Whole Brain Exercises for Learning Disabilities

Published: July 14th 2010
in News » Local

Pic: Maximind

Dr. Arnie Gotfryd’s interest in neuro-education began in the ‘70s when he needed an alternative learning intervention for one of his children.


“I didn’t think the medical model was sufficient to address learning needs,” he said.


This was the era during which biofeedback was becoming popular and Gotfryd discovered several applications for remediating learning disabilities. He set to work applying them and was stunned by the positive results.


“From there it became a passion to find all kinds of neuro-educational tools, electronic and otherwise, to help kids with problems as diverse as ADD, autism, coordination problems, dyslexia, mood disorders and behavioural problems,” said Gotfryd, who was originally trained in biology but has spent 35 years in education, including developing a remedial education department.


Ever since, he’s been hooked on researching and testing holistic methods to help children overcome learning disabilities and other cognitive problems.


He describes these brain training interventions as “whole brain exercises” that get at the root of the problem and transform a person’s life without the need for pharmaceuticals. Instead, these exercises work by building and sustaining neural networks.


To explain what happens when neural networks are not communicating properly in the brain, he gave the example of an office with no office manager, where everyone is duplicating work, there are many conflicts, no productivity and nobody understands what is going on. Therefore, the organization will not correctly interact with the outside world, nobody will want to deal with the company and no one in the company wants to deal with fixing the situation.


However, by organizing and focusing the brain’s attention system, “We can built and strengthen the brain and work with it efficiently and effectively. Most learning disabilities are (due to) a tremendous wastage of grey matter because it’s not working together.”


Gotfryd said that science now knows that the brain is very plastic and it can change and work around problems to develop its own unique solutions. The process can be described as a “brain gym.” By exercising the brain with specific types of games and activities, you can build connections to develop and strengthen the brain. As with physical exercise, if you don’t exercise, your joints will hurt and you won’t be physically fit. However, if you move around, all of a sudden your muscles and joints are working better.  


“It’s like diet and exercise but for the brain,” said Gotfryd.


Gotfryd’s company, Maximind, is administering a neuro-educational program in partnership with Tzivos Hashem Toronto (a Chabad youth charity that is absorbing 80 per cent of the cost) to fund 60 spots in Jewish day schools for a pilot project using neuro-educational tools to remediate learning disabilities. There is still time for schools to register.


Gotfryd has previously worked with individuals in clinical and school settings with remarkable results and is now ready to take his expand upon his success. “Now that I’m batting 1,000 with 10 cases, I’m ready to do this in a larger way.”


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