Testimonials – International Students

Testimonials – International Students

San Francisco, California

Moving to Vancouver and having our son, who at the time was 12 years old, attend Eaton Arrowsmith Learning Centre was one of best decisions we’ve ever made.  We had worked with numerous specialists and had him in private schools that specialized in learning differences, yet nothing really seemed to be working consistently.  Eaton Arrowsmith gave our son the confidence and tools to be able to now attend one of the top 15 High Schools in the United States.  EAS is an amazing gift. It truly allows your child to see the dramatic improvement that can take place from within them.  Within the first few months, our son for the first time had hope that this was going to really work and make a difference long term.  Our son came to EAS with severe learning differences in several areas and, within 2 years, had gone from a 3rd grade reading level to a 8-9th grade level.  Math was virtually impossible for him, he still today struggles (for family reasons, we needed to leave Vancouver earlier than we had planned), but has a report card that suggest otherwise of all A’s and B’s.  All of this from a child who couldn’t express his written responses so that we could understand his thoughts or even read his writing.  Adding  2+2 without counting in his head was a challenge!  The work ethic that was created during his time at EAS is something that our son will forever carry with him.  He comes home and immediately does all of his homework, because he was accustomed to having his 2.5 hours of cognitive work each night from EAS.  He wishes now that he only had 2.5 hours of homework, but he certainly understands how to work through the process and manage his time!  We highly recommend the program to anyone, it changed our son’s life and thus our family as a whole.

Taipei, Taiwan

My husband, Jay just arrived home this morning, after escorting Benjamin back to Vancouver after being home for the Christmas break in Taiwan. I know that Jay had a chance to visit the school and discussed Benjamin’s progress with Ms. Panjer, and Mr. Hanna. The two teachers were very thorough in explaining Benjamin’s progress, performance, and what to expect ahead. They were all very supportive and very positive with the progress that Benjamin had made. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved at Eaton’s Arrowsmith for the great support. Although Benjamin has been only in the program for one semester and yet to see the final outcome, my husband and I felt extremely fortunate and happy for Benjamin to be able to have such supportive and personally attentive teachers at EAS.

We have heard of EAS when my friend’s daughter who attended Arrowsmith School in Toronto 3 years ago. (After two years, she is now in regular school grade 9, and is on the honor roll.) As a working mother traveling between Hong Kong and Taiwan, sending Benjamin to Toronto nor Vancouver, was not an option for me. I waited until May 2008 when my brother, Joe, moved to Vancouver, and moved his family to the current apartment near UBC, to make the critical step of enrolling Benjamin into EAS. During those three years, I was hoping for some miracle to happen so that an Arrowsmith school would pop up in my neighborhood. Of course, God has his own arrangements.

My brother, Joe, went to attend EAS parent seminars on my behalf. He was persuaded that EAS would help Benjamin, and sent an email to me to hook up with Admission Director, Sandra Heusel. Sandra is such a warm and lovable person. Due to the time difference, we called each other many time at after work hour to evaluate preliminarily Benjamin’s suitability for the program. Although Benjamin’s brother attended boarding school in the US also at the age of 14, sending Benjamin to another school, another home outside of our own, and another country without Jay and I being there, was a tough decision for us and a big challenge for Benjamin. Without the chance to even have met the first time, Sandra’s warm voice finally helped me make the final decision to take this journey. I knew that this would be a decision that would change our lives, for better or for worse. Sandra voice gave me the strength to believe, at least for Ben, life would be different.

Before we left home, I arranged for Benjamin to meet with my friend’s daughter to share her Arrowsmith experience. Though the short meeting did not help Benjamin too much, there were some insights that I was able to gather. Parental and peer support are unquestionably very important to co-exist with the program effort from the child.

In the short 3.5 months, Benjamin has focused very seriously in all the drills, and made applaudable progress. I believe that Jessica (Ms. Panjer) and Kelsey (Mr. Hanna) attention and support to the Div. 4 kids, was undoubtablely an important factor. Particularly with the biggest blow to Benjamin and myself, was Joe’s fatal accident 6 weeks after school started. (I want to give special thanks to Jessica and Kelsey, Sandra, and those not named in EAS, for all the support that you have given for our family’s loss of “Uncle Joe”.) The lunch break recognition, and free period play with other kids are all part of the efforts managed by the cognitive teachers in the program to help build self esteem and social skills. Benjamin has made some new friends in school – no more bully kid frustrations. Although he needs to pick up his English vocabulary, friends in Taipei found him more talkative (in Mandarin), and more assertive of himself this Christmas.

Jay and I have decided to spend more of our family time in Vancouver going forward. We hope to be there with Benjamin when his intellectual and speech growth would finally outpace and leap from the current confined age. Although we had and will still need to overcome many challenges, I believe that we have made the right choice coming to EAS.

Thank you again.


San Francisco, California

Why consider EAS?

Are you kidding?

WE WERE IN HELL: literally.

We entered the public school system with our first son’s autism diagnosis. And just to clean the slate with the public schools – WE ARE GRATEFUL. For everyone else, just know that we have IEPs (Individual Education Programs) in our blood. We’d spend three months a year preparing for and attending. We’d debate with the districts over the “appropriate” support needed for our boys. This is significant: Federal and State laws are set up to provide “appropriate education” only. The U.S. school districts can legally deny kids learning aids based on the subjective definition in those words. So it went something like this . . . Predictable outcomes seemed endless – usually minimal (and often inappropriate) assistance. So much was dependent on the quality of individual teachers and ‘experts’ in speech therapy, etc at each meeting and, perhaps due to salary, it was not good. It was subjective and dependent on perceived available funding. We always attempted to improve the level of testimony at each meeting through private testing and opinion from some of the best experts in the country (at our own expense). Sadly, it was disregarded and they provided a behavior aide. Ugh. As a result the boys were getting little real attention or help, despite many of the individual teachers going above and beyond to help. We were in frustrating agony – dissatisfied and disillusioned with the system. Into this came our second son. By the fourth year we hoped, rather than believed, this would make any difference for either child. We were also implementing biomedical interventions. So, in the school, SURPRISE! – our son scored above the cut off for autism aid. And, WOW, he no longer qualifies for services.

INTO BATTLE: know your child’s deficits and needs.

I could point-by-point explain how our school “team” relations went from fantastic with autism, to a circumventional nightmare with learning disabilities. Yes, he needs help. No, we can’t provide that. What qualifies as learning disabled does not qualify for educational aid. Let me say that again – “Need does not equal aid.” I could further explain that we funded private testing and received complete disregard for its conclusions by the school system.

It hit us when our son was crying daily trying to use a pencil. Is that not a sign that the disability is cognitive and “appropriate” to treat? They disagreed. I metaphorically pulled out my sword. How is it that kids who can visually learn with images and yet can’t make symbol letterforms, still pass through the grades? The school district implemented limiting his workload, rearranging seating to minimize distractions, teacher gestures to refocus and expanded verbal instructions. As proof that this was working well, we witnessed this in action. So, when our son would show off his math skills in front of class on the chalkboard, it would result in inflamed self-esteem. Then, the kids would ask him questions and he would not be able to converse about it. Literally, he could not understand the words flying around the room. The embarrassment would deflate all self-esteem gained in the previous 5 minutes. I’m sorry, if your child can only understand 1 percent of any sustained auditory instruction, there is no point in expanding a sentence into a paragraph just to understand another 1 percent.  1 + 1 will not ever = 100percent. All public academic systems use verbal instruction. We asked, “How is this going to work long term?” They were silent. My sword fell. We lost all faith in the US public school system.

CHOOSING A SCHOOL: let me twinkle my nose.

We decided to go private.

Honestly we interviewed 9 of them. And with exasperation we decided that the private schools available in the states were, at best, intimate babysitting services; help holding a pencil and sitting next to my child. They did an intimate job but did not have any expertise to offer. Fighting for a better “sitter” wasn’t the goal. Private education held no answer. We hired a tutor. She recommended a book “The Brain the Changes Itself” where Arrowsmith was mentioned. No kidding, there is a school that treats causes of learning disabilities through exercises? It will retrain/rewire the brain to rebuild neural pathways or encourage neurons to fire (that never have before). We knew instantly. It was what we had needed for the previous four years; when recovering from autism, a child misses early stages of neuron development. Promoting neurons to fire correctly, IS IT! It wasn’t a light switch – it was more like the sun came out. So, let me restate that. We already knew our two sons deficits and needs. We considered our family needs dependent on the weakest players – our boys. The extreme effort, we as parents and everyone in our community were contributing, was not making any difference. No amount of practical rearranging would marry our reality with our values for the future. Our decision to relocate for our two boys to Eaton Arrowsmith was simple and quick; literally over a lunch hour. “Let me call them to find the nearest location – I’ll make it happen in three weeks – Just let me twinkle my nose” . . . Relocating was no barrier compared to the results.

ARROWSMITH EXPERIENCE: It isn’t easy, but it works.

All the EAS staff were just brilliant with our transition. They have either dealt long-term with learning disabilities or have learning issues themselves. They understand student’s dilemmas and know how to get the best out of and improve Barbara Arrowsmith Young’s program. All (from principal to reception) are focused and dedicated to providing the best evaluation, environment, and quality of learning of each child’s needs for progress. To speak of humbleness; I’ve witnessed the founder, Howard Eaton walk into the office saying he’s frustrated with something. Shrug and say, “Since I’m inattentive, I’m in reception only to take a break.” We aren’t hiding at Arrowsmith. We all have issues. It’s when multiple issues overwhelm functioning that we need help. Arrowsmith improves these multiple disabilities.

Barbara’s explicit regimen takes dedication from both the kids and parents. Both our sons hit emotional walls every fall after they were reintroduced back into school. Proof that the program is affecting the brain in areas beyond learning capacities. It isn’t just the kids, either. It takes strong parental belief to stick with this program, too. The bonus is that kids walk in there and let down defenses. Arrowsmith allows kids to be themselves. They all have learning disabilities and are socially accepted. Our boys actually have friends now at school and at home with whom they can properly interact and relate. No kidding. There is a great supportable feeling when in a class with peers that are like you.

Although our Arrowsmith testing shows improvements yearly, it’s personal. It wasn’t IF there were improvements – but WHERE. The proof has been in the changes our boys have gone through over the past three years at EAS. Their executive functioning, social awareness and interaction, auditory attention, abstract reasoning, gestalt awareness, working memory, and organization of verbal information have improved immensely. We are looking towards transitioning back to traditional schools in the U.S. and feel they will be well prepared.

A last word about the Eaton location; a university campus nested between a beach and a forest. Could there be a more stimulating environment? Within a half hour walk we have hiked and biked trails, learned swimming, ice-skating, and hockey in Olympic training venues, visited museums and parks, and experienced public performances. Vancouver itself is built as one of the friendliest cities on the planet. Beaches and mountains line up around the city and gave us skiing and rock climbing adventures. It’s unbelievable.

RECOMMENDATION: They have our respect.

We would recommend Eaton Arrowsmith over any public or private school in the states – ANY!

The staff is involved and wonderful – like family. Most have faced disabilities themselves and understand the difficulties. I can’t stress enough how good it feels to not be “principal parents”. Mark Watson, the principal at Eaton Arrowsmith, understands behaviors resulting by the disabilities VERY WELL. Our weekly – and sometimes daily visits to schools are no longer necessary. That alone saves hours, if not an extraordinary amount of stress per week. If only we had known about it five years before, we could have saved so much and changed our family’s life. We wholeheartedly recommend the school to anyone who is struggling to help their child with learning disabilities within the U.S. education system.

In a quip: just do it. It’s the only available solution for our kids.

Simon and Stephanie Locke

Seattle, Washington

I realized that our 5 year old daughter’s educational needs would not be met in the traditional school settings. Her learning disabilities would have put her in the Special Education part of the public school system in Seattle/Bellevue cities in the state of Washington. Having experienced those programs with our son who is now 13yrs old I felt that where in it could be effective for children with high physical needs like our son; children with learning disabilities learn certain compensating skills that probably would take them through their school years with unsuccessful and therefore frustrating results. My husband and I were worried that this non-engagement in her school years would lead to emotional and behavioral issues stemming from lack of learning skills and low self esteem which in turn would come in the way of her ability to reach her full potential. In our quest of finding the “right environment” for her, having read the book “The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science” by Norman Doidge we decided to visit EAS in the summer of 2008. Understanding the program and meeting some of the individuals directing it gave us enough confidence to set up a second home in Vancouver, commute during the week to Vancouver from Seattle and give the school a try. There have been small though enough changes in our daughters ability to focus, pick up basic number concepts and alphabet, improvement in her comprehension skills and far less rigid behavior on her part, that we’ve decided to keep her in this program as far as needed and is possible. As intense as the program is, one of the main reasons that makes EAS “tick” for our daughter are the teachers involved with her. I’ve noticed they come from a empathize but not sympathize philosophy , that enables her to feel that her difficulties are understood “but and therefore” a certain amount of hard work is expected. They have been very supportive of her with words of encouragement, setting up incentive programs but also with firmness and quick responses when any social issues arise. It is extremely challenging for us to have to split our family, with two children in Seattle and the youngest in Vancouver during the work week, with my parents flying in from India to help out. But when we read and listen to all the information that is being researched and written about the brain and its abilities, this program seems to be the best choice we have in terms of helping our daughter overcome her learning issues.

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