Alpha found out he processed information slower than other children when he was in second grade.
“He struggled with math and logical reasoning in social situations,” said his mother, Constance Wun.
In Alpha’s words, it was like information was going in one ear and out the other.
“Everything was so distracting,” he said. “I was rude and inappropriate in social situations. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know when to say it. I felt like life would always be this way.”
But unlike children diagnosed with other learning challenges, school was the least of Alpha’s concerns. He struggled in math and often had to accept results that didn’t reflect his true ability, but he excelled in other subjects. Socializing was his biggest challenge.
“As a parent, I’m not just focused on grades,” Wun said. “I want my son to be able to think through life.”
Slow processing speed need not be connected to lower intelligence. Individuals with this learning issue simply take in, interpret and respond to information at a slower rate than others in both academic and everyday social situations.
Children with slow processing speed can have a hard time following multiple instructions at once, finishing tests on time and keeping up with conversations.
“Academics weren’t that hard for me,” Alpha said. “But by grade four, I only had three true friends.”
Alpha wondered why he struggled to connect with other children.
A part-time solution to a full-time challenge
After Alpha’s diagnosis, Wun tried to help her son with behaviour intervention, applied behaviour analysis, neurotherapy, as well as speech and occupational therapy. But none of these programs seemed to make a difference in Alpha’s ability to deal with his emotions and cope in social situations.
Wun was at a loss. Her son needed a different kind of intervention, but not one that involved pulling him from school to work on his processing speed full-time.
Then, one day, through pure coincidence, Wun found Eaton Arrowsmith School (EA). She attended a seminar on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and anxiety and found out about EA’s part-time program through a representative from the school.
“I had never heard of anything like EA before,” she said. “We had tried everything else, so I believed other interventions had reached their limits in helping my son. I wanted something different, and EA’s approach made sense.”
She enrolled Alpha in the part-time program when he was nine.
Eaton Arrowsmith offers a unique program that involves strengthening the brain through targeted, cognitive exercises. Unlike other interventions for individuals with learning disabilities, EA does not give students tools to cope with or work around their weaknesses.
The Arrowsmith Program, which was developed by Barbara Arrowsmith-Young, is based on the principle of neuroplasticity – or the brain’s ability to re-wire and make new connections.
While some children show weaknesses in several cognitive areas, for many others – like Alpha – this is not the case.
For this reason, EA offers a part-time program for students between the ages of six and 18. Children focus on strengthening one cognitive area twice a week for two hours after school. EA also offers a part-time program for adults out of its Eaton Cognitive Improvement Centres (EA Adults).
Not every child or adult diagnosed with a learning difficulty needs full-time cognitive intervention. Alpha’s story is a testament to the fact that students can strengthen their brains on a part-time basis.
An emotional transformation
Alpha is now 13 and started grade eight in September. He completed four years in EA’s part-time program and describes the changes he’s experienced as “exponential”.
“I took what I learned emotionally and I’m happy to report that my friend group has grown. I have even helped other friends with social situations, just like my three friends helped me several years ago,” Alpha said. “It’s not been easy. There are still things that happen, but what I learned at Eaton Arrowsmith has really helped me.”
Alpha’s mom said he is now doing better in math. But more importantly, she’s noticed fewer outbursts since he finished his program at EA.
“Emotions are a big factor in Alpha’s ability to deal with school and life,” Wun said. “I appreciate the teachers at EA very much. They helped my son break down the problems in his social life and deal with them effectively.”
Before EA, Alpha would simply feel stuck in social situations.
“I owe the school a huge debt that words cannot express,” Alpha said. “The teachers and the program helped me become confident and live up to my potential. EA was challenging, but I have reaped brilliant results from it.”
The part-time programs at Eaton Arrowsmith School and Eaton Cognitive Improvement Centre are designed to help students that fit the same learning profile as the full-time program.
These children and adults have learning difficulties that cause them to struggle in school and life, but they do not have severe emotional, behavioural or intellectual disorders.
Students’ programs are designed specifically for their learning needs and are based on the cognitive areas they need to strengthen.
Both schools recognize that children and adults have many commitments, including extracurricular activities, homework, jobs, and much more. While EA or EA Adults’s part-time program is another commitment, it can strengthen cognitive capacities and contribute to a student’s ability to manage and enjoy other activities and programs.
If you are interested in EA or EA Adults’s part-time programs, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 604-264-8327 (for Canadian admissions) or 425-861-8327 (for US admissions).
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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… Read More »