Leave Dyslexia Behind

It is a common conception that Dyslexia cannot be treated. In fact, conventional wisdom suggests that people who struggle with learning challenges, in general, have few options to improve their current abilities. This results in people with learning difficulties often being presented with bleak futures—a do-your-best-with-what-you-have approach that makes learning challenges seem permanent.  This notion is damaging. It leads to poor mental health, it lowers the ability to maximize individual potential and: It’s not true!

There are many programs in the world that claim to help individuals with learning difficulties. Fortunately, in some cases the claims are true. People with Dyslexia can receive help to improve specific reading and writing skills, but few programs actually address the root of the problem. They only work to mask the symptoms and people continue to struggle when faced with the next challenge.

From a cognitive perspective, Dyslexia is the result of having one or more weak brain functions related to the ability to read and write. Since the 1960’s neuroscientists have known that the brain can grow and change through the process called neuroplasticity. Since the 1970’s practitioners have been using the concept of neuroplasticity to grow and strengthen weaker functions in the brain, reducing or eliminating cognitive weaknesses that cause learning difficulties.

Specific cognitive training exercises can be used to strengthen weaker brain areas that are the underlying cause of specific learning difficulties such as Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia, memory disorders, Auditory Processing Disorder, and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

Dyslexia can be caused by a combination of weak cognitive functions. Once these functions are identified they can be strengthened through a series of brain training exercises. The Arrowsmith cognitive training program has been assessing the underlying causes of learning difficulties such as Dyslexia for more than 40 years.

The notion that specific learning difficulties such as Dyslexia is a permanent condition is an antiquated idea that still permeates our education and even medical institutions. Indeed, tens-of-thousands of people of all ages, from across the world, have taken advantage of the brains neuroplastic abilities to reduce or eliminate learning challenges. The future may not be as bleak as conventional wisdom would suggest!

 

Visit us at confidentbrains.com for more information.

 

Video Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dxg-wPJgdBo . Thank you to Trevor and Eaton Arrowsmith.

Sources:

  1. Arrowsmithschool.org
  2. Doidge, Norman. (2010). The brain that changes itself : stories of personal triumph from the frontiers of brain science. Carlton North, Vic. :Scribe Publications. http://www.normandoidge.com/?page_id=1259

 

Addressing Learning Difficulties: Make the impossible, possible!

Goal setting is an integral part of the unparalleled success that students achieve in an Arrowsmith classroom. Instructors work with students to set daily and weekly goals, as well as new and ambitious life goals. “Make the impossible possible” is a mantra common in our Arrowsmith cognitive training classrooms.  Our instructors continually help students of all ages set and achieve goals that would have not been possible prior to participation in the Arrowsmith Program.

“Helping students achieve the next steps in life is always our goal” explains Robert Lee, a Cognitive Instructor for the Arrowsmith Program at Confident Brains School, Phuket. “For example, if a student has struggled to complete high school, our goal might be to get him or her to the point where they can excel academically and post-secondary education becomes a possibility. We are always envisioning how we can support our students in achieving the next level. Arrowsmith offers the opportunity to make real change and achieve meaningful success”.

Learn more about Confident Brains School Phuket and Arrowsmith Program by clicking here.

 

Thank you to our North American colleagues from Eaton Arrowsmith in Canada for their amazing work. Thank you to Trevor for sharing this wonderful success story.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dxg-wPJgdBo

Is There a Link Between Learning Difficulties and Mental Health?

[vc_row][vc_column][mk_fullwidth_slideshow images=”1873″ stretch_images=”true”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1566201905405{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]Can you imagine living with a learning difficulty so severe that basic daily tasks become overwhelming obstacles? Where despite intellectual strengths, your ability to learn, retain information, or understand instructions is compromised? This may leave you feeling lost, insecure, and undervalued. Where the stress of living with a learning difficulty is negatively impacting your self-esteem or mental health, but there seems to be no solution? Perhaps you, or someone you love, is affected in this way by learning difficulties or challenges. That was the case for the founder of the Arrowsmith Program, Barbara Arrowsmith Young.

Fortunately, through over 35 years’ experience working with children, adolescents, and adults with learning difficulties, Ms. Arrowsmith Young developed a cognitive therapy program that can treat the underlying causes of learning challenges. Graduates of the program can lead more focused, productive, and fulfilled lives. Based on her research, enrollment in the program can lead to profound and lasting positive effects on the lives of the people who struggle with learning difficulties. Children with learning difficulties can emerge as confident learners, equipped to take on the challenges of adolescence and adulthood. Life-changing improvements are also available for adult learners.

How Do Learning Difficulties Relate to Mental Health?

The way society treats people with learning difficulties can lead to emotional scars and long term effects on self-esteem. Self-judgement and negative interactions with teachers, coaches, parents, and peers, can lead to feelings of isolation, depression, frustration, and sometimes aggression. Ms. Arrowsmith Young has personally expressed that she had attempted suicide several times before the age of 20. Continually receiving negative feedback understandably leads to feelings of low self worth.

Educators, and society in general, are becoming more aware of learning challenges and the issues surrounding them. However, people with learning difficulties are regularly dismissed as lazy, unintelligent, or uncommitted. There is a common stigma associated with learning difficulties and mental health issues. This stigma causes those who suffer with these issues to become further isolated from their peers. Individuals that reach adulthood with unaddressed learning difficulties are over-represented in marginalized societal groups. They also have an increased incidence of risk-taking behaviors and mental health issues. According to the Journal of Learning Disabilities, more than 30 percent of people with learning difficulties also report having mental health and anxiety disorders. For people without learning challenges, this number is just 10 percent(1).[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][mk_fullwidth_slideshow images=”2960″ stretch_images=”true” animation_speed=”0″ slideshow_speed=”0″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1566201934010{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]

Can Learning Difficulties and Associated Mental Health Challenges be Overcome?

Research shows that the brain can be strengthened. Learning disabilities can be treated through targeted strengthening of specific brain functions that cause learning difficulties. The Arrowsmith Program offers solutions to improve the lives of those with learning difficulties, one person at a time. It is an exciting time for the Arrowsmith Program. New research is clearly demonstrating specific changes in brain function as a result of completing the customized exercises that make up the Arrowsmith Program.

It is commonly understood that approximately 10 percent of the population is afflicted with a learning difficulty or challenge. However, Ms. Arrowsmith Young believes that number is actually within the range of 10-20 percent. The Arrowsmith Program effectively treats learning difficulties, and by association the long term effects on mental health.  Now imagine a world in which 10-20 percent of the population–those who may currently be struggling with self-esteem or mental health issues–can overcome their learning challenges. The positive impact would touch not only the lives of these individuals and their families, but would be a big step toward creating a stronger and more inclusive society.

To view the complete Huffington Post article on Barbara Arrowsmith Young’s journey visit: https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/barbara-arrowsmithyoung/canadian-mental-health-week_b_3224386.html

 

(1) Wilson, A.M., Armstrong, C.D., Furrie, A. and Wilcot, E. The mental Health of Canadians With Self-Reported Learning Disabilities. J Learning Disabilities 2009 42:24-40[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Arrowsmith Program: is it Right for You?

 

A Permanent Life Changing Solution

The Arrowsmith ProgramTM has a 40+ year history of providing life changing solutions for those who would like to improve their ability to think, learn, and understand.

The Arrowsmith ProgramTM was originally designed to help improve the lives of people with Specific Learning Difficulties. Since then, the brain training exercises in the Arrowsmith Program have been used for a variety of purposes including: improving brain health and cognitive abilities in old age, turbo charging existing strengths, and improving cognitive abilities for business people and athletes.

Taking Your Abilities to a New Level

People entering the Arrowsmith ProgramTM typically want to improve abilities related to:

  • reading
  • writing
  • mathematics
  • logical reasoning
  • general understanding
  • memory
  • processing speed
  • social abilities
  • non-verbal learning
  • auditory processing
  • attention

 

Typically, people enrolling in the Arrowsmith ProgramTM who would like to address Specific Learning Difficulties:

  • are of average or above average intelligence;
  • have a one or more learning difficulties such as Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia, Auditory Processing Disorder, Non-verbal Processing Disorder, Attention Difficulty; or,
  • have undiagnosed challenges related to organization, learning, and social abilities;
  • does NOT have severe emotional or behavioral disorders that would prevent them from participating in sustained cognitive training exercises;
  • does NOT have moderate or severe Autism Spectrum Disorder;
  • does NOT have intellectual delay or Downs Syndrome

Every person who applies for the Arrowsmith ProgramTM is considered based on their individual needs. Trained Arrowsmith instructors and administrators have a deep understanding that each person has different abilities, goals, and dreams.

Customized to Your Needs

Upon enrollment, each student receives a full cognitive assessment to determine which brain functions are functioning well, and which brain functions need to be strengthened in order to function optimally.  Based on this assessment, a brain training program is designed for each individual. The participant then take part in daily brain training exercises that are tailored to his or her specific needs.

Brain training typically takes 1-4 years of daily cognitive exercise to fully strengthen weak cognitive functions and overcome learning difficulties. Participants receive annual reassessments to track progress and redesign programs based on growth and development. Taking part in the Arrowsmith ProgramTM  is truly life changing and can unlock the cognitive potential of individuals who are ready to be at their best.

Taking the First Steps

The first step in enrolling in the Arrowsmith ProgramTM is to complete an inquiry form. The information will be kept confidential and will be used by our trained staff to determine how we can best meet your needs.

Once we have reviewed your information our staff will contact you to determine your specific needs and provide further information and options to build a better cognitive future.

Inquire today to see if the Arrowsmith Program is right for your needs.

Grow New Brain Cells: Here’s How

Grow new brain cells? In adults? Until recently, even the most forward thinking neuroscientists would have dismissed such an idea as scientific heresy. Neurogenesis–the production of new brain cells–is not only possible but we have the ability to influence it though out actions. It helps to improve both the capacity and quality of our memory. It helps to reduce depression and is a factor in maintaining brain health as we age.

How can I grow more brain cells?

Your environment and your actions can drive the growth of new brain cells.  Learning new things, getting enough sleep, reducing stress, exercise, and diet all impact our ability to grow new brain cells.

Dr. Sandrine Thuret explains how neurogenesis is not only real, but has impacts on some of the most important aspects of our lives.

 

We can grow new brain cells. Dr. Sandrine Thuret explains. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_tjKYvEziI

 

What Is Executive Functioning?

What Is Executive Functioning?

Executive Functioning sounds like a phrase that you might hear around a boardroom table. However, it relates to something much more important – the human brain and more specifically, the brain’s ability to maintain focus and attention.

If you think of your brain as a tightly run organization, executive function can be likened to the boss. It’s in charge and responsible for setting goals, planning tasks and basically just getting things done!

Signs that all is not right with the brain’s executive function, may include difficulties around maintaining attention, prioritizing tasks, and switching focus from one task to another. People with executive function challenges can also be perceived as rigid or stubborn, all of which combines to affect work performance and personal relationships.

Having problems with executive function is not necessarily a specific learning difficulty on its own. Rather, it is a broader term to describe challenges within a group of cognitive abilities important to learning. The 3 elements of executive functioning are:

  1. Working Memory
  2. Cognitive Flexibility (also called flexible thinking)
  3. Inhibitory Control (including self-control)

Testing

Testing for executive functioning issues requires comprehensive evaluation that looks for underlying learning difficulties. This type of evaluation can be done by a professional who is trained to administer the tests and interpret the results.  Specific tests look at a wide range of skills including:

  • Attention
  • Inhibitory control
  • Working memory
  • Organization and planning
  • Concept formation
  • Set shifting (the ability to shift from one task to another)
  • Word and idea generation

Impacts

ADD and ADHD are by and large a problem of executive function. The symptoms of a person with ADHD for instance, typically include impulsivity, difficulty paying attention, poor working memory, trouble managing emotions and difficulty shifting focus from one task to another.

People with specific learning difficulties like dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia can often have weak executive function skills. When these learning difficulties are compounded the challenges of learning can become even more complex.

Anxiety and depression are also common in people suffering executive function issues. This could be attributed to the ongoing negative impacts of high stress and lower self-esteem resulting from learning challenges.

Brain imaging studies have been used to identify how executive function issues appear in the brain. Research shows that in people who struggle with these skills, the frontal areas of the brain responsible for executive function are slower to develop. This is also evident in other learning difficulties such as dyslexia.

There is also a genetic component associated with executive function issues. Like many other neuro and physiological ailments, people with executive function issues can often trace back to a family member that may have had similar difficulties.

Finding Solutions

The standard solutions to improve the lives of those struggling with executive functioning typically involve several strategies in unison. Medication is widely prescribed for attention issues but can have side effects that do little to improve overall well-being.  Education workers, coaches and healthcare providers can provide strategies to navigate social situations, improve organizational skills and behavior management (1).

Cognitive training interventions, read brain training, has been used since the late 1970’s to address the root cause of executive function difficulty. Strengthening weaker cognitive functions can be a challenging long term process. However, improvements can be dramatic and the effects permanent (2).

 

Original Sources

  1. The Understood Team (2019) Understanding Executive Functioning Issues. Retrieved from https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/executive-functioning-issues/understanding-executive-functioning-issues#item3
  2. Doidge, Norman. (2010). The brain that changes itself : stories of personal triumph from the frontiers of brain science. Carlton North, Vic. :Scribe Publications. http://www.normandoidge.com/?page_id=1259

 

 

Neuroplasticity Explained

In simple terms, neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to grow and change. Changes to the brain occur over time and allow individuals to adapt to new situations or changes in their environment [1]. Neuroplasticity is sometimes referred to as brain plasticity; reinforcing that the brain can be molded, like plastic. This is great news because it means that our brains are designed to change throughout our lifetime. Changes in the brain can be structural, such as differences in size, shape, and density. Changes can also occur to the organizational function of the brain. This means that new connections can be made within the brain, and that existing connections can be strengthened [2].

How Does Neuroplasticity Relate to Real Life Situations?

We all have the ability to grow and change our own brain.

Changes to the brain can occur in response to a single event, such as a brain injury. When part of the brain is damaged, neuroplasticity allows for an intact area of the brain to take over some of the functions of the damaged brain area [1]. In effect, one area of the brain compensates for the area that no longer functions. This compensation is useful for individuals who have lost all function of a particular brain area(s).

In less extreme cases, the principles of neuroplasticity can be applied to weak brain areas. For example, just as all people exhibit a variety of physical traits that can be seen, each brain is also unique. Each human brain has different strengths and weaknesses. Weak brain areas, also referred to as areas of weak cognitive function, can result in a variety of  learning challenges. The underlying causes of learning difficulties can be addressed by strengthening weak areas of the brain.

Compensation Vs. Strengthening

There is an important distinction between compensation and strengthening. In layman’s terms, compensation involves one part of the brain completing a task for a weak or damaged area of the brain that has a limited ability to perform that specific function. In a way, it is the brain taking the path of least resistance. Brain strengthening is described as taking specific intentional action to improve a weak or malfunctioning area of the brain to address the underlying cause. Importantly, brain strengthening exercises can be of benefit to anyone, but life-changing gains in cognitive function can be seen in people with learning difficulties.

The Arrowsmith Program specializes in assessing each individual to identify the specific brain areas that need to be strengthened. Each student receives a personalized set of cognitive exercises to target their particular learning challenges. The program is suitable for children, adolescents, and adults – all of whom are able to benefit from the principles of neuroplasticity.

Here’s a video from Perth Brain Centre explaining neuroplasticity:

 

Sources

[1] Shiel, W.C., Medical Definition of Neuroplasticity. Medicinenet. 2019-05-15. https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=40362

[2] Arrowsmith School. Neuroplasticity. 2019-05-15. https://arrowsmithschool.org/neuroplastic/

Brain training: Top 10 tips From the Pro’s

For more than a decade, I have had the pleasure of working with some of the best brain training coaches and instructors from around the world.  Talented people who have devoted their lives to helping others grow and strengthen their cognitive abilities.  These people have shared their technical expertise and given unwavering individual support to those who are committed to unlocking their full cognitive potential.

After working with the best in the world I have been able to collect the best brain training tips that can help support the improved ability to think, learn, and understand. The top 10 tips for getting the most out of brain training:

1. Just start

Brain building takes time. The sooner you begin your brain training journey; the sooner you will reap the benefits of a stronger brain. There is a common misconception that the brain only grows and changes when it is young. Neuroscience has allowed us to understand that our brain is capable of change and growth from the time we are born, into old age. However, rewiring the brain to be stronger and more effective is not a quick fix. True brain training often takes 1 – 4 years depending on the individual. Strengthening your brain is a challenge that is better done sooner than later. Whether it is a few minutes a day on a brain training game, or a complete classroom-based program to overcome Specific Learning Difficulties, now is the best time. Start now and enjoy the benefits of a stronger healthier brain for the rest of your life.

 

2. Keep going

Brain training is not a magic pill. Meaningful gains are a result of continuous hard work. Consistent, quality brain training will provide infinitely more benefit than occasional bursts of effort. True cognitive change is a result of hard work, determination and perseverance—what Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth calls GRIT.

 

3. Don’t stop

Making real cognitive change can be an exhilarating process that can change your life. Brain training can also be frustrating at times. It requires commitment. If you are tempted to quit, think back to the reasons why you started in the first place. Do those reasons still exist? If the answer is “yes” refer to the previous tip and…keep going.

 

4. Develop a growth mindset

Dr. Carol Dwek of Stanford University makes is clear that your approach to life is what can determine your success. This may sound like a wishful fairy-tale to those who struggle with Specific Learning Difficulties. However, when people believe they can get smarter, which they can, they understand that effort makes them stronger. Therefore, when extra time and the right kind of effort is applied it will lead to higher achievement. A growth mindset, combined with the right intervention, creates the ideal conditions to reduce or eliminate the suffering and hardship caused by learning challenges.

5. Get enough sleep

Getting enough sleep is critical to cognitive growth. Sleep helps the brain to recover from daily use and it is also critical in reducing stress. Reducing stress is a key factor maximizing your brains capacity for neuroplasticity, the brains ability to grow and change.

6. Eat well

The brain requires a lot of energy. It uses approximately 20 percent of the energy we burn each day. This means that optimal brain growth will require a significant amount of good quality fuel. In the media there are scores of complicated articles about antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and omega-3 fatty acids being good for the brain. This may be true, but fueling brain growth can be relatively simple. A general rule for optimizing brain grow is to eat colorful whole foods. Start with a base of colorful vegetables, and add in some protein like fish, nuts, and seeds. Drink plenty of water and avoid processed sugar. That’s it. Bon Appetite.

7. Exercise

If there one thing you can do to improve brain health and brain function, exercise is it! In the book Spark, Doctor and author John Ratey describes exercise as “Miracle-Grow” for the brain. It creates chemical conditions that improve memory, enhance flexible thinking, and prime the brain for growth. To get the most out of a cognitive training program, exercise is an essential ingredient.

8. Be social

Every social interaction is different. Variety is good for the brain. As cognitive abilities are strengthened in a brain training program those abilities need to be put to the test. In the world of brain development, there is the idea of use-it-or-lose-it. Meaning when cognitive gains are made, the brain needs to learn how to use these new abilities. Social interactions provide an opportunity to call on your brain’s new abilities and develop new skills.

9. Read

Like being social, reading provides a chance to put newly developed cognitive abilities to the test. It allows the brain to process new information, understand new thoughts, and gain new perspectives. Read what you like, read what interests you, but make reading a part of your daily life.

10. Take positive risks

Summon your courage, channel your bravery, and let your new abilities shine. To begin a brain training program often takes both courage and commitment. Continuing to use that courage after your abilities begin to develop is an important part of tapping into your new abilities. Talk to a new friend, take dance lessons, try something that you have never been able to accomplish before. Life is short. If you have committed to a cognitive training program, taking positive risks is the best way to continue that commitment. Most people are more capable than they realize![vc_column][mk_button_gradient dimension=”flat” size=”large” corner_style=”full_rounded” grandient_color_from=”#ee7401″ grandient_color_to=”#edae74″ grandient_color_angle=”horizontal” grandient_color_fallback=”#9476c9″ url=”/individuals/” align=”center” fullwidth=”true” margin_top=”20″ margin_bottom=”0″ margin_right=”0″ visibility=”visible-sm”]Start Today! [/mk_button_gradient][/vc_column][/vc_row]][vc_column][mk_button_gradient dimension=”flat” size=”large” corner_style=”full_rounded” grandient_color_from=”#ee7401″ grandient_color_to=”#edae74″ grandient_color_angle=”horizontal” grandient_color_fallback=”#9476c9″ url=”/individuals/” align=”center” fullwidth=”true” margin_top=”20″ margin_bottom=”0″ margin_right=”0″ visibility=”hidden-sm”]Get started today on your own customized brain training program! [/mk_button_gradient][/vc_column][/vc_row]