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The Woman Who Changed Her Brain: Stories of Transformation from the Frontier of Brain Science

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  706 Ratings  ·  126 Reviews
Born with severe learning disabilities that caused teachers to label her slow, stubborn, or worse, Barbara Arrowsmith-Young read and wrote everything backwards, struggled to process concepts in language, continually got lost, and could make no sense of an analog clock. But through her formidable memory and determination, she made her way to graduate school, where she chanc ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Free Press
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Never have I read a book that makes me both so hopeful and so sad. The author describes her experience as an individual with severe learning/cognitive disabilities and how she was able to not only overcome them, but actually retrain her brain to free herself. She then applied these exercises to others and developed additional ones to focus on other cognitive deficits. The basic premise is that these cognitive deficits are what is preventing children with a variety of learning disabilities and di ...more
Nov 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book should be read by *ALL* teachers! And anyone with an interest in learning disabilities. It is biography of Barbara Arrowsmith-Young, a brilliant Ontario girl with severe learning disabilities who through sheer dogged persistence acquires a university education and in the process comes across what appears to be the key to "learning problems" -- using the brain's natural "neural plasticity". The traditional way to remediate learning disabilities is to find ways of coping with them, worki ...more
Jun 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in a week and found it absolutely fascinating along with identifying 3 learning disabilities that I have but have grown into adulthood just thinking I was stupid because I couldn't do some things that came so easily to other people. I realized right away that she might be promoting her school but this kind of teaching and learning needs all the promotion it can get. I have told numerous people about the concepts discussed in this book and if I had Bill Gates' money I would make ...more
Apr 11, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this book but I found it very frustrating. It's partly Barbara Arrowsmith's biography, partly 'brain science' but mostly it's an extended advert for her program, which I'd be okay with if she gave anything more than a hint of what the program is about. Instead it's a series of case studies which invariably end with how the person's life was dramatically improved after the program - which gets a little boring after a while, a bit like watching an extended infomercial for a ...more
The concept behind this book is really amazing. I loved how it highlighted the changing understanding of the brain. The first third of the book was really fascinating. the stories got to be a little tedious because they were all formatted the same and there were a lot of them. I was interested in finding out more about their techniques of brain change but some chapters didn't even address technique. I was looking more for information and sometime felt like I was being sold a ticket to Arrowsmith ...more
Andrew Marshall
There is a lot to recommend about this book. In particular, the idea that you can change your brain. All to often, clients worry that they can't change or their partners can't change. This book and the idea of brain plasticity ends that fear for once and for all. The other plus is that Barbara's story is really inspiring. However... and it's a big however. She gives little or no insight into how she changed her own brain and nothing away about the programme that she puts other people through. It ...more
Jun 04, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was a blatant advertisement for the school run by the author - full of case studies which were very repetitive, and with no real information on what the patients actually did to improve their situation.
Aug 17, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm still a little bit sceptical, but intrigued enough that I am looking further into her program. The book sounds too much like an extended brochure on her program, but then it's been her life's work. It's quite likely that because I am not the target market that I am unable to appreciate this as much, finding some parts repetitive. Nevertheless, a fascinating read and quite the insight into the lives of those that are learning disabled.

Update [2013-Feb-16]: Now that I've started reading quite
Aug 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a teacher of children with disabilities, I have always been interested in brain functioning. This nonfiction book was encouraging, as it spoke of re-training the brain and forcing neurons to fire and wire together, bringing dramatic improvements to people's quality of life. It makes me want to visit an Arrowsmith school!
Mohamed Ghilan
Dec 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: neuroscience
This is a fascinating book that I think every parent and teacher should read. I was introduced to Barbara Arrosmith-Young in Dr. Norman Doidge's 2007 book "The Brain That Changes Itself" and found it impressive that despite having learning disabilities she managed to not only diagnose her cognitive problems by reading A.R. Luria's books, but she also designed cognitive training exercises that ultimately allowed her to overcome her learning disabilities. This formed the basis of the work she now ...more
Barbara Arrowsmith-Young suffered from multiple learning disabilities as a child. She was told to compensate for these deficiencies by relying on her strengths. Determined to overcome them, she began studying psychology and the brain, eventually discovering in the works of Aleksandr Luria a clue to her own condition. Additional research suggested to her that brains are not static, as was once believed. They can be altered. Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to change itself. Barbara beg ...more
Sep 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Extremely interesting about the brain. Barbara Arrowsmith-Young gets very detailed about the brain but then she changed her own brain and has a school in Toronto to help others so she knows the latest findings and information. She has so many interesting case histories and personal stories which help soften the hard scientific parts. It is such interesting information and what it all boils down to is that we are all the same, some just have higher or lower functioning areas of the brain. It isn' ...more
Angela Boord
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was very hard for me to rate. On the one hand, I believe that it should be required reading for all educators as well as parents who suspect that their child may have a learning disability of any kind. On the other hand - as the parent of children with learning disabilities - I found the vague and cursory handling of the treatment exercises very frustrating. I understand that the book is not meant to be a treatment manual, but after hearing success story after success story, one gets o ...more
Jul 24, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edu
Barbara Arrowsmith-Young is obviously a fascinating woman who is dedicated to her work helping children and adults with learning disabilities. This book is an amazing introduction to pioneering techniques of training people to overcome their brain issues. While the book was insightful, I strongly feel that that Arrowsmith-Young was providing a strong sell of her specific methods rather than providing a balanced view. Individual people are featured throughout the book but she provides mostly befo ...more
Sep 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Wow. This book was on a bedside table of somewhere I was staying and I went out and bought a copy that day so I would be able to read the rest of it. Stories of people with amazing disabilities and how an ingenuous teacher developed exercises to help them train themselves out of it. It didn't feel like non-fiction to me, I stayed up till 2am reading. And each chapter reminded me of myself, my spouse, or a close friend! We are all flawed in some aspect I guess, but most of us manage to compensate ...more
Edwin Heartfulsoul
Because I identify with the Arrowsmith's story,
I came to appreciate how my brain (and every one's) is so different and unique.

For example, I now have a deeper appreciation for my love of music, having seen a documentary showing how some may not 'hear' anything at all (a condition known as amusia)..

Even our "personality" and eccentricities may have roots in brain structure.

And, of course, her story shows how careful self observation and strong intention can change who we are in terms of actual
Amber Myott
2.5 stars if I could , as I don't think it is particularly well written. I read this book for educational purposes ...the author has founded a school in Canada ( The Arrowsmith School ) where the program is reportedly achieving amazing result. The whole subject of neuroplasticity and 'retraining ' the brain is fascinating.
Catherine Mikkelsen
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ld-research
If you have a child with learning differences, you're suddenly plunged into a confusing world. Your child is given IQ tests, but all of a sudden the subtests -- with names like "word attack" and "visual memory" matter. Some LD children are at 90th %tile for some cognitive skills -- and 10th %tile in others.

It turns out that cognitive challenges very rarely fit neatly into the categories we're told about. Dyslexia, for example, can be just one cognitive challenge, or it can be about 10. Your chil
Whole And
A phenomenal book and life story. Barbara Arrowsmith Young's work is on the leading edge of brain plasticity and altering the trajectory of dim futures to bright, individuals reaching full potential instead. If you feel you or anyone you know has any flicker of a learning disability or a learning challenge of any type, read this book, visit the school, watch her interviews. We could all benefit from the customized exercises Arrowsmith offers her students for more than 30 years.
Groundbreaking, f
I received this book to review.
I was really excited to read this book, as I liked the idea.

I didn't finish the book (the printed edition - the printing of words was tiny; which also made the book more difficult to read without glasses)

Found out a little about herself then she would say about a student's having difficulties then after doing "the" exercises they accomplished amazing results.

There was no explanation of exercises but has made me more aware.
Really interesting and thought-provoking, although the anecdotal format provided a limited understanding of the context around the author's methods (i.e. no addressing failures, discussion of where the method doesn't work and why). Definitely inspired me to read more in the area of neuroplasticity applied to education; the author's journey is so impressive and the stories told are very moving.
The Woman Who Changed Her Brain A truly interesting story and program that I had never heard of. It makes me wish this kind of testing and solutions were more prolific.
This is the kind of title that really catches my attention, especially in non-fiction. I'm a huge fan of non-fiction. The whole concept of the Arrowsmith school amazes me. This book not only does a great job of recounting the life of Barbara Arrowsmith-Young, in her own words, but also many of the categories of deficits that peopl
Sara Foley
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating, insightful, personal and illuminating. A fantastic book on the brain, learning and disabilities - and the redeeming power of the author's determination and spirit to transform our understanding of the brain.
May 23, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Very frustrating and disappointing. Too many case studies without any details of the actual techniques used to produce the change. Very infomercial like. Regret buying this book.
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is an account of Barbara Arrowsmith-Young and her difficulties with her learning disabilities. She was inspired by A.R. Lurid and his study of the human brain, by a solider that was shot in the head and lived. She was very taken with the idea that the brain is neuroplastic and can change. She implemented this practice and found that various children and adults suffer from various deficits that go unnoticed and cause low mental states along with learning disabilities. She developed brai ...more
Sarah Robinson
This book's brilliance is in that it both describes and inspires by the way the intricacies of the human brain are described through narrative accounts of people's personal experience of often quite specific issues. Sometimes people who have done surprisingly well inspite of a specific difficulty and sometimes someone who has discovered a latent talent, honed in on upgrading it and progressed more generally because of this. The book helps the reader appreciate just how fascinating human mental c ...more
Aug 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating! Absolutely fascinating. When I saw this title, I knew I wanted to read it. Part memoir and part educational and resource book, The Woman Who Changed her Brain, is about the story and work of Barbara Arrowsmith-Young, a remarkable woman and Canadian pioneer in the practical application of “neuroplasticity.” Not only was she born with severe learning disabilities that had her struggling with language, spatial awareness, and symbolic thinking, but she overcame them after she came upon ...more
Dani (The Pluviophile Reader)
Full review at The Pluviophile Reader:

3/5 stars.
Paperback, 288 pages.
Read from November 26 to December 07, 2014.

This book was given to me as a gift and it is a book that I wouldn't have normally picked up as I don’t have any learning disorders (that I’m aware of). However, this book is inspirational for anyone that underestimates the power of their own brains and is proof that we are more capable of rewiring our brains to change our thoughts and even behaviors.

Barbara st
You know how you go to WebMD to look up your seemingly innocuous symptoms and end up convinced that you have a terminal illness? Well, this is a book all about brain deficits, so I'll leave you to guess how I felt through most of the book. :)

It's an interesting combination of genres. The stories about people, especially the author, who identify and overcome learning disabilities by exercising neuroplasticity are compelling and give you lots of pro-underdog satisfaction. The detailed explanations
Lisa Biskup
Mar 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most inspiring books I've read in a while.

The author, Barbara Arrowsmith Young, overcame a variety of learning disabilities that she had suffered with during her childhood and into her 20s, and then went on to help both children and adults overcome their own cognitive deficits with methods she developed by herself.

In the book, she describes how her learning disabilities affected her own life and explains the methods she created to retrain her brain to function properly, base
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Diagnosed in grade one as having a "mental block", which today would have been identified as multiple learning disabilities, Barbara Arrowsmith-Young read and wrote everything backwards, had trouble processing concepts in language, continuously got lost and was physically uncoordinated.

Barbara eventually learnt to read and write from left to right and mask a number of the symptoms of her learning
More about Barbara Arrowsmith-Young...

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“This concept is central to understanding what distinguishes the Arrowsmith approach: cognitive exercises do not teach content or skill in, say, mathematics; the aim is to forge new neural pathways in the brain so that later, when math is taught, number concepts actually make sense.” 0 likes
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