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Co-regulation as our Foundation

At Spectrum Tech Trade School, Village, and Training Center we utilize co-regulation as the foundation for all our programming.   We realize that the nervous system is the key to creating a safe space for our learners so that they can access optimal brain performance for learning and generalizing information.
The brain’s optimal performance is closely tied to a sense of safety and security. When an individual feels safe, several key factors contribute to enhanced cognitive function:
1.    Reduced Stress Response: Safety and a lack of perceived threats lead to lower stress levels. Chronic stress can impair memory, attention, and decision-making. Conversely, a safe environment promotes relaxation and allows the brain to function optimally.
2.    Neurotransmitter Balance: Safety supports the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. For example:
o    Dopamine: Associated with motivation, reward, and focus.
o    Serotonin: Influences mood, sleep, and overall well-being.
o    GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid): An inhibitory neurotransmitter that promotes calmness and reduces anxiety.
3.    Prefrontal Cortex Activation: The prefrontal cortex, responsible for executive functions like planning, decision-making, and impulse control, operates optimally when an individual feels secure. In contrast, stress or fear can impair prefrontal cortex function.
4.    Learning and Memory: A safe environment encourages exploration and learning. When the brain feels threatened, it prioritizes survival over learning. Safety allows for better memory consolidation and retrieval.
5.    Social Connection: Feeling safe fosters positive social interactions. Social bonds activate brain regions associated with empathy, trust, and cooperation. These connections enhance cognitive abilities.
Creating a safe and supportive environment positively impacts cognitive performance, emotional well-being, and overall brain health. 
Many behavioral methodologies like ABA (applied behavioral analysis) fail to create these safe spaces due to the fact that they ignore root-cause analysis, sensory differences, and neurodivergent culture, as well as utilize methodologies such as “planned ignoring” and hand-over-hand. 



These practices can contribute to nervous system dysregulation in autistic individuals and insecure attachment.  That is why at Spectrum Tech Trade School, Village, and Training Center our staff is trauma-trained and utilizes trauma-informed co-regulatory approaches in therapy sessions and in the classrooms.   We know that the only way an individual learns to effectively self-regulate is through first co-regulating with others. 
Co-regulation refers to the interactive process by which individuals modulate their emotional, cognitive, and behavioral responses in a social context, in a cooperative way, often through communication and reciprocal adaptation Coregulation is an interpersonal process in which participants continuously adjust their interactions in a coordinated pattern to co-create and maintain a positive emotional state .   
At Spectrum Tech Trade School, Village, and Training Center we are dedicated to creating classrooms that are physically and emotionally safe spaces, where autistic students are empowered to be their best selves and do their best learning.  Co-regulatory and restorative practices empower both individuals and our school community to address root causes (rather than just the symptoms) of issues while building and maintaining trust and relationships.


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