Is HANDLE® for me?
At times, we all struggle with the challenges of day-to-day life. Some people struggle more. HANDLE makes life easier.
HANDLE is an educational approach that retrains the stress response, nurturing a sense of safety, increasing adaptability to change, and effecting continuity in self-perception.
HANDLE is especially helpful for people with symptoms of an autism-spectrum condition, developmental delay, attention deficit disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, or panic disorder—but HANDLE doesn’t treat any of these labels. Rather, HANDLE:
- Offers meaning: HANDLE empowers you to see beyond these labels, appreciating the underlying causes of the behaviors associated with them.
- Facilitates function: Through well-supported, at-home activity programs, HANDLE helps develop the abilities and skills that many people take for granted—but which you or a loved one may not have been able to take for granted.
- Supports living: By helping you develop the abilities necessary for you to do and enjoy what's most important to you, HANDLE stays motivating and helps ensure your success.
- Embodies respect: By helping you and your loved ones feel safe, secure, and confident in moving ahead, HANDLE nurtures grace and preserves dignity.
If your child has autism, HANDLE can help you more fully understand yourself, relate to your child, and empower your family. For people who feel frequently overwhelmed or confused, struggle to organize space or learning, or want to reduce repetitive behaviors, including tics, HANDLE provides clarity, supports spontaneous organization, and inculcates a deep sense of safety and security that persists even during change.
If you or your spouse struggles with stress-response issues—whether from childhood abuse or neglect, sensory integration issues, environmental sensitivities, and/or recent trauma—HANDLE can also be an important, educational part of an overall treatment program. HANDE can empower you and your loved ones to better modulate your responses to stress.
HANDLE incorporates an understanding of the nervous system in which even “undesirable” behaviors can be interpreted as adaptive, in which people’s different tolerances can be honored, and through which people’s stress responses can be gradually retrained in a gentle, respectful, non-invasive, and nonjudgmental manner. HANDLE helps.
HANDLE offers meaning.
HANDLE teaches an understanding of the nervous system in which even “undesirable” behaviors can be interpreted as adaptive, in which people’s different tolerances can be honored, and through which people’s stress responses can be gradually retrained in a gentle, respectful, non-invasive, and nonjudgmental manner.
In HANDLE, we interpret behavior as communication—and we listen. Those troubling behaviors that have defied explanation? They’re likely purposeful. They’re likely meeting needs. We explore possible reasons for them, with you.
In HANDLE, we’re careful not to label you, your child, or your spouse. We don't give you, your child, or your spouse a “role” to live into—not a “role” of “behavior problem,” “mental patient,” or anything else. Our programs help “draw out,” from you and those you love, more of who each of you is—and who each of you can be—than any of us could have known in advance.
HANDLE facilitates function.
HANDLE Activities provide reminders of how the nervous system functions optimally. These reminders—thanks to the power of neuroplasticity—over time change the brain, help modulate the stress response, and enhance quality of life. Nevertheless, HANDLE isn’t primarily about mastering these Activities.
HANDLE works from an “education paradigm,” not a “training paradigm”. You or your child doesn’t have to be progressing through ever more complex versions of HANDLE Activities to see progress. If life gets more stressful, it’s not any “big deal” to return to previously mastered activities, perhaps to find them challenging again. As long as the Activities aren’t boring… they’re working!
HANDLE supports living.
HANDLE supports the growth and maintenance, through regular practice of Activities that facilitate function, of whatever abilities you need to do and enjoy what's most important to you. It isn’t primarily “remedial.”
Because the nervous system never “graduates” from reminders of how the human body can function more efficiently, a person never really “graduates” from HANDLE. Hence, while HANDLE may be the first program we recommend to a person with sensory-motor/processing challenges, it may also be one of the last programs they “finish.” Some people choose to continue HANDLE activities for a lifetime, since they feel better when they do them.
While training programs generally get more specific, more complex, and much more difficult… HANDLE’s basic reminders of how the nervous system can function optimally remain relevant. If they’re no longer challenging or interesting, we change them.
HANDLE embodies respect.
We devote time to learning and growing, together. There’s no better space to begin making changes, or finding acceptance, than where you are, when you come to us. Your dignity is important to us. That’s why we model and nurture respect.
During a screening or assessment, we work and speak primarily with whoever has been struggling with sensory-motor, processing, and/or movement issues. When presenting our findings and activities, we also present directly to this person, regardless of his or her age or presumed abilities. We trust that whatever family members are present will be listening and learning, too.
Finally, we make a point to invite whoever is doing HANDLE Activities to pause, whenever an Activity becomes stressful or confusing. We train parents and providers to recognize signs that a person’s nervous system is strained, too. That way, whoever is with that person can help him or her notice the stress, feel okay taking a break, and look forward to an improved ability to handle similar inputs, over time.
There’s still time.
The nervous system wasn’t formed in a day; it developed over time. Learning how to sense, move, check into our needs, and honor what we’re feeling occurs over time, too. That’s okay. There’s still time. Whether you’re four, or ninety-four… there’s still time—and HANDLE can help.
Though there’s still time, every HANDLE Program starts some time. Beginning takes initiative. You’ve already taken a first step, by reading this far. How soon will you be able to thank yourself for taking another step? When you’re ready, we’ll be looking forward to hearing from you.