Last week we talked about how the ‘D’, the ‘I’, and the ‘R’ interact with the Floortime session: namely, that we need to know where the child is Developmentally to begin, we need to know their sensory profile (Individual differences) to guide our interaction, and we need to make our Relationship a safe place for them to feel at ease.
When a child is unavailable we need to support them to feel safe before we can harness their interest. This can be very difficult to do with a child who is dysregulated.
Through our soothing, respectful, and nurturing interactions, co-regulation is a pre-cursor to the child learning to self-regulate.
Our responses might be to say “You’re ok!” or we’ll negotiate, we will give explanations, and we will basically try to rectify whatever it is we think is making him/her uncomfortable when what we really need to be doing is co-regulating.
This is the level of protection that many children on the autism spectrum operate in due to being misunderstood: being stuck in stress mode which is their brain aiming to keep them safe. Their emotional sensory experience of the situation makes them withdraw, she says.
The self-regulation work of Dr. Stuart Shanker describes this experience and how to help children attain self-regulation through relationship.
The bottom line here is that when our children are dysregulated we need to do some important things:
- we need to stop all agendas we have
- show them with our body language that we are in the moment with them
- mirror what they are feeling with our facial expressions and gestures such as nodding
- use minimal words or vocalizations to let them know they are safe with us because we understand
The next step is bringing co-regulation into the Floortime session because as you are working along the developmental ladder, there will be many times where your child will become dysregulated and need to co-regulate with you before you can resume a playful interaction.
Until next week, here’s to affecting autism through playful interactions!