Supporting Regulation Across Environments This Summer
Last month, we dove into the vast topic of the DIR/Floortime model and one of its key components: play! In keeping with our goal of sharing more insight into our treatment philosophies at Circles of Communication, this month’s blog post will focus on another key component of the DIR/Floortime model, supporting your child’s regulation as a means for fostering optimal learning, meaningful communication, and positive social experiences. There is a lot to unpack so we will start small and most definitely revisit these themes in subsequent months.
In the DIR/Floortime model, supporting both emotional and sensory awareness and regulation are some of the first steps in the learning process. The DIR/Floortime model refers to developmental stages as “capacities,” and the first capacity of six is, in fact, “self-regulation and interest in the world.” As we’ve discussed in previous posts, regulation is critical before any communication and learning goals can be addressed.
The same principle applies when considering regulation’s role in experiencing joy and participating fully in fun, too! We utilize a variety of practices and items to support regulation in sessions for both learning and fun, and we recognize that carrying this over to home can sometimes be a challenge. With summer in full swing, including large family gatherings, exciting trips to parks and fairs, and loud events like fireworks displays, having a few tools to support your neurodiverse child in their regulation will go a long way towards everyone enjoying their time!
We have a few recommendations for supporting regulation at home, particularly during exciting summer activities:
Practice mindfulness and deep breathing early and often. Read our blog post here about the power of deep breathing for regulation.
Talk to your child about the kinds of noises, sights, smells, and body sensations they might encounter at any given activity ahead of time. Validate their feelings (all feelings are ok!) and listen to their concerns.
Provide favorite toys, comfort objects, and/or sensory supports as needed and without restrictions on their use. If your child is often frightened by loud noises, a pair of noise-canceling headphones may allow them to enjoy a fireworks show along with the rest of the family, for example!
Consider sensory-friendly alternative ways for your child to participate in summer fun if attending events in-person is too stimulating. One example includes showing YouTube videos of county fairs or fireworks shows during which the viewer has control of the volume. You might also have a county fair themed family dinner, during which your child can sample fair-inspired foods. Even better, they can help research and prepare the foods, decorate the table, and more to create an immersive experience.
We encourage you to try these strategies to support your child’s regulation. The strategies shared can be customized to fit each child’s unique emotional and sensory needs. Remember, in a secure, regulated state, both higher-level learning and true joy are achievable.
We hope your month ahead is filled with sticky ice cream cones, time with loved ones, and continued growth in learning and communication. While we will continue to implement these regulatory practices in all of our sessions, we encourage you to implement our suggestions in whatever way works for you.