HANDLE (Holistic Approach to NeuroDevelopment and Learning Efficiency)
HANDLE® is the acronym for Holistic Approach to NeuroDevelopment and Learning Efficiency. Key components, the combination of which are unique to the HANDLE paradigm:
- Non-drug therapy. Pharmacology considers symptoms something to hide. HANDLE considers behaviors the body’s means to communicate.
- Gentle EnhancementSM. Because stressed systems shut down, all HANDLE treatment activities abide by clients’ individual tolerances. State changes and other signs of internal distress are immediately validated, and the activity stopped. Minimal rather than maximal input supports function.
- Individual sensitivity levels. The clinic environment and the clinician respect the possibility that a client may have hypersensitivities related to: sound, smell, lighting, fibers and fabrics, colors and patterns, foods, any chemicals, and other unique challenges.
- The Neurodevelopmental Profile. Judith Bluestone’s copyrighted schematic representation of the hierarchy of functions of Sensory – Motor Interdependency and Interaction is the basis for documenting a client’s strengths and weaknesses, as identified in the observational assessment.
- Multi-system focus. HANDLE therapy attends to all factors that affect function. In the body: cranial nerves, all nervous systems (not just the brain), vestibular and sensory foundations for cognitive function, digestive and respiratory and cardiac interactions. Outside the body: emotional-social influences (e.g. goals, family dynamics); environmental and chemical stressors; societal/cultural factors (such as nutrition, or TV and computer games); public education policy (negligible organized physical education, no music or other creative arts).
- Video’ed sessions. Each clinic visit is recorded on a video, which the client/family takes home for: review of performance; reinforcement of instructions; sharing with caregivers unable to attend the clinic.
- Home-implemented program. No clinician gives direct “hands-on” therapy; rather the role of the Practitioner is to instruct sufficiently for independent follow-through, and then progress the program according to changes achieved between sessions (which may be spread apart by as little as 3-4 weeks and as much as 2-3 months).
Created in the 1980’s as a distinct paradigm for applying neuroscience into a practical approach to functional problems, HANDLE is the gift of Judith Bluestone, a visionary whose personal journey led her to this composite. Based on Judith’s life experience retrospectively analyzed in accord with neurodevelopmental principles, crafted by research and professional education into workable practices, and with grafts from numerous related fields, HANDLE has become an internationally acclaimed program to benefit all ages and a vast range of problems.
What To Expect
Populations for whom HANDLE has demonstrated consistently successful outcomes around the world include individuals with:
- an autism spectrum disorder
- learning disabilities
- stroke or traumatic head injury residual effects
- Tourette’s Syndrome
- attention and/or hyperactivity issues
- compulsive behaviors
- bipolar disorder
- a seizure disorder
- CHARGE Syndrome
- ataxia and/or balance problems
- sensory processing issues
and many “round pegs” whom society tries to fit into its square holes.
Age is not a factor; HANDLE applies from infants through geriatrics. The clinic environment and the clinician respect individual sensitivities. Work surfaces are all wood. Fluorescent lights may be needed in the ceiling (building codes) but floor lamps are available to substitute. Noise levels are minimized. Scents and sprays are not allowed. Lime is used as a deodorizer. The Practitioner wears all-natural fibers, soft colors, no patterns, no cosmetics.
Clients should expect:
- focus on all the systems that impact behavior, from natal and neonatal history, to nutrition and toxins taken in, to interactive and interdependent sensory and motor and integrative functions, to cultural and structural environmental factors, to personal energy and energy clashes with others in the environment.
- videotape of each clinical session, plus instructional materials to support understanding of the Neurodevelopmental Profile and the resultant therapy program to strengthen weaknesses.
- specific non-technical movement activities, neurological stimulation techniques, massage approaches developed specifically for HANDLE therapy, nutritional and environmental recommendations, detox methods – all for home implementation.
Established in 1994 as a non-profit organization, the HANDLE Institute® is located in Seattle, Washington. Educational programs range from free community informational presentations, to focused staff instruction especially in school settings, to a 2-day Introductory Workshop, to the 2-week intensive Advanced Training program prerequisite to becoming a Practitioner. To become a Certified HANDLE Practitioner, individuals in human service fields apply for admission into the Advanced Training. From that point, professional objectives and therefore the route may differ. For those who seek a credential in this specialized field, progressive internship experiences are scheduled within an existing clinical practice, supervised by qualified Certified Practitioners. The credential is competence-based, therefore not correlated to number of hours spent, nor to number of clients or kinds of problems to which the intern has been exposed. And there is a lengthy narrative take-home exam, covering the relevant neuroscience, most aspects of the unique paradigm, why and how to recommend what program particulars, why and how to modify activities for specific situations, relationships with complementary therapies, etc.
Professional Bodies and ReferencesThe HANDLE Institute® in Seattle, WA, which provides
Certified HANDLE Practitioners maintain affiliation with
- Consultation and case planning, as needed
- Updated developments in neuroscience as applicable to the practice of HANDLE
- Updated information about nutrition and other fields related to the practice of HANDLE
- New and/or revised activity designs