Retraining the Brains of Struggling Students

For the parents of children who struggle in school, the list of mild or severe symptoms that come with learning disabilities will be instantly familiar:

• Loss of confidence

• The child is shut down—can’t seem to “get it”

• The child knows the material one day and forgets it the next

• The child fails to make connections—it’s like they’re in a fog

If this is your child, the first thing to know (especially if you’ve been unsuccessfully wading through school district red tape to get help) is you’re not alone. In fact, Access School Director Claude LeFrancois shares that there are 19 learning disabilities, and most people walk around with one or two. Many of the students whose families come to Access School for help suffer from a variety of learning issues, making a decent education out of reach—without help.

Access School uses the innovative and highly successful Arrowsmith Program which literally reprograms the brain, enabling students to overcome the stumbling blocks of whatever learning disabilities they have. This isn’t tutoring in the sense that most people understand it.

An increasingly popular and successful program in Australia, New Zealand and the UK, Arrowsmith has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, on Australia’s 60 Minutes, TED Talks and elsewhere. It enjoys a growing fan base of parents and students who’ve seen dramatic results. “We’re not teaching math, not teaching English,” LeFrancois explains, “we are basically doing physical therapy for the brain.”

You won’t find high school or college kids teaching here. This is clinical work that picks up as early as third grade and continues through grade six, a relatively short span of time when LeFrancois and his team of partners—seasoned educators who also have a stake in the success of the school—know they have to make a difference if a child is to succeed. The program literally changes how the student’s brain works to help him or her get the best possible education, and most important, there is a small window of time in the child’s life wherein the program is most effective.

“Don’t waste time,” LeFrancois says of parents who take a ‘wait and see’ approach to solving their child’s learning disabilities. “We can help them when they come to us in sixth grade, but when we get them in grades 3 and 4 they are much more likely to be successful and blend right back into their grade.”

In a nutshell, Arrowsmith works by identifying cognitive weak spots and retraining a student’s brain. He or she is then able to learn. It’s that simple. “This is a true solution,” LeFrancois states. “Kids can leave here and go to a high school. We’re not passing the problem to the next grade. We’re fixing the problem.”

LeFrancois compares exercising the brain so as to make it cognitively better to the training of an athlete who needs to become physically stronger. “It’s the difference between racing to win and training to race. We are training their brains to do better in school. Focusing on cognitive weaknesses and training the brain areas that were formerly weak allow students to absorb and retain the information they receive from teachers.”

Access School isn’t so much about what students learn, but how they learn. “We reorganize the academics to focus on language and math,” LeFrancois explains. “When they are younger, they can catch up on that material.” The aim is to ensure that when the student returns to a mainstream school, he or she can absorb and retain permanently what is taught.

After just a few months of this brain training, students begin to see results. After participating in the program for two to three years, they are able to attend regular school and are on par with students who have never faced the hurdles that come with learning disabilities.

Barbara Arrowsmith-Young, author of The Woman Who Changed Her Brain, developed this program which has put thousands of youngsters back on track. She continues to compile research that affirms its effectiveness.

Access School is fully accredited and accepts the McKay and PLSA Scholarships for eligible students with learning difficulties to attend a school of choice.

Access School is located in the Atrium Center, 4801 S. University Dr., Ste. 114 (just south of Griffin Rd.), Davie. For more information or to schedule a consult, call 954.680.9494 or visit