Jean Vanier Writes This is a precious book (Conscious Care and Support). A very practical “how-to” manual, offering a step-by-step holistic approach to personal growth and growth in competence in supporting. The book resonates strongly with our values in L’Arche.
Shinzen Young, Senior Research Consultant, Harvard Medical School Comments Conscious Care and Support addresses the 2 vital principles for optimal support. It provides professional learning in internationally researched best practices. It then focuses on the second principle by developing the mindful maturity and emotional self regulation skills of supporters.
Dr. Theresa Hamlin, Associate Executive Director, The Center for Discovery “The competence and caring of The Center for Discovery’s 1600 staff members has resulted in our designation as New York State’s Center of Excellence for ASD Treatment and Research. Our plans for further staff development in Conscious Care and Support’s best practices will significantly contribute to maintaining our reputation as a world leader in providing special needs services to individuals and families.”
What is Conscious Care and Support (CCS)
CCS is a non-behavioural, non-pharmacological complement to existing support initiatives that enhances the individuals’ wellbeing by reducing and eliminating anxiety, anger and aggression (AAA) by 50 – 100%. CCS teaches family and support professionals to:
- implement “upstream” researched best practices to meet the individuals’ unmet biomedical and other needs that are primarily responsible for AAA and
- develop the supporters’ mindful maturity and emotional self regulation skills.
Life changing research in the field of ASD/DD has been emerging for over 15 years. Relatively speaking however, direct personal support by family and professionals for individuals with complex needs is still based primarily only on some form of behavioural interventions e.g. ABA/IBI and medications. While these practices are often very useful to manage behaviour and mental health disorders, they do not generally treat the upstream biomedical and emotional self regulation skills’ development needs that keep supported individuals dependent and at risk of AAA. The unintended lack of family and support professionals offering CCS best practices, maturity and emotional
The unintended lack of family and support professionals offering CCS best practices, maturity and emotional self regulating skills is a significant variable that contributes to the majority of incidents of AAA.
Over 2,000 family and support professionals are now implementing the CCS approach. As a result of the overwhelming positive outcomes of CCS over the past 10 years, the Ministry of Community and Social Services, Developmental Disabilities Branch under the leadership of the Assistant Deputy Minister Karen Chan, has launched an 18 month pilot research project whereby CCS is being evaluated in 6 agencies across the province.
In 2015 and 2016, a similar independent pilot research project funded by the Ministry of Education (MOE) concluded that the schools’ version of CCS i.e. Conscious Classrooms has reduced educators’ physical assaults of 6-10 times per week (and the related special needs students’ suffering) from 19% to 2%. The MOE has now approved Conscious Classrooms for implementation by all interested School Boards across the province.
The CCS approach offers many unique ways to balance body, brain and emotional, social and spiritual wellbeing. The Conscious Care and Support best practices are based on the most current and effective treatment and support interventions that have been learned from senior consultants and researchers from The Center for Discovery, The University of Western Ontario, The University of Toronto, Harvard Medical School and other internationally recognized centres of excellence.
To develop caring and competent supporters, CCS applies discoveries in the disciplines of biomedicine, mindfulness, social neurobiology, bilateral and bio-meridian activation, nutrition, gastrointestinal health, sensory integration, brain coherence, and neurofeedback. These sciences are then integrated with necessary mental health, traditional medical interventions and useful behaviour treatment and management.
The following graphic lists the 7 most critical unmet needs that are addressed by CCS.
Supporters Who Unknowingly Limit Quality of Life
Every person identified as having ASD/DD must be skillfully supported to have their basic human needs met each hour of each day. If individuals’ needs are met in ways that satisfy their unique challenges and complement their emotional, physical, sensory and neurological predispositions, an individual who has ASD/DD can live a more satisfactory and socially fulfilling life, achieving his or her fullest potential. This most often means that they become more independent, self reliant, cooperative and fulfilled.
It cannot be stated too strongly that challenging behaviours must be understood primarily as messages about these 7 unmet needs e.g. biomedical, not just symptoms of individuals wanting their own way. Generally these challenging behaviours are:
- a subconscious communication to ask for help to meet one of their fundamental unmet needs (reference above) a distraction from emotional anxiety or physical pain
- a distraction from emotional anxiety or physical pain
- a way to balance the body’s electromagnetic energy system to achieve relative calm and brain coherencean attempt to help the individual feel that they are in control of their life.
- an attempt to help the individual feel that they are in control of their life.
“Even though I don’t control them, most of my behavioural symptoms are messages to you. My nervous system is asking you for certain kinds of support to have its specific needs met. Please listen to what it is doing. If you don’t, I can’t stop it from becoming anxious and frightened. And the main way that it has learned to calm its fears is to get irritated, angry and even aggressive. I hate when it does that but the calm that follows my aggression makes me feel normal again. Please help me to find a better way”.
THE DUAL PATH – Transforming one’s self while supporting & caring for others
Only to the extent that we grow in mindful emotional maturity and consciousness can we fully support others and meet their needs in this more complete way. It means working on ourselves to transform to our deepest potential. The elegance of this development and support process is that when we put being a caregiver and support professional in this context, the very act of supporting is the curriculum that we use to grow ourselves.
As we mature through “living” Conscious Care and Support, our awareness of our shared humanity and common needs for respect, security, understanding, consolation, meaningful roles and love start to weaken our resistances to differences, dislikes and disabilities.
We experience growing unity where before we saw mainly separateness manifested through indifference or, even worse, negativity. Each time we consciously support, we simultaneously offer optimal service while awakening a bit more of our deeper potential. This dual path of serving both of us is essential because it liberates our heart of compassion that has been imprisoned by our mindless ego, filters and other roots of vulnerability.
In a relatively short time, these same support moments, experienced as conscious connections without being driven by resistance, attachments or “doing it just to get it done,” plant the seeds of authentic compassion and awakening consciousness. Such a gift, to be able to help others to be all that they can be. We are truly blessed.
Peter Marks, CEO A Centre for Conscious Care
Herbert, Martha – The Autism Revolution
Hamlin, Theresa – Autism And The Stress Effect
Bluestone, Judith – The Fabric of Autism
Arranga, T., Viadro, C., Underwood, L. – Bugs, Bowels, And Behavior
Godbout Laake, D., Compart, P. – The ADHD and Autism Nutritional Supplement Handbook