HANDLE Evaluations come in two varieties: Screenings and Assessments. The goal of both is to explore sensory-motor and processing systems that, if they are poorly functioning or disorganized, can make living and learning less efficient and reliable. Once areas for improvement are known, activities can be tailored to a person’s unique needs, abilities, and available support from family and friends.
HANDLE Screenings are often recommended for people age five or older who are experiencing mild to moderate learning or attentional challenges. Screenings may also be suitable for an athlete, adult learner returning to school, or businessperson looking to improve efficiency at work.
Sometimes, a prospective client will use a HANDLE screening to learn more about HANDLE experientially, before committing to a full Assessment. People who are unable or unwilling to communicate verbally, however, or who struggle to perform movements involved in basic self-care, are best served by full Assessments.
HANDLE Assessments are appropriate for people with moderate to severe movement or learning challenges, trauma or stress-response conditions, or more complex attachment or autism-spectrum conditions. Assessments are more detailed than Screenings. The activities available as the result of an Assessment are also more numerous and varied:
Assessment activities are more numerous:
A HANDLE Practitioner has over 130 activities to choose from to design a pupil’s program, not counting variations, which many activities have, as well. A Screener, by contrast, is limited to a selection of 24 activities to design a program.
Assessment activities are more varied in intensity:
A Practitioner can provide activities that are less intense to accommodate very stressed or underdeveloped systems. These activities can be utilized early in a program to help accustom a person to specific sensory-motor challenges, without overwhelming his or her systems. A Practitioner can also provide activities that are more intense, either initially, to challenge a pupil with stronger systems, or later in a program, to strengthen systems that foundational activities have since helped to organize.
Some people wonder: “Are the behaviors I’m observing due to neurodevelopmental issues?” or “Would I respond well to HANDLE?” If you find yourself in this situation, please contact us. We’d be happy to talk with you briefly over the phone for no charge. We’d also be happy to meet you for an initial visit and follow-up consultation, which together cost $450. You can use our online Scheduling system, below, to make an appointment.
Anyone signing up for a HANDLE Program through the McNatt Learning Center receives support implementing a HANDLE program for a full eight months. We invite pupils, their parents, or their partners to call or email with implementation-related questions whenever such questions arise, within reason, for no additional charge. If you’re our pupil, your success implementing your HANDLE program is very important to us.
HANDLE Programs typically progress through the following stages:
1. Initial Evaluation
A HANDLE Assessment is nonjudgmental and observational. We adjust each Assessment, as necessary, to meet the needs of each pupil. Special health concerns are taken into account, as are nutritional information and pertinent details of the developmental history.
The initial Assessment appointment is generally scheduled for two hours but may be adjusted, depending on the situation. The evaluation is a sensitive and fairly comprehensive assessment, involving interactive tasks; specific neurodevelopmental tests; and interviewing of pupils, parents, and other caregivers. If you use our online scheduling system, you will notice that HANDLE Assessments are booked in 5-hour and 30-minute increments. This isn’t because they last that long. Rather, after you leave, we need time for:
2. Analysis & Program Preparation
After your initial Assessment, we’ll analyze findings, craft your neurodevelopmental profile, and create your custom HANDLE Program.
Your neurodevelopmental profile is a dynamic mapping of observed and reported functionality among the sensory-motor and processing systems explored in the Assessment.
Your HANDLE Program takes into consideration your interests and abilities, as well as family/group dynamics. HANDLE Programs are generally designed to be implemented in brief moments throughout the day, whether at school, work or elsewhere, with some activities being done at home.
3. HANDLE Program Presentation
A second appointment is made to present the neurodevelopmental profile and HANDLE Program. We generally prefer that the person we assessed remain in the room for the presentation of findings and neurodevelopmental profile, regardless of his or her apparent ability level. Even if (s)he is playing or otherwise occupied, (s)he may internalize, on however a peripheral level, some of the reasons for the difficulty (s)he has faced, as well as some of the ways that HANDLE can help. It can be immensely validating and empowering to learn possible reasons for what one has experienced—to be understood—and, then, to connect these reasons to the activity-based journey that lies ahead.
It’s also important, as a family or support group is guided through specific HANDLE Activities for Gentle Enhancement, that the primary pupil still remain in the room then. Tweaking the activities to meet a pupil’s ability level is very important. It’s also important to coach a family/group through learning when to stop activities, as well as how to slowly increase the amount of each activity performed, in keeping with the HANDLE principle of Gentle Enhancement®. The family/group may also receive recommendations for temporary compensatory techniques or complementary services.
Questions of all kinds are encouraged throughout the process.
4. Activity Check Appointment
Between four and ten days after the Program Presentation, the pupil and at least one caregiver is asked to return for an Activity Check to gauge how they are doing with the program and to address any additional questions.
5. Program Reviews
An additional five appointments, called “Program Reviews,” are scheduled over the next eight months, initially every 4-6 weeks. There may be additional referrals or recommendations for follow-up, if necessary.
Upon the completion of an eight-month HANDLE Program, you will have a “toolbox” of activities, recommendations, and new insights. You will have a better understanding of the ways people learn, how to de-stress, and how to modulate effort—doing enough, but not too much, gradually improving toward excellence. HANDLE truly helps people embody an approach to learning of “pause, then try again.”
• There’s a lot of richness in the world, which people naturally block to avoid being overwhelmed. Nurturing an awareness of one’s personal threshold (which changes according to kind of stimulus, time of day, amount of rest, and quality of nutrition) can help one engage more, safely, without being overwhelmed.
• There’s a lot to be learned, unconsciously, during pauses, which are fundamental to natural learning.
• Finally, there’s a lot to be gained, relationally, in giving one another permission to not always "keep trying"—especially when after a pause, trying something different might very well reduce struggle.