Recently, a local Director of Special Education asked me to speak to his Friends of Different Learners group about self regulation. “Sure,” I responded while quietly feeling a little intimidated. What new and effective strategies could I possibly share with parents and teachers who were already experts about the differently-abled children in their lives?
My initial approach to any challenge is to learn the lingo. So, off to the internet I went. My findings boiled down to the following:
- Self regulation is the neurological ability to evaluate sensory input; identify your emotional feelings about it; and, choose an appropriate behavioral response within the context of your current environment.
Most of us do this instantaneously without consciously thinking about the process. However, if I am someone on the autism spectrum, for example, my brain’s physical structure may not allow me to successfully receive sensory data nor to properly process it. My limbic system, the brain’s emotion processing pathway, may cause me to respond to my feelings with atypical behaviors. I stress this because it is important to separate the person from the behavior. Not everyone can do back bends!
- Dysregulation refers to an emotional response that is deemed out of proportion to the sensory stimuli. You may also know it as a “meltdown”. The affected person’s brain is so overwhelmed by incoming sensory information that their observable reaction may include an angry verbal outburst or a physical reactions such as destroying or throwing objects or aggression toward themselves or others.
That’s enough for this post. Tomorrow? The Mommy Meltdown Basket!