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The Woman Who Changed Her Brain

The Woman Who Changed Her Brain

And Other Inspiring Stories of Pioneering Brain Transformation

Foreword by: Norman Doidge
Barbara Arrowsmith-Young was born with severe learning disabilities. As a child, she read and wrote everything backward, struggled to comprehend language, and was continually getting lost. But by relying on her formidable memory, she made her way to graduate school, where she chanced upon research that inspired her to invent cognitive exercises to “fix” her own brain. The Woman Who Changed Her Brain interweaves her personal tale with riveting case histories from more than thirty years of her work with both children and adults.

People with learning disorders have long been told that such difficulties are a lifelong condition. In clear and lucid writing, The Woman Who Changed Her Brain refutes that message, demonstrating with fascinating anecdotes that anyone with a learning disability can be radically trans­formed: Arrowsmith-Young is a living example. She founded the Arrowsmith School in Toronto in 1980 and then the Arrowsmith Program to train teachers to implement this effective methodology in schools all over North America.

This remarkable book by a brilliant pioneer deepens our understanding of how the brain works. Our brain shapes us, and this book offers clear and hopeful evidence of the corollary: that we can shape our brains.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 288 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451607949 | 
  • September 2013
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The Woman Who Changed Her Brain

Barbara Arrowsmith-Young was born with severe learning disabilities that caused teachers to label her slow, stubborn—or worse. As a child, she read and wrote everything backward, struggled to process concepts in language, continually got lost, and...

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Read an Excerpt

INTRODUCTION

March 2, 1943, Vyazma, Western Russia

On this sunny, almost warm but damp day, the soldiers are chilled, their army-issue felt boots soaked. Lieutenant Lyova Zazetsky, just twenty-three years old, commands a platoon of flame-throwers—part of a contingent pushing back against the German invaders who are dug in atop the steep and rocky banks of the frozen Vorya River.

Comrade Zazetsky looks west, where they will soon be headed. He talks to his men, encouraging them while they all wait impatiently in the stillness, as they have for the past two days. Finally, the order comes to advance, and the only sound... see more
CHAPTER ONE

THE ANATOMY OF RESISTANCE

Why are educators still telling parents that learning disabilities are lifelong? Given the great weight of evidence for neuroplasticity, why are cognitive exercises not more widely recognized as a treatment for learning disabilities?

We now take it as a given that the brain is inherently plastic, capable of change and constantly changing. The human brain can remap itself, grow new neural connections, and even grow new neurons over the course of a lifetime.

When I went to university in the 1970s, I was taught that the brain was fixed: what you were born with is what you... see more

About the Author

Barbara Arrowsmith-Young
Photograph by Pierre Gautreau

Barbara Arrowsmith-Young

Barbara Arrowsmith-Young is the director of the Arrowsmith School and Arrowsmith Program. She holds a BA Sc. in child studies from the University of Guelph and a master’s degree in school psychology from the University of Toronto (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education).

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