Our daughter began Arrowsmith in September of 2015. As soon as we heard that Arrowsmith School was available in Windsor-Essex County, we immediately contacted the school and asked for enrolment. Previously, my husband and I had researched this amazing program and only thought it was available in the Toronto area. Moving to Toronto was not feasible for our family, so you can only imagine how thrilled we were to hear it was now in our community.
The Arrowsmith School provides unique and individualized cognitive brain strengthening exercises for grade school and high school aged children with learning disabilities. Our daughter was diagnosed with 3 separate seizure disorders in 3 different areas of her brain. We felt that if she was entered in a program that was based on the science of rerouting the brain (neuroplasticity) from damaged pathways, to a better functioning pathway she would function at a higher level and perhaps reroute away from the seizure affected areas that were causing on-going concerns.
Honestly to understand our enthusiasm about the program, you need to understand a day in the life of our daughter. Her learning abilities became inhibited by sensory overload, and depending on the auditory and visual stimulus on any given day, it would affect her ability to understand, process and retain information. Both her fine and gross motor skills could be affected differently throughout the day and differ from day to day as well. Some days she was right on the mark, other days not so much! In everyday life that would translate to an inconsistent understanding of what was being taught, difficulty with everyday sequencing problems in math and language arts, terrible handwriting, concentration and memory problems. All of which were leading to anxiety about who she was as a child and where she fit in amongst her peers. We know we have a child who has the motivation to learn, and believed that if she was taught in a certain way, with specific adaptations made to how “HER” brain functioned, we knew she could retain and learn. Most importantly, she knew it too!
Now going into the 2nd year of Arrowsmith, we can factually state and with great enthusiasm the huge strides our daughter has made as a direct result of enrolment in this program. The first and greatest accomplishment is the change in her seizure patterns. We had been told that because she was born with them, the likelihood of ever growing out of them was not going to happen. She would be on meds her whole life and that as she matured as a female she would probably need more. As she progressed through the Arrowsmith programming we have noticed the exact opposite is happening! The visual stimuli that could and often did trigger seizure activity was not bothering her anymore. Her ability to cope and sustain in environments that generally would cause her anxiety were now becoming tolerable. That was a stunning! We believed it had to be a direct result of her brain training exercises, after-all her meds had not changed. When we discussed this with her neurologist he believed that something different was definitely happening in her brain. We are thrilled to say that our daughter has been seizure free for over 7 months now! Although she still takes medicine for them, her neurologist is now talking about easing back the dosage and if this pattern continues, perhaps taking her off them completely in the near future.
Other changes our daughter has experienced and continues to experience include: less anxiety about schoolwork because now it is becoming easier for her to understand and retain information, huge strides in sequential memory tasks, i.e. improvements in math and problem solving, she loves putting together puzzles now, she also enjoys reading and writing more. Her ability to journal, compose and plan story outlines is truly a joy to witness. She loves going to Arrowsmith and school now because as she has stated “they get how my brain works and it’s working better mom!”
As parents we all want the best for our children. We want to be able to provide them with the tools that will help them cope and live happily and successfully in the world. If you have a child who is struggling to learn and you know deep down, and they know deep down, that there has to be a better and different way for them to learn, then The Arrowsmith School and it’s programs are something that you should seriously research and look in to. We believe in their programming and the passionate commitment of The Arrowsmith School, and the educators teaching our child. They are educated, professional, compassionate and passionate about all the children they work with! For our daughter, the changes are dramatic, life altering and we have no doubt will continue to progress, assisting us with preparing her for a bright future.
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