Respect! The Arrowsmith students are amazing!

Yesterday evening was an eye-opener for me. Simon has been waiting for this evening for a long time as we missed it in his first and his second year. It was the Parent-Teacher night at Arrowsmith but this is not like the Parent-Teacher night as you know it. There was no sitting in front of the teacher waiting to hear the latest about your child, how they can improve, work harder or, indeed, how well they might be doing. This is something else completely – this is getting you to understand how to do the cognitive exercises and how hard it is to do them by doing them yourself. You, the parent, have to do the work that your child (whatever their age) is doing on a daily basis for hours on end, being taught by your child! They are your teacher for the evening!
Simon went through his day with me, talking me through the cognitive exercises, one by one. He explained which area of the brain is being used and what is improved by each of the exercises, for example, reading, writing, speaking more clearly, reading body language and facial expressions or the ability to remember all the instructions you are given when they are given all at once (by a bossy Mum, said Simon!).
I tried each of Simon’s exercises, at a lower level than that at which he is working, for around 10 minutes per exercise as compared to a period of 40 minutes. At the end of 2 hours I have to admit to my brain feeling quite frazzled. It is no wonder that Simon, and the other students, have an aching brain by the end of most days! I have a much greater understanding and a new level of respect for what these students have to do for themselves as they work to improve their cognitive abilities. It is truly remarkable and I am awed by their dedication and also the commitment of their fabulous, always cheerful and encouraging teachers to help them to achieve their best and to realise their potential and their dreams. The photo is me having done an exercise which makes the act of writing easier and more fluent. I did one page and my hand was tired, Simon does six pages of the same combinations and usually three sets of six pages each period! Exhausting! image
I leave you first with the words of Barbara Arrowsmith Young from her book “The Woman Who Changed Her Brain”:
My vision is of a world in which no child ever struggles with a learning disability, no child is ever stigmatised as having one, and no child experiences the ongoing emotional pain of living with a learning disability.
That people with learning difficulties don’t dare to dream breaks my heart. We now have the tools to address these problems, strengthen and rewire and improve their brains, and avoid a tremendous amount of needless suffering
And finally the words of Norman Doidge, psychiatrist and author of “The Brain That Changes Itself” in which I first read of the Arrowsmith Program:
The stigma associated with having a learning disability will ease when we all understand that we can accomplish what was once thought impossible: we can change, fundamentally and profoundly, our capacity to learn.


2 thoughts on “Respect! The Arrowsmith students are amazing!

  1. Your story continues to amaze me. I’m so glad to have learned about the Arrowsmith program from you and have passed on the information to a couple of parents who struggle with their children’s learning disabilities. As I read of your journey, I think of the many parents (I’m a teacher) who take no interest in their children’s learning, of the ones who place impossible expectations in their way, of the ones who only pass on one message: you are not good enough.

    • Hi Nancy, I am pleased to be able to share our story and hope that it helps those you have told about it. I know how incredibly lucky we are to have found it and to be in a position to take advantage of it and to afford it. I feel very blessed and very sad for those students you have described.

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