As educators working alongside students with moderate to severe disabilities, we celebrate every milestone that helps our students gain more independence.
The ability to self-regulate is key in fostering independence in and out of the classroom.
Self-regulation is a skill that helps you manage your emotions and behavior in different situations. For example, if you want dessert but are instructed to eat your dinner first, the ability to eat your dinner first and wait for dessert without an outburst means you are able to self-regulate. If, on the other hand, you grab your dessert, eat it all up, and then get agitated at the same time, self-regulation may be a challenge.
Keep in mind, self-regulation can be challenging for anyone, not just students with disabilities.
Opposite to self-regulation is dysregulation, or sometimes known as emotional dysregulation. Dysregulation means that you struggle to manage your emotions in a manner that is more typical. Dysregulated behavior may look like an emotional outburst, self-harming behavior, anxiety, etc.
Dysregulation in individuals, specifically those with moderate to severe disabilities, may begin to jeopardize personal relationships, quality of life and independence.
Self-regulation is a trait that an individual can learn through modeling, teaching and supporting, as well.
While self-regulation can present a challenge for many students, including those with moderate to severe disabilities, there are many ways that we can teach effective, appropriate self-regulation skills.
The strategies above detail a few easy-to-implement options for intervention that allow us to support our students in developing better self-regulation. As we work to implement these strategies in our classrooms, we must remember the key to so many of the successes we have with our students: establish a plan, be consistent, be flexible and maintain high expectations for all students.