Q: Hi Fit In, my child barely shows any emotions most of the time but sometimes will experience extreme emotions that last for a long period of time, is there anything I can do to help him regulate his emotions?
A: Autism children often have difficulty regulating their emotions, sometimes the emotions that they display are not what they are feeling. To help your child learn to label and express emotions, you can label emotions in a natural context. For example, when reading a story or watching tv, you can label the emotions of the characters, ‘look, Adie is sad?’, you can explain and elaborate on the character’s emotion to help your child understand better. After the child learns to label emotions, parents can proceed with social stories, this can improve his perspective-taking skills and understand how others and himself will feel in a specific social context.
In the ABA program, we teach the child to identify emotions. Therapists will start with labelling from cards and slowly progress to identifying in a natural context when the kids are able to generalize emotions learned to a real-life context. A social story is also another tool therapists use to teach social and empathy skills.