"So much of traditional autism therapy is devoted to removing variances and aligning with the typical. What if this is a false benchmark against which we judge those on the autism spectrum?"
For too long we have had a very narrow focus on autism as deficit without being able to see the incredible benefits associated with being on the spectrum. A hundred years or so of a reductionist model has left us focused on deficits and seeing pathology instead of looking through the wider lens of enhanced perception and alternate ways of seeing and being.
Reframing autism is about celebrating diversity. It is tapping into the innate intelligence, brilliance and creativity of enhanced perception – a field that people on the spectrum often inhabit – and helping people to make the most of their gifts.
Holly's approach starts from the premise that everyone on the spectrum is intelligent and can upgrade their mind / body connection - if they are given the right tools and are treated respectfully, positively, and creatively. A.R.T. is a process and toolkit to realize and sustain positive outcomes, and the results can be amazing.
What is A.R.T.?
Holly Bridges' Autism Reframe Technique (ART) is about helping people to make the most of their gifts.
We work to build people's strengths and individual style, and we help diminish some of the many co-occuring and debilitating issues people on the spectrum often struggle with like anxiety, depression, digestive issues, insomnia - to name a few. Many of these things can be greatly alleviated when we take a more biophyscial approach.
Traditional therapies like Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) focus on changing unhelpful thoughts and behaviours that contribute to, and feed, anxiety. However, these require people to use their brain and will to overcome a highly limbic – body dominant – state and often they fail. This inability to control the mind can sometimes cause further anxiety and feelings of inadequacy, especially in our younger adults.
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 ART. 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.
Very often those who attend worshops report they are sleeping better; coping better with stress; can articulate their needs; have better boundaries; are happier and are more able to spend time with the people they love.