The Woman Who Changed Her Brain

The Woman Who Changed Her Brain

Barbara Arrowsmith spent the first 26 years of her life unable to read a clock.

She spent the first 26 years of her life having to read and reread sentences dozens of times before she had a clue what they meant.

Barbara Arrowsmith had so many severe learning disabilities as a child that she would lay her school books neatly on her bed and cry over them until she had no more tears left. Then she would get to work. Barbara did have an excellent memory. That was her survival tool.

“I had a verbatim auditory memory, so I could memorize things that I heard. And I had a photographic visual memory. So I really got by on memory and also on tremendous drive.” [1:49]

But she had physical disabilities that compounded her problems. The left side of young Barbara Arrowsmith’s body didn’t know where it was in space. So she got hurt so often her mother predicted she wouldn’t live past the age of five.

“The whole left side of my body was – tended to be quite bruised and I would never have any idea where I got those bruises. I have lots of scars on that side of my body as a result of accidents.” [5:57]

Nobody knew how to address Barbara Arrowsmith’s learning and physical challenges. So she fixed herself. She created exercises to change her brain – and now – the brains of the children who have the good fortune to enter the Arrowsmith School in Toronto.

Listen to the amazing journey of Barbara Arrowsmith in her own words. She is “The Woman Who Changed Her Brain.”



Michael Schulder: From a Researcher at ABC News; To a Writer at The MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour on PBS; To my five years as a Writer for Peter Jennings at ABC World News Tonight; And 17 years as a Senior Executive Producer at CNN.


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