So who is a typical Arrowsmith student?

The typical student at an Arrowsmith School is of average or above average intelligence and has a combination of learning problems which have led to a difficulty in learning to read, write, socialise, do maths or remember. They may, or may not, have been diagnosed with dyslexia, dysgraphia, acalculia, ADD, executive functioning disorder, auditory processing disorder or other learning problem.

Typically students do not have severe intellectual, emotional or behavioural disorders that would significantly affect the ability to participate in the Arrowsmith Program but, if they do, please talk to us. Sometimes people get a diagnosis of intellectual disability when the real problem is that they have a range of learning disorders. Sometimes people will show their despair and confusion about their difficulty in learning by becoming overly emotional or withdrawn, leading to a diagnosis of emotional disorder. Often a behavioural problem is someone doing the 'wrong' thing because they cannot remember the instructions they have been given.

Once out of the mainstream school or work environment and into the Arrowsmith Program these students can do very well. Their learning problems are understood and they respond to the exercises.

Please be aware that we do not accept people with severe autism because the program has been found to be unable to benefit them. It has, however, helped high functioning students with diagnoses of autism to improve their academic performance.

 These are guidelines only.  There are no hard and fast rules and we will consider each student's appropriateness for the program on merits. There are many students who fall outside them and for whom the program can provide meaningful benefit.  We are happy to consider everyone who has not, or is not, achieving to their potential.  The research suggests that children, adolescents,young adultsand adults can benefit from the Arrowsmith Program and we cater for all of these age groups.

If learning is a problem for you or someone you know:
for a no obligations chat about how the Arrowsmith Program can help.


Is your child good at some things at school but not at others? Would you like them to have the education they deserve?

Does your child have dysgraphia?

Is your child's writing messy or super neat? It could be dysgraphia. Find out more about what the Arrowsmith Program can do to help children with dysgraphia in Perth. Call Joanne on 0410045134.

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Help for Perth children who need to develop their logical reasoning skills

Is your child unable to work out logic puzzles? Are they able to read an analogue clock? Children can become better users of logic with the Arrowsmith Program, now available in Perth

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Help for Children with Dyslexia in Perth

Does your child forget how to read words they were taught yesterday? They have a learning problem. Read about how the Arrowsmith Program can help children with learning problems in Perth.

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Does your Child need help to organise themselves?

Disorganisation in children can be a sign of difficulty understanding words. Read how to get help for this problem in Perth. Call Joanne on 0410045134

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Help for Children who struggle with phonics based learning systems

Children in Perth can be helped so they are able to learn to read using phonics based systems. Read more or phone Joanne on 0410045134.

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Help for Auditory Memory problems in Children

Does your child forget what they've been told? Are you looking for help for your child's auditory processing disorder? Contact Joanne on 04 100 451 34.

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Help for Perth Children who struggle with making friends

Children in Perth can be helped so they can understand social signals such as facial expressions and what they mean. Read more or phone Joanne on 0410045134.

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Help for Children who have difficulties with maths

Does your child have difficulty learning maths? Find out more about resolving maths problems for children in Perth. Call Joanne on 0410045134.

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High School is tough enough. Don't let a learning disability make it even harder.

Dysgraphia help for Teenagers

Does your teenager struggle to keep up with notetaking? Is their writing messy or ultra neat? It could be dysgraphia and it can be resolved.

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Does your Teenager need help with understanding cause and effect?

Can your teenager understand the ideas in science and maths? They might need to develop their executive functioning skills.

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Does your Teenager forget what they have heard?

Do they forget information or stop talking midway through sentences? Do they have trouble remembering instructions? Are they able to remember a list of words? Help is available.

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Does your Teenager have trouble with phonics?

Perth teenagers can be helped so they are able to learn to read and spell using phonics based approaches. Call Joanne on 0410045134 or read more:

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Is your Perth Teenager disorganised?

Is it hard for your teenager to organise themself? Do they start, but not finish, tasks? Have they been diagnosed as having dyslexia?

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Does your Teenager struggle to read words they knew yesterday?

Does he or she read slowly because of the need to decode many words? Do they have trouble editing their work? Did they struggle to learn their sight words?

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Does your Teenager struggle with understanding social relationships?

Do they understand body language? Does your teenager miss social cues? Do they have friendship problems? The Arrowsmith Program strengthens nonverbal learning in Perth teenagers.

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Does your Teenager need help to improve their maths?

Has your teenager had difficulty learning number facts? Are you looking for help for your teenager who struggles with maths? Do they have a poor sense of time and time management? Find out more or call Joanne on 04 100 451 34.

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Life not working out the way you want? Take charge by getting your learning problems fixed.

Help for young adults with Dysgraphia in Perth

Do you misread words? Do you spell known words incorrectly? Do you lose your place when reading? Help for dysgraphia is available in Perth.

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Do you struggle to read analogue clocks?

Can you understand the ideas in science and maths? Could your comprehension improve? You could have a learning disorder that can be resolved.

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Help for young adults with dyslexia in Perth

Is your reading speed slow because every word appears to be new? Do you forget phone numbers and PINs? Help to resolve dyslexia is available in Perth

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Do you have auditory processing disorder?

Do you forget information, get lost in conversations or stop talking halfway through a sentence? Auditory processing disorder can be resolved.

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Want help to stop mispronouncing words?

Do you avoid saying unusual words? Is it hard to think and talk at the same time? There is help for young adults to use phonological skills.

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Do you struggle with comprehension?

Do you get distracted by irrelevant information? Do you struggle to understand? Comprehension can be improved with the Arrowsmith Program.

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Help for young adults with social difficulties

Is interpreting facial expressions hard? Do you find it difficult to ask for help? Help to understand non verbal language is available.

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Help for young adults who have difficulty with maths

Do you need a calculator to work out maths problems or is time management a problem? Learning problem with maths can be resolved.

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Are you smart but never quite reached your potential? Would you like to be doing better than you are?

Have you got dysgraphia?

Do you miscopy or misread words? Do you spell known words incorrectly? Do you lose your place when you are reading? Dysgraphia can be resolved.

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Do analogue clocks confuse you?

Do you make connections between ideas in science, maths and when reading? Do you want to improve your learning skills? Help is available.

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Do you say known words incorrectly? Help is available.

Do you avoid saying new or unusual words? Is learning a foreign language very difficult for you? Help is available to help you.

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Do you forget how to read words you have seen before?

Do have trouble recognising words you have seen before? Is your reading speed slow because every word appears to be new?

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Looking to resolve your auditory processing disorder?

Do you forget what you hear? Do you stop talking half way through a sentence? Help for adults with auditory processing disorder is available.

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Would you like to strengthen your comprehension?

Do you get distracted by irrelevant information? Do you find it hard to make decisions and organise yourself? Do you start but not finish tasks? Help is available.

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Are people's emotions hard to understand? Do you want help?

Is interpreting facial expressions hard? Do you jump in without thinking of consequences? The Arrowsmith Program helps adult who find social situations hard to understand.

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Does maths do your head in? Would you like to improve?

Do you use a calculator to work out maths problems? Is time management a problem? Help is available for adults in Perth.

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Know the symptoms

Motor Symbol Sequencing

The motor symbol sequencing function gives us the ability to learn and produce a written sequence of symbols such as a word, sentence or equation.

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Symbol Relations

This area of our brain lets us understand the relationship among two or more ideas.

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Memory for Auditory Information

These parts of the brain allow us to notice and remember information that we have been told.

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Broca's Speech Pronunciation

This part of the brain gives us the ability to pronounce syllables and integrate them into the consistent pronunciation of a word.

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Symbolic Thinking

This is the ability to develop and maintain plans and strategies through the use of language.

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Symbol Recognition

This area of the brain gives us the ability to visually recognise and remember a word or symbol.

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Non Verbal Thinking

This is the ability to notice and interpret non-verbal information and plan and problem solve non-verbally.

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Quantitative Sense

This part of our brain gives us the ability to carry out internal sequential mental operations such as mental mathematics.

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F.A.Q s

What are the criteria for students entering the Arrowsmith Program?

Students who come to the Arrowsmith Program are of generally 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 (often referred to as 'learning disabilities') 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 organisation, processing, problem solving, communication, memory, and independence.

Which students are suitable?

Find out if the Arrowsmith Program is suitable for you/your child, by completing the Arrowsmith Program® Cognitive Profile Questionnaire. Whilst it does not guarantee your enrolment, it will allow you to work out 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.  

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, however peopel with these issues will be considered for enrolment on a case by case basis.

We will be happy to answer your questions and, if appropriate, can arrange an assessment for you/your child. Call Joanne on 0410045134.

What age are the students?

The students in an Arrowsmith School range in age from six years old to adults. Parents of children under six are encouraged to contact the Cognitive Strengthening Centre when their child is old enough to be considered ready for school participation.

Do you have adult students?

Absolutely.  These are often our best students as they understand the pain of having a learning disorder and do not want to remain disadvantaged by something they can overcome.  

Is the program suitable for people with Autism or Intellectual Disability?

The Arrowsmith Program is developed for individuals struggling with specific learning difficulties (SLD) referred to as learning disabilities in North America. The standard definition of SLD is that the individual has an average or above average full-scale intelligence score, and has a specific difficulty in an area related to learning or academic skill acquisition. The Program is designed and therefore most suited for individuals within the average to above average range of intelligence.

Diagnoses such as Developmental or Intellectual Delay may indicate an impairment of general intellect and function, and students with these conditions have needs that are more significant than a student with a specific learning difficulty. It may also be, however, that these students have a range of learning disorders that has resulted in a mis-diagnosis. The Cognitive Strengthening Centre is committed to ensuring that every student who could benefit from participation in the Arrowsmith Program is considered and evaluated carefully and fairly to ensure there is no exclusion of people from the program as a result of an incorrect diagnosis.

In some cases, individuals with learning difficulties who also have high functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) have benefitted from the Arrowsmith Program. While the Program will enable these individuals to address their cognitive learning needs, it will not address features related to the specific ASD. In such cases, there is careful discussion with relevant caraegivers when determining appropriateness during the admissions process to ensure suitability.  

Does the program help with attentional disorders?

The Arrowsmith Program has been successful in addressing attentional difficulties. Many individuals with specific learning difficulties (often referred to as 'learning disabilities') 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 the cognitive exercises.

Do you accept enrolments during the year?

The Cognitive Strengthening Centre accepts enrolment during the year subject to availability.

Are beginning students assessed?

All students enrolling in the full time and part time programs are assessed. The Motor Symbol Sequencing program does not require a full initial assessment - only an evaluation. Please discuss the assessment process with Joanne on 04100 451 34.

What's the initial assessment for?

The assessment identifies each individual’s learning profile.  It is then used to design the individual programs to address the particular range of specific learning difficulties that the individual has.  Each person's cognitive profile is different, so each person's cognitive program is different, and exactly suitable for the person.

Please note the assessment is not used as the basis for determining suitability for the Arrowsmith Program; suitability is determined through discussion with yourself and Joanne  (0410045134).

Who does the assessment and analyses the results?

The assessment of students is done by an Arrowsmith trained teacher (Joanne) at the Cognitive Strengthening Centre. The results are then sent to the Arrowsmith School in Toronto for scoring, analysing and the creation of a tailored program for the person.

Can I access the Program online?

Arrowsmith and the Cognitive Strengthening Centre are committed to maintaining the integrity of the program and to monitoring each student’s experience closely. Students participate in the Arrowsmith exercises within a classroom setting and under the supervision of an Arrowsmith trained instructor who is in ongoing correspondence with the Arrowsmith Program. Home-based, online or tutoring scenarios are therefore not available, however enroled students are able to do extra sessions of the computer based programs when they are at home.

When and where can I be assessed?

Each student is given a full Arrowsmith cognitive asessment by the Arowsmith teacher when they enrol into the program.  Teachers are trained by Arrowsmith in the assessment process and the tests are scored and analysed at Arrowsmith Program Toronto. The assessment is made up of tests, designed by Barbara Arrowsmith Young, designed to measure the functioning of specific cognitive functions that impact learning. This enables Arrowsmith Program to identify each student’s learning profile of cognitive strengths and weaknesses and provides the basis for designing individual programs for each student.

Please note the assessment is not used as the basis for determining suitability for the  Program. Suitability is determined through the pre-screening discussion between the family and the Cognitive Strengthening Centre.

How long does the Arrowsmith Program take to work?

Neuroplastic change is slow. The student and their family will notice change in the person after three months of the program. There are more subtle changes that may be noticeable before then. The majority of students will require a three-to-four year program of full time attendance before returning to a full academic program in a public or private school or educational organisation at his or her appropriate grade level. If a student is unable to complete the three-to-four year program, they achieve benefit each year they are in the program.

Depending upon the level of education reached before entering the Program, some students may require one to two years to gain experience using their newly-strengthened cognitive capacities after they graduate and other students may need tutoring initially to bring academic skills to grade level.  The essential difference is that the student is now able to learn effectively and efficiently.  In fact, research shows that the students, who were previously labelled as having a learning disability, learn at twice the expected rate per year.

Do students maintain their changes?

Students who have been followed up 30 years after completion of the program have maintained their improvements. Once the improvements are in place, it is thought that the person maintains their gain by using the cognitive area in everyday functioning.

How many students are there in each class?

The student to teacher ratio in an Arrowsmith classroom is 10:1.

How is attendance at the Program organised?

Students can attend the Progam on a full-time or part-time basis. Full-time students attend on 4-5 days per week. Part-time students can negotiate their attendance pattern providing several requirements are met. They must come at least twice a week and may not do more than two hours of work on each cognitive area per day. These are requirements of Arrowsmith. The aim is always to maximise the best conditions for neuroplastic change to occur.

The Motor Symbol Sequencing program can be done at home. This program assists with dysgraphia and develops the ability to write, express thought in speech, read and spell consistently. Students doing the MSS program work at home and visit the Centre once per fortnight (at a negotiated time) for monitoring their progress and adjustment of their program.

What does learning need?

What does learning need? What does learning need? What does learning need?
Learning requires each part of the brain to be functioning well.

For 15% of the population, however, the parts of the brain needed for academic and social learning are not as strong as they need to be. This could mean that they are unable to remember instructions, understand words that are used, control their pencil when writing or recognise the symbols or words that they knew yesterday.

This may result in the diagnosis of a learning or attentional disorder such as dyslexia, ADD, dysgraphia, poor executive functioning, poor memory, acalculia or auditory processing disorder.

At school, children are confused because they try but cannot succeed or understand what the teacher wants them to do. Unfortunately they can get labelled as being lazy, not trying, or inattentive. If they are labelled as having a learning problem the usual interventions only teach the child how to manage regardless of their learning problem - they do not resolve it.

Adolescence is a time when many students with learning disorders really suffer. They know they are not keeping up with their peers. Some cope emotionally with struggling at the bottom of the class, but many don't. They deserve to have the opportunity to reach their potential.

Adults might be smart but feel they have never done as well as they you should have. They might be stuck in a meaningless job, or running their own business but struggling with the paperwork. They might be exhausted every night after their efforts to do what should be easy.

Research shows that there is a much higher rate of anxiety in people with learning disorders than in the general population. They tend to have less stable incomes and less fulfilling personal realtionships. These are all reasons to consider the Arrowsmith Program for learning problems as sooon as possible.

Each person's learning profile is unique and the Arrowsmith Program is also unique in that it assesses the strength of each cognitive area known to contribute to learning. An individualised, structured program that aims to strengthen the identified weaker cognitive processes is then created. Once these cognitive areas are strengthened the area can function as it is supposed to and the person can manage without the need for any compensations.

They can begin to dream realistically about what they want to achieve in their life. Isn't that what we all want for our loved ones?

If learning is a problem for you or someone you know:

  • Call Joanne on 04 100 451 34
  • Contact us
  • or connect on Facebook
for a no obligation chat about how the Arrowsmith Program can help


Past Events

Title Date Location
Open night at Fremantle Education Centre Arrowsmith Program 22 Jan 2019 Corner Cantonment and Parry Street Fremantle
Open night at Fremantle Education Centre Arrowsmith Program 21 Nov 2018 Fremantle Education Centre
Debbie Gilmore speaks 15 Aug 2018 Fremantle Education Centre
Open night at Fremantle Education Centre Arrowsmith Program 03 May 2018 Corner Parry and Cantonment Streets, Fremantle


  • Princess May Building, Corner Parry and Cantonment Streets, Fremantle 6160
  • PO Box 452 Fremantle 6959

About me

About me
I started professional life as a Psychologist working with children and families in Burnie on the North-West coast of Tasmania.  There seemed to be an endless stream of children, mainly ten year old boys, marching through my clinic who were having trouble with learning.  My job was to discount intellectual disability as the cause of their struggles, and diagnose them with learning disability.  At the time we didn’t know what else to do except recommend a very structured learning program and lots of moral support as the child progressed through the education system.  What puzzled me, however, was that when I looked at the child’s historical school reports there were comments that indicated learning problems were evident right back to kindergarten.  Regardless of this, early intervention had not been organised for the children.

Roll on a few years and my children were old enough for me to return to the workforce and I decided to become an early years teacher so I could identify and provide early intervention for those children who were showing the early signs of learning difficulties.  The aim was to refer them for speech pathology and occupational therapy.  I was a bit shocked when I discovered the very low level of understanding of learning and learning problems amongst teachers.  Parents were being told ‘he’s a boy’, ‘he’ll grow out of it’, ‘he’s a second child’, ‘girls always struggle with maths’ when these things are very untrue.  Thinking it was my own lack of experience in the field, that there was something I didn’t understand, I enrolled in a Master’s degree to find out some more, and found that even at that level of study there was very little teaching about or understanding of the sorts of developmental issues that indicated a learning problem was imminent for the child.  It seemed that the education system is only set up for those people who don’t have a problem with learning.  Yet 15% of the population does have such a problem.

Then I saw an advertisement for a position as an Arrowsmith Teacher.  I hadn’t heard of the Arrowsmith program before and was more than a little sceptical about it.  It seemed to promise that learning disorders could be overcome!  Parents have been promised this before only to find little or no change in their child’s learning and I didn’t want to be part of an organisation that did this.  In addition, the claims of fundamental change being made to the person’s learning capacity were entirely against everything I had ever learned.  I was, however, intrigued and investigated further.  I was amazed by the seemingly miraculous changes in people’s lives that had occurred.  This was something I wanted to know more about!

I applied for the position, was selected and trained as an Arrowsmith Teacher.  Finally, I had found something I could dedicate myself to.  Initially it was the social justice aspect of the program that appealed to me.  I believe that all students have a right to receive the education they need to become independent in our literate and numerate society and this program maximises the chances of doing that for people with learning disorders.

As I’ve continued, however, I have become very aware of the pain that learning disorders cause.  Children think they are ‘dumb’ because they can’t learn and might withdraw or become ‘behaviourally challenged’.  Adolescents develop mental health issues because they struggle so much at school and are told – ‘just concentrate a bit more/ try harder’ as though it is their fault that they cannot learn, not the fault of the teacher who cannot teach them.  Adults have missed out on reaching their potential because they are either not as literate and numerate as they need to be, or their executive functioning is not well enough developed.

All of these things are now unnecessary, because now we know what to do to help people with these problems.

The Arrowsmith Program helps people strengthen their cognitive skills and overcome their learning disorders so they can start to participate fully in our literate and numerate society. It is a privilege to facilitate it for people and a delight to watch them progress as their brain changes to make them more capable, stronger learners. It is incredible to me to walk beside someone and watch as they develop their underlying cognitive skills and become more aware of the world, gain independence and enable their potential.

I invite you to contact me to talk about whether it is suitable for you or someone you love.

For more information or a no obligation chat:

The Cognitive Strengthening Centre acknowledges the First Nations people of this land and pays our respects to their culture, people and Elders past, present and future.

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