The thoughts of Sofia Johansson following Studio 3 Atlass course

Atlass

I experienced five days in England full of insightful and stimulating thoughts. By getting to immerse these thoughts in what Atlass is about and reflect on how we as staff can translate these thoughts into practical reality was very inspiring.
Through my 30-year career with working with people with ASD I have often been struck by how stress affects both staff and clients negatively and often prevents individuals and organizations to reach their full potential. Stress has been anchored in the organization and everyone seems unaware of it, oddly enough.  The Atlass course deepened our knowledge in stress and it became clear to me what it was I earlier experienced, then unaware of what it was I saw and felt.
All my life I have worked with people who sometimes do something else from what we excpect them to do, the last 19 years in private care activities.
It has taught me a lot, both about myself, and how I work, but also how other people work, how we function during stress and also how we function when everything goes as it should, when people feel secure, develop and live a life they want to live. I have been involved in developing an approach we call the SID (strengths, interests and dreams) where we as staff through educational work focused on the SID when we worked with and for the individual. It has certainly had impact and many of the people we have supported have increased their well-being and welfare. This approach is similar to what people are talking about at Atlass course although Atlass takes a longer and deeper knowledge of why it works.
Furthermore Atlass an interesting angle on the whole concept of disability and how we think about people with disabilities but also our lack of understanding of how everything fits together. I firmly believe that we, as staff must practice to let people be who they are – we must not try to change everyone all the time. We must not think that “they” should be like “us,” but we can think that all people have the right to be a protagonist in his or her own life, but sometimes they need support to accomplish that. Atlass then says “you have to understand normal development to understand the abnormal development”.
In my previous job as operations and quality manager, as well as my current job as Studio3 trainer most of my time goes to talk about people with challenging behaviors with staff members. Many of the discussions of challenging behaviors had not existed if we as staff had better knowledge of what is normal and not. We also have a tendency to go on the fast track, we work with what we see not what gives the explanation of why there is a challenging behavior, the causes of the behavior. We are often in a hurry and want to see quick results which increase the stress on the individual and the organization, thus also increasing the challenging behaviors.

Outcome

There are good opportunities to work with Atlass around Sweden. We need to deepen our knowledge of stress, human development and positive psychology to create practices that benefit both patients and staff.
As educators we can use the content of Atlass and create understandable tools, models to work with that staff can use throughout Sweden. I have seen extensive needs in organizations to develop a stimulating environment that includes both clients and staff.  Unfortunately there is a tendency to focus on one of them the other one then suffers. With Atlass program we can get tools that favour everyone.
We work with individuals who are in need of professional support to develop as humans. We must seriously take up the discussion to stop change others and to let other people be who they are regardless of disability or not. We must dare to discuss values, humanity and human rights and create an organization that is permeated with respect for the individual, where our knowledge of human development and our knowledge of why people want to develop are prevailing.
As an aid to developing an organization where every individual feels good and wants to be, Atlass is a very good option!

Sofia Johansson is a Studio 3 Trainer based in the University of Gothenburg