Who Is the Arrowsmith Program Made For?

The Arrowsmith Program is based on the application of neuroscientific research, and for 40 years, we have worked to help students strengthen the weak cognitive capacities underlying a range of learning difficulties.

Our goal is to help students become effective, confident, and self-directed learners. For children and youth, this includes enabling them to return to a regular school after a three to a four-year program. Our program is offered at sites throughout North America, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Spain, the Cayman Islands, and Switzerland.

It is based on the principle of neuroplasticity, which is the ability of the brain to change in response to stimulus and activity physically; to develop new neuronal/synaptic interconnections and thereby develop and adapt new functions and roles believed to be the physical mechanism of learning.

Neuroplasticity refers to structural and functional changes in the brain that are brought about by training and experience.

What are the criteria for students entering the Arrowsmith Program?

Students who come to the Arrowsmith Program in Australia 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.


How do you determine if a student is suitable?

To consider whether the Arrowsmith Program would be suitable for you/your child, please complete our Arrowsmith Program® Cognitive Profile Questionnaire. While it does not guarantee your enrolment at the Arrowsmith School, it will allow you to determine whether the learning issues you/your child experience could be addressed through the Arrowsmith Program. Should you/your child be within the average range of intellectual functioning and are experiencing the types of issues described in this checklist, you/your child are likely candidates for the program. For a more detailed description of typical students follow this link.


Please note the Arrowsmith Program is not designed for individuals with developmental or intellectual delays, autism, brain injury or illness, or psychiatric or psychological disorders.


To complete an assessment or to enrol at the Arrowsmith School, parents or individuals are encouraged to complete the checklist to determine the program’s suitability and then contact our *protected email*. The Admissions Coordinator will be pleased to answer your questions and if appropriate, can arrange an assessment for you/your child.


Is the Arrowsmith Program suitable for you or your child?

Students entering Arrowsmith School typically experience a range of problems, including:


  • reading
  • writing
  • mathematics
  • comprehension
  • logical reasoning
  • visual memory
  • auditory memory
  • dyslexia
  • non-verbal learning
  • auditory processing
  • attention


We suggest that parents or students review the list of Learning Difficulties Addressed, which contains a list of the learning problems that our program addresses and their common features.


The typical student at Arrowsmith School

  • is of average or above-average intelligence
  • has a combination of the learning difficulties that are described in the Descriptions of Learning Difficulties on our web site and our brochure
  • does not have severe intellectual, cognitive, emotional or behavioural disorders that would significantly affect his or her ability to participate in the Arrowsmith Program.
  • does not have acquired brain injury or an autism spectrum disorder
  • is of elementary, secondary or post-secondary school age


These are guidelines only. There are many students who fall within these guidelines; others who may require further consideration and still others for whom we feel this program cannot provide meaningful benefit.


For example, we do not accept children with severe autism, but we have had success with high functioning students with Asperger Syndrome. Some professionals consider Asperger Syndrome to be the same as or similar to high functioning autism, and others associate it with a non-verbal learning disorder. There is no hard and fast rule, and we will consider their appropriateness for our program in consultation with the student’s parents.


These considerations apply equally to students enrolling at one of the schools that offer our program.


What are the ages of the students?

The students at Arrowsmith School range in age from six years old to adults. Parents of children less than six years of age are encouraged to contact Arrowsmith School when their child is old enough to be considered ready for school participation.


Is the Arrowsmith Program effective in addressing Attentional Issues?

The Arrowsmith Program has been successful in addressing attentional difficulties. Many individuals with specific learning difficulties (referred to as learning disabilities in North America) experience attentional issues which can arise from different underlying causes.

In many cases, these issues are a result of a combination of specific learning difficulties making it hard for the student to sustain attention in specific learning situations; others are related to specific learning difficulties related to regulating attention. These types of attentional difficulties have shown improvement as students engage in cognitive exercises.

Do students maintain their improvements?

Students that we have followed up to 30 years after completion of the program have maintained their improvements. Once the improvement is in place, it is hypothesized that the individual maintains this gain by using the cognitive area in everyday functioning.


Arrowsmith Program refers both to the Arrowsmith Program methodology and also to our affiliated organizations that make the Arrowsmith Program available to public and private schools in Canada, United States, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, South Korea and Malaysia.


The Arrowsmith Program is based on the philosophy that it is possible to address specific learning difficulties by identifying and strengthening weak cognitive capacities.


The goal of the Arrowsmith Program’s intensive and graduated cognitive exercises is to strengthen a range of weak cognitive capacities that are hypothesized to underlie a number of specific learning difficulties. Each student’s program is based on a careful assessment to identify that individual’s specific learning difficulties.


The Arrowsmith Program, through a careful assessment, identifies areas of learning strength and weakness to create an individual learning profile for each student and then designs a program of individualized exercises for each student to target their precise areas of weakness.


Our program has been of benefit for students having difficulty with reading, writing and mathematics, comprehension, logical reasoning, problem-solving, visual and auditory memory, non-verbal learning, attention, processing speed and dyslexia. For an overview of the more common problems addressed, please read our Chart of Learning Outcomes.


Our goal is for our students to become effective, confident and self-directed learners for life and to enable them to achieve their goals of academic and career success.


As well as providing the Arrowsmith Program of cognitive exercises, Arrowsmith Program provides a comprehensive teacher training course, continuing professional development, year-round support for all Arrowsmith Program classroom teachers, a detailed web-based assessment for all students and ongoing monitoring and supervision of student progress over the internet and liaison with Arrowsmith Program Coordinators during the school year.


How effective is the Arrowsmith Program?

Arrowsmith deals with the root causes of a learning difficulty rather than managing its symptoms.


In the past, assistance for students with learning difficulties has come in the form of programs which simply compensate or find a way to work around difficulties they encounter in the classroom.


In contrast, the goal of the Arrowsmith Program is to identify and strengthen each individual student’s area of dysfunction.


The Arrowsmith Program is suitable for students across a broad spectrum of mild to severe learning problems and has been successful with both primary and secondary students, as well as adults.



The Arrowsmith program strengthens learning capacities in the areas of reading, writing, mathematics, comprehension, logical reasoning, visual and auditory memory, auditory processing, non-verbal learning, attention and executive function.


The study prepared by Dr. William A. Lancee in 2005 concluded that all deficit areas identified by the Arrowsmith Program improved as a result of the application of Arrowsmith Program cognitive exercises. Please refer to the full study and in particular the concluding summary for an overview of the effectiveness of the Arrowsmith Program.


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