Thursday, March 3, 2016

Self Regulation

Dealing with emotions can be so hard for our babes on the spectrum.  Helping them understand what each emotion is and offering some coping strategies is one of the biggest gifts we can give them.  Understanding emotions in critical with helping their social skills and with self regulation.

Self regulation is basically the ability to calm yourself down and to recognise when you need to.

My daughter did a 6 week self regulation course in late 2014 through her speech therapist.  It was conducted with a group of 4 girls around her age and they learned different techniques each week.  It gave her a small insight but it helped me greatly in knowing what I could be doing as her mum to help encourage this.

Her emotional age is between 4-6 years of age (she is 9 years old.)  My neurotypical son is 5 years old and the techniques I use with her are also fun for him too.

While on Pinterest (a.k.a the bible) I stumbled across an amazing blog Teach Mama which had a brilliant FREE printable for emotion activities based on the movie Inside Out.   I quickly printed the cards out and I wrote on the back of each card some strategies for each emotion tailored to my daughter specifically.  for example a strategy for Anger was to take 5 deep breaths, count backwards from 10, sip on some cool water, punch her punching bag, eat some crunch foods.  I also added a new emotion jealousy as that is something she really struggles with.  I laminated a set for a key-ring for her and I also made a set to play memory games etc.

If you haven't watched the movie Inside out yet, I strongly recommend it.  Make sure you watch it with them so you can look for talking points for later on.

Talk to your kids about their different levels of emotions.  Draw a scale or thermometer and write down with them or draw if they can not read how they look or behave when they are 'cool' or 'calm' then work your way up the scale/temperatures.  Mark on the scale where they think they need to implement their calming techniques.

We are no strangers to calming techniques in this household.  Some that I would suggest are:

  • crunch foods
  • jumping on a trampoline
  • jumping into a crash-mat
  • meditation/calm music
  • a shower
  • ear muffs or eye mask
  • talking it out
Each technique would be used in different situations and its best to use your discretion when suggesting what would suit the scenario best.   For example: trying to get a child to 'talk it out' when they are seeing red would probably not help at all, that's when calming senses is needed.

For a small calming boost I have been using Doterra lavender oils on her pillow and around the house too.

I'm Back!

I’m afraid I have been a terrible blogger.  When my daughter received her formal autism diagnosis 18 months ago it was like I fell down the rabbit hole.  I became so consumed in research, therapies, and basically just attempting to cope through it all that the only blogging I have really done since then is all in my mind.  The funny thing about only blogging in my mind though is that no one can actually hear my thoughts, so now, I promise to you all, I’m going to do my best to attempt to actually type it out to share with you. 

For 18 months now we have been essentially stuck in survival mode as her development continued to regress but regardless of the bloody hard time we have been having, I will still endeavor to show you the brighter side of special needs.  

Her complete diagnosis now is:
Autism Spectrum Disorder (level 2)
Opposition Defiance Disorder
Sensory Processing Disorder
Anxiety and Depression 
With her unique diagnosis comes very complex treatments making sure one doesn't contradict the other.  Each special needs child is different from another.  What I try/do for my daughter will not necessarily work for another however our experiences may inspire some ideas for your family.

During my time away from this blog I have learned so many great things through trial and error, (more) research, and from our incredible specialists so I will start sharing those things with you all too!