Autism Occupational Therapy
Resource Toolkit

Recognizing the Importance of Supporting Regulation & Executive Functions

Why Support Regulation & Executive Functions?

“If your body is like a car engine, sometimes it runs on high (hyped up), sometimes it runs on low (lethargic), and sometimes it runs just right (alert and focused).” But it’s not just children. We are all self-regulators.” – Alert Program

This section contains resources that describe self-regulation and executive functions. These resources also note why and how to support autistic individuals in their self-regulation and executive functions.  

What is Self-Regulation and What are Self-Regulation Strategies?

The official website for Dr. Stuart Shanker’s work in the area of self-reg. The website includes resources for parents/caregivers, educators, leaders and professionals. The resources include downloadable handouts, blogs and online courses/webinars.

Article written by Kari Dunn Buron outlining the 5 point scale. The 5 point scale is a visual tool to support an individual with their self-regulation.

The official website for the Incredible 5 Point Scale developed by Kari Dunn Buron. The 5-point scale is a visual tool used to teach social and emotional concepts. Website includes many resources to support individuals with self-regulation including downloadable visuals scales, calming sequences, videos, and books.

The Alert Program offers tools and strategies to support an individual to change their alertness level to be ‘just right’ for the task.

Offers a comprehensive series of engaging workshops to support the development of neurodivergent affirming outcomes for autistic and neurodivergent youth. Autistic and neurodiverse voices led the development of the workshops. Topics include authentic social connection, embodied emotion, supportive friends and allies, and self advocacy.

A practice brief based on work conducted by the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). The brief discusses self-regulation and early brain development. The brief outlines guidelines for promoting self-regulation development in children aged birth through 5 years.

Part 1 of a 2 part series on emotional regulation. This article provides an overview of emotional regulation in autistic children.

Part 2 of a 2 part series on emotional regulation in children with autism. This article expands on part 1 to share strategies to support a child’s development of emotional regulation, particularly the concept of co-regulation.

This podcast discusses some of the emotional regulation challenges experienced by autistic individuals, and how to support them.

This website highlights the work by Dr. Ross Greene and the evidence based model, Collaborative and Proactive Solutions. This model helps caregivers focus on identifying the problems that cause concerning behaviours and solving those problems collaboratively and proactively. The website provides overview of the model and resources.

Strategies to Support an Autistic Individual During a Meltdown

This article written by Dr. Liz Agnoff, Psychologist is part of a series on supporting a child during a meltdown. The article describes the neurobiology of a meltdown using the hand model (‘flip your lid’). The article includes links to helpful videos for younger and older children describing brain and emotions.

This article provides practical tips to support a child prior to, during and following a meltdown. The article highlights the importance of co-regulation. Includes free visuals and strategies to create a calming toolkit.

Apps Supporting Self-Regulation

Allows the user to help a Sesame street monster work through problems. It helps the child to navigate daily challenges and manage stressful situations. Features: interactive activities (ex. breathing), personalized encouragement phrases, parent resource section for stressful situations, & bilingual (English, Spanish).

Wondergrade is an app to help parents teach emotional regulation skills to their 3-8-year-olds at home. App includes calm down strategies such as belly breathing and meditation and movement breaks.

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