Barbara Arrowsmith Young , (B.A.Sc. ’74) is the founder of the Arrowsmith School and Arrowsmith Program. She holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Child Studies from the University of Guelph. She is a pioneer in the field of neuroscience and her work has transformed the lives of children and adults living with learning disabilities. She also has a Master’s degree in School Psychology from the University of Toronto (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education).
At a young age, Ms. Young was diagnosed with a learning disability that caused her to struggle with reading, writing, and telling time. She also had a physical disability with the left side of her body. Teachers informed her mother that she would never learn like the other students in the class. After being labelled “slow” and “difficult,” Ms. Young felt she would never be successful.
Through sheer hard work and determination, Ms. Young made it through high school and the University of Guelph. After her undergraduate studies were completed Barbara worked as the Head Teacher in the lab preschool at the University of Guelph for two years where she began to observe learning differences in preschool children.
In 1977, when she was 25 she happened upon a book about neuropsychology where she saw her learning issues reflected in the story of a soldier who had brain damage as a result of a gun-shot wound. After uncovering further research on the subject of neuroplasticity, Ms. Young embarked upon an exercise program to change her brain. Through the systematic use of flash cards and mental exercises, she slowly but surely began understanding text, recognizing math logic and improving co-ordination. It became her quest to apply what she had learned from her own experience to create exercises for a broad range of cognitive problems.
In 1978, Ms. Young began applying her brain exercise program to school age children with learning disabilities in an after-school program. In 1980, she founded a private school to further develop, refine and deliver programs to children, adolescents and adults. The Arrowsmith Program is now implemented in 40 schools in Canada, the U.S. and Australia where thousands of students are achieving tremendous results.
Author of the powerful and inspiring international bestseller, The Woman Who Changed Her Brain, Barbara Arrowsmith Young offers her personal story along with those of others as powerful hope for those struggling with learning disorders. It is with great pleasure that the University of Guelph Alumni Association names Barbara Arrowsmith Young as the recipient of the 2012 Alumna of Honour.