In today’s post, I’m sharing some tips for establishing the foundation of the communication pyramid – relationships, safety, engagement, & regulation.
The key to establishing a connection with your students and supporting their self-regulation skills is making your therapy sessions predictable and positive.
These are the foundational supports we need to feel safe, engage with the world, learn, and do advanced skills including communication and comprehension.
One key here is STRUCTURE. This means you build consistent routines and rules for your sessions. Your students know what to expect from you each day.
You might even use a consistent visual schedule like these free ones.
Another skill to build is self-awareness. To stay regulated and engaged, your students might benefit from work on being more aware of their body and sensations.
You can see a resource I have targeting this skill and improving emotional awareness in general here.
Last, it’s important that we set our students up for success so they can experience success and positive emotions during our therapy sessions.
A resource I’ve found to be really helpful in building regulation skills in our students is this resource about co-regulation from Duke.
According to them, the top 3 ways adults can support regulation skills are:
1 – Providing a warm, responsive relationship
2 – Structuring the environment, and…
3 – Coaching self-regulation skills.
Sound familiar? This is the foundation for all language and learning skills that are built on top!
In our therapy sessions, we should work on higher level language skills but only when the child is already regulated.
Our kids can’t learn new skills when they are dysregulated because their attention/flashlight is elsewhere (often pointed inside of themselves in order to manage their feelings, thoughts, energy, and body sensations).
We also can’t learn without a foundation of connection based on positive and predictable experiences. Our students need to feel seen, heard, and supported by us.
If one of our foundational supports isn’t present (e.g., you feel unsafe), you don’t have access to any higher level skills (e.g., learning a new vocabulary word, making or following a plan).
This is why the foundation of the communication pyramid is relationships and regulation!
Hope this post was helpful in sharing some ideas for being positive and predictable, and building a sense of safety in your sessions! ❤️