The Brain That Changes Itself has been an exceptionally enlightening and motivating read. I always saw mental capacity as a somewhat fixed element. People throughout society are so quick to limit themselves and proclaim that they are simply one type of person with one small set of abilities, mental and otherwise. Norman Doidge's novel really challenges this idea and has provided me with a sense of comfort in the realization that my brain has the ability to grow and change through neuroplasticity. .
Throughout my childhood I faced disheartening academic difficulties. I was placed in the worst reading group because of my slow and labored reading tendencies. I constantly failed at completing tasks because my mind seemed to wander; and when I wasn't spacing out I was getting in trouble for impulsively yelling out answers. Additionally, I found grammar impossible to wrap my head around, and my spelling was horrendous. I suffered from undiagnosed ADHD and a Deficient Visual Processing Speed Disorder throughout my elementary and middle school years and became incredibly frustrated and discouraged. Although my disabilities were not as extreme as hers, Barbara Arrowsmith Young's story really spoke to me. When I finally received my diagnosis and was prescribed Adderall during the fall of my Sophomore year of High school. At first, Adderall acted as a savior for me and allowed me to achieve a new level of focus and flow than I had ever experienced. But after about a month I found it possible to make a habit of organizing my thoughts and sustaining my attention without medication. Just as Barbara had realized when she trained and stimulated neural networks through repetition of brain exercises that targeted problem areas, I realized firsthand that "Children with learning disabilities can often go beyond compensation and correct their underlying problems."(Doidge 44) .
Although my parents encouraged me to take on an easy course load once receiving my diagnosis, my new-found understanding of my struggles made me hopeful and excited to learn.