to read an analog clock; to discern the difference between the hour and minute hands.
They have trouble with cause and effect relationships like why events happen. Grammar and reading comprehension suffer because the relationships between elements or characters are not understood.
For many with this dysfunction, there is a constant sense of uncertainty about whether the intended meaning (while reading or listening) has been correctly understood.
Memory for Information or Instructions
Ability to remember chunks of auditory information With this dysfunction, parents oftentimes think their child is being stubborn, irresponsible or lazy because they ask their child to do something but it doesn’t get done. The reason is because the child forgets.
If the child is told to do something, but then gets distracted, the instruction will be totally forgotten, to the point where he may insist that the request was never made.
Ability to see how words and numbers interconnect sequentially into fluent sentences and procedures Does your child try to be helpful, or do they often do something without asking beforehand? With this dysfunction, a child is not capable of considering the possible consequences of the action beforehand.
For example, the child washes his father’s car that has just been waxed, or the child trims the tree in the front yard almost cutting it down.
Broca's Speech Pronunciation
Ability to learn to pronounce syllables and then integrate them into the stable and consistent pronunciation of a wordWith this dysfunction, struggling with thinking and talking at the same time, requiring more concentration to pronounce words, or sometimes losing one’s train of thought are all typical problems.
These difficulties result in shyness (quietness) in new situations involving talking with people, and a tendency to get drowned out by people who find it easier to speak.
Ability to develop and maintain plans and strategies through the use of language Is your child easily distracted from a task and frequently labelled as having a short attention span?
Children and adults with this dysfunction cannot maintain the focus of their attention in their studies, job or a social situation. They are often passive in learning situations, unable to plan how to start a task.
Ability to visually recognize and remember a word or symbol Does your child study a word many times before she can visually memorize it, recognize it, and then say it correctly the next time she sees it?
Often children and adults with this dysfunction cannot recognize a word like “house” as the same word she has seen before.
The result: learning to read and spell words is a very slow process.
Ability to remember several unrelated words in a series Does your child have trouble learning the names of things? This dysfunction is associated with trouble remembering more than three words in a series, or that one word is a synonym for another.
Non-Verbal Thinking (Artifactual Thinking)
Ability to register and interpret non-verbal information and plan and problem solve non-verbally Is your child’s behaviour sometimes inappropriate for the situation? Children and adults with this dysfunction often have trouble registering and interpreting their own emotions, or the facial expressions and body language of others.
In class, a student may not be able to interpret a teacher’s reactions—therefore not knowing if the teacher approves of her work or not.
Ability to carry out internal sequential mental operations, such as mental math. Does counting on fingers sound familiar? Problems with math and counting processes could signal trouble with your child’s quantification sense. This dysfunction impairs a child or adult from doing mathematics inside his or her head, or carrying out internal sequential mental operations.
To find out more about all the different cognitive areas Arrowsmith addresses, please view the below Chart of Learning Functions and Outcomes.