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  • Lisa Sosnowski

Emotional Regulation and Language Development Go Hand in Hand

Regulation, the ability to adapt to our environment and maintain homeostasis is a very important skill. To be able to stay calm in stressful situations is difficult for adults, even more challenging for children because their nervous systems are developing, and when you add Autism into the mix, it sometimes seems like an insurmountable feat. This is because we don't take time to teach children, especially Autistic children, the skills needed to self-regulate.

Self-regulation starts with co-regulation, the ability for an adult to present to a child a calming safe-space where the child is free to feel and work through difficult emotions, not suppress them. Behavioral therapies, such as ABA, are teaching compliance without teaching this all-important skill to become a successful student and later on a successful adult. We all experience challenging scenarios with people, places, and things we would rather not deal with. Without the ability to regulate living day-to-day would be extremely challenging.

Regulation is the basis for so many important skills, such as socialization, executive functioning, problem-solving, and it is even a skill that has been proven to be important to language acquisition (see the full article below about that from the Hanen Center). This is because when our body is dysregulated or not in homeostasis, it sends a signal to our nervous system which puts us in a fight, flight, or freeze state. This state inhibits the higher brain functions because when you are "running from the tiger" you do not need to be able to do an algebraic equation, all of your body energy, blood, and oxygen will go to the lower levels of the brain involved in motor movements, breathing, and your muscles so that you can essentially run away from the tiger. This is why it is so important to help students that are dysregulated easily by sensory differences, communication difficulties, or other frustrations, regulate instead of causing more dysregulation by increasing verbal demands, telling them to "calm down", and placing them in CPI (Crisis Prevention Intervention) holds. The longer a person is dysregulated and the more frequently they are dysregulated, the more sensitive the system becomes to any dysregulation, and anxiety, OCD, and "behaviors" actually increase.

Spectrum Tech Trade School, Village, and Training Center have trauma-trained staff that work with students to increase regulation by giving them the tools to deal with, and the space to feel big emotions with a safe adult. As the child learns to co-regulate, they will eventually be able to utilize these tools to self-regulate and live a more productive and happy life. Join the Movement. Working Together, Educating, Revolutionizing, Inspiring, Supporting, Empowering-W.E. R.I.S.E.

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