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“I have a learning disability. It feels like I'm trapped inside my own head, and I can’t get out.”

- Alexis, age 10

Ideally school is a place where we can begin to build our future selves: to develop new skills and experiences, to deepen our understanding of the world. Yet for Alexis, school was nothing like this: for Alexis, like many with learning difficulties, school was a place to endure. 

Different students cope differently: some focus on the respite of recess or PE class; others develop mechanisms like inattention, avoidance or misbehaviour; still others might manage but only with enormous effort. Virtually all, however, share the experiences of confusion, frustration, and shame. And almost always, they share the realization that tomorrow they will face the same struggle, or perhaps, even worse.

It wasn’t only Alexis who struggled. Her teachers felt frustrated, her parents recognized they could not support their child indefinitely. They all knew their efforts, including the herculean effort their daughter put forth every day, would not be available forever.

In a few short years, Alexis would have to face limited post-secondary options, and continue to struggle to meet the expectations of teachers, family and friends and society as a whole. Would this be Alexis’ fate?

You can learn more about the impact of learning disabilities in our recent blog, The Cost of Learning Disabilities, and the Solution.

Learning Disabilities Do Not Have to be Life Long

Like so many children, Alexis spent years in a system that understood her learning difficulties to be life long. Even today most educational pedagogies are built on a view that the brain is “fixed”, unmodifiable, and that therefore learning disabilities are a “life long condition”.

Modern science understands a very different model of the brain. It is “plastic”, it can change and adapt.

The term neuroplasticity is used to describe the brain’s ability to change both its physical and functional organization in response to training and experience. So what does this mean for Alexis?

It means she doesn’t have to merely endure, cope, and certainly she doesn’t need to fail. It means Alexis, and other students – of all ages and across a wide range of ability - can change their fundamental ability to learn. It means students can experience a profoundly different school journey.

Arrowsmith Helps Individuals to Overcome Learning Disabilities

Through the Arrowsmith Program students participate in customized cognitive exercises created from research in neuroscience and utilizing the fundamental principles of neuroplasticity. These activities transform students’ ability: to understand; to remember; to problem solve; to communicate; to calculate; to comprehend; to read; to write; and a host of other intellectual processes.

Students focus on improving their ability to learn, and, in doing so, they create a new reality. They are part of a movement transforming education around the world.

Students within an Arrowsmith setting are not faced with tasks that are beyond their reach, nor are they given lower expectations that make them feel stigmatized or unmotivated. Through careful assessment and cognitive programs calibrated individually to their needs, they face only challenges that they can accomplish. With each mastery achieved, they are driving fundamental change to their ability to learn, allowing them to create a different future for themselves.

An Arrowsmith classroom has a spirit unmatched by most other classrooms – full of students taking pride in tackling the causes of their learning struggles, celebrating each other’s mastery, efforts, and successes and importantly, who are very different learners by the end of the school year.

For students who participate in Arrowsmith, their days are not filled with failure or struggle, and their futures are not limited.

How Arrowsmith Helped Alexis

After only a year into her Arrowsmith journey, Alexis is a different person. She is reading for pleasure, volunteering her calculations in math class, and is brimming with confidence. That confidence is built from the very real foundation of cognitive competence.

With a stronger cognitive profile, Alexis is now learning with greater ease and independence. Her confidence is based on what she is capable of, and how she sees her future. “I can’t wait” she says, “I can do anything”.

Through overcoming cognitive weaknesses and the obstacles they create, students can access learning in an entirely different way. Learning becomes a joyful and positive experience, not a chore. Students not only dare to dream - they now have the cognitive capacities in place to realize those dreams. The shackles of a learning difficulty can be left behind.

Are you interested in having your child access Arrowsmith to overcome their learning issues? Learn more about the possibilities by contacting an Arrowsmith Provider today.


Tara Bonner
Post by Tara Bonner
February 13, 2024
Tara Bonner collaborates with professionals and educators worldwide, envisioning the convergence of learning and neuroscience. Tara has witnessed that cognitive programming can be a transformative force not just for struggling learners, but for all seeking to experience learning with ease and joy. She's honored to be part of these discussions and an organization that's revolutionizing education by putting the "Brain in Education."