Johnny needs to learn to self- regulate. Billy needs to control his emotional outbursts.
Goals such as these produce burning questions in my mind:
How exactly will this happen? Why has it not already?
Don’t get me wrong. I am all for developing goals around the development of self -regulation and emotional control for our students with autism. But, too often, I find myself wondering why we leave this up to the child? As educators, we know that a child learns by doing: a skill needs to be taught and practiced regularly. Then, and only then, can we expect the skill to be used.
Are we teaching progressive relaxation and breathing techniques? Are we making use of resources available in order to create calm, alert and positive learning environments? Are we carving out time in the craziness of the school day to providing opportunities for practice? Are we modelling our own use of self -regulation?
Kids won’t magically learn to identify their emotional and physiological signs of overload and employ calming techniques. This is especially true for students with autism, as they are stuck with a neurological system that works against these very goals!
It seems reasonable to assume that if we expect a student who has autism (or even those who do not) to use self- regulating strategies, then we need to find a way to teach those strategies. Some of my favourites:
Stress Free Kids http://www.stressfreekids.com
Fostering Self -Regulation and Emotional Control: http://www.zonesofregulation.com/
Progressive Relaxation for Kids https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaTDNYjk-Gw
Dr. Ross Greene, author of the awesome book, The Explosive Child, reminds us:
“Instead of asking yourself, ‘What’s it going to take to motivate this kid to behave differently?’ ask ‘Why is this so hard for this child? What’s getting in his way? How can I help?”
If you EXPECT IT, then please, TEACH IT.
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