The Woman Who Changed Her Brain: And Other Inspiring Stories of Pioneering Brain TransformationÂ is Barbara Arrowsmith-Young’s story of how she learnt about her brain and how to overcome her learning disabilities, and how she helps others.
Iâ€™m interested in how brains work. Barbara Arrowsmith-Young was so interested in how her brain worked that she managed to develop exercises that improved the parts of it that werenâ€™t working so well. Her determination is amazing and is matched by many of the people she has met and helped through her Arrowsmith school for people with learning disabilities.
Barbara Arrowsmith-Young’s work revolves around the fact that our brains can change and that we can strengthen areas of our brains that don’t work as well as they could.
The stories of the lives changed by people finding out how to tap into parts of their brains that hadnâ€™t been fully available to them were exciting. I am sure theyâ€™d be extremely exciting for people with learning disabilities or parents of children with learning disabilities. The problems that some of them have are described in detail, so if you knew someone with the same problem, you would probably have some “ah” moments.
There is a short overview of some of the most common cognitive deficits at the end of the book, and a list of further reading. The author also has a website: www.barbaraarrowsmithyoung.com
This book is written in a clear and accessible style. The author uses some technical terms, but I am not a brain specialist at all and I didnâ€™t find it hard to read.
Things that made me go hmmmm
If you or someone you know has a learning disability, you are probably looking for some concrete actions you can take. The book describes some of the exercises used to improve brain function, but I would have really liked some more information on the tests for the various brain problems described and then specific examples of the exercises used to help overcome the deficits. Ms Arrowsmith-Youngâ€™s determination in creating her own exercises is amazing, but not everyone has that skill and dedication!
I found it a bit odd that the book featured a number of family photographs of the author. The book started off being the story of Barbara Arrowsmith-Young, and returned to her story later on, but for several chapters I was wondering why the photos were there. It was nice to see what she looked like, but I’m not sure I needed to see what her cat looked like! I would have liked more pictures of her school work demonstrating her problems instead (and perhaps some “after” pictures!).
I would recommend this book to anyone who has a learning disability or has a child with one, or anyone who works with children. It’s also interesting reading for anyone who is interested in the brain, learning and development.
I think the book mentioned that the Arrowsmith training only takes three weeks (I imagine that you have to complete some kind of teacher and/or psychological training beforehand). Barbara Arrowsmith-Young was at the Auckland Writers & Readers Festival in May, so itâ€™s possible that she has done some work with some New Zealand schools. I hope that someone in New Zealand will offer the programme and offer the hope that it can bring, to be part of Ms Arrowsmith-Youngâ€™s â€śvision of a world in which no child ever struggles with a learning disability, no child is ever stigmatized as having one, and no child experiences the ongoing emotional pain of living with a learning disabilityâ€ť and her prayer that â€śâ€¦this work, grounded in compassion, its integrity uncompromised, goes out into the world with ease and grace.â€ť