A child's world

These are Alex's pictures. He drew the one on the left when he was 6, just after he started his HANDLE® Programme with Sean and the one on the right a year later. His mother is so proud of him she wanted to share them. I think the pictures show us not only how much easier it is now for Alex to hold and use a pencil but also something about his relationship to his body and his world.

We are excited by the many ways that HANDLE can help people. We hope that this year you'll be able to come and join us at one of our courses. We look forward to seeing you again or for the first time.


One Night Out

A year ago, having put my bassoon aside for 20 years my friend encouraged me to pull it out from under the sofa, dust it down and join our local Concert Orchestra. 

In the first few months I frequently asked myself why I was spending my one night out a week in a state of sweaty anxiety as I fumbled and blasted my way through the pieces. Yet my fellow players were very welcoming and I gradually improved playing amongst them. The notes started to flow more easily and somehow what I played sounded more tuneful. 

So, what's the key to getting started and then to sustaining our learning when it's hard? For me it is learning with others. There are hundreds of free or low cost courses available online but when there is no face to face contact at all completion rates average between 3 and 10%. One history course run by Princeton University had a 99.2% drop out rate.

We need to learn and stretch ourselves, to enrich our world for each other and our children and their children. Perhaps the best way and most successful way to do it is together, face to face, regularly and with humour. I go to orchestra because I know the others will be there, that we need each other and that we will laugh as much when the trumpets fluff it as when I do.


There's sweet and there's sweet

Our son really loves sweet things.  

He loves ice cream and sweets best of all but will guzzle up just about anything which has a high sugar content. We try and minimise his sugar intake but as he grows so does his social circle and there are lots of birthdays and 'treat times', all which involve the delights of sugar.   

Recently our osteopath recommended that he give sugar a break for at least three weeks as it appeared to be stressing his digestive system. "Three weeks!" we thought. It was tough at the start and social situations can be tricky but it has been a journey of discovery. The boy who didn't really like to be touched and could be a bit crabby and uncommunicative in the morning has become so sweet. We have taken the sweetness out of his diet and his sweet, gentle nature has flourished. His moods are more even and he welcomes and initiates touch. Instead of teasing or hitting his little brother he asks him for a cuddle.  He is also more available, communicative and empathetic.  

From a HANDLE® perspective this all makes sense. A less stressed internal environment can lower overall stress levels and have a positive effect on other systems such as the sense of touch. Less stress means we are more able to relate to our environment and those around us with ease and enjoyment.  Of course every child is different and changes are often the interplay of more than one thing but it is wondrous to behold the differences.

My next questions is how do we make this 'three weeks' a permanent thing? 


Riding a horsie

The Summer holidays are ending and we are packing away the camping gear and getting the school bags ready, though we'll still be heading outdoors whenever we can.

The National Trust have made a list of  50 things to do before you're 11 and three quarters. After this Summer our sons are well on the way to checking them off. The list starts with climbing a tree, camping in the wild and making wild art, includes catching a crab, star gazing, building a den and finishes with learning to ride a horse and canoeing down a river. The list is an inspiring reminder of the importance for all of us to make time to explore and adventure outdoors. Research from UCLA has shown that exercise enhances neuroplasticity by stimulating growth of new connections between cells in important cortical areas of the brain. 

Being in nature inspires a sense of wonder and eases the stresses of our busy daily lives. I'd like to make going on a walk barefoot my next item to check off, even though I'm a bit older than eleven and three quarters.