Emotion Regulation & AutismChildren’s ability to regulate their emotions is involved in many aspects of their development. Emotion regulation is associated with a child’s ability to achieve individual goals and handle various social situations appropriately.

Inadequate emotion regulation predicts poor interpersonal interactions and academic failure in typically developing children. Children with autism have additional impairments associated with emotion regulation, such as executive functioning and joint engagement.

“Children’s inability to exhibit prosocial behavior and experience academic success may be related to their emotion regulation.”

Children with high-functioning autism were found to be less emotionally and behaviorally engaged in school settings compared to typically developing children, according to new research. The study appears in the journal of Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to autism spectrum disorders. Children with high-functioning autism also demonstrated less prosocial behavior compared to typically developing children.

Prosocial behavior consists of actions that benefit other individuals, such as sharing, helping, and cooperating. Empathy is an emotion that often elicits prosocial behavior in children and adults. The researchers suggested that executive functioning explained the differences in emotion regulation and prosocial behavior in children with high-functioning autism.

Emotion Regulation & AutismExecutive functioning was cited as the most important contributor to children’s behavioral and emotional school engagement. Executive functioning is believed to be involved with planning and flexibility in selecting emotion regulation coping strategies, as well as the ability to stay focused and ignore distractions. These findings further support the notion that the components of self-regulation are interrelated and efforts to enhance self-regulation in children with autism should address these various components.

Children’s inability to exhibit prosocial behavior and experience academic success may be related to their emotion regulation. It is important for parents to consider school readiness for children with high-functioning autism before they enter a classroom environment. Children with high-functioning autism may need to exert additional effort in order to effectively manage their school work.

NeuroNet certified providers can help parents and teachers identify when a child is mentally fatigued and unable to coordinate sustained, self-directed attention. As a child becomes fatigued, they may look for ways to take a break from the mental effort. This can be seen as daydreaming, talking to a friend, or frequent bathroom breaks. Alternatively, it can be interpreted as a behavior problem. Through NeuroNet’s movement multi-tasking, children can learn basic academic skills which help improve self-directed attention needed for learning.

Journal Reference:

Jahromi, Laudan B., Crystal I. Bryce, and Jodi Swanson. 2013. “The importance of self-regulation for the school and peer engagement of children with high-functioning autism.” Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders 7:235–246.

Photo credits: OakleyOriginals via Flickr CC, D Sharon Pruitt via Flickr CC