Book Review : What Your Child with Asperger’s Wants You to Know – and how you can help them

What Your Child with Asperger’s Wants You to Know – and how you can help them by Maja Toudal

Books that help people understand the experience of autism can really help people with a diagnosis of autism understand  their life experiences. Maya Toudal has written a moving personal account of her experiences. I recommended this book to families and individuals with a diagnosis of autism as it presents an honest account of 


Visit Amazon to purchase What Your Child with Asperger’s Wants You to Know – and how you can help them

The Atlass Programme

Studio3 is known as a leading edge organisation in developing person centred reactive approaches to the management of challenging behaviours. The Atlass programme is a proactive approach to supporting people with complex challenging behaviours. The University accredited programme continues from strength to strength. This 9 day programme places stress management at the heart of autism. The mantra of the course is ‘manage the stress rather than focus on behaviours.’ In addition, stress reduction is a key component in improved learning. The programme provides a wellbeing framework (The PERMA model) that should help enhance practitioners day to day work. Attendees have included PBS practitioners, psychologists, teachers, families and support staff. For more information contact Studio3 on 01225 334111.

The next 2018 Atlass events take place in Alcester in Warwickshire on 17th – 21st September 2018. Full course dates can be found here.

The first Studio3 Conference in County Kerry.

In June we hosted the first conference in Kerry which focussed on supporting people in community. The title of the conference ‘Let me grow in my own way’ emphasised the nature of individualisation of supports for people in community settings in partnerships with their families. Over 100 delegates ranging from professionals and staff to families attended a diverse day of presentations. Members of the Studio3 team (Aine Cusack David Jones, Andy McDonnell and David Walker) presented with external speakers Vivien Foley and Adam Harris. The day was a truly energising event with an engaging audience. More information on Studio3 Kerry can be found here.

Challenging Behaviour in Schools

Good crisis management training is still needed to help build confidence

Whatever proactive approach is adopted by an organisation either Mindfulness based support, Positive Behaviour Support etc, there is a need for good crisis management. But, be careful what you are buying. Training organisations claim that they have an evidence base or that they are against restrictive practices but check the reality very closely.

What is the Studio 3 approach? We are an international organisation with an established track record of reducing restrictive practices in organisations. The Studio3 lowarousal approach aims to make the need for restraint and other restrictions a thing of the past and for that we have been called an ‘idealists’. A major goal of the Studio3 lowarousal training is to be clear that many incidents are triggered by staff in essence they are the main antecedent. Our trainers are quite uncompromising with this message. That is why some organisations do not engage with us as we will not simply acquiesce about this message.

On a positive note we do believe that good training in crisis management can increase confidence and reduce fear and in these circumstances people are more likely to take risks and be proactive in their approach. In our organisation it is our preference to teach very few physical strategies and in many cases none at all. We should also stress that we do not advocate any ‘hold downs’ (we have never taught them) and we teach one intermittent walking hold for extreme situations. Even now we think this is too much. Good training focusses on a reflective approach where practitioners learn to regulate their own arousal.

On a final note our crisis management training, whilst this type of training is necessary, it is not, sufficient to achieve real change on its own. Remember, confident people take positive risks and engage with people.

If you are interested in finding out more contact us on 01225 334111 or email

Studio 3 Kerry Conference – June 14th 2018


Studio 3 Kerry


Who are Studio 3 Kerry

Our office is located at 21 Denny Street, Tralee, Co. Kerry

Studio 3 Kerry is a member of Studio III group, who support adults with different abilities living in Kerry to live a life of their choosing. We use low arousal approaches that are person centred and kind.

For more information check out our website

Call into our office at 21 Denny Street, Tralee, Co. Kerry


Costs (inclusive of light lunch and refreshments)

Early Bird: €60 (open until April 14th 2018)

General Admission €90

Family, carers and individuals with autism: €30

For bookings:

Payment can be made via credit card on Eventbrite or by bank transfer. Please call us on 0667128872 for IBAN or call into us at 21 Denny Street, Tralee, Co Kerry. Last date for bookings – June 7th, 2018

Aim of the Conference

With a combination of internationally recognised and local speakers the conference will focus on how we as service providers, carers, family, friends and the public, can empower people with Autism to live independently in the community. The conference will focus on how we provide practical support underpinned by up to date knowledge through case studies, personal experiences and academic research.

Who should attend?

The conference welcomes people with Autism, families and carers, all Health and Social Care professionals and anyone else who works in this field.

Keynote Speakers:

Professor Andrew McDonnell; Professor of Autism Studies – University of Central England, Founder of Studio III

Adam Harris; Founder of AsIam an organisation working to build an Ireland where every person with Autism can “live and succeed as they are’’.

Geraldine Graydon; Founder of AsFan, Autism Spectrum Family Advocacy Network

Áine Cusack; Parent working in partnership with Studio 3 Kerry

David Walker; Operational Director Studio 3 Kerry

Vivienne Foley; Speech and Language Therapist with HSE Cork

Joanne Douglas; The Spectrum Centre, an independent Diagnostic, Assessment and Therapy Centre specialising in the area of autistic spectrum disorders.

David Jones; Consultant Clinical Psychologist Studio 3 Kerry

Biographies are available at our website

Do you know Studio 3 provide a range of specialist clinical services supporting both children and adults?

Our aims at Studio 3 are to develop empathic confident professionals who are specialists in applying a low arousal approach. Who can maintain a safe environment but still see the person they are supporting and not just the behaviour.

What we can provide:

We can be contracted to meet a short-term specific need or to provide longer-term on-going support to:

  • Organisations working in: education, older adult care, learning disability, forensic and mental health settings.
  • We work both in private secure settings, public secure settings and in transferring between services and leaving care
  • We additionally work with all age ranges from children, young people, adults and older adults.
  • Further supporting families, parents and supporters in homes, schools, residential and assisted living.

We specialise in working with people with highly challenging behaviour needs including severe self-harm, physical aggression and complex trauma. Further we work with individuals who have intellectual disabilities, Autism, Mental Health, Dementia and Acquired Brain Injury (ABI).



Training is not just about teaching skills but about encouraging people to reflect on their own behaviour and understand the behaviour of others. Further, our training goes beyond the classroom and we coach on the ground as and when required.

  • Providing bespoke training to fit the individual
  • Evidence based training in managing challenging behaviour
  • Helping an organisation mange their crisis management responses
  • Supervising and supporting team members
  • Encouraging reflective practice
  • Tailored restraint reduction plans
  • Provide transition from secure to non secure settings
  • Provide transition from child to adult services
  • Supporting the return of ‘outsourced’ placements
  • Supporting larger organisations in developing new services
  • Parachuting in specialist provision to prevent placement breakdown


Specialist Clinical Practitioners:

We have specialist low arousal clinical practitioners whose skills can be used to support according to the needs of the individual or organisation by:

  • Conducting assessments and observations
  • Capacity Assessments
  • Cognitive assessments (WAIS and WISC)
  • Psychological assessments
  • Clinical needs assessments
  • Taking a positive psychology approach to stress reduction
  • Providing therapeutic input including: CBT, counselling, psychotherapy, mindfulness, systemic therapy and psychology
  • Conducting court reports and forensic assessments
  • Risk assessments, outcome reports and evaluations
  • Conducting stress reduction through Studio 3’s behaviour management approach

By collaborating these two services, Studio 3 provides a holistic and systemic approach to behaviour that challenges.

We provide services throughout the UK, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Republic of Ireland, Sweden, Australia, Canada, Israel and South Africa. We also support NPO’s in Greece and Malta.


If you are interested in gaining our support you can contact our triage team by:

Phone:  01225 334111



Studio 3 News Update

Here is an update on some of the Projects and staff that Studio 3 are involved with.

1) Daniel Rippon our PhD student at the University of Northumbria is currently in thesis writing mode. We continue supporting his aim to focus on stress management for caregivers.

2) Roy Deveau is currently developing a practice based book on reducing restrictive practices.

3) The message of low arousal is reaching a worldwide audience. Our colleague Bo Heilskov Elven has recently completed a lecture tour of New Zealand and Australia.

4) Our work supporting fostering agencies and looked after children is gaining real momentum.

5) There have also been positive developments with the development of the Restraint Reduction Network to further develop the accreditation scheme developed by Bild in the UK. Remember, training organisations that are accredited guarantee scrutiny of their work. Studio3 wholeheartedly supports regulation of this industry and we strive to constantly update our training programmes. We totally support this development.

6) There is a conference in County Kerry on the 14th June entitled Autism – Let me Grow (My Own Way). More details can be found here.

7) Our children services behaviour management is undergoing a further redevelopment emphasising even stronger links to stress, trauma and the avoidance of physical interventions. For further information please contact our office.

Trainer Focus: Nancy Beaton our Trainer of the Quarter

This newsletter our focus is on Nancy Beaton, one of our Trainers from the Breton Ability Centre in Canada. Here are a few of her thoughts about her role and the Low Arousal approach.

Nancy Beaton most important and busy job would be mom of Erin 15 and Ryan 11. I started my career at the ripe age of 19 working with individuals with varying abilities. I worked in my home town for the next 4 Years then headed to Alberta. 5 Years working in Alberta and taking many management and challenging behaviour courses working front line I found myself looking for something more. I then worked as a manager of 4 community homes that housed individuals with challenging behaviours on the autism spectrum. In 2002 I became a first time mom and decided to move back to Cape Breton to raise my family.  For the past two years I have managed 6 community homes that house individuals from the age of 12 to 65 night with developmental delays and autism. Most with very complex and challenging behaviours. I also have been fortunate enough to be chosen to be one of 5 low arousal instructors in Canada. It’s been both rewarding and challenging to support staff in using and believing in this approach. We at BAC are looking forwarding to growing and continuing with low arousal.

Atlass for Stress Management, a Public Health Approach to Learning and Inclusion

By Signe Lo Scott Larsen, MA in Educational Psychology
(Translated by Kirstine Dupont, Professional Communicator)

Coping strategies, low arousal or stress transactions are some of the terms Pindstrupskolen live by. Every day the practitioners at Pindstrupskolen, a special school in Jutland, Denmark, are using the specially designed Atlass stress reduction programme. The Atlass programme, designed by Dr. Michael McCreadie and Professor Andrew McDonnell, delivers a comprehensive set of tools both teaching skills and practical information – a programme today used in several Danish schools and institutions for children with additional needs.

What makes Atlass different from other approaches and how can practitioners use the tools in their work? Michael McCreadie explains more about Atlass and Hans Henrik Dupont, headmaster at Pindstrupskolen, elaborates on how they have implemented the programme at their school.

Dr. Michael McCreadie is a health psychologist from Scotland, who has been teaching and counselling Danish practitioners within the field of autism for the past 9 years and is one of the founders of the Atlass programme. Atlass evolves around children and young adults with special development disorders such as autism, ADHD among other conditions. The programme is based on science within the fields of health research, neuropsychology and development psychology and promotes an approach towards wellbeing and stress reduction.

Michael McCreadie explains how Atlass holds a comprehensive approach towards learning:

”Atlass is systemic in its approach. Rather than trying to do something to the child, Atlass looks at stress within the system. And that can be referenced to as a public health approach, by us not trying to treat the condition, but what we are looking at is the stress within the system and the interaction between the child and the environment – relationships as well as buildings”.

When asked the question about how Atlass can make a difference for teachers and care takers working with special needs children, Michael McCredie responds:

”Atlass is about changing relationships and finding meaning. The term meaning relates to being able to understand the issues for individual as they arise. So in terms of teachers it is about helping them finding meaning in the child’s behavior and being able to look at that behavior and adjusting learning expectations and differentiating the curriculum to learners’ needs.”.

Focus on stress transaction is key

Atlass is more an approach than an actual tool and the understanding of challenges within the child are essential. Mindfulness and knowledge about coping strategies are part of the programme. According to Michael McCreadie it is primarily about strengthening the child’s ability to cope in different environments. And also for professionals to be aware of their own stress.

”The intervention within Atlass is about looking at the stress transaction and focusing on the transaction in the child’s environment relationships. And looking at those factors that mediate within that relationship, so that can be professional knowledge and understanding – and not only in terms of understanding the distinct and unique conditional support needs of each learner, but also the stress transaction within ourselves and how we as professionals need to be centered and emotionally aware when working with vulnerable groups of people”.

Some of the methods being used in Atlass might for some people resemble a therapeutic practice. Michael McCreadie elaborates:

”Atlass is for everyone. There are none of the aspects or theories behind it which are distinct to a single profession. Any professional teacher or pedagogue can use these approaches – there are no reason why they cannot. I feel that behavioral approaches are quite reductionist, as they look at trying to stop or prevent a behaviour from occurring, which are very short term. The Atlass approach focuses on the challenges to the learner through the stress relationships and trying to do something about that. This enables the child to learn and derive meaning from his og hers learning experiences”.

Is it possible to use the Atlass approach in a normal school to include special needs children? Michael McCreadie explains:

”We all experience stress. And if we all experience stress, then every learner experiences stress in different aspects of their development. So the Atlass approach is being used in mainstream schools in Scotland and with great benefits. It has been able to get teaching staff and children to look at their own stress and improve the health and well-being at both parties – and improve opportunities for learning. I do not see learning as something that occurs within the four walls of a classroom. Learning occurs across of a range of different environments”.

Knowledge about stress reduces number of conflicts

At Pindstrupskolen Atlass has been implemented in the school’s pedagogical approach. This means that on a daily basis focus is on how the learners, for many different reasons, walk around with a high state of alert due to their diagnostic challenges. Frequent mood swings, behaviours of concern, tiredness or anxiety are signs of this and are some the challenges teachers and pedagogues need to cope with everyday. As a result stress is something that has an enormous impact on learning, development and general well-being.
Atlass has influenced the practice of the school, as the staff has a greater knowledge of the causes of stress and what you need to be aware of, as you plan your teaching. Hans Henrik Dupont, headmaster at Pindstrupskolen explains:

”At our school it is all about being able to challenge our students, but to a certain limit. It is about finding the balance between what the children are capable of, at what point they experience stress and about how and when we can teach them at their level. We want the children to feel good and be able to receive learning. And within that taking it all to the next level and at the same time being aware of our limits”.

The implementation of Atlass has had a positive influence on the school practice by for example reducing situation with physical restraints. Hans Henrik Dupont believes that this is due to the increased awareness of being attentive to signs of stress and how to react to the signs as professionals:

”This means that we rarely experience situations, where we as professionals have difficulties coping and act out in desperation. Our staff now has the tools to handle difficult situations and I believe that this example is a measurable result of the Atlass approach”.

Focus on the individual

Part of the school’s pedagogical approach is to find ways to reduce the level of stress within each learner. Therefor the school has a broad range of different stress reduction initiatives and each learner has an individual stress reduction plan. The plan contains elements of physical exercise, mindfulness and different support systems, all with the purpose of helping the individual child to cope with his or her day.
The key view in Atlass is that stress is individual, which is why they at Pindstrupskolen actively focus on the individual – also when the consultants of the school are out guiding mainstream schools about special needs and inclusion.

”The most important part in a successful inclusion is looking at the stress level at the individual child and through that visualise how you can create the best environment for both the child and the rest of the class”, Hans Henrik Dupont says.


At Pindstrupskolen 20 out of the 59 teachers and pedagogues have attended the Atlass Masterclass in Birmingham. They have also had follow up days with staff members from StudioIII and the school organise internal seminars where the entire staff participates.

challenging-behaviour in schools

Is it OK for people to be angry? Are we aiming for zero behaviour?

When writing plans for the people we support we often do not think about the end goal. Are we aiming for zero behaviour? Studies show that people can be openly angry on a regular basis.  Anger is a component of our lives. In essence we need anger. Anger should not always be construed as negative.

Even the association between anger and health may not always be straightforward. A recent Japanese study identified that. To explore the link, the researchers examined data from American participants drawn from the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) survey and data from Japanese participants drawn from the Midlife in Japan (MIDJA) survey.

To measure health, the researchers looked at biomarkers for inflammation and cardiovascular functioning, both of which have been linked to anger expression in previous research. The combination of these two factors served as a measure of overall biological health risk. They reported that greater anger expression was associated with increase health risks in a US sample and reduced risks in a Japanese sample. So cultural factors may mediate the impact of expressed anger.
When supporting people with challenging behaviours it is not unusual to find that people are often living in restrictive environments. I these situations everyday expression of anger may actually prevent more serious behaviours such as physical aggression.

The message for psychologists, behaviour advisors and families is to remember that anger should not be viewed as negative per se. All of us need to express anger from time to time. So please be careful when writing a Behaviour Support Plan that you allow the person to show some anger. Our goal is to keep people safe and not to make people comply with our own ideals about emotional expression.


1. S. Kitayama, J. Park, J. M. Boylan, Y. Miyamoto, C. S. Levine, H. R. Markus, M. Karasawa, C. L. Coe, N. Kawakami, G. D. Love, C. D. Ryff. Expression of Anger and Ill Health in Two Cultures: An Examination of Inflammation and Cardiovascular Risk. Psychological Science, 2015; DOI: 10.1177/0956797614561268