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The Woman Who Changed Her Brain [Hardcover]

Barbara Arrowsmith-Young
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 1 2012 1451607938 978-1451607932
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 was physically uncoordinated. She could make no sense of an analogue clock. But by relying on her formidable memory and iron will, 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 her more than thirty years of working with both children and adults.

Recent discoveries in neuroscience have conclusively demonstrated that, by engaging in certain mental tasks or activities, we actually change the structure of our brains—from the cells themselves to the connections between cells. The capability of nerve cells to change is known as neuroplasticity, and Arrowsmith-Young has been putting it into practice for decades. With great inventiveness, after combining two lines of research, Barbara developed unusual cognitive calisthenics that radically increased the functioning of her weakened brain areas to normal and, in some areas, even above-normal levels. She drew on her intellectual strengths to determine what types of drills were required to target the specific nature of her learning problems, and she managed to conquer her cognitive deficits. Starting in the late 1970s, she has continued to expand and refine these exercises, which have benefited thousands of individuals. Barbara founded Arrowsmith School in Toronto in 1980 and then the Arrowsmith Program to train teachers and to implement this highly effective methodology in schools all over North America. Her work is revealed as one of the first examples of neuroplasticity’s extensive and practical application. The idea that self-improvement can happen in the brain has now caught fire.

The Woman Who Changed Her Brain powerfully and poignantly illustrates how the lives of children and adults struggling with learning disorders can be dramatically transformed. This remarkable book by a brilliant pathbreaker deepens our understanding of how the brain works and of the brain’s profound impact on how we participate in the world. Our brains shape us, but this book offers clear and hopeful evidence of the corollary: we can shape our brains.

Frequently Bought Together

The Woman Who Changed Her Brain + The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science + Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a Better Life
Price For All Three: CDN$ 47.28

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Product Description


“Arrowsmith-Young's poignant and uplifting book about her transformation from a child born with severe learning disabilities to a dynamic pioneer in cognitive education offers hope to anyone who has ever struggled with a learning disorder, brain trauma, ADD or stroke. By her own fierce determination and passionate desire to learn, this remarkable woman changed her own brain and has since helped countless others to change theirs. This is an important book.”
—Mira Bartók, New York Times bestselling author of The Memory Palace

“This is a poignant book about two people who connected across continents and generations—a Canadian woman with an unusual cognitive makeup, and the great Russian neuropsychologist Alexander Luria whose writings gave Barbara Arrowsmith the tools to change her own life and the lives of her many students. Moving, insightful and empowering!”
—Elkhonon Goldberg, Ph.D., the author of The Wisdom Paradox and The New Executive Brain

"If you have a son, a daughter, a parent, a spouse, or a brain, this is a must-read book. It will open your mind to new possibilities on how to deal with 'traffic jams in the brain.'"
—Alvaro Fernandez, CEO & Co-Founder,

About the Author

Barbara Arrowsmith Young is the Director of Arrowsmith School and Arrowsmith Program. She holds both a B.A.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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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The woman who changed her brain. April 27 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I find this book a bit disappointing as I thought there would be valuable information about the brain. Instead I find it only provides advertisement for the program by Barbara Arrowsmith,.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not good! April 6 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It's just a bunch of stories and nothing to tell you how she changed her brain or how anyone could change theirs. Waste of money. Went into the recycle bin.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Eric M
Any person or family that struggles with learning disabilities (LDs), whether it’s yourself, your child, or an adult loved one, should read this book (or get the CD version, which I did). The Woman Who Changed Her Brain tells the true story of the development of the Arrowsmith program. The program has evolved into a suite of 19 cognitive exercises (each with its own test) devised by Arrowsmith-Young, which have been refined and improved over three decades. Based on over 2 years of experience with our child in the program, I can say the book does not exaggerate: it is truly an effective, scientifically-sound, and life-changing program. The book also compassionately yet bluntly describes the very real impacts that LDs have on people in the form of false labels (like “lazy” or "oppositional"), social disconnections (often being ostracized), low self-esteem, the “terror” of classroom experiences, poor employment, and worse. Those impacts are basically the cost of doing nothing about LDs. Fortunately, as described in this book, there is something that can be done about LDs.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing eye opening book! Nov. 26 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I actually learned, after doing a little research, how to improve my own brain too. Worth every penny!

I wish I could have read it fifty years ago. it might have changed my life!
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The book is nothing but a promotion based on pseudo-scientific beliefs that only advertise an unproven program that itself costs a huge amount. Not recommended. Anyone interested in this subject is recommended to instead read books and articles by professional scientists who have actually studied neurology.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Jan. 8 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was interesting…and hopeful for anyone dealing with disabilities or brain injuries. There are, however, no "how-to" directions. Yes, you can change your brain, but if you are specifically interested in Arrowsmith-Young's strategies, you may have to pay tens of thousands of dollars per year to enroll in her school in Toronto. She has an interesting web site, but the strategies are not available to the average individual. I sent an email via the web site regarding training, as I am an educator, but was told that the training is only available to those in the special schools and so I was disappointed as it appears that only the rich can change their brains with help from this book…although the tone of the book (and the email I received) were positive and welcoming.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Revolutionary Approach to Learning Disabilities Jan. 18 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Barbara's story "The Woman Who Changed Her Brain" is a truly touching and epic life journey of her never-ending daily struggle with learning disabilities. Her depth of courage, determination and sheer persistence to overcome, conquer and change her destiny is a beacon of light for providing hope, inspiration and belief that anything is possible.

It was also enlightening to read how Barbara slowly developed and refined her cognitive program to achieve changes in learning outcomes. Even more surprising is how Barbara incorporated in the program the therapeutic modalities of speech, auditory, visual processing, occupational therapy (output) as well as sensory stimulation in one swoop. A new dawning and evolution for those afflicted with learning deficits. Thank you Barbara for sharing your personal story and the Arrowsmith Program with us all.
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