How the Polyvagal Theory and Brain Plasticity Help Us Make Sense of Autism


Autistic Inertia. Gut Sensitivities. Easily Triggered. Low Self-Esteem.

It’s like no one understands all the physical sides of autism. Meltdowns are seen as a choice. Food sensitivities and the inability to initiate action are often seen as wilful – or pathological – avoidance.

Therapies are based on outdated models and are designed around managing symptoms and wanting us to use willpower and energy we don’t have. We feel like we fail, like there is no hope. We feel outside of ourselves, alone, misunderstood.

We talk about our problems, but it makes no difference. 

We want to be close to the people in our lives. We want to be seen and understood for who we really are. We want to feel better about ourselves and about our unique way we can contribute to the world. We desire to be well and strong and clear, and to make the world a better place.

So, what will make a difference?

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Outlining a new and optimistic way to understand autism, this concise and accessible book offers practical ideas to support individuals on the autism spectrum.

The Polyvagal Theory suggests that symptoms of autism are a learnt response of the nervous system – the result of being in a prolonged state of flight/fight. This book explains the theory in simple terms and incorporates recent developments in brain plasticity research (the capacity of the brain to change throughout life) to give autistics, parents and professionals the tools to strengthen the mind-body connection and enhance wellbeing.

Holly Bridges’ is a neurodivergent author, therapist and creator of A.R.T. (Anxiety Reframe Technique). Holly’s  revolutionary book Reframe Your Thinking Around Autism – How the Polyvagal Theory and Brain Plasticity Help Us Make Sense of Autism – helps people to see just how much the learned patterns of the autonomic nervous system affect who we get to be in this world and how we can do something about it. This book is full of friendly, compassionate and practical advice. It is a must read for anyone wanting to educate themselves on the way of the future in autism therapy.

What most people say about this book is  “WOW, that makes so much sense!

First published by Jessica Kinglsey of UK/USA in 2016, this New Edition includes extra chapters on practical application of Holly’s award winning therapy program A.R.T. (Anxiety Reframe Technique); upgraded language around autism and testimonials from a wide range of clients who have seen the benefits of this new way to work with autism.

What People Are Saying

Danny Raede says it’s the only book he recommends on autism.

Stephen Porges PhD.
Creator of the Polyvagal Theory

“In reading her book, I realized that Holly had a gifted presentation style that enabled her to communicate the optimistic and important principles of the Polyvagal Theory….In the academic research community, autism is discussed as a brain disorder with a genetic basis. Yet no specific biomarker can diagnose autism.

While the research community is focused on identifying specific mechanisms underlying autism, families are searching for an understanding of the disorder that will enable them to manage their child and to develop a strategy to optimize their child’s potential. In response to this disparate agenda, Holly Bridges has written Reframe Your Thinking Around Autism..

This is a succinctly written book with engaging graphics that provides a new optimistic approach to conceptualize autism. Rather than focusing on the clinical diagnostic tools that have been used to define autism.”

Stephen W . Porges, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina, and author of The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological Foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation.

S. de Vries (therapist)

“I remembered that I had seen something about Polyvagal theory and Porges and autism, and as Polyvagal Theory is an important foundation for how I work with EFT and other tools, so I decided to go back to it to see if this could help me track my clients journey through the work better. That’s when I found the book Reframe Your Thinking Around Autism. It made all the difference, and after reading it, the specific patterns of nervous system activation of my clients with autism was easy for me to notice, anticipate and support smoothly.”

Barb Cook,
Autistic author, Editor and Educator

“As a Developmental Educator and an autistic person, diagnosed late in life, I’ve always had a passion and openness to learning about how to I can best support and advise my clients, while looking at how models of support can also help me.

I originally read Reframe Your Thinking Around Autism back in 2015. Holly opened my eyes to looking differently at myself and how my whole body can affect my thinking, feeling, and overall wellbeing. We are often led to believe that autism is just a neurological condition, that our brains are just wired differently, and that each autistic person experiences the world in their own way, due to their thinking and perceiving. This book shows us that there is much more autism than we think.

Holly takes us on a journey through her book, exploring the work of Stephen Porges and Polyvagal theory, without the need of having an immense understanding of his complex theory. Holly’s book uses plain language, providing easy to understand knowledge of how our nervous system can impact on our wellbeing. Using simple diagrams to explain vagal tone and how we feel when we are out of alignment, really hits home just how important it is to have a better understanding of our whole selves, not just our brains!

I highly recommend reading Holly’s book that will allow you to take those first steps in gaining a better understanding of how our nervous system, in particular our Polyvagal system, and to consider that we need to look at ourselves as a whole, broadening our knowledge of autism, outside of the brain.”

Barb Cook M.Aut., Dip.HSc. – Developmental Educator, Best-Selling Author/Editor Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism and The Autism and Neurodiversity Self Advocacy Handbook.