Students who come to the Arrowsmith Program are of average to above-average intelligence but are having difficulty learning academic and social skills efficiently and independently. The Arrowsmith Program addresses a wide range of specific learning difficulties (referred to as learning disabilities in North America) such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, auditory and/or visual processing disorders, attention difficulties and non-verbal learning difficulties. The Arrowsmith Program is also designed for individuals who do not have identified specific learning difficulties but are challenged with issues such as organization, processing, problem-solving, communication, memory and independence.
The Arrowsmith Program is founded on neuroscience research and over 30 years of experience demonstrating that it is possible for students to strengthen the weak cognitive capacities underlying their learning dysfunctions through a program of specific cognitive exercises. The Arrowsmith Program identifies, intervenes and strengthens the weak cognitive capacities that affect learning.
The comprehensive suite of Arrowsmith Program cognitive exercises are directly and very specifically related to a wide range of learning difficulties. The Arrowsmith Program considers a learning dysfunction to be a specific brain area that is weaker in functioning than a persons’ other areas to the extent that it significantly impairs the learning activities of the functional systems in which it is involved. The specific nature of the learning dysfunction depends upon the characteristic mental activities of the area that is impaired. A problem in the area responsible for motor planning in learning symbol sequences will, for example, affect learning motor plans in writing, reading, speaking and spelling.
The premise of the Arrowsmith Program since it began to provide these cognitive exercises in 1978 has been that the cognitive areas that contribute to learning difficulties can be improved through targeted cognitive exercises, resulting in increased mental capacities and strengthened learning abilities. Once the weak area is improved, the individuals’ ability to perform complex tasks – such as reading or writing or mathematics or comprehension of conceptual material – will also be improved..
There have been a number of research studies that have demonstrated these improvements. Using different research designs, different measures, both educational and cognitive and studying students in different schools implementing the Arrowsmith Program, the studies clearly show strengthened learning abilities.