Learning and Sharing


on October 13, 2013


We utilize both co-regulation and self-regulation throughout our lives and they play important roles in our growth and development.  Self-regulation is a constant in our Lunch Buddies groups.  I refer to the techniques and coping strategies that we use in this blog.  In helping children learn to self-regulate, we sometimes miss the most important step.  That step is co-regulation.

Zoe Thompson at writes that “co-regulation is the first step in the communicative dance  and the basis for all human communication. In order to communicate verbally, children have to understand that there is a back and forth in an interaction”.

Check out for Laura Hynes’ article.  She writes that “Co-regulation has been identified as one of the core deficits present in individuals with ASD.  Co-regulation is the most simple form of interaction and communication.”  She provides a list of examples for how parents can work on co-regulation with their child.

Linda Murphy, Speech Pathologist and RDI consultant, writes in her great articles Co-regulation:  The Basis for All Social Interaction that co-regulation may be described as “being in-sync.  In fact, for co-regulation to be established, the interaction must be balanced, meaning that both individuals would exhibit competence in their roles and do equal amounts of the “work”.”  She also gives us Impediments to Co-Regulation:

  • prematurely prompting or overcompensating

We create an unbalanced interaction since we are doing more of the work.  It is important to wait and allow children the time they need to assume their role independently.

  • being product focused

When we focus on the completion of a task, we tend to increase our pace.  As the interaction speeds up, the child may not be able to authentically or independently assume his/her role.  It is important to remember to slow down.

  • creating roles that are too difficult

When we create roles that are too difficult for the child, we likely end up overcompensating  or over-prompting.

  • telling children exactly what to do (or say)

When we tell children exactly what to do or say, we take away their opportunity to uniquely add to the interaction.

  • focusing too much on talking

When we focus too much on talking, we miss the opportunities to establish coordinated movements.  Look beyond words for opportunities to work together as a team.

Oh, boy!  The above list are some of my biggest pet peeves.

Self-regulation and co-regulation are important in the classroom as students work in collaborative learning groups.  Students must set goals and monitor their progress, engage and persist in tasks, and sustain attention.  For some students, it is very hard to be part of the group plan.  As parents, teachers and therapists it is critical that we set the stage for co-regulation and establish co-regulation patterns.  It is important that students with ASD learn to “just be” with another person on a very basic communicative level or share space effectively.

Linda Murphy recommends the following:

  • cooperative clean up

Remember that process is more important that product.  Create an assembly line. Positive memories motivate us to try again.

  • engage in moving tasks together

Communicate that the child’s participation is needed and that the job cannot be done alone.

Laurel at recommends that we do not allow the child to control the interaction.  Some children will attempt to take control by talking about an obsessive topic or insisting that we engage in a script with them.  Here is a great way to deal with that-wear head-phones to give a visual cue that you will not participate in the interaction.  Love that one, Laurel!

Just wanted to share what I have been learning in my self-study into co-regulation and self-regulation.

My Best,



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