About HANDLE ®

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About neu·ro·plas·tic·i·ty

[noor-oh-pla-stis-i-tee, nyoor]


the capacity of the nervous system to develop new neuronal connections: the brain's natural ability to form new connections in order to compensate for injury

HANDLE combines an understanding of neuroplasticity and the interplay among mind, body and environment to help the brain gently change itself. It’s designed to enhance neurological systems that are causing learning or life difficulties, without force or judgment. HANDLE gets to the root of what some might consider problematic behaviors by listening and observing, not pushing or judging. It can assist children and adults labeled with, but not limited to:

ADD, ADHD, Dyslexia, Autism, Traumatic Brain Injury, Tourette's Syndrome, Anxiety, Depression, Seizure Disorders, ODC, ODD, PDD-NOS, Issues of Aging, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Genetic Disorders, and more.

A HANDLE Evaluation and Program

  • During a HANDLE evaluation the provider collects information by taking the client through a series of tasks, or maybe by simply observing or playing. They also take an extensive history.

  • During the  HANDLE presentation the client is given information about what the provider learned that might explain why some things are more challenging for them. The provider also leads the client through  a set of individualized activities to do at home. The activities may include simple equipment such as a crazy straw or a ball, and will take from 10-30 minutes a day.  

  • The activities provide organized, repetitive, rhythmic, movement and/or input to the brain and body that change the way the brain and body function.

  • The client/family learns a new way of viewing “problematic” behaviors or symptoms. They learn that “symptoms” are the body’s way of communicating, and they gain insight into how to reduce stress.

  • As a complement to the home-based activities, the HANDLE provider will often include other recommendations as part of the client's program. The health of the brain and sensory processing systems depends heavily on the health of the body. Therefore recommendations may address the internal and external environments of the individual. The provider also considers the client’s family, social and educational systems when making recommendations.

The Origins of HANDLE

Judith Bluestone: From Adversity to Founding a Worldwide Institute

Judith Bluestone was a remarkable woman,  born with numerous neurological  challenges and structural irregularities as well as injuries that left her paralyzed and in a wheelchair for two years.  She had nearly unintelligible speech as a child, became profoundly deaf at age 8, suffered from clonic/tonic seizures, had groundbreaking reconstructive facial surgery, experienced repeated encephalitis and meningitis, once leading to loss of speech, and other differences for which she was teased as a child and worked all her life to overcome.  

Despite all of this and more, Judith triumphed over her differences, finding ways that helped her make it through her early years.  She instinctively protected herself in her areas of greatest vulnerability, guarding her sensitive systems while using her strengths and talents to successfully make it through school and into graduate work. Among her extensive studies were neuroscience, neuropsychology, neurorehabilitation, human development, visual processing, sensory-motor integration, education, counseling and more. Not stopping there, she studied as many alternate approaches as she could, all the while striving to understand from the outside in what she had learned and experienced from the inside out.  

During her years Judith was given numerous labels in an attempt to define her: epilepsy, autism, ADHD, PDD-NOS, OCD, ODD, paralyzed, traumatic brain injury, synaesthesia and more! She would simply claim, “I’m just me!”

Judith spent eleven years in a kibbutz in Israel, developing her ideas into a functional program that continued after she left, winning the 1989 National Prize for Early Childhood Education for the State of Israel.

Encouraged to share what she had learned and developed, Judith founded The HANDLE Institute in 1994, now present in 31 countries and growing. Since that time, research and studies have been conducted to demonstrate some remarkable outcomes for which Judith received numerous awards and recognition.

Judith Bluestone passed away unexpectedly in February of 2009. 

Read more about Judith’s remarkable story in The Fabric of Autism, Weaving the Threads Into a Cogent Theory by Judith Bluestone.

Our Mission

HANDLE® is about transcending limiting labels and providing tools that enable and empower every human being to live the most stress-free, inspired life possible.

The HANDLE Institute educates and supports clients and HANDLE providers  by offering informational HANDLE resources, and networking services.

We ensure the quality of HANDLE providers through competency based certification. 

Our Philosophy

Based in the philosophy of Gentle Enhancement®, the concept that slow, steady, supportive movement over time provides the best results, the HANDLE program helps enhance the functioning of the brain and body through a compassionate approach that taps into the body’s natural ability to reorganize and improve itself.

Every individual is unique, so HANDLE is not a one size fits all approach. In fact it is a philosophy that is rooted in acknowledging, validating and working with each individual’s differences.

Gentle Enhancement

Gentle Enhancement describes the HANDLE process of respectfully supporting sensory processing in small steps without undue stress, recognizing that sensory over-stimulation can interfere with attention and learning.  The HANDLE paradigm encourages people to apply Gentle Enhancement in their daily lives. Clients and support people are taught to watch for subtle signs of stress as indicators of when to stop a HANDLE activity.