What is Self Regulation and how do we teach this and coping skills to autistic children? In this article we will explore what self regulation is, how to teach autistic children emotional regulation, and explore some autism self regulation techniques through a printable coping strategy journal.
What is Self Regulation?
Self Regulation is the ability to manage your behaviors and emotions so they are socially appropriate for the situation and/or environment.
Self Regulation is the ability to:
- Recognize what emotions you are feeling and what thoughts you are thinking.
- Awareness of your actions and behaviors
- Ability to Identify what the socially appropriate response would be.
- Accept that it is ok to feel these emotions.
- Adapt to match your emotions to the socially acceptable behavior.
- Plan ahead based on past experiences.
Self regulation is not designed to stifle a child’s personality or force them into compliance. Self regulation techniques should not be used as punishment or used in any form of negative connotation.
Self regulation is the development of a skill set that will give control back to the person.
How to Teach Emotional Regulation to Children with Autism
Quite often I hear parents and educators ask, what can I do to make my Autistic child act normal? The answer?
The message that we send when we tell an Autistic child that they need to act neurotypical is counterintuitive. We all process emotions and thoughts differently. The goal of emotional and other self-regulation techniques is not to create a robot that follows social demands.
The goal is to create awareness and self-control.
So how do we do that?
For starters, we embrace the child as who they are and meet them where they are. Once you learn where and who the child is emotionally you can help them adapt their reactions to achieve their success.
For example – Sally is a five-year old girl who has just started kindergarten. During class Sally likes to rock her chair while working on writing. Writing is a difficult subject for Sally. The behavior of rocking chairs is not allowed in the classroom and Sally’s teacher has been working on her to learn this rule. As they worked on this rule, Sally started having explosive meltdowns that required her to be removed from the classroom.
What this scenario tells us – Sally struggles with handwriting. When something is uncomfortable for her, she stims (rocking her chair). The stimming helps her be successful.
How to help Sally – Find a replacement stim that Sally can do within the classroom. Help her recognize when she is feeling frustrated and that it is ok to feel this way. Help her identify that she is in the classroom and while rocking a chair might not be appropriate the alternative is.
Notice, the goal was not to stop the meltdowns without the stim. It was not to make the child act neurotypical. Instead the goal was to find a way to help the child thrive as who they are in their environment.
What success will look like for every person is different. We need to embrace this.
Autism Self Regulation Techniques
Below you will find a 22 page journal that is filled with self regulation ideas that you can do with your child. The packet includes a visual wall chart with a variety of calm down techniques and an 18 page coloring book journal that kids can jot down their thoughts on the different techniques. There are even some pages where kids can journal their own self regulation ideas!
Some of the techniques included in the packet are:
- Balloon Breathing
- Relaxing in a Bean Bag
- Listening to Music
- Squeezing a Stress Ball
- Counting to Ten
- Chewing Bubble Gum
- Writing a Letter
and many more!
This Coping Skills Journal is available in our shop for $3 or you can share it below to snag yours for free!
Additional Self Regulation Resources and Products for Autism
- Zones of Regulation Book
- The Superkids Activity Guide to Conquering Everyday
- Teaching Emotions Toolkit
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