Episode 17: The limitless possibilities of not knowing her diagnoses

Guest: Barbara Arrowsmith-Young

Barbara authentically shares what it was like growing up with severe learning difficulties, having no known diagnosis at the time. She was pressed to carve and navigate her own path through feeling that she couldn’t fit in, feeling that going to school was meant to ‘feel stupid’, feeling ashamed that she couldn’t learn what others could, that at times it got so emotionally and mentally unruly that she had to fake illness so she could get out of going to school. She never told a soul what she had experienced, endured, and suffered through for decades. Barbara presented with exceptional strengths, so it was easy to mask the true struggle. Barbara shares with vulnerability emotions that emerged — hopelessness and despair, questioning how she could be successful when she often found herself guessing the answers — at times she was right and other times she was not. She expresses that what she endures had no logic in her world, unable to decode language, whether it be in reading, writing or comprehension of verbal communication. Through perseverance, she worked her process and overcame her learning difficulties when she immersed herself into the science of neuroplasticity and created meaningful work, that is her life’s work today. Her key message to listeners is that: there are solutions; there is hope and optimism in every situation if you look, so test it out and challenge what you know; never give up; keep investigating, ask questions, get curious; there is no one size fits all answer.


Guest Bio: Barbara is the founder of the Arrowsmith Program, which is an assessment process and a suite of cognitive exercises designed to stimulate and strengthen weak areas of cognitive functioning that underlie a range of learning difficulties. Her program has been delivered for 40+ years throughout the world. Her vision is that all students struggling with learning will have the opportunity to benefit from cognitive programs utilizing the principles of neuroplasticity, programs that change the brain’s capacity to learn and open to these learners a world of possibilities. 

The genesis of the Arrowsmith Program’s cognitive exercises lies in Barbara’s journey of discovery and innovation to overcome her own learning disabilities. She has written an international best seller, titled, ‘The Woman who Changed Her Brain’, she is also the recipient of the 2019 Leaders and Legends Innovation Award from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto for her contributions to education.


Passionate about: www.arrowsmithprogram.ca