Episode #186 – Vacation Mode – Barbara Arrowsmith Young – Transformation & Service

“Sometimes people ask, am I happy or satisfied with what I’ve done and I think the answer will be never. Never will I be because there’s always another horizon, there’s always another person out there that’s struggling.” – Barbara Arrowsmith-Young  

  • Patrick is digging into the archives for a crowd favorite this week. Here he delves into the inspiring journey of Barbara Arrowsmith-Young, a pioneer in transforming the conversation around learning difficulties. From her childhood struggles to her groundbreaking discoveries in neuroplasticity, Barbara shares her remarkable story of perseverance and innovation.
  • Show Notes
  • [02:08] Patrick introduces his next guest, Barbara Arrowsmith-Young.
  • [03:51] Barbara and Patrick get rolling with what she’s all about today, and how her past has shaped that picture.
  • [06:12] Working to change language from learning disability to learning difficulty.
  • [08:20] Barbara shares the story of her beginnings and describes how her learning difficulties felt as a young child.
  • [14:02] Barbara explains the stark awareness she had around her situation and the far-reaching effects that it held.
  • [17:24] During the course of her childhood Barbara discovered the strengths she could lean on to get by and get through school. It required an extraordinary amount of work, tenacity and drive.
  • [23:08] Barbara shares her experience of support as well as shame. Even now she hears some of those feelings echoed when she talks to students in her schools.
  • [29:22] The turning point for Barbara: a book that saved her life and wise words from her father that were always fermenting and waiting to be put into action.
  • [32:06] University life: what Barbara studied was in support of her own search for understanding around why her brain worked the way it did. Solutions also started to weave their way into her consciousness which helped Barbara feel the hope she desperately needed.
  • [39:12] With this crack of light, Barbara worked tirelessly to use the ideas she read about to start to change the fundamental function of her brain and force it to process relationships. Through this work she had her breakthrough; there was human neuroplasticity.
  • [42:49] Barbara describes the changes in how her brain functioned before and after her breakthrough. From struggling to relate concepts and having no ability to verify meaning to being able to connect dots and have capacity for insight.
  • [49:17] The physical relation of where her body was in space was also a big barrier for Barbara. As her own guinea pig, she created a new exercise to overcome that challenge and had success. As she continued to identify functions she wanted to change, she designed more mental workouts for her brain to try. Then it became clear to her it was time to take this out into the world to help more people.
  • [54:57] Barbara shares her timeline in which these changes occurred, but notes it is an individual journey for everyone.
  • [57:12] Insights into where that commitment, determination and drive originated for Barbara and what compelled her to persist. It didn’t come always come without a physical price.
  • [60:51] As her work started to become known, Barbara was able to expand her circle of students to help more kids who had peaked at one level and needed to go farther. Through the results she and her students achieved Barbara was able to develop a range of programs which became the base for her schools today.
  • [64:06] Barbara tells a story about one of her students to illustrate how the real-life changes as a result of their work can make such a profound difference. The transformation and expanded possibilities for these individuals is not only remarkable, it is also driving further research and a broader reach. The work is never done.
  • [68:12] Barbara takes us down her entrepreneurial path which manifested first as Arrowsmith School then expanded to partnerships with existing schools to train teachers in the work. The ongoing support provided by technology and data tracking has proven to be the gap they filled for sustained success.
  • [73:39] Going back to her father’s wise words: identify the problem, find or create the solution. It was not always met with acceptance from her peers. Resistance and lack of support was ever-present in the beginning, but Barbara chose to use her energy to develop the work, not change their mind, and it has made a massive impact.
  • [78:42] Shifting our cognitive capacity. Barbara and Patrick talk about stimulating multiple areas of the brain for improvement in all kinds of cognitive functions. For people with learning difficulties, very targeted stimulation is the difference. Barbara further discusses the findings of some of their research with connectivity in the brain.
  • [83:39] Barbara explains how they are now able to connect the dots for students and create unique learning profiles based on their assessment and the critical areas to address. The programs have generated amazing results that has worldwide interest. Now with a pivot to virtual classrooms, some students are doing even better, so they continue to expand this capability and remove the potential barrier of geography.
  • [87:51] Reflecting on the gifts and strengths Barbara honed as a child, do they show up to be useful in her current world? Would she change anything about her experience? [Spoiler alert: everything she has been through has brought her to the gift of this work – opening possibilities and alleviating suffering.]
  • [92:03] The relatedness of her own experience to her students’ experience drives Barbara to continue to find ways to break new ground, help people and be of contribution.
  • [93:46] Personal development and therapeutic support were critical to Barbara after her cognitive breakthroughs and allowed her to be a vessel to share the work and her experiences through speaking and writing books.
  • [96:47] Ready for rapid fire! A little mind candy suits Barbara just fine for reading leisure, favourite inspirational quotes, message at the pearly gates, favourite tune.
  • [100:02] Barbara’s gratitude.

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