Barbara Arrowsmith Young (MA)

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The genesis of the Arrowsmith Program of cognitive exercises lies in Barbara Arrowsmith-Young’s journey of discovery and innovation to overcome her own severe learning disabilities. Her book, The Woman Who Changed Her Brain, documents this journey. Diagnosed in first grade as having a mental block, which today would be identified as multiple learning disabilities, she read and wrote everything backward, had trouble processing concepts, regularly got lost and was physically uncoordinated. She eventually learnt to read and write but continued to have difficulty in school with specific aspects of learning. Her unique combination of severe learning disabilities and intellectual gifts was the driving force in her development of the suite of cognitive exercises she created to strengthen specific cognitive functions. These constitute the Arrowsmith Program and are used in schools in Canada, the United States and Australia. Barbara’s work, begun in 1978, has been recognized as one of the first examples of the practical application of neuroplasticity to the treatment of learning problems. As the Director of the Arrowsmith Program, she continues to develop cognitive programs. Her vision is that all students struggling with learning disabilities will have the opportunity to benefit from cognitive programs based on the principles of neuroplasticity to change the brain’s capacity to learn. Barbara Arrowsmith Young holds a B.A.Sc. in Child Studies from the University of Guelph and a Master’s degree in School Psychology from the University of Toronto.

The Intimate Connection Between Mental Health Issues and Learning Disabilities