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After a decade of working alongside Barbara Arrowsmith-Young, the Founder of the Arrowsmith Program, I wondered if there was a way to bring her program to more children and adults with learning disabilities. Was there a way to reduce the intervention length, but maintain the quality of the outcome? I began to discuss with Ms. Arrowsmith-Young this idea, for which she had also considered for some time. I asked her if we could take the Symbol Relations (reasoning) program and provide an intensive version of it over 6 weeks.

The reason that Ms. Arrowsmith-Young looked at the Symbol Relations was due to the fact that this program was theorized to engage an association area of the human brain. In neuroscience this cognitive function is considered an “association area of association areas” in the brain which simultaneously processes multiple stimuli – both external and internal – necessary to understand the world, oneself and others. It is involved in processing concepts in all academic principles, understanding and quickly grasping what we read and hear, logical reasoning and flexibility in thought.

Ms. Arrowsmith-Young agreed that if the intervention could have the same number of hours as a 10-month intervention during a school year then one could consider this option. The concern was the intensity of the intervention for children. Could they manage to engage in such an intensive intervention? As well, it would be important to find researchers who would study the outcome of this idea.

In the Summer of 2017 the researchers were found, children enrolled in the research, and the study coordinated. The students brain networks would be imaged both pre-and-post Symbol Relations intervention. In addition, cognitive measures of behaviour were also measured pre-and-post. If the research found that this method of intensive delivery was getting results then it was possible that the intervention could be offered to more children who did not have the opportunity to engage in the year-round school-based programs.

In September 2018 and March 2019, Dr. Greg Rose and his colleagues presented their data. It is one of the most important pilot studies to date in the field of Learning Disabilities and was presented as poster sessions at two conferences in North America.[i] [ii]

First, the studies presented discovered that children with learning disabilities have brain network connectivity problems.[iii] This was not a novel finding as research has been underway at various universities around the world showing that children with learning disabilities have brain network problems.[iv] That is, the major brain networks responsible for executive functioning or attention control regulation showed hyper-connectivity concerns.[v] In other words, being hyper-connected indicated less efficient brain network communication resulting in potential learning problems.[vi] The students about to undergo the 6-week intensive Arrowsmith Program also showed this problem further validating these discoveries in neuroscience.

What was extraordinary about the September 2018 presentation by Dr. Greg Rose and his colleagues, from Southern Illinois University, was that his research was showing that the Arrowsmith Program was changing this connectivity dysfunction and transforming the brain network activity to improved functional connectivity with related improvements in the cognitive abilities these brain networks are associated with such as processing speed and cognitive efficiency.

It is important to restate why this research should transform our thinking of the field of Learning Disabilities. First, the current definition of learning disabilities states that these disabilities are lifelong as the brain cannot change. Second, the recommendations for intervention in the definition of learning disabilities focus on compensations or the use of technology to work around neurological dysfunctions. Finally, the most common form of intervention in our schools today is to have children with learning disabilities focus on their strengths and avoid thinking about learning weaknesses. The research coming from Dr. Greg Rose and his colleagues put to question these assumptions and recommendations.

It is also important to note that the brain networks that showed improvement in connectivity also impact mental health. Thus, the salience network is implicated in problems with anxiety[vii] and depression[viii], a common secondary diagnosis after a child has dealt for years with learning problems. As well, attention disorders (ADHD) are also being researched as to their relationship with brain network connectivity. Again, connectivity concerns within the salience and default mode network have been shown to be correlated to ADHD.[ix] Finally, brain injuries resulting from TBI are also showing that brain network hyper-connectivity is likely a result of post-acute higher order cognitive dysfunctions in this population.[x] This hyper-connectivity for TBI has also shown to be alterable through intensive cognitive rehabilitation interventions like the Arrowsmith Program.[xi]

Based on the pilot research coming from Dr. Greg Rose and colleagues, it appears that the Arrowsmith Program is fundamentally transforming the neurological capabilities of children with learning disabilities. Psychologist, psychiatrist, medical doctors, speech pathologist, special education teachers, school administrators, adults with learning disabilities, and parents of children and adults with learning disabilities need to all take note of this new paradigm of intervention. The brain can change for those with learning disabilities. Research is showing that one can improve brain network connectivity that is likely part of the neurobiological basis of various learning disabilities such as dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia.[xii]

 

Howard Eaton, Ed.M.

Director/Founder

Eaton Arrowsmith School

www.eatonarrowsmith.com

 

 

[i] Jagger-Rickels, A. C., & Rose, G. M. (2018) ‘Exploring the Relationship Between Improvement in an Intensive Learning Intervention and Changes in Resting state Functional Connectivity’, paper presented to Sixth Biennial Conference on Brain Connectivity in Montreal, 26-28 September, presented 27 September 2018.

[ii] Jagger-Rickels, A. C., Rose, G. M., & Kibby, M. Y. (2019) ‘Effect of Comorbid Learning and Neurodevelopmental Disorders on Resting-state Functional and Effective Connectivity in Adolescents’, poster presented to Cognitive Neuroscience Society Annual Conference in San Francisco, 23-26 March, viewed 26-28 March 2019.

[iii] Finn, E. S., Shen, X., Holahan, J. M., Scheinost, D., Lacadie, C., Papademetris, X., Shaywtiz, S. E., Shaywitz, B. A., & Constable, R. T. (2014). Disruption of functional networks in dyslexia: A whole-brain, data-driven analysis of connectivity. Biological Psychiatry, 76(5), 397-404.

[iv] McCarthy, H., Skokauskas, N., Mulligan, A., Donohoe, G., Mullins, D., Kelly, J., Johnson, K., Fagan, A., Meaney, J., & Frodi, T. (2013). Attention network hypoconnectivity with default and affective network hyperconnectivity in adults diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder of childhood. Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry, 70(12), 1329-1337.

[v] Sripada, C., Kessler, D., Fang, Y., Welsh, R. C., Prem Kumar, K., & Angstadt, M. (2014). Disrupted network architecture of the resting brain in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Human Brain Mapping, 35(9), 4693-4705.

[vi] Rosenberg-Lee, M., Ashkenazai, S., Chen, T., Young, C. B., Geary, D. C., & Menon, V. (2015). Brain hyper-connectivity and operation-specific deficits during arthimetic problems solving in children with developmental dyslexia. Developmental Science, 18(3), 351-372.

[vii] Geiger, M. J., Domschke, K., Ipser, J., Hattingh, C., Baldwin, D. S., Lochner, C., & Stein, D. J. (2016). Altered executive control network resting-state connectivity in social anxiety disorder. The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry, 17(1), 47-57.

[viii] Kaiser, R. H., Andrews-Hanna, J. R., Wager, T. D., & Pizzagalli, D.A. (2015). Large-scale network dysfunction in major depressive disorder: A meta-analysis of resting-state functional connectivity. Journal of the American Association Psychiatry, 72(6), 603-611.

[ix] Qian, X., Castellanos, F. X., Uddin, L. Q., Loo, B. R. Y., Liu, S., Koh, H. L., Poh, X. W. W., Fung, D., Guan, C., Lee, T. S., Lim, C. G., & Zhou, J. (2019) Large-scale brain functional network topology disruptions underlie symptom heterogeneity in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Neuroimage Clinical, 21:101600.

[x] Hayes, J. P., Bigler, E.D., & Verfaellie, M. (2016). Traumatic brain injury as a disorder of brain connectivity. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 22(2), 120-137.

[xi] Porter, S., Torres, I. J., Panenka, W., Rajwani, Z., Fawcett, D., Hyder, A., & Virji-Babul, N. (2017). Changes in brain-behavior relationships following a 3-month pilot cognitive intervention program for adults with traumatic brain injury. Heliyon, 3(8).

[xii] Michels, L., O’Gorman, R., & Kucian, K. (2018). Functional hyperconnectivity vanishes in children with developmental dyscalculia after numerical intervention. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 30, 291-303.

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Should my child with a learning disability attempt to improve brain functioning or try to survive through core academic subjects?

If this opportunity exists for a parent, and I am aware that such options do not exist for most parents at this time either due to financial constraints or availability of programs, then this question should be considered. This is such an important question for the future of that child. Another way to reframe the question would be, do I focus on trying to get my child through an academic curriculum with extensive supports, or give them improved neurological functioning for increased independent functioning.

My experience over the last 30 years in reading about brain science, implementing cognitive intervention programs, and being involved in school-based strategies for children with learning disabilities provides me with a breadth of knowledge, and the answer seems obvious to me. First, improve brain functioning or cognitive capacities. Focus on developing brain functioning over trying to have your child survive such subjects as Chemistry, Physics, Calculus, Geometry, Algebra, Social Studies, Economics, Law and the many other complex subjects.

There is an incorrect assumption that if my child needs to improve brain functioning or cognitive capacities that they must have more severe learning disabilities than other children who have been given this diagnosis. I have been told by parents of children with learning disabilities in Vancouver, that are considering Eaton Arrowsmith School, that our school is really for students with more severe disabilities. That if your child needs the Arrowsmith Program, they must really have brain problems.

This is further from the truth and not based on fact. If your child has been diagnosed with learning disabilities such as Dyslexia, Dsycalculia or Dysgraphia (Reading, Math or Written Expression Disorders) then they have brain-based neurological deficits.[i][ii] That is the likely reason they are struggling to acquire these achievement skills. There is a lot of research that points to specific cortical and brain network deficits in functioning as a cause for these disabilities.[iii]

What is critical to point out is that these large-scale brain networks are also involved in planning, organizing, memory[iv], decision making, reasoning[v], attention, social skills, emotional regulation and self-awareness capabilities.[vi] Thus, if one has dyslexia it is likely you also have working memory deficits, attention control problems, possible social skills deficits, and reasoning problems when it comes to reading comprehension and math problem solving, to name a few additional issues faced by your child other than just sounding out letters to read words. The brain is complex and so is your child’s struggles. If your child struggles to decode words, it is more common than not that they will also struggle with some of the issues noted above as they progress in school. I am learning it is the same for a diagnosis like dyslexia or reading disorder, “If you’ve seen one child with dyslexia, you have seen one child with dyslexia.” Two children diagnosed with a reading disorder will have some similar yet unique cognitive deficits that will results in highly specific learning related problems.

What does it mean when one states cognitive capacities can be improved? If indeed, school success can be partially attributed to strengths in cognitive functioning, and research on working memory has confirmed this[vii], then it seems obvious an attempt should be made to do just that.[viii] If my child has a learning disability due to neurological weaknesses, then I should want to reduce the impact of this problem. To my puzzlement, even with financial concerns a non-factor, some parents choose curriculum engagement over cognitive capacity improvement. That is, they want their child to move through the core curriculum with a variety of options in place such as small classes, resource room support, tutoring, accommodations and use of technology. To miss the core curriculum is far more concerning. The question is why is that the case?

I believe there are a few reasons for this line of reasoning. First, it is hard to understand neuroscience and the literature coming from the field. Science writers like Dr. Norman Doidge and his book, The Brain That Changes Itself[ix], has made neuroplasticity and implications for intervention innovation understandable to thousands around the word. Yet, for most parents of children with learning disabilities the brain and how it functions is not a part of their knowledge base. For many of us, what we don’t understand we fear. What we fear we avoid. Second, as the sayings go, same old same old, or old habits die hard. Parents are used to the school core curriculum model. One should be doing Science, Social Studies, Mathematics and English if enrolled at a school. If my child is not engaged in the core curriculum then they may never graduate from high school. If they miss one or two years of Science or Social Studies, they will never make it up and might not get to college. Third, psychologists that conduct psycho-educational assessments are also learning about neuroscience and research being published on brain functioning, neuroplasticity and learning disabilities and/or ADHD. Parents and teachers should realize that many are still in the accommodation/strategy paradigm when it comes for finding ways to bypass learning disabilities. Some are waiting for research, as outlined below, to feel more confident that intensive cognitive intervention should be recommended for children with learning disabilities. Thus, psychologists still might recommend schools or support programs that focus on compensating for the child’s cognitive weaknesses over directly improving them with intensive intervention. Finally, there is a focus on improving achievement skills for children with learning disabilities. This makes sense as one needs to learn to read, write and perform mathematical operations in life. Most achievement skill interventions focus on basic skills such as word decoding, numeracy, spelling, composing sentences or paragraphs. The focus on achievement skill acquisition has made a huge difference in teaching children to read and write. The problem is that these achievement skills are not the only areas of struggle for the student. Planning, organizing, reasoning, attention, comprehension, speed of processing, flexibility of thought, social skills and memory are usually additional complications for that learner.

It is very difficult to direct a parent away from the lines of thought above. Nevertheless, let me try put forth a few reasons as to why parents, and even psychologists, could consider the origin of their apprehension, and not focus on worrying about missing curriculum or core subject matter for a few years of cognitive capacity intervention. I want to address important large-scale brain networks that the Arrowsmith Program appears to be improving, and the impact this has on a child’s ability to engage at school independent of all the educational supports they might currently have in place on their individual education plan.

 

Large-Scale Brain Networks

Your child moves through their environment taking in sensory information. The brain has developed over thousands of years to sense, attend to, process, memorize and understand sensory stimuli. For example, when your child first observes a bird they see it, hear it, might feel it (poor bird), possibly smell it, and then relate that bird to all the other birds they might come across. Your child’s brain must see patterns or relationships between the various birds observed to understand complex relationships. Then, if they come across a dog, or cat, they need to distinguish those animals from birds as related to whether they fly, how heavy they are, or if they have claws or not, or what they eat. Categories and relationships begin to form in their brain. Their brain has unique cortices to process sensory information and then what one calls association areas (most developed parts of the cerebral cortex) to integrate or relate this information to each other. That is, various sensory information is moved in the brain through networks to these association areas. There this sensory information is compared, analyzed and more deeply understood by the brain. It is a complex task, and if these cortices are not connected effectively then uncertainty or confusion would arise. These association areas are theorized by some neuroscientist to hold our sense of self-awareness or consciousness.

These sensory cortices and association areas are also managed by the frontal cortex, that helps direct behaviour and considered to be a conductor of the brain. If the frontal and parietal lobe network is disrupted, then the brain struggles to engage in learning activities. Large-scale brain networks are involved in all this remarkable activity of the brain. Clearly, one could imagine if the brain networks were not operating at peak performance how learning in a classroom setting, or engaging in a social interaction, could easily result in failure to understand.

Now place a child with dyslexia, who most likely has large-scale brain network connectivity problems[x], in a classroom to learn a core academic subject like social studies. In specialized schools for learning disabilities one may have small class sizes. For example, there might be one teacher for five students. As well, the teacher has been trained to write most of what they say on the white board. They may also help the students understand the main ideas, by writing down those main ideas on the board and saying to them, “These are the main ideas that I need you to know.” Still, that child, whose large-scale brain networks are not efficient, must try to make sense of the relationships being presented. In social studies, they might be comparing various countries to each other, types of governments, foods, arts, geography, and need to find patterns or relationships within the information given. What I have observed, is that children with learning disabilities are given so many scaffolds and supports that they end up being told what to study, how to study it, and how they will be tested to allow them to survive the exam.

If one can improve the cognitive capacities of brain cortices and large-scale brain networks, then core subject matter could be understood in real time, without all the school-based support. If these brain networks functioning effectively then sensory information could be gathered and transferred to association areas rapidly for understanding. New information could be compared to old information, and comprehension could happen fluidly. This is often not the case for children and adults with learning disabilities. The look of confusion, uncertainty, or embarrassment or fear, is more often the case when they are presented with novel knowledge or complex concepts.

 

The Research

I would love to write a detailed analysis of all the brain networks. This would result in a 500-page article. So, to be as brief as I can be, I am going focus on three of the most critical large-scale brain networks, the salience, default mode and frontoparietal networks and how the Arrowsmith Program appears to be improving the connectivity of these neurological networks. It is important to note that the large-scale brain networks noted above do not operate in isolation of each other, but in relationship to each other.

If you are a parent of a child with a learning disability you need to be aware that large-scale brain networks and their proper connectivity is key to educational attainment and mental health. You can have a child at a school that teaches the core curriculum in small class sizes, and if these brain networks are operating poorly they will struggle. And, if they don’t struggle within that small class environment due to reduced curriculum content and strategy instruction, they will outside of it, as work and college is seldom capable of replicating an 8 to 1 student/teacher ratio instructional design. In other words, problems in brain network connectivity likely stay a problem from childhood to adulthood, as seen in studies on ADHD. So, if your child is struggling with attention, planning, organizing, memory, reasoning and/or social skills they could also experience these problems as an adult.

Dr. Greg Rose and his colleague, Dr. Jagger-Rickels, from Southern Illinois University were interested in large-scale brain networks and whether an intensive intervention over 6-weeks would improve their connectivity.[xi] There had already been research on brain networks and connectivity as related to ADHD and other learning disorders.[xii] The research was indicating that large-scale brain networks had connectivity dysfunctions as related to these disabilities.[xiii] Thus, the researchers new that large-scale brain networks played a part in effective cognitive functioning, and as a result likely learning achievement. What had not been researched is whether an intensive intervention that targeted brain functioning would improve large-scale brain network connectivity, and did this improvement lead to increases in cognitive capacities such as progressing speed or executive functioning.

The Arrowsmith Program was selected as the focus on the intensive intervention. To reduce the length of the study the 6-week Symbol Relations reasoning program was selected for research. The students would be children with learning disabilities.

Dr. Jagger-Rickels presented research at two major conferences in North America. What they found in their pilot studies was that children with learning disabilities have brain network connectivity problems. That is, the major brain networks responsible for executive functioning or attention control regulation showed hyper-connectivity concerns. More importantly, their research was showing that the Arrowsmith Program was changing this connectivity dysfunction and transforming the brain network activity to improved functional connectivity with related improvements in the cognitive abilities that these brain networks are associated with such as processing speed and cognitive efficiency. In other words, the children with learning disabilities show cognitive capacity improvements related to how quickly they could analyze information and how accurately they could do so at the same time.

Dr. Jagger-Rickels stated in their presentation that, “Participants in the six-week Cognitive Intensive Program (CIP) improved their performance in the Symbol Relations Task that were correlated with changes in resting-state brain connectivity. The most notable change was increased connectivity between the Default Mode (right lateral parietal) and the Salience Networks (bilateral rostral Prefrontal Cortex, bilateral Anterior Insula, right Supra-marginal Gyrus, and the anterior cingulate), and the Frontoparietal Network (right lateral Prefrontal cortex).”

There is a lot of brain jargon here, but the take home message is critical. The Arrowsmith Program is changing large-scale brain networks by increasing their connectivity. Problems with brain network functioning is being observed on achievement and behavioural measures that cause school failure. For example, poor connectivity in the salience network is associated with weak reading comprehension. Struggles in math problem solving is associated with functional hyperconnectivity in brain networks. Children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) show altered functional connectivity in default mode and frontoparietal networks.

 

TCDSB Study: One Example of Arrowsmith Program Impact

This improved connectivity between large-scale brain networks has an impact. One of the most significant program reviews was undertaken by the Arrowsmith Program and the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) that highlights how improved brain network functioning can impact academic engagement, reduce academic supports and improve school-based outcomes.[xiv] In September 1997 the TCDSB started implementing the Arrowsmith Program and over a few years it was available in seven schools.

In 2007 TCDSB teachers and parents were asked to complete questionnaires and data was collected on a sample of 64 students who had received resource or learning support prior to entering the Arrowsmith Program. Of the 64 students, 36 (56%) of them received 4 to 8 periods a day, or 50% to 100% of their day was in resource room support. Those students selected for the Arrowmsmith Program tended to have severe learning disabilities. Another 23 elementary students received 1 to 2 periods a day of resource room support or 36%. The other students were waiting for support or had not been identified yet. All of them required some form of resource room support (100%).

Given the extent of support required for these elementary students the following is a remarkable finding from these 64 students at the TCDSB. Data was collected on 42 of the 64 original students that had engaged in the Arrowsmith Program. Prior to starting the Arrowsmith Program 45% of them required 4 to 8 periods a day of resource support (19 children). After the Arrowsmith Program of those 42 children only 5% of them required that level of support (2 out of 42 children). In another statistics, of those 42 followed before and after the Arrowsmith Program 100% (all 42 children) all required resource room support before implementation of the Arrowsmith Program, and after implementation 69% (29 out of 42 children) did not require any resource room support. How is this possible?

One should be immediately curious as to why an intensive intervention program that does not teach specific achievement skills or strategy instructions could eliminate the need for resource room (learning support) for such a large percentage of children? What Barbara Arrowmsmith-Young, and now neuroscientists are discovering, is that the Arrowsmith Program is improving brain functioning, thereby giving children the cognitive capacities to engage in school-based curriculum independent of special education teachers, technology, strategy instruction or resource room support.

 

Summary

In summary, based on research on brain networks and relationships to a variety of learning and mental health problems[xv] I highly recommend improving brain network connectivity before engaging in an intensive core curriculum program. If a child with a learning disability has a brain that struggles to communicate within and between brain regions, thereby making attention, planning, organizing, memory and reasoning problematic why not address this issue head on, first. Pilot research from Jagger-Rickles & Rose is highlighting the fact that the Arrowsmith Program within a 6-week intensive intervention is improving the connectivity of three of the large-scale brain networks for children with learning disabilities. In short, it appears that large scale-brain networks can improve connectivity and thereby significant improving cognitive functioning that would have a direct impact on school engagement and success as seen in the TCDSB review. In short, improve brain network connectivity, and then challenge it with curriculum. If schools would implement programs like Arrowsmith it is inevitable that books like, The Survival Guide for Kids with LD and Survival Guide for College Students with ADHD or LD would become obsolete. Enjoying school, versus surviving school, is our goal for children and adults with learning disabilities.

 

Howard Eaton, Ed.M.

Director/Founder

Eaton Arrowsmith School

www.eatonarrowsmith.com

 

[i] Rosenberg-Lee, M., Ashkenzai, S., Chen, T., Young, C. B., Geary, D. C., & Menon, V. (2015). Brain hyper-connectivity and operation-specific deficits during arithmetic problem solving in children with developmental dyscalculia. Developmental science, 18(3), 351-372.

[ii] Van Hoorn, J. F., Maathius, C. G., & Hadders-Algra, M. (2013). Neural correlates of paediatric dysgraphia. Developmental medicine and child neurology, 55(4), 65-68.

[iii] D’Mello, A. M., & Gabrieli, J. D. E. (2018). Cognitive neuroscience of dyslexia. Language, speech, and hearing services in schools, 49(4), 798-809.

[iv] Santangelo, V., Bordier, C. (2019). Large-scale brain networks underlying successful and unsuccessful encoding, maintenance, and retrieval of everyday scenes in visuospatial working memory. Frontiers in psychology, 10:233.

[v] Sevinc, G., Gurvit, H., & Spreng, R. N. (2017). Salience network engagement with the detection of morally laden information. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience, 12(7), 1118-1117.

[vi] Bressler, S. L., & Menon, V. (2010). Large-scale brain networks in cognition: emerging methods and principals. Cognitive sciences, 14(6), 277-290.

[vii] Simone, A. N., Marks, D. J., Bedard, A. C., & Halperin, J. M. (2018). Low working memory rather than adhd symptoms predicts poor academic achievement in school-aged children. Journal of abnormal child psychology, 45(6), 277-290.

[viii] Chalmers, K. A., & Freeman, E. F. (2018). A comparision of single and multi-test working memory assessments in predicting academic achievement in children. Journal of psychology: interdisciplinary and applied, 152(8), 613-629.

[ix] Doidge, Norman. The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity, New York: Penguin Group, 2015.

[x] Zaric, G., Correia, J. M., Fraga Gonzalez, G., Tijms, J., van der Molen, M. W., Blomert, L., & Bonte, M. (2017). Altered patterns of directed connectivity within the reading network of dyslexic children and their relation to reading dysfluency. Developmental cognitive neuroscience, 23, 1-13.

[xi] Jagger-Rickels, A. C., & Rose, G. M. (2018) ‘Exploring the Relationship Between Improvement in an Intensive Learning Intervention and Changes in Resting state Functional Connectivity’, paper presented to Sixth Biennial Conference on Brain Connectivity in Montreal, 26-28 September, presented 27 September 2018.

[xii] Sripada, C., Kessler, D., Fang, Y., Welsh, R. C., Prem Kumar, K., & Angstadt, M. (2014). Disrupted network architecture of the resting brain in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Human Brain Mapping, 35(9), 4693-4705.

[xiii] Jagger-Rickels, A. C., Rose, G. M., & Kibby, M. Y. (2019) ‘Effect of Comorbid Learning and Neurodevelopmental Disorders on Resting-state Functional and Effective Connectivity in Adolescents’, poster presented to Cognitive Neuroscience Society Annual Conference in San Francisco, 23-26 March, viewed 26-28 March 2019.

[xiv] Arrowsmith Program. (2007). Report on the effectiveness of the Arrowsmith Program in the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB). January 25, 2007.

[xv] Geiger, M. J., Domschke, K., Ipser, J., Hattingh, C., Baldwin, D. S., Lochner, C., & Stein, D. J. (2016). Altered executive control network resting-state connectivity in social anxiety disorder. The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry, 17(1), 47-57.

A brain-based education is the only real option for our children struggling with academic, social, emotional and physical challenges, because these challenges speak of a central cause of their sometimes, complex issues. In virtually all cases the best approach to a central problem is a central solution, addressing the brain itself.

The cortex, our powerful learning center, our source of coordination, art, communication and adult living skills, is the peak achievement of the human brain. It is a brain supported by underlying drivers, levels of the brain that are no more under our control than our ability to control the growth of our toenails! Yet that is the brain that often interferes with the full expression of our cortical brilliance. This is the brain that we are going to explore in this article.

Our discussion of Realms of Intelligence will include Motor Sequencing, Vision, Speech, Reading, Social Cueing and the unique role of the corpus callosum in coordinating our two cortical hemispheres. However, rather than focusing solely on the cortex our goal is to help readers understand how even the activity of the neonate brain, as well as every brain level below the cortex, is influencing the above listed skills. Viewed from the perspective of Neurological Reorganization we can come to understand how to help our children become academically, physically, socially, and emotionally whole.

Each level of the central nervous system is dependent upon the levels beneath it to achieve maximum integration, and in this discussion we will explore the preconscious brain and how we can work with those levels of integration along with an explicitly cortical approach to help all of our students move more quickly to neurotypical skills and academic success.

 

Realms of Intelligence: Motor sequencing and coordination.

Motor sequencing is a realm of intelligence deeply dependent upon the pre-cortical brain. This complex topic involves not only the left hemisphere with its capacity to influence vision hand and oral function, but also areas of the central nervous system that begin to organize as early as a few weeks of age.

In the first 2.5 – 7 months of life on average, the pre-cortical brain is dominated by the pons and the amygdala which come on board as early as one month of age. During this stage of development, given the appropriate developmental opportunities such as crawling, time spent on the tummy and the integration of early reflexes the proximal joints (shoulders and hips) gain stability and flexibility, while the hand, during tummy crawling learns to supinate and pronate in preparation for writing, a skill that will not be used by the student for years, but is offered to us as an option as early as a few months of age.

Older children who have not achieved mastery of this early developmental stage may walk like little bears, or without arm swings, or feet turned in.

As the baby matures into the mid-cerebrum, between about 7 and 12 months, and still without cortical control of their mind or body, the organization of the medial joints (knees and elbows) is completed if the child is allowed to creep on hands and knees and do related reflex activities. At this time the cerebellum begins organizing the sequential motor firing. Additionally, sequencing in general is dependent upon a healthy cerebellum. The cerebellum, which is gaining skills during the first year of life is a big factor in determining visual motor skill level, and that of balance, coordination and proprioception.

The child who has not mastered this developmental level may not seem to know where their body is in space, may have knees that align poorly, poor balance, inability to hop on one foot, or in general an ‘awkward gait’ when walking and running. They are frequently unable to skip.

 

Realms of Intelligence: Vision

The coordination of early visual motor skills comes about between 2 and 7 months as the baby, prone on their tummy, tracks the whereabouts of her caregiver, and that primal need results in eye tracking that will later be used for reading.

The active 7 to 12-month old child, given the appropriate environment is easily able to integrate the critical skill of visual convergence. The nerves that go to the muscles that turn the eyes in, thus creating visual convergence, run through the mid-cerebrum and many children whose eyes turn out do not need vision therapy so much as they need the experience of mid-brain/mid-cerebrum activities. This is the way nature gave all of us visual convergence and this original plan can be reactivated to bring visual convergence to our children. When both eyes look at the same thing at the same time reading becomes much easier than when words move on the page, turn from black to gray, black to gray, or when all the letters have ‘shadows’ around them.

Children who have not mastered the early phases of vision development may appear to need glasses and may suffer from poor reading and visual fatigue.

 

Realms of Intelligence: Speech

Speech is a Realm of Intelligence deeply dependent upon pre-cortical areas of the brain.

Babbling and cooing, the ability to make a wide range of sounds, experimentation with the tongue, lips and cheeks, are all a well-known component of speech arising from the pre-cortical brain between 7 and 12 months. It has been observed by this practitioner that children diagnosed as ‘on the spectrum’ have often skipped the babbling phase of speech, and thus bring little prosody to their speech. Other children with poor social cueing skills are often lacking in tonality. Poor spoken tonality and inability to carry a tune may be unrelated to cortical brilliance, but rather may be a product of an injury to the brain or lack of brain integration in the first months of life.

Sequencing problems are illustrated when the word ‘spaghetti’, is heard and pronounced in many young children as ‘busgetti’, with the cerebellum unable to process the ‘p’ and ‘s’ in the proper order. The P is explosive, while the S is sibilant and travels more slowly through the brain. The cerebellum matures as a result of stimulation including vestibular activity, creeping on hands and knees and other related activities, the child’s cerebellum matures and sequencing at all levels becomes resolved. The word spaghetti is no longer a problem!

The child who has not mastered the earlier developmental levels may have a flat tonality, garbled speech, poor pronunciation of words.

 

Realms of Intelligence: Social Skills

Social skills, too, are often challenging for our children, and are dependent on multiple levels of brain functioning. While the pre-frontal cortex is known for its role in helping us achieve sophisticated social skills, the seeds of our social behavior start at birth.

Mirror neurons that begin to come on board during the first weeks of life can be prompted again at any point in the lifespan by replicating the activities of the first months of life in the context of appropriate parenting and understanding teachers and aides.

The seeds of compassion start with our own ability to feel deep pain, which allows us to understand that others can feel this too. It is the beginning of understanding our impact on other human beings. If I know that I can hurt, I know that you can hurt as well and I am less likely to do things that will bring about pain for you. Injury to this area of the brain can cause behaviors that display a lack of regard for others, and may even appear as a lack of conscience.

The mid-cerebrum is the area of the brain that we humans share with other pack animals and our pre-conscious brain is the driver. A healthy brain naturally sees and responds to posture, gesture, spatial distance from others, tone of voice, volume, etc., and creates appropriate body language in return without cortical intervention. The best public speakers, teachers, managers, actors have these skills naturally and it is their ease in this area that gives us confidence in their presentation of themselves.

In the pack animal, the individual who cannot pick up on the body language of their pack, and who does not display the appropriate body language may be kicked out, may become the ‘lone wolf’ and it is the same for our children. And while we do our best to train in more appropriate responses, the natural skill, when lacking is hard to replicate in any but artificial ways.

Children who have not mastered this level may have few friends, not able to understand how to work in a group or team, may seem to lack compassion, always seem on the ‘outside’ of any social circle. When the mid cerebrum is stimulated by replicating the developmental sequence, the skills can be gained in children at any stage of development.

 

Realms of Intelligence: The unique and diverse role of the Corpus Callosum

Reading comprehension, memory and impulse control are further enhanced during the second half of the first year and, in fact, are dependent upon the bridge that runs between the two hemispheres of the brain. The corpus callosum is a part of the cortex, but does not develop to maximum efficiency without the critical activities typical of the 7 to 12-month old. These mid-cerebellum/midbrain activities also include hands and knees creeping, vestibular activities and reflexes that are usually not re-visited after the child has begun to walk.

Those children who experience high fluency and low comprehension are those children who cannot pull together the word recognition skills of the left hemisphere together with the picture and meaning making skills of the right hemisphere. Rather than practicing making pictures out of words, we have found that the deepest way to permanently resolve the issues is by replicating the developmental activities of this level of the brain.

Impulse control, while certainly something that one can think about and manage temporarily, even building up more and more habits of self-control, is a product of an efficient corpus callosum. While the ‘Little Brother/Little Sister” right brain wants to mentally or even physically chase and touch every bright and shiny object (‘Squirrel Squirrel” brain), the ‘Big Brother/Big Sister brain has a role in taking charge of the situation to remind the child that this is not the time or place.

All of these responses happen at a pre-cortical level, and thus when the brain is healthy there is little effort in self-regulation, impulse control, seeing ‘pictures’ when reading, etc.

Children with poor mastery of the activities needed to integrate the Corpus Callosum may have fluency/comprehension differentials, poor impulse control, poor short-term memory or ability to follow multiple step directions, among other issues.

The extra effort used by so many children to notice, think through and control their behavior would be so much better be devoted to learning, and when a child repeats the missing elements of the Developmental Sequence the skills are integrated at the brain level originally responsible for these skills.

While we have left out areas such as Math proficiency, Attention, Regulation, Fine Motor Skills, Auditory processing, Sensory Seeking or Sensory Avoidant Behaviors, Anxiety and Phobias, all of these too have their roots in the organization of the brain in the first year of life.

Neurological Reorganization has a 75-year history of helping the disorganized brains of children with challenges to reclaim their birthright, the full Developmental Sequence, which is the master plan for the organization of a human brain. The addition of a pre-cortical plan for brain organization in addition to the cognitive programs at Eaton-Arrowsmith Schools can ease the pathway for maturing our children’s brains and optimizing their academic success. For more information about Neurological Reorganization contact Bette Lamont: developmentalmovement.org. Website: www.neurologicalreorganization.org.

Article by Bette Lamont

Certified Counselor, State of Washington

Certified Neurological Reorganization Practitioner

Laban Movement Analyst

No part of this article can be replicated online or in hard copy without the author’s permission.

© Bette Lamont 2019

 

Thank you EVERYONE who attended, performed, and supported the 2nd Annual Eaton Arrowsmith Redmond’s Got Talent Show!

There were so many magical moments that our student’s and community contributed to we hope you felt the warmth of the love shared here that night as well. Plus, through our snack sale, we raised $200 to donate to “Charity: Water”!

In case you missed, or simply want to re-watch the performances, here are the links to the “unpublished” YouTube videos. ***Note*** you will only be able to watch these videos if you have the direct link.

Doggy Pow “Romeo and Juliet”
Simone “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”
Miss Sarah “You Say”
Will’s Films He Has Made
Will Demonstrating How to Make a Film
Will Completed Film
Jack “Sunflower”
Brennan’s “My Friend is Sad”
Rylan & Keira “Harry Potter Song”
Miss Lacey’s Make-Big-Inator
Staff and School YMCA

You’re invited to the screening of Mindset Matters, a 45-minute documentary film that follows a Surrey, BC class participating in the six week PowerPlay Young Entrepreneur program, and documents the students’ journey, placing special focus on four students who have unique social and educational needs.

After, you’ll have the opportunity to stay for a panel discussion with 3 researchers (Kim Schonert-Reichl, Lara Boyd and Rachel Weber) who are studying the Eaton Arrowsmith program, as well as an SFU researcher looking at the entrepreneur program.

April 29th, 2019 at the HR Mac Millan Space Center Auditorium.

For more details about this event and to register, click HERE.

 

*live stream link now available – read on for more information!

Eaton Arrowsmith and the founder of the Arrowsmith ProgramBarbara Arrowsmith Young, are hosting an exciting Arrowsmith Program research update presentation at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, Canada on Thursday March 14th 2019, 6:30pm-8:30pm PST.  This presentation will be similar to the event held on February 21st 2019 in New York, hosted by the Arrowsmith Program.  If you are interested in a recording of the February 21st 2019 presentation please click here and it will be sent to you when available.
Vancouver Event Details:
Date: Thursday, March 14th 2019
Time: 6:30pm to 8:30pm PST
REGISTER to attend in person:

https://arrowsmithprogramresearchupdatemarch2019vancouver.eventbrite.ca
*Please only sign up via Eventbrite if you intend to attend the event in person, as space is limited.

*Can’t make it to the event in person? The presentation will be live streamed and available for viewing immediately afterwards.  Click the following link just before 6:30pm PST on March 14th 2019 to gain access to the presentation. This link also acts as a way to access a recording of this event, so even if you miss the live streamed presentation you can use the link to view the presentation at any time after it has finished. https://mediasite.audiovisual.ubc.ca/Mediasite/Play/bb7b0b9891b34649b2fbd66a56281a541d

What to expect on March 14th 2019, 6:30pm-8:30pm:
Dr. Greg Rose from Southern Illinois University, and Drs. Lara Boyd and Rachel Weber, both from University of British Columbia, will present their latest research about the Arrowsmith Program and its effectiveness. All three academic leaders are currently undertaking research projects into various aspects of the Arrowsmith Program and its outcomes, and this presentation will focus on the following aspects of their work:
* Behaviour relationships in children with learning disabilities – Dr Lara Boyd
* Benefits of Arrowsmith Training on Brain Connectivity and Neuropsychological Measures – Dr Greg Rose
* Neurocognitive and Behavioural Outcomes of the Arrowsmith Program – Dr Rachel Weber

Barbara Arrowsmith Young and the Eaton Arrowsmith team look forward to sharing this event with you on March 14th – either in person or via live stream! If you know others in your community who may also be interested in attending – either in person or virtually, please considering forwarding on this email, or sharing this information via the social media channels listed below.  Thank you!

Calculator

By Mike Campagne, Disability Tax Services Ltd.

This article is not to be construed as financial advice, but rather as general information.  Always consult a tax professional in determining the optimal way for you to file your medical expenses or any other relevant tax credits and deductions.

As a general rule, if you have a child with a cognitive challenge that requires special schooling – like the Arrowsmith program – it is important to get advice from a tax professional with an in-depth understanding of related disability credits and deductions. Those sections of taxation are administered differently than other areas of personal taxation.

In the recent years, numerous tax-based credit and benefit programs have been introduced to assist families, but many are misunderstood or overlooked.

For this reason, I wanted to write about a topic that is relevant to all families with children attending Eaton Arrowsmith: claiming tuition as a medical expense.

However, while claiming special schooling costs for a child with a learning disability or mental impairment yields valuable tax savings, it’s barely the tip of the iceberg of what may be available.

There are a range of potentially applicable programs that include: the disability tax credit, related child disability benefit supplements to the child tax benefit, family caregiver amount credits, travel expenses (in limited circumstances), and the registered disability savings plan (RDSP). Arts and fitness credits have been eliminated for tax year 2018.

Not every child with a learning disability or impairment in mental functions will qualify for tax credits and benefits, but many do. These programs are complex and pre-assessed with a rigorous CRA testing system that often leads to erroneous denial of tax credits and benefits to Canadian families.

Recently CRA has been challenged on assessment procedures and a parliamentary advisory committee has been appointed to investigate concerns. That committee asked for my participation and my take home message is that many families with children with cognitive challenges have been denied a fair hearing for a range of tax and benefit programs. This may have happened to you and your child, and improperly denied benefits can run into the thousands of dollars.  If you are unsure if you are receiving all eligible tax and benefit supports we provide a free initial analysis via a phone consultation. This can be scheduled with a call to our office at 604-415-5311 or you can email me directly at plan4u@shaw.ca .

2018 Rules on medical expenses:

Line 330 – Medical expenses for self, spouse or common-law partner, and your dependent children born in 2001 or later:

You can claim on line 330 the total eligible medical expenses you or your spouse or common-law partner paid for:

  • yourself;
  • your spouse or common-law partner; and
  • your or your spouse’s or common-law partner’s children born in 2001 or later.

 

You can claim eligible medical expenses paid in any 12-month period ending in 2018 and not claimed for 2017. Generally, you can claim all amounts paid, even if they were not paid in Canada.

Your total expenses have to be more than 3% of your net income (line 236) or $2,302, whichever is less, to yield federal tax savings.

Reimbursement of an eligible expense – You can claim only the part of an expense for which you have not been or will not be reimbursed.

The medical expense is claimable by the date paid, rather than the date invoiced.

Medical expenses for other dependants must be claimed on line 331. (The most common example of this is a child over 18 living at home). Line 331 – You can claim the total of the eligible expenses minus either $2,302 or 3% of your dependant’s net income (line 236 of the income tax and benefit return), whichever is less, to yield tax savings.

The corresponding provincial lines for the medical expense claims are 5868 for a child under 18 and 5872 for a child over 18.

School for persons with an impairment in physical or mental functions – a medical practitioner must certify in writing that the equipment, facilities, or personnel specially provided by that school are required because of the person’s physical or mental impairment.

A question I have often been asked is, “Why do I need this certified by a medical practitioner?” The simplest way to explain this is to think of it as if your child has been prescribed special schooling due to a learning disability or impairment in mental functions.

Adapted schooling for a child who has no impairment, is generally not claimable. However, I would note that in my experience the description of what qualifies as an impairment in mental functions is relatively broad. With the admission entry process at Arrowsmith, I would expect all students attending the Arrowsmith program could meet this standard.

Key points:

Which parent should make the claim?

Normally it is most advantageous for one parent to claim the entirety of the family’s medical expenses.

As only the combined medical expenses over $2,302 or 3% of net income result in a tax reduction, in a two parent family the lower income earner will often have the greatest tax reduction.

The corresponding provincial lines for the medical expense claims are for self, spouse and a child under 18 (line 5868) and for a child over 18 (line 5872). The threshold for provincial useable medical expenses differs slightly by province. For BC residents, the 2018 provincial tax year threshold is $2,165 or 3% of net income, whichever is less.

For example, with special schooling expenses of $30,000 and spouses with net incomes of $100,000 and $40,000, and no other claimable medical expenses:

The higher income spouse would see useable medical expenses of $27,698 ($30,000-$2,302) versus useable medical expenses of $28,800 ($30,000-$1,200) for the lower income spouse. By useable medical expenses, I am referring to that portion which leads to a tax reduction.

For a BC resident, the provincial useable medical expenses would be $27,835 ($30,000-$2,165) for the higher income spouse and the same $28,800 for the lower income spouse.

If you already have medical expenses over $2,302 or 3% of net income, whichever is less, the entire special schooling expense yields claimable tax credits.

Ensure to compare the amount you can claim with the amount your spouse or common-law partner would be allowed to claim. Either parent can make the claim, just choose that claim which leads to the largest tax reduction – run the numbers for both scenarios before filing you 2018 taxesMost tax programs will ask you, when you enter medical expenses, whether they are to be “optimized”. Selecting yes normally leads to the tax software working out which spouse should claim the medical expenses, but I recommend doing the calculations for each parent to be sure.

And remember: medical expense claims create non-refundable credits, meaning they are valuable only in reducing taxes paid or owing. So, while the lower income parent might have more useable medical expense credits, if that person doesn’t owe enough tax to utilize them, it could be that less useable credits for the higher income spouse yield a larger tax saving.

So let me emphasize: run different scenarios, including a splitting of the medical expense claim, to find the best tax reduction outcome. A good tax preparer will do this and even consider within that calculation how other tax credits which are claimable by either spouse are allocated, as that can also impact the value of the medical expense claim. Taxes can be complicated. I recommend getting professional tax preparation assistance.

In the rare case where neither spouse does pay tax (such as a quite low family income or a high level of other deductions), there are no tax savings as the credits are non-refundable. In cases where a family is extremely low income, there may be a medical expense refund claimed, but in my experience families with such low incomes can rarely afford special schooling, so I will not address that issue here.

Tax planning opportunities can center around timing of claims in light of overall medical expenses.

Example (regarding the federal medical expense credits threshold): Sue is a single Mom who makes $100,000 net income. She plans on having her son Joe, who has a learning disability, have intense special schooling from September to March, cost $15,000 in 2017 and $15,000 in 2018. Sue has no other medical expenses. If she claims the expenses by calendar year, she has a useable medical expense amount of only $12,698 in each of 2017 and 2018, for a total of useable medical expense above the threshold of $25,396. This is due to the threshold being applied twice. But if she chooses to claim the period of September 2017 to August 2018 on her 2018 tax filing, her useable medical expense amount increases to $27,698 as the threshold is applied only once. As well, if she paid the entire special schooling amount in 2017 (a prepayment of the January to March special schooling), Sue would have the $27,732 useable amount for her 2017 filing.

How to meet the CRA requirement of “certified by a medical practitioner”?

Here is a typical letter (optimally on stationary identifying the doctor or registered psychologist) certifying the special schooling is required due to a learning disability or impairment in mental functions:

Joe Sample is my patient and a student diagnosed with a learning disability. Joe requires an adapted special schooling program that addresses this impairment. Joe is undergoing therapy/treatment for his learning disability at Eaton Arrowsmith School.

(Signed Dr.) W. Smith

While a doctor or registered psychologist is usually the best choice, I have seen the CRA accept medical practitioners with fewer qualifications as long as their field is relevant to learning impairments.

Will I be audited?

CRA has in some past years set a threshold on medical expense claims for automatic computer generated review (audit is way too strong a term here). These “audits” are usually easily addressed by mailing to the CRA your Arrowsmith receipt and a basic letter like the example above. Most regular Canadians can handle this on their own, but if you run into any issues with the CRA here, give me a call.

Over the years, there have been occasions when families with a student at Eaton Arrowsmith have had their tuition medical expense claims rejected, but that was just the result of poor or inadequate communication in responding to the CRA query. In every instance I have been involved with where an Eaton Arrowsmith family encountered such a denial, I was able to intervene and see the CRA denial reversed and the medical expense claim validated.

How much tax savings does the claim yield?

For BC residents, this normally works out to 20.06% of the useable medical expense for middle or high-income earners (though the amount of tax reduction can be less in certain circumstances). The maximum tax relief, for a person with substantial other medical expenses above the 3% of net income or $2,302 threshold, on $30,000 of qualifying tuition expenses, works out to $6,018.00 for BC residents.

For business owners with a Health and Welfare Trust or Private Health Services Plan, the tax savings can potentially nearly double, but such plans have expenses and requirements, and I know of only a few clients over the years utilizing such a plan – they’re complicated. As a discussion of this component is rarely applicable, I won’t bother to cover the details here. If you are a person owning his or her own business, you may want to review these options online via a Google search, as there are companies in Vancouver who can explain and administer such plans.

There are also potentially claimable medical expense travel expenses if the commute to Arrowsmith is over 40 kilometres (each way), but there are complex requirements and provisions for such claims so you should consult with a tax professional on the viability of claiming travel expenses.

If you would like a free initial phone consultation regarding tax saving opportunities that may be applicable to your unique circumstances, please email me directly at plan4u@shaw.ca or call my office at 604-415-5311. Mike Campagne CFP, BA

 

 

Our colleagues at the Arrowsmith Program are hosting an exciting event that we wanted to share with you. The Arrowsmith Program is based on the application of neuroscientific research and for 40 years we have worked to help students strengthen the weak cognitive capacities underlying a range of learning difficulties. 

 

On February 21st, 2019 Dr. Greg Rose from Southern Illinois University, and Drs. Lara Boyd and Rachel Weber, both from University of British Columbia, will present their latest research about the Arrowsmith Program and its effectiveness. All three academic leaders are currently undertaking research projects into various aspects of the Arrowsmith Program and its outcomes, and this presentation will focus on the following aspects of their work:

* Behaviour relationships in children with learning disabilities – Dr Lara Boyd

* Benefits of Arrowsmith Training on Brain Connectivity and Neuropsychological Measures – Dr Greg Rose

* Neurocognitive and Behavioural Outcomes of the Arrowsmith Program – Dr Rachel Weber

 

Event Details:

Date: Thursday, February 21st, 2019

Time: 7:00pm to 10:00pm EST Venue: W New York – Times Square, 1567 Broadway, New York City, NY Presentation room: Studio 1,2,3

Please click here to register to attend the event in person.

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/presentation-by-researchers-from-ubc-and-siu-research-studies-on-the-arrowsmith-program-tickets-53112295305?aff=EAG

 

There are two other options to watch the presentations.

1. Watch the live presentation via live-streaming.

Date: Thursday, February 21st, 2019

Time: 7:00pm to 10:00pm EST (4:00pm to 7:00pm PST) You can register for the live-streaming link here https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/live-stream-presentation-by-researchers-from-ubc-and-siu-research-studies-on-the-arrowsmith-program-tickets-55298402009?aff=EAG

 

2. Watch the recording of the presentation. You can register here to receive the link to the video recording when available.https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSddE2H8OhNlSWxFjW2kwNFqkWcBllmKWvFaV5rsWUGiDluYPA/viewform

Join Howard Eaton for a evening of interesting insight and conversations and learn how you can improve your large scale brain network connectivity! Read more and register here.

Research has identified that there is a neurobiological basis for learning difficulties. Neuroscientists around the world have been studying the brain networks responsible for various behaviours such as reasoning, attention and memory and language processing. In education, the approach to learning disabilities has been to find ways for the brain to compensate for these neurological difficulties. Recent research out of Southern Illinois University on the Arrowsmith Program’s Summer Cognitive Intensive Program highlights that brain networks responsible for reasoning, attention and memory can improve in connectivity through cognitive training; and thus compensation strategies – that are currently a focus in educational planning for those with learning disabilities – are not the only option. The implications of this research is significant for the field of Learning Disabilities.

We recently conducted a survey with Eaton Arrowsmith parents and discovered that 65 per cent of the time the decision to send a child to EA is made by both parents.

Mothers are typically thought to be the decision-makers when it comes to their children. In fact, 84 per cent of the people surveyed were women.

But that doesn’t mean dads aren’t involved in making serious decisions about their kids’ educations.

In the below video, John talks about the concerns he had before enrolling his daughter at Eaton Arrowsmith. He also shares the process that led to the decision and how it has changed his child’s life.

This Father’s Day, let’s celebrate all the dads who search for solutions for their kids’ learning difficulties and will do anything to see them succeed.

Howard Eaton’s new book, The Brain Pioneer: The True Story of How Barbara Arrowsmith-Young Used Brain Science to Help Children With Learning Disabilities, can now be ordered on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

Current Eaton Arrowsmith families will soon be able to purchase the book at a discounted rate from their schools. Watch for updates about the book’s release on our Facebook page and through our school newsletters.

Book description:

Did you know your brain is plastic?!

That’s right: because “plastic” means it can change.

This is the story of Barbara Arrowsmith-Young. As a child she was told she would never overcome the learning disabilities that made school so difficult and frustrating for her. But Barbara refused to believe that was true.

With courage, inventiveness, and resilience, she found ways to actually change her brain and improve her skills. A dedicated researcher and innovator who came to be known as “the brain pioneer” for her groundbreaking research on what’s now known as “brain plasticity,” Barbara has transformed how people with learning disabilities are perceived and educated.

Barbara created her own brain improvement program, and opened the Arrowsmith School in 1980 to bring the program to other students. Today there are over 100 schools offering the program around the world.  The program can also help adults who have had brain injuries from stroke or accidents.

Through Barbara’s passion and achievements, she has taught the world that children with learning disabilities and people who have suffered brain injuries can change their brains, and dream of a brighter future!

Read on to find out how Barbara made her incredible discovery.

Includes a history of studies in brain plasticity, amazing brain facts, vital brain health recommendations, and a comprehensive glossary.

Please join us on Thursday, May 3rd, 2018 (6:00pm-8:00pm) at Eaton Arrowsmith Vancouver/Magnussen School/Eaton Cognitive Improvement Centre for our annual Community Resource Fair.

This event will give you – our wonderful families and other community members – access to practitioners in our area who, like Eaton Arrowsmith, provide support to children and adults to help them grow and develop healthy brains.

Students and staff at Eaton Arrowsmith White Rock showed the Lower Mainland how exercise can boost concentration, reduce anxiety and improve cognitive development on Breakfast Television.

This winter, the school added fitness breaks to students’ days to reduce stress in the classroom and help kids strengthen their brains.

Research suggests exercise can have a postitive impact on learning and students at EA White Rock are feeling focused thanks to the fitness program.

Being on Breakfast Television was the perfect way to celebrate Brain Awareness Week, which runs from March 12-18, and promotes the benefits of brain research.

The EA fitness program was also featured in Peace Arch News.

 

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