Adina Weiss had a learning disability that experts labeled, “auditory processing disorder.” Her mother, Shaindy, described her as a toddler as being a â€œlittle spaceyâ€ with delayed speech. Their pediatrician said it was something the girl would grow out of.
As she got older and started school she did not grow out of it and had to repeat kindergarten. She received speech therapies that helped some, but was still displaying problems in socialization, and unable to understand and connect conversations. As she got older her memory didnâ€™t improve. She could not remember a paragraph of a story she had just read, and was having problems in math. The girl was frustrated, which caused her to act out.
A diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) led to medications and changes in diet, but did not improve Adinaâ€™s condition and she became increasingly difficult to handle – so they increased her medicine. Her mother said, â€œIncreased medicine made her easier to handle, but flattened her personality. Her sparkle was gone and I felt that I was between a rock and a hard place,â€ until she read about the Arrowsmith Program, published in the Jewish Press.
The program â€œwas described as â€˜cutting edgeâ€™, the latest science dealing with strengthening the brain and eliminating learning disabilities,â€ said Adina. â€œIt seemed too good to be true.â€ At this point no one had attempted to increase Adinaâ€™s memory, â€œbut simply downgraded the materials to help her cope.â€ According to published reports, children in the program had increased their cognitive skills as well as math and reading comprehension, and the results were confirmed through independent studies. â€œThe brain can be modified and learning disabilities are not an unchanging fact of life,â€ according to the article.
Shaindy Weiss saw a light at the end of what seemed to be a dark tunnel. She enrolled Adina in the program and was able to see significant changes within four months. Adina became â€œwittierâ€ and was able to â€œunderstand punch-lines and sarcasmâ€, communicate without having to have the conversation repeated, and was becoming more self-reliant. She was again returning to the bubbly girl she once was, and the pressure from her frustration was obvious in her improved attitude and conduct.
What is the Arrowsmith Program, and how are they able to take children with learning disabilities and turn them around? Scientists are making great strides in understanding dysfunctions of the brain. Work by neuro-psychologists has shown that the brain can be modified, and that learning disabilities can be turned around.
Founder Barbara Arrowsmith Young of the Arrowsmith Academy has been able to identify 19 specific â€˜learning dysfunctionsâ€™ and construct brain exercises that allow parts of the brain previous inactive or underdeveloped to turn up the volume. Through the use of computer and auditory brain exercises Arrowsmith Young has been able to come up with ways to exercise the brain as if it were a muscle of the body. Her methods have achieved remarkable results for over 25 years, and many public and private schools throughout Canada have adapted them into their curriculum. The Hebrew Academy of Long Beach in New York was the first school in the United States to include the program and others are beginning to recognize the value and include it as part of their system.
The book The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science, by Norman Doidge, M.D. addresses the success of the Arrowsmith Program’s in chapter two. A researcher in neuroplasticity, Doidge explains that, â€œAs the exercises change the brain’s abilities, children begin to learn at the natural rate of their peers; they no longer require remedial support, program modification or other forms of compensation.â€
This amazing program could be the answer to the prayers of many parents of children with learning disabilities, and if school systems throughout the country have not at least researched the progress of this program they would serve their community well to do so.
Improving the memory involves many different avenues to explore, and if doing brain exercises can make significant improvement in the mental function of people who previously had no recourse other than mind-numbing medications, what is the worst that can happen?
ISER Home – The Arrowsmtih Program and Correcting Learning Dysfunction, by Shaindy Weiss: http://www.iser.com/resources/arrowsmith-program.html