I started my career as a pediatric RN, but it is my children who have been my greatest teachers, guiding me through the years, to my work as a Certified HANDLE® - Holistic Approach to NeuroDevelopment and Learning Efficiency - Practitioner.
Watching my oldest son struggle with homework for six hours every night, while his educational team judged him with labels such as lazy and unmotivated, is what first drove my quest to understand why. Why was there such discrepancy between Tyler’s intelligence and his writing? Why was reading so challenging? Why did he miss recess every day for not completing his “seat work?” Other than supporting Tyler with his homework, was there something else I could do?
Although Tyler was an adult before I became a HANDLE Practitioner, it is Tyler's experiences that fuel my ongoing passion for helping children to be understood, and to assist with gentle, respectful, supports specific to their concerns.
Born with no hearing and limited vision as part of CHARGE Syndrome, why would seven year old Dylan suddenly go from calm to wild; throwing toys, clearing tables of papers with one swipe, slapping at Tyler and Kayla, kicking at the dog, and throwing my sculptures to the tile floor? Why did he laugh hysterically, if I even calmly signed no? Explanations such as, “He’s frustrated because he can’t communicate any other way.” didn’t fit with what I saw. To me, it appeared like a switch went off in his body. Our only remedy was to allow him a safe place to “get his wilds out” and for the switch to turn back to calm. Why? Was there something else I could do?
I'd first heard about HANDLE when Dylan was four, but I felt at the time that he was developing fairly well in spite of his syndrome and sensory impairments, and I couldn't quite picture how HANDLE could make a difference in our lives. With Dylan becoming more and more what I call "neurologically out of control" over the next several years, I eventually turned to HANDLE in desperation.
Through his HANDLE program, Dylan gained the ability to regulate his emotions, his body, and his sleep, and I began to understand the logic of behavior through a HANDLE lens. Our lives have never been the same, setting me off on a quest to become a HANDLE Practitioner and further understand why.
Dylan's experiences fuel my passion for helping parents understand the logic of behavior, and providing early developmental supports through the HANDLE approach.
My questions around Kayla were of a different type. Why was being flexible with her friends, her teachers, and her parents so much easier for her? Why could she decide to learn something new and then accomplish it with relative ease? Would she burn out? Was I expecting too much of her? Was there something else I should do? Later when my own sensory systems burned out, I regained my sense of balance in the world - and the answer to my Kayla questions - through my own HANDLE program.
Kayla's experiences - and my own - fuel my connection with people who find they just can't do what they used to do, often following a time of stress.
Tyler, Kayla, and Dylan are each wonderful, caring, capable individuals, yet each is wired differently. These differences don't make them better or worse people; however it does greatly influence their ability to flexibly adapt to the demands of life, particularly as children, when they had less control over their environment. Through a filter of honor and respect, HANDLE has given me a framework for understanding each of my children’s strengths and challenges and a model for providing supports specific to their needs, as they've grown into the fine adults they are.
I'd love to help you and your family too.