Want to improve your Brain Function even further?
Let me start with the story of two siblings. The older one, whom I will call Dev, was considered bright and studious, passed all his exams with high scores and became a successful engineer. His sister Reema, just 2 years younger than him, was a bit shy and socially clumsy. Her reading skills were subpar and she had phobia of school tests and, competition with peers. Some of her relatives even branded her “possibly mentally retarded.” The family accepted this and eventually she got married but as a housewife she was perfect in her duties, brought up her two children well and even helped her husband in his business.
The question is, “How could two children from the same background and given the same kind of facilities and opportunities do so differently in life?” Is it because Reema’s IQ was lower? Or did she have some learning disability? Unfortunately so many children amid us tend to fall in the same category and accept their fate (or forced to) and do not achieve their potential. This pattern may extend into adults as well, like people with similar education, training, background, and years of experience achieving widely varying results, ranging from wonderful to mediocre.
Is there a way to remedy this problem before the kids become adults? Well, this is where techniques based on neuroplasticity can be of help. These special techniques can improve the brain function of the children dubbed as having learning disabilities. Neuroplasticity, as you know, “is the process in which your brain's neural synapses and pathways are altered as an effect of environmental, behavioral and neural changes.” In other words, your brain can “reorganize itself, both physically and functionally, throughout your life in response to environmental influences or changes in behavior, thinking and emotions.”
Once the neuroscientists and neuropsychologists understood this concept, they were able to come up with special types of neuro-assessment tests to determine “precisely which brain functions were weak and how could they be corrected or improved.” Some of the credits for developing this concept – devising the appropriate tests and successfully applying them to improve learning disabilities in children – should go to Barbara (Arrowsmith) Cohen and Joshua Cohen who opened their first school, ‘Arrowsmith School,’ in Toronto in 1980. Accepted students would undergo a battery of brain tests and then personalized brain exercise programs.
If you were to walk into that school, you will see the students engaged in one study or another continuously, like some sitting in front of the computers with intense concentration and working on problems till they get it right, others studying different languages and letters to strengthen their visual memories, etc. Some children wear eye patches in one eye that forces visual input into the opposite eye and then to the side of the brain where they have the problem. Interestingly, Barbara (Arrowsmith) Cohen herself struggled with severe learning disabilities and the special brain exercises she devised for herself finally enabled her to overcome her own problems. She even wrote a bestseller, “The Woman Who Changed Her Brain,” in which she says her methodology is based on neuroplasticity. This means our brain is a dynamic organ and can rewire itself constantly to get rid of some of our bad habits or disabilities and, learn new skills.
The Arrowsmith program is helpful for a variety of learning problems. Those kids who have poor reading skills or math solving abilities, difficulty in remembering spoken language or following a line of thought actually have some weakness in certain brain functions. No matter what is the learning or social problem with the child, a proper brain function testing followed by appropriate brain exercises can go a long way to solve the situation. The Arrowsmith School’s special methods and programs are now available in many schools in Canada and USA.
So, don’t despair if your child has been “diagnosed” to have a learning disability or lagging behind in studies or not getting good grades in the school. Don’t brand the child as having dyslexia or dysgraphia or whatever … but enlist him/her in a program such as Arrowsmith program, try to improve their basic skills and develop a learning strategy tailored to take advantage of the child's strengths. This will pave the way for their future success. You may have to get the help of a neuropsychologist. The brain exercises can be truly life-transforming.