Developing Autistic Young Peoples’ Emotional Regulation Skills: A Case Study of a Residential Special School (Student Project)

Joanne Bennett.

Doctorate in Educational Psychology.

Autistic children and young people are recognised as often having difficulties with emotional regulation (Prizant et al., 2006). The Zones of Regulation (Kuypers, 2011) is a curriculum that has been designed to support young people to recognise and communicate their emotions and use regulation tools. It aims to develop necessary underlying skills, including emotional and sensory regulation, executive functioning and social cognition.

This project is a case study of a residential special school for autistic children and young people with moderate-severe learning disabilities, who are in the process of embedding the Zones of Regulation as a whole school approach.

Using a participatory approach, the project will involve exploring the experiences and views of young people and staff in order to answer the research question: ‘How is the development of autistic young people’s emotional regulation skills being supported within a residential special school?’ Within this, we are interested in exploring how the approach has been individualised for each young person, how the physical environment has been developed and any facilitators or barriers to the implementation of the approach.  

The project aims to provide valuable insight into the young people’s experiences and views, which will help the school to continue developing their practices. Additionally, with research being unrepresentative of children and young people in residential placements and autistic young people with learning disabilities and communication difficulties (Fayette & Bond, 2017; Pellicano, Hill & Croydon, 2014; Russell, Mandy, Elliott, White, Pittwood & Ford, 2019), this project will demonstrate ways in which research can be inclusive of these young people.