The Regulator is designed to help conversational individuals explore sensory motor strategies that may be useful for self and mutual regulation. As the listed sensory motor strategies are trialed, partners can use the support to facilitate discussions related to whether each strategy is soothing, neutral or alerting (i.e., “How it changes my energy”). Answers recorded on The Regulator can then be utilized to discuss when and where preferred sensory motor strategies may be most useful to the individual when there is a mismatch between “My Energy” and the “Energy Needed” to engage in activities. This tool was created for use in combination with The Energy Meter as it serves to create a known list of strategies that can sooth or alert to move “My Energy” closer to “Energy Needed.” The blank version of The Regulator can be filled in with additional sensory motor regulatory strategies and tools that may be available to an individual in any given environment. Once The Regulator is complete it may be helpful to create a shorter list of preferred soothing strategies and preferred alerting strategies for easy reference. The video provides a brief overview of the support.
Words can complicate and dysregulate. When using The Energy Meter, partners attempt to take emotion words out of the equation so that conveying information may become easier and more accurate for an autistic individual. I love The Energy Meter for this reason, as trying to describe what I am feeling often results in even more “amping up.” This tool allows me to indicate what’s going on using language that is accessible to me and in that way it removes the “language barrier” that often discourages me from seeking out help at all.
But when we do seek out help by way of The Energy Meter or other means, the strategies that will be helpful are very likely not language-based…which is often the first tool trialed by neurotypical partners. The Regulator provides a menu of ways a partner can truly support an autistic individual with strategies tailored to their needs and preferences. In addition, The Regulator is a wonderful visual for self-regulation. In this moment, while I am well-regulated, I know that if I feel myself getting close to a “Maxed out / frenzied” state, I should implement some kind of protective, soothing strategy. I can easily tell you which strategies are available to me in which environments and which tools will be most effective when I am experiencing certain energy mismatches. BUT…it is always hardest to access this knowledge when it is most needed. That is, the more drowsy or the more maxed out I am, the less likely I will be able to think through those processes. Having a visual like The Regulator may serve as the cue or prompt that I need in those moments, or it may serve to show my partner what I should be cued or prompted to do.
SR4.5 Identifies and reflects on strategies to support regulation
MR4.5(d) Shares intentions for joint attention- expresses feelings and opinions
IS 1.6 Provides information or assistance to regulate state
IS 5.3 Provides guidance and feedback as needed for success in activities
LS 2.4 Uses augmentative communication support to enhance child’s emotional regulation
Free Visual Support: The Regulator 2.0 (PDF)