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Every so often I feel a need to depict or integrate things I've learnt or come to understand in a particular way.  I will continue to add and update the resources here as they evolve.

The first infograph I made relates to the Polyvagal Theory (Stephen Porges).  I created this during the year I was training with Deb Dana.  I couldn't fully relate to the ladder she uses to map changes and transitions.  For me, the way she explained the theory alongside the particular way in which I experienced the state shifts and transitions in my own nervous system felt more like a series of moving plates which align at times.  To me, there are moments of potential "crossing", depicted in my diagram as arrows between the plates.  Over the past couple of years I have amended and developed this version (see below). 

This is my most recent version of the infograph.  One of the key additions is the sympathetic survival pathway, depicted as the thick red arrow on the left hand side.  I visualise this as a lift, a very quick escalation which can become one half of a "loop" we commonly become stuck in.  There are two pathways out of the disconnection of dorsal - the one which requires a healthy amount of sympathetic en route to ventral and the one which is born of fear and a survival energy.  The survival pathway propels us quickly out of the danger of hypo-arousal but unfortunately it is too fast and isolated / withdrawn to access ventral on the way "through" sympathetic arousal.  The vagal brake does not engage and instead we can spin higher and higher usually into either anger / rage or high anxiety / panic.  At which point our nervous system effectively pulls the emergency brake and we plummet into collapse and despair again.  I believe that theoretically there are exit points on the lift but the speed of the ascent makes these difficult to access.  Perhaps this is easier when we have nourishing relationships (not only with people, also pets or nature) and therefore can access a shared ventral window (expanding access and pause points). 

I created this map as a way of depicting what is coming together for me as an Autistic psychotherapist relating to IFS "Self and parts" theory alongside a range of other theories related to the psyche.  I have been significantly influenced by Bonnie Badenoch's inner community model and Carl Jung's map of the psyche.

This one is a non exhaustive list of Autistic Protectors.  The definition of Protectors is an integration of IFS, inner community and other "parts work" conceptualisations. 


It is also informed by the Polyvagal Theory and I recognise a distinction between automatic nervous system protective responses and protector parts within some models.  My current thinking is that probably the protectors in the final section are the ones which involve more of a nervous system response.  I’m still on the fence as to whether nervous system responses automatically rule out the involvement of parts as well.  I would LOVE to hear from anyone willing to dialogue more around this.   


This list will be an ongoing work in progress.  I am open to feedback, discussion, suggestions, clarifications.  I have listed protectors which seem to me to be quite distinctive for autistic people.  We don’t all have these same protectors and we have many others as well.  

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