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HANDLE Therapy - A new perspective of Autism

Autism / Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism is a complex disorder of brain function that involves three basic symptoms: impaired social interaction, difficulty with verbal and nonverbal communication, and severely limited activities and interests. These symptoms generally appear by age three and may last throughout one's life. In recent years, individuals with more varied degrees of impairment and functioning have been diagnosed with autism-related disorders. Although definite similarities exist among people classified as autistic, the differences from one person to another can be profound.

The HANDLE® Perspective

HANDLE views Autism/PDD simply as labels for individuals whose attentional priorities are extremely limited from infancy or early childhood. This limitation is caused by irregularities in systems that support the senses and their interactions. Usually the forms of sensory stimulation these individuals tolerate are those that were not affected at birth with the sudden change from a wet and dark prenatal world to a postnatal world of air and light. Vision, for which there are no prenatal experiences, is frequently used by individuals diagnosed with Autism/PDD either just for an enchantment with the light, or to scan the periphery as protection from a sensed invasion by people and objects in the environment. For those whose label is a form of PDD (such as Asperger's Syndrome), the number/degree of sensory intolerances is less, allowing initial acceptance of more input and more interaction with the outside world.

Common Patterns

Autism and the Pervasive Developmental Disorders are diagnoses that relate to individuals who demonstrate

  • Significant problems with interpersonal communications, esp. involving language
eye contact, and interactive tasks
  • Limited activities he/she enjoys, and engaging in these activities in a repetitive, routinized manner
  • Unusual responses to sensory stimuli, particularly to touch, sound
  • Involvement in other senses, such as taste, smell, and light and darkness

Individual Differences

There is a vast array of individual differences among individuals diagnosed with Autism or PDD. Some have biochemical imbalances: allergies, nutritional deficits, unusual levels of heavy metals, or other factors that effect the nervous system, blood brain barrier, and functioning. Some are head-bangers or have sleep disturbances. Many have irregular muscle tone. Most make unusual noises, twirl themselves or objects, and engage in self-stimulation. All are individuals.

HANDLE® Treatment

Following a comprehensive observational assessment and interviewing caregivers, individualized programs of activities, nutritional guidance, etc. are designed for each client. These activities are then implemented at home or in daycare situations. During the period of home treatment, recommendations may be made for some compensatory measures, such as reducing the amount of extraneous sounds in the surrounding, or changing the type of lighting in the most common environment. HANDLE treatment for these disorders usually involves initial activities to increase the range of bodily movement (particularly to include the sense of "behind" in Autism), incorporating specific tactile and vestibular activities, and other activities, selected in a developmentally sound sequence. It frequently reduces individuals' resistance to experience the world. when they realize that the experiences they perceive as threatening are also felt by others who acknowledge them and then dismiss them.

What Results We Might See

  • Increased verbal and non- verbal communication
  • Increased social Interaction
  • Improved eye contact with people and the task at hand
  • Decreased self-stimulatory behaviors
  • Decreased hypersensitivity to sensory stimulation, especially sound, sight and touch
  • Reduced eating Issues, improved ingestion, absorption and elimination
  • Improved sleep, duration and quality

What Clients Say

"Our child has been diagnosed Autistic/PDD/Hyperlexic and his expressive and receptive language skills were at half his chronological age. We received at HANDLE the most careful, specific, and individualized assessment and services we have yet experienced in 8 years of contact with professional providers. We saw results within two weeks."

~ T. Geer

HANDLE's Founder: Judith Bluestone

Judith Bluestone at workJudith Bluestone was born with neurodevelopmental challenges and structural irregularities, due to profound prenatal chemical toxicity.

Judith engaged in applied neuroscience instinctively, from the inside out. She was born before labels for her condition were commonly used and her family allowed her to behave in some unconventional ways.  These behaviors allowed her to protect herself from her greatest vulnerabilities, to achieve, and to succeed.

For example, what is now called echolalia was expressed in Judith’s attempts to commit to memory the shape of her mouth, and the positions that her lips and tongue must be in to produce a particular word or sound. For Judith and her family, echolalia was not considered a maladaptive behavior, to be extinguished. As a result, ultimately, it was a behavior that led to improved self-expression.

Then Judith approached neurodevelopment from the outside in, with over 12 years of extensive study in neuroscience, neuropsychology, neuro-rehabilitation. human development, visual processing, sensory-motor integration, education, counseling and more.

The HANDLE Approach grew out of all this experience. In 1994 Judith founded the HANDLE Institute, now a non-profit corporation with headquarters in San Rafael, California.

Some of Judith’s achievements during nearly 40 years of professional work include: 

  • 1989 — National (Israel) Annual Early Childhood Education Award for designing and supervising the program of screening and early intervention in Givat Olga, through which the need for special education was reduced from nearly 50 percent to approximately 4 percent in less than 18 months.
  • Who’s Who in American Education, 1992, ‘94, ‘95
  • 2002 — Case Western Reserve University Distinguished Alumni Award for outstanding contributions to the fields of education and neurorehabilitation and to those served through those fields.
  • 2004 — Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service,
    “for creating and sharing HANDLE to enhance the quality of life of individuals and families in her community, country and the world.”
  • 2004 Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award

Judith's Book - Fabric of Autism


Last modified on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 00:33
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