Showering felt very dangerous to me

Showering felt very dangerous to me

In a recent interview I did with a long term client, he said to me “I used to be worried about blacking out in the shower. Showering felt very dangerous for me”. Now this was hugely significant, it was a big statement. I had to stop him talking to go back to what he was saying

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A.R.T. Training as Internal Martial Arts

A.R.T. Training as 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.

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Polyvagal Theory & Autism

Polyvagal Theory & Autism

The Polyvagal Theory is based on the work of Stephen W. Porges PhD. This theory is based on the vagus nerve and the way that it works within the body to help us interact with our world.

In a nutshell The Polyvagal Theory suggests that we have three main ways of operating: we can be in an open state where we can be calm and our social faculties (eyes, ears, face, voice, connection to heart), digestive and cognitive faculties, like executive functioning and working memory, are all online and available for us to use.

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Brain Plasticity & Autism

Brain Plasticity & Autism

We used to think that the brain was fixed and not capable of change, but it’s not true. The brain is capable of changing – at any age – and when we work with the body as well as the mind, we have an even greater capacity to make positive changes.

People on the autism spectrum, whether they can speak; whether they are hypo or hyper reactive; whether they are five, fifteen or fifty are all intelligent and all have highly sophisticated nervous systems that are capable of learning.

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Body Cognition

Body Cognition

When we are stuck in an immobilised (hypo) state it can be hard to feel what is going on in your body because our interoceptive capacity has been turned off. When we are in a hyper- alert state, we can feel too much, or nothing. This skill of interoception is something that comes on and offline depending on what state we are in.

It’s not much use teaching people stuck in an immobilised state to cognitively try and work out what’s happening in their body – because they can’t! They can’t because the body and nervous system are not in the right physical state. We literally can’t feel things or ‘know’ things about our internal state when we are in shut-down. If we’ve always been in shut-down, we’ve probably never learnt to do this.

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Unpacking Anxiety

Unpacking Anxiety

Anxiety is the most common mental illness, affecting 300 million people worldwide. Symptoms include worrying, ruminating and obsessing & panic attacks. The smallest doubt can activate a red flag in the brain, overriding all logic. Untreated, it can develop into OCD...

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The Potency of the Dorsal State

The Potency of the Dorsal State

So much of our focus on the Polyvagal Theory centres around honouring and validating the ventral vagus and teaching people to move up from the dorsal states and into the light of the ventral states. According to the polyvagal theory the ventral vagus – the second...

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Co-Design as a Basic Methodology of ‘Reframing’ Autism

Co-Design as a Basic Methodology of ‘Reframing’ Autism

I recently revised work that I was commissioned to undertake for the Autism Association of Western Australia (AAWA), when invited to address the NDS State Conference in Melbourne, Victoria. It was a reminder of the core principles of my approach to improving the lives...

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The Myth of Social Engagement

The Myth of Social Engagement

The Polyvagal Theory focuses on our ability to be socially engaged. In order to use our social capacity, we need to be in the right physical state. When we are in a flight/fight, or more immobilised state, our physical ability to use our social system – eyes, ears,...

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The Boy From Outer Space

The Boy From Outer Space

A ten year old kid with Aspergers syndrome, has written a moving poem about his daily struggles. This is a line from a poem by 10 year old Benjamin Giroux. There is something very beautiful about this poem, not because of the loneliness he shares, but because of the...

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Sleep, the Gut and Body Cognition

Sleep, the Gut and Body Cognition

Training the body to “know” and relate to a parasympathetic state and body cognition seems to promote deep sleep, regulation and healing.In this interesting video, Dr. Stasha Gominakdiscusses "how vitamin D (from the sun) is needed to improve the stability of gut...

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Autism Reframe Technique (A.R.T.) in Action

Autism Reframe Technique (A.R.T.) in Action

Here is Holly at her practice doing cranial nerve massage – reflexology – with a fifteen year old client. Holly says, Most often kids and adults with autism don’t know what this soft state even feels like, so it is a big lesson even though it is subtle.Outcomes based...

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The Positive Effects of Horses and Dogs on Autism

The Positive Effects of Horses and Dogs on Autism

It is becoming common knowledge that dogs and horses help to relax and soothe the autistic child and help promote pro-social behaviors. Like many therapies with autism that work, we implicitly agree that they do have a positive effect, yet we do not know why. A few...

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Organicity, Non-Violence, Unity, Whole-ism & Autism

Organicity, Non-Violence, Unity, Whole-ism & Autism

I recently listened to a wonderful talk by Pat Ogden on Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and it aligns so well with my approach - which is of course so different from most. So often, well-meaning people take an approach with autism that has a directive undertone of 'I know...

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Autism Therapy Without Force and Control

Autism Therapy Without Force and Control

The image at the top of this post is a mini model I use to help those on the autism spectrum get a picture of what the body can access when it is in different states. For those with anxiety (and more) I find it is very helpful for them to see that this 'happens to...

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Oxygen Therapy & Autism

Oxygen Therapy & Autism

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is thought to improve certain traits of autism such as communication, social skills and eye contact. It involves breathing in up to 100% oxygen in a pressurized chamber to boost oxygen in the brain and reduce brain inflammation. An increase...

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Vitamins & Autism

Vitamins & Autism

Vitamins play a vital role in our health and wellbeing. They help us to make skin and teeth and bones and to repair and replenish. We need a regular intake of vitamins to stay healthy and we do this through the food we eat and sometimes with vitamin supplements....

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Stem Cells & Autism

Stem Cells & Autism

A stem cell is a ‘master cell’ in the human body that has the ability to regenerate and to develop itself into many other cells in the human body. A stem cell can take on the form of more than two hundred other cell types in the body and so contributes to the repair...

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Dogs & Autism

Dogs & Autism

Therapy dogs for autism can assist with emotional and physical support. Having a solid and reassuring companion is meant to help ease sensory overload and help the autistic child focus and learn to filter out sensory input. From a vagal perspective, the dog can have a...

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Biomedical & Autism

Biomedical & Autism

The biomedical model aims to address nutritional deficiencies with vitamins and micronutrients. There is much anecdotal evidence to support this approach and more research needs to be done. Until now there has not been a clear understanding of why this kind of...

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Student Discovers How to Resolve Sociability in Autism

Student Discovers How to Resolve Sociability in Autism

A high school student recently completed a study on biofeedback techniques and autism with outstanding results. After just 18 sessions his adolescent autistic subject showed significant improvement in self-reported calm and lowered heart rate. The results of the ATEC...

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Diet & Autism

Diet & Autism

There is a developing consensus that supports the link between diet and mood within the wider community and, anecdotally, a large proportion of parents attest to dietary intervention being an effective therapy for their autistic children. For many a casein and gluten...

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Chelation & Autism

Chelation & Autism

Chelation is an approach that aims to way to remove toxins from the body such as lead or mercury that are thought to be antecedents to autism. Chemicals are ‘flushed’ from the body with a range of other chemicals and it can be a long and drawn out process. In the US...

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Ayurvedic & Autism

Ayurvedic & Autism

Ayurvedic medicine can gently realign the body and provide greater strength and calm in those with autism. From a polyvagal perspective, the body’s vagal system is being better supported – which in turn allows the client to have a better, more stable connection...

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Art & Autsim

Art & Autsim

Art therapy can assist in the integration of the nervous system. It can help to address sensory problems and can allow the autistic child to focus on difficult physical feelings whilst learning to self-soothe and channel feelings into creative pursuit.

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Autism as a Genetic Brain Disorder

Autism as a Genetic Brain Disorder

In the 1940’s Austrian psychiatrist, Leo Kanner, put forward a theory that autism was not a form of schizophrenia but a separate illness noting in particular the superior abilities of the child. Despite this distinction it wasn’t until the 1970’s and the unearthing...

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The Poor Mothering Myth

The Poor Mothering Myth

Although the 1940’s work of Leo Kanner’s ‘infantile autism’ depicted autism as distinct from schizophrenia, historically autism was seen for years not only as a form of schizophrenia but also as a result of poor mothering. The clinicians, heavily influenced by...

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The End of Autism as a ‘Severe Disorder’

The End of Autism as a ‘Severe Disorder’

Starting the early 1900’s and lasting well into the 1970’s autism was seen to be a small subset of childhood schizophrenia. Clinicians blamed the onset of autism on cold and emotionless ‘refrigerator mothers’. Later the psychological milieu changed and autism began to...

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Interview on ABC Radio with Alice Walker

Interview on ABC Radio with Alice Walker

Holly was featured on the Alice Walker show that was broadcast on Monday 12th December, 2016 from the Great Southern, WA and Statewide. Some highlights: President of the Australian Medical Association Michael Gannon has said that “autism defies description, that we’re...

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Recognition of ‘Special Abilities’

Recognition of ‘Special Abilities’

In the 1940’s both Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger identified autism as distinct from psychiatric illness and both of them noted ‘special abilities’ of the child. Kanner listed thirteen specific traits relevant to autism – note what is in first place! Special abilities...

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Holly and Author Kathy Lette Compare Notes on Neurodiversity

Holly and Author Kathy Lette Compare Notes on Neurodiversity

Holly recently attended a meeting at Perth-based Autism West and was delighted to meet Australian-born best selling author Kathy Lette. You may be aware that Kathy’s son Jules has risen above the bullying and rejection he experienced as an autistic child to become a...

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Why ABA In Autism Therapy Could Use an Overhaul

Why ABA In Autism Therapy Could Use an Overhaul

Forced eye contact – a principal technique of Applied Behavior Analysis – can be distressing to an autistic child. New studies show that instead of being of benefit, it can actually being doing a great deal of harm. Applied Behavioural Analysis is an approach based on...

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