Understanding Behaviours

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HANDLE® and Behaviour

  • HANDLE takes a nonjudgmental view of behaviours as a method of communicating what cannot be expressed with words
  • HANDLE does not attempt to mask or control behaviours, but rather understand their message
  • HANDLE conveys a nonjudgmental basis to understand individual differences in human behaviour


Self-protection is a primal attentional priority

  • We all protect ourselves in the area of our greatest vulnerability.
  • If possible we set up situations or control situations to accomplish this.
  • This is often misinterpreted as maladaptive behaviours.
  • Insistence on compliance can lead to a fright, flight, freeze or fight response.


Gentle Enhancement®

Fundamental to HANDLE is the knowledge that stressed systems cannot strengthen. When we examine the function of the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Divisions of the Autonomic Nervous System, we can appreciate the foundational HANDLE Paradigm of Gentle Enhancement®. Stressed neurological systems do not get stronger, they shut down. Sometimes even the anticipation of a stressful event will cause a physiological change in the ANS, preparing the body to respond to the stressor. While in "flight, fright, freeze or fight mode", systems are not available to strengthen or learn. Fortunately, our body gives us signals of these state changes, which will help us recognize stress related responses. Careful attention to signs of stress can intercept over loading a sensory or motor system and/or emotions.


Attentional Priorities

A lack of focus, concentration or attention is often seen as a lack of motivation or as laziness. Labels such as ADD and ADHD may not accurately reflect the experiences, as everyone is always attending to something. The question then is, to what are they attending?

Stimuli, such as sights, sounds and physical sensations, taken in by the senses need to be managed. The ability to manage the senses and balance the stimuli may be compromised. For some, the ability to feel at ease in their environment consumes an inordinate amount of attention. Just as with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, our own need to feel safe and secure is primal, and takes priority. The need to attend inwardly will take priority over remaining focused on schoolwork, relationship-building, sitting still and listening, or the task at hand. Sometimes the expression of this inner need resembles non-compliant behaviour.

There are individuals who are highly sensitive to environmental factors such as sights, sounds or tactile sensations, or who may have a poor sense of equilibrium or movement. Others may feel insecure in shared space. Their foundational systems are not able to efficiently absorb and process the stimuli from their world. Disorganized neurological systems may allow varied stimuli to enter the consciousness at the same priority level, causing sensory overload, and a consequential shut down of systems. That is, individuals may be paying extra attention to sounds, lights or other information in their environment. This utilizes energy and attention for self-regulating and self-monitoring that should be automatic, as these individuals attend to their own sense of safety and security.

Behaviour is communication. Perplexing behaviours are often a direct response to sensory overload, the result of neurological dysfunction. The brain is then susceptible to becoming overwhelmed by normal sensory input, resulting in a shut-down of parts of the neural systems. This may result in emotional flare-ups.