Improving my Brain by Reading Clocks
If you’re a part of my ADHDTechies Facebook Group, you may have heard me mention Barbara Arrowsmith-Young, author of The Woman Who Changed Her Brain, who was also featured in The Brain that Changes Itself. Her story of correcting her severe learning disability is nothing short of amazing. I highly recommend both of those books.
Arrowsmith-Young started the Arrowsmith School in Toronto many years ago to help people like her improve their brains. And for a long while, I was contemplating relocating to Canada to take part in the program, since their results sounded amazing. But spending even 6 weeks in another country without working is a bit tough with a job and a kid.
But as luck would have it, 2020 threw one positive thing my way (maybe to make up for all that crap it threw at all of us?)—parts of the Arrowsmith Program—specifically the Symbol Relations Program which could potentially help with my slow processing speed—went fully online 🎉👏🏼! When I heard that news, my wife and I agreed that jumping on the opportunity to get into the program was a move I should make now.
It’s been pretty wild so far. The program involves reading clocks of increasing complexity, moving from 2 hands all the way up to 10 hands (!!). I’ve already seen myself go from having it take tremendous effort and a long time (a matter of 10-20 seconds) reading a normal wristwatch to having it take seconds. And I’ve breezed through 6-handed clocks at high speed with ease, and have moved on to 8-handed clocks. The joy that this kind of progress gives me is palpable.
But the bigger implications I’m seeing in daily life are the speed at which I make decisions. I’m having notably fewer moments where I zone out while trying to understand something or calculate something mentally. I feel as if my time to make decisions is overall reduced.
To be clear, there’s still a ton of room for improvement. My ADHD and learning disability haven’t up and gone away by any means. But something is certainly happening, and it’s happening in an area that has been challenging for years: my speed of understanding things and making decisions. And those are among the most challenging areas for people with ADHD and problems with executive function.
I’m only midway into the Arrowsmith Symbol Relations program, but I’m already happy with the progress and am excited to see just how far I can take it.
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What is your opinion and experience after finishing the Arrowsmith Program?
It definitely seems to have been effective, with a small but fairly concrete impact from the program I was on. It was difficult to tell just how impactful, but I did see some improvement in my ability to solve problems and focus. The size of the improvement was not large, but it was noticeable especially considering it was at a particularly busy time in my life—I was writing a book, and preparing for the birth of our second child.
I would absolutely do the program again if I had the time for it. I suspect that I would get a far bigger impact if I were able to undertake one of the other programs that required more of a time commitment; it sounds as if the more time you do these exercises consistently the more benefits you will see.
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