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How this anti-therapy 14yo boy with multiple learning disabilities completely changed his life in less than 12 months with the Arrowsmith™️ program


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Adam is a 14yo Perth boy who has been diagnosed with Autism, ADHD, profound dyslexia, dysgraphia and sensory processing disorder. He started at NeuFocus full-time in March 2020, after completely refusing to go to school. According to his mum Judy, his family makes the trek from Oakford to Subiaco every day – “35 mins on a good day, according to Google. In reality, it’s usually an hour or more.”

Joanne says she has seen huge improvements over the past year.Adam is now beginning to read, he’s not afraid to try anymore. He is beginning to trust other people and is not as argumentative. He has become happy. He is now more able to understand what people are saying to him, connect cause and effect, hold a conversation and join in socially with other people. He’s becoming a self-motivated learner and proud of his progress.”

Below is an interview we had with Adam’s mum, Judy:

How did you learn about The Arrowsmith Program?

I heard about the program many years ago and read Barbara Arrowsmith’s book. At the time, the Program had only just started in Fremantle and Adam wasn’t eligible due to his ASD diagnosis. Another mum at the kids’ primary school mentioned it to me; her son had been attending and said they will now take kids with ASD that meet the criteria. I followed up and here we are.”

What were Adam’s biggest struggles before he started the Arrowsmith Program?

LOL, what wasn’t? Reading, writing, following instructions, self-regulation, self-motivation, social skills…

What avenues of support had you tried prior to starting the Arrowsmith Program?

OT, speech therapy, 3 different psychologists, visual OT, coloured lenses, several well-known and used dyslexia programs (including tutoring), a couple of social skills groups/programs, deep pressure therapy without the therapist, and exercise (we make him swim twice a week). He is now totally anti-therapy. We still regularly see a chiropractor, which helps keep him tuned in. We also did the GAPS diet for 2 years, which saw profound changes, such as eye contact and self-awareness. I think this is a complete list, but maybe not….

What improvements have you seen in your son since he started at NeuFocus?

From our point of view, we have seen HUGE improvements, although people with neurotypical kids probably wouldn’t rate them. He now showers and brushes his teeth most nights without reminders. After a 10-year battle, he is now able to verbally tell me what would make it easier for him to be able to brush his teeth each night. He is getting better about tidying up after himself; sometimes he needs a reminder, but he no longer requires step-by-step prompting and supervision.

He is calmer, more social, reading incidentally and not ‘kid’ stuff. He is able to communicate better, having actual conversations and is not screaming at people. He is able to clearly direct people and give them instructions that are both in order and they can be understood. He is doing things (like chores) without constant reminders.

He is more in control of himself and his emotions. He is also becoming more social – playing cards at Arrowsmith, eating with us and engaging in dinner conversations. He is not melting down when plans change; he’ll have a moment but is able to get on with it. He’s happier in himself, which is huge because he’s been suicidal at times.

With learning, he is still in complete school refusal. However, as we are officially homeschooling this year (picture freaked out, crazy-eyed mother), we have had many discussions about the requirements and now he is sort of open to ‘alternative’ learning, i.e. a trip to the museum.

What does Adam want to do when he finishes school?

Many years ago he wanted to be an archaeologist or palaeontologist but very early on realised he needed to be able to read and go to university. When he was starting primary school, we had several people suggest he would make an excellent game programmer. At this stage he wants to be a professional gamer; he thinks that’s the only thing he’s good at and knows he’s limited by his lack of reading.

Any final thoughts?

The Arrowsmith Program is a total game-changer. Neuroplasticity, the info is out there on it, and I believe it offers a much more permanent change.

Joanne and the staff are fantastic! They have patience, and then more patience. Adam is/can be VERY hard work, especially at the start of this journey. He had ZERO self-motivation. While we have to externally motivate him to keep working, he is now much more self-motivated. As evidenced by him getting himself up early, emptying the dishwasher so he can talk to a mate in NSW and game with him for an hour before his mate has to go to school. The dedication, patience and one-on-one work from Joanne to bring him back from the brink, to get him through the first 6-8 months, was amazing. I think we all had several moments. The ladies meet him where he’s at, work with him and keep pushing him, but they have also learnt when to ease back. They have taken time to get to know him and encourage him with his work and when glimpses of his sense of humour and fun come out, they encourage and go with it. It’s obvious they really care.”



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