What Does “Reframe Your Thinking Around Autism” Actually Mean?

It means changing from a ‘deficit’ model to one of appreciating the intelligence and potential of each and every individual.

Reframing means exploring autism from a different perspective.

People with autism are often diminished by a narrow and outdated medical model when there is so much evidence to the contrary. When we begin to explore autism via the Polyvagal Theory (PVT) we get a much better appreciation for the people who live with autism, and we can be more empathic in our approach

Holly Bridges’ Anxiety Reframe Technique (ART) is about helping people to make the most of their gifts.

Through gentle physical movements and a neurodivergent approach, we work to build people’s strengths and individual style, and help diminish some of the many co-occurring and debilitating issues people on the spectrum often struggle with like anxiety, depression, digestive issues, insomnia, self-regulation, anger issues.

Many of these things can be greatly alleviated when we take a more biophysical approach.

What is A.R.T.?

How is the approach different?

Breathing techniques and mindfulness are really difficult for a lot of people on the spectrum. By working directly with the body, we avoid the stress of having to use the ‘top down’ approaches of more traditional therapies.

Showing people how to work directly to calm the body can sometimes be much more efficient. When you learn how to be in a calm state and how your eyes, ears, face, voice and thinking can come back ‘on line’, you feel like yourself again. When you consistently teach your body to be in this state, you improve your vagal tone – your ability to deal with stress.

Working directly with the body with gentle body focused exercises can be much faster than trying to work first with the mind. The more you can train the physical nervous system know how to be calm and respond well to stress, the more you can begin to strengthen and keep yourself in a restorative state. You begin an upward spiral of health, vitality and strength. Here you are much less susceptible to anxiety and much less likely to rely on medication for your wellbeing.

We see these results time and time again with A.R.T. We work with people of all ages and all capacities on the spectrum and, in their own, unique way, they start to have greater levels of self-mastery and a greater capacity to enjoy themselves and express themselves more fully in their world.

What is A.R.T Based Upon?

THE POLYVAGAL THEORY

 

The PVT is a working model of what can happen when the mind and body are aligned.

When the person can both recognise and stay in a parasympathetic (relaxed, restful) state, this provides the mind/body with a chance to connect and grow strong.

The polyvagal theory has become the foundation for a new and progressive approach to autism therapy.

INTEROCEPTION

 

By improving internal representations of the body and internal sensory perception, this can enhance proprioception (movement, spatial orientation); vestibular sensation (coordination, balance, spatial orientation); awareness of bodily processes, and thus promote feelings of wellbeing, confidence and safety.

METAPLASTICITY

 

Not only is the brain ‘plastic’, but the more the brain changes, the more it knows how to change.

We can inspire the brain to want to grow and reimagine itself.

We start to inspire brain fitness, in any brain, at any age, no matter what the previous narrative.

THE VAGUS NERVE

 

Central to the polyvagal theory is the crucial role of the vagus nerve in helping people perceive, regulate and manage body sensations that are often debilitating.

The vagus nerve is the largest nerve in our body and runs from the brainstem down into all the major organs of the body.

It works to influence our social engagement system and helps us be connected (or disconnected) from our world.

We can reinform the vagus nerve and befriend it.

NEUROCEPTION AND AUTONOMIC FUNCTION

 

Holly demystifies the physical symptoms that affect those on the spectrum.

Holly’s program is unique in that it addresses the ‘autonomic’ issues that may go some way to explain the physical challenges of autism.

90% of physical actions and reactions occur ‘pre-brain’, and better vagal tone can help control unwarranted flight or fight; frozen or immobilised responses.

BRAIN PLASTICITY

 

This is evidence that, as with neurotypical people, those on the spectrum have the capacity to build emotional resilience, grow and gain practical skills, at any age.

How Does A.R.T. Work In Practice?

Internal martial arts

For people who train in the martial arts one of the most important principles is the relationship between stillness and motion. Understanding how stillness is the basis for motion allows you to establish true balance and control within yourself. Stillness is where you collect and center yourself for the movement to come. Your power lies in the stillness of the mind and body.

Facilitation

In this context, facilitation is how manual muscle stimulation can influence relaxation, movement and communication between different parts of the body.

Applied Relaxation

Applied relaxation aims to teach the student how to control anxiety by self-soothing, and ‘teaching’ the body to sit in a parasympathetic (relaxed, restful) state.

Non-Directive Therapy

This is the opposite of a prescribed (forced or coercive) program, and means being sensitive and empathic to what is needed in each and every session. Key to this is letting the student and his or her body tell us ‘what is next’.

Integrative Psychotherapy

Exploring the student’s emerging self through counselling and the application of the ART toolkit and techniques.

Artful Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

Encouraging the student and stakeholders to challenge long held beliefs and assumptions about what is possible and what a person can or cannot do.

Vision Therapy

Unfixing the eyes and teaching the student to operate in a ‘soft state’; to cooperate with the body, with moving and with learning.

Autoregulation

These are selective physical and mental feedback techniques that ‘teach’ the body to read and reduce stress-sensation.