Arrowsmith Program & Neurofeedback
We don’t simply notice or talk about the importance of mental health and wellness. We offer a range of opportunities to literally shape the way our students’ brains function for the better. Our students (and faculty) thrive thanks to our partnership with the Barbara Jordan Arrowsmith Program and our neurofeedback offerings. As one of two Arrowsmith sites in the state of Texas and only 30 or so in the United States, our students (and their families) revel in the opportunity to experience the benefits of their brains' changing before their very eyes. They gain an appreciation and recognition that through this work, they do, in fact, have the capacity to learn and grow academically, socially and emotionally. In turn, they often find that they can live in harmony with their learning differences or mental health diagnoses.
The Arrowsmith Program
Xavier Educational Academy is a proud partner and one of just over 30 participating sites in the United States (one of two in Texas) of The Arrowsmith Program. A beloved and integral part of our curriculum, this program is built upon the science of neuroplasticity.
What is Neuroplasticity?
“Neuroplasticity, also known as brain plasticity, is the brain’s ability to change both its physical structure and its functional organization in response to training and experience – to grow dendrites (the branch like structures on the cell body of the neuron which receive signals coming from other neurons), to form new neural connections, to strengthen existing connections, to grow new neurons, to increase neurotransmitters – all of which fundamentally change the brain’s capacity to learn and to function, and this can happen throughout the lifespan.” - Arrowsmith Program
How does the Arrowsmith Program benefit our students?
Through rigorous, customized brain exercises, our Arrowsmith facilitators work to strengthen weak cognitive linkages that cause challenges in learning processes and executive functioning. Developed by Barbara Arrowsmith Young, David Wizig leads our program at Xavier where students’ brains are literally rewired to ameliorate barriers to learning. Learn more about the research behind the Arrowsmith Program and its positive outcomes worldwide here.
Which students might benefit from the Arrowsmith Program?
He, she or they may experience difficulties in reading comprehension, writing or mathematics.
He, she or they may experience difficulties in logical reasoning, visual or auditory memory, auditory processing or non-verbal learning.
He, she or they may have a diagnosis of Dyslexia.
He, she or they may suffer from attention deficits or live with a diagnosis of ADHD or ADD.
Who is the “typical” Arrowsmith student?
He, she or they are of average or above average intelligence.
He, she or they does not have severe intellectual cognitive, emotional or behavior diagnoses that significantly impact their ability to participate in the program and exercises.
He, she or they do not have acquired brain injury or an autism spectrum disorder.
He, she or they are middle- or high-school-aged.
While the descriptors above might describe the majority of Xavier students (or students benefiting from the Arrowsmith Program globally) enrolled in Arrowsmith, we are committed to providing our students with every resource at our disposal. As such, we are often taking a deeper look at and/or engaging with our Xavier families to determine how the Arrowsmith Program can positively impact their learners and the individual challenges they may face.
How The Arrowsmith Program Works
Development of individualized plan based on each student’s individual cognitive strengths and weaknesses.
Students actively work through their individualized plans and related exercises. This takes place during normal class periods. Students enrolled in Arrowsmith spend five of the seven class periods engaging in cognitive exercises as prescribed by their Individual Learning Profile.
The Cumulative Experience
Arrowsmith participants are typically enrolled in and work through the program for three to four years based on their initial assessment results. However, more mild profiles may only require one to two years and more severe profiles may require five+ years.
Arrowsmith Instruction at Xavier
Under the leadership of David Wizig, Xavier’s Head of Arrowsmith, all Arrowsmith instructors completed an intensive training program in order to become Certified Arrowsmith Teachers and bring their knowledge to our learners.
In addition to their initial training, our Arrowsmith faculty members are required to attend continuing education seminars throughout the year in order to maintain their certifications and to continue to offer the latest advancements to our students.
Learn more about the intensive, three-week certification process and continuing education that Xavier’s Arrowsmith Teachers complete here.
Unlike the Arrowsmith Program, Xavier’s mental health practitioners and partnering organizations offer neurofeedback to students experiencing a range of mental health diagnoses including but not limited to behavior disorders, attention deficit disorders, autism spectrum disorders, ongoing developmental delays, acquired brain injuries, birth trauma, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, stress-related problems and insomnia or interrupted sleep patterns. For many of our students, neurofeedback is a supplemental intervention to talk therapy.
What is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback, also known as EEG (electroencephalogram) biofeedback, is a therapeutic treatment approach that provides immediate feedback to the brain from a computer-based program that assesses a student’s brainwave activity in real time. Through aural or visual cues, neurofeedback works to reorganize or “retrain” these brain signals or processes. Over a set period of time, students ultimately (although often unbeknownst to them) learn to regulate and enhance neurological functionality in order to mitigate symptoms related to mental health diagnoses.
How It Works
Students who take advantage of neurofeedback at Xavier typically partake in weekly sessions over the course of 20 or so weeks. During their sessions, students interact with video game-style programs where they listen to music or watch visual stimuli with sensors attached to their scalps. As they interact with the program, an EEG program connected to the sensors they are wearing processes their brain signals in order to not only collect data surrounding their brains’ responses, but to also direct “feedback” back to the brain.
Over time, (and thanks to an individual map of one’s brain that showcases where maladaptive functioning occurs) neurofeedback trains students’ brains and brainwave activity toward desired outcomes. Between sessions, students often notice positive outcomes such as lower stress, better sleep, mental clarity and/or better focus in the classroom.
Neurofeedback can be a fantastic stand-alone treatment approach or a wonderful addition to talk therapy. By retraining the brain to function more effectively, neurofeedback often helps students cope with life’s stressors with greater confidence and ease.