Monday, November 28, 2011

Emotion Regulation

As a parent a lot of time is spent teaching and training. One vital area is that of emotions, firstly interpretation of emotions then slowly but surely regulation of those said emotions. What becomes confusing is when you introduce the complexity of Sensory Processing Issues which cloud the interpretation, "for example, avoidance of sensory stimulation may be interpreted as fear, and the child may be allowed to avoid many situations to reduce his or her distress. Seeking of sensory stimulation may be misread as out-of-control behaviour, and the child may be punished (Miller, Robinson and Moulton, 2004, p 250). As you can imagine any parent can be mislead when trying to understand their child and as a consequence not understand the true cause behind their behaviour.

Cole, Michel, and Teti in Miller, Robinson and Moulton, (2004, p 251) describe emotional regulation as "the ability to respond to the on-going demands of the experience with a range of emotions in a manner that is socially tolerable and sufficiently flexible to permit spontaneous reactions as needed." Loosely translated emotion regulation is the skill of responding to life within the socially acceptable boundaries that exist within our cultures. What is concerning is that those with Sensory issues are reported to have issues with emotion regulation, which makes it difficult for the person to exist and function within society easily. This should catch the attention of any parent.

Cole inMiller, Robinson and Moulton, (2004, p 251) then discusses two major types of emotion dysregulation: "under-regulation and over-regulation.

Under-regulated behaviours tend to be overly expressive or extreme and required others to assist the child to maintain control, by soothing or limiting the child's exposure to events that give rise to strong emotions.

Over-regulated emotions are held in tightly, as in the freezing response, and the child may need assistance from others to express what they experience."

These types of dysregulation make it extremely difficult for a child or adult for that matter to respond to the daily demands of life, school work. Any therapy that can be given to address the issues of emotion regulation will have a meaningful and most profound impact on the immediate day to day functioning, and also will have a deciding influence on the capacity or lack of capacity for that child in their future.

To learn is to understand, to gain knowledge and knowledge especially to us is power or more importantly empowerment. If we are unaware or unable to understand the issues our children face we can parent inappropriately (note I don't say wrongly, incorrectly). If we can understand our children, then we can embrace them and adjust our parenting styles and goals to suit.

For further reading, please check out the original article that I read that I have quoted from Sensory Modulation Dysfunction: Identification in Early Childhood.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

It's all a bit like baking a cake

Those days when you feel inspired to make a cake, you add all the right ingredients (or so you think) mix it all up, pop it into the oven and wait for it to cook while you (well me) eat the cake mix and sometimes share it with your children if your a good Mummy:). The cake comes out in a variety of conditions, sometimes it is a complete flop hard as a rock, sometimes it is cracked at the top and looking imperfect, sometimes it is beautiful all around and perfect, sometimes it feels like there is a missing ingredient, other times you burn it, under-cook it and it ends up in the bin untasted and unappreciated. This I think is like dealing with a child with special needs especially one with Sensory Processing Issues.

We had the ingredients mixed in completely the right amount of music therapy plenty of physical activity, lots of other activities to do with writing fine motor skills, reading and counting and including soccer. I knew when he started the soccer that this was definitely and integral part of his overall therapeutic process and i hadn't stopped to think about what would happen when the season ended. Consequently our home life is a bit like the cake some days we have complete flops when the cake ends up in the bin, sometimes it is just edible and every now and again we get the mix right and it's ok.

So at the moment we are in the process of preparing for our next baby this includes new routines for the morning, an introduction of a night routine and some other bits and pieces to make life as easy and smooth as possible. To give Josiah as much information and empowerment as we possibly can. The next challenge is to find a new activity for Josiah that will replace the soccer that was so perfect. On the hunt for that new mysterious ingredient that we hope won't kill the cake. The challenge is that we don't know until we have baked the cake if we have chosen correctly :).

Next up I will post the examples of the new routines and other tools we are doing up to make our life a lot easier including Josiah's.