Getting A H.A.N.D.L.E On Sensitive Systems: Autism, ADHD, SPD and More

H.A.N.D.L.E is an acronym for Holistic Approach to NeuroDevelopment and Learning Efficiency.  It was created by Dr. Judith Bluestone, who developed it based on her own experiences with autism.

It’s sensory integration therapy and it’s changed the way I look at everything. It’s taught me to read physiology and to see behavior as communication. It’s non-invasive and very manageable from a time perspective.

I love it because its basis is in neuroplasticity and the mind/body connection. For my nephew and my son, it’s given them a way to start to be aware of their bodies, calmed them down before bedtime and helped them greatly with sensory issues like eating, and tactile defensiveness.

In the past, I had always taken a very behavioral approach to both my work and my parenting. I was struggling with this approach, and needed something more.  I went to an introductory H.A.N.D.L.E workshop at The Phoenix Centre For Neurodevelopment in Peterborough, Ontario. The tagline for the workshop was: “Helping Extraordinary People do Ordinary Things.”

I was hooked!

I began to view neurodevelopment as an interaction and interdependency of functioning.  I began to be able to recognize subtle signs of stress, as my nephew and son approached daily tasks and exercises.  I learned how internal and external systems interact, and to do exercises that bridged the gap between physiological function and behavioral communication.

It was a game changer for me, and for the kids.

My son is now able to wear his jacket under his seatbelt in the car, my nephew went from having a very limited diet to trying new foods weekly.

The brain is a beautiful sea of possibility; a living, moving, firing, piece of the unknown we need to respect and nurture.


Sara Winter was a classroom aide to kids on the spectrum for ten years, and  the founder of SquagTM . She lives with her husband and two young sons in Toronto.

For more information on H.A.N.D.L.E: