45 min

​Regulating Together: An Evidence Based Group for Children with Autism That Utilizes the Parents As Coaches, Creating Lasting Change Therapy on the Cutting Edge

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In this episode, I speak with Rebecca, who discusses her career working with children, which led her to focusing on treatment and research of children on the autism spectrum. She discussed being influenced by her training in Philadelphia, which had a strong family systems component, and how working with the parents and children is a foundation for her Regulating Together work. She explains that the children are in a group where they learn affect regulation skills, while the parents are in another group, also learning affect regulation skills, how to coach the kids at home, and prevention and behavioral management skills. The skills the children learn are relaxation skills, identifying triggers and physical reactions, rating emotions, problem solving skills, mindfulness, radical acceptance and cognitive flexibility. She discussed how the caregiver training has a lot of focus on preventing the emotional dysregulation, as well as techniques for managing the dysregulation and behavior problems when they do occur. Additionally, the caregivers are encouraged to use the skills in order to regulate themselves, and how this helps with coregulation with their child. Rebecca discussed using CBT with a child with autism and modifications you might make since many autistic children can struggle with rigidity. She also remarked on how the group leaders have the ability to work with the children in vivo, at the end of the group where the kids earn time to play games. The group facilitators help the children implement the skills they learned if they become triggered during that time socializing. We discuss the research and how they found that the biggest gains were realized between five to ten weeks after the regulating together series was over, which highlights that the benefits of affect regulation and that a shift in behavior may take time to appear. We discussed other applications for the model and future potential research directions and a trial starting using a canine assisted version of the model. Rebecca explains that her and her team will be publishing their manual and are currently training clinicians in the use of this model.

Rebecca C. Shaffer, PsyD, is a clinical psychologist and currently serves as an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital with an affiliated appointment at the University of Cincinnati. Rebecca is the director of Psychological Services for the Cincinnati Fragile X Center, where she oversees the assessment and treatment of individuals with fragile X syndrome (FXS). Rebecca and her team have created an emotion dysregulation treatment program for children with ASD called Regulating Together. Regulating Together treats emotion dysregulation, especially with reactivity and irritability, in a group setting with concurrent caregiver training. She currently leads several research studies, as well as publications, focused on the development and efficacy of this program. She also serves as the primary investigator of the Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research (SPARK) study at Cincinnati Children’s and other ASD-specific studies. Rebecca has had numerous publications and trains clinicians in Regulating Together throughout the country. To learn more about training in Regulating Together and the research behind it, check out the Shaffer Lab and contact by clicking here.

In this episode, I speak with Rebecca, who discusses her career working with children, which led her to focusing on treatment and research of children on the autism spectrum. She discussed being influenced by her training in Philadelphia, which had a strong family systems component, and how working with the parents and children is a foundation for her Regulating Together work. She explains that the children are in a group where they learn affect regulation skills, while the parents are in another group, also learning affect regulation skills, how to coach the kids at home, and prevention and behavioral management skills. The skills the children learn are relaxation skills, identifying triggers and physical reactions, rating emotions, problem solving skills, mindfulness, radical acceptance and cognitive flexibility. She discussed how the caregiver training has a lot of focus on preventing the emotional dysregulation, as well as techniques for managing the dysregulation and behavior problems when they do occur. Additionally, the caregivers are encouraged to use the skills in order to regulate themselves, and how this helps with coregulation with their child. Rebecca discussed using CBT with a child with autism and modifications you might make since many autistic children can struggle with rigidity. She also remarked on how the group leaders have the ability to work with the children in vivo, at the end of the group where the kids earn time to play games. The group facilitators help the children implement the skills they learned if they become triggered during that time socializing. We discuss the research and how they found that the biggest gains were realized between five to ten weeks after the regulating together series was over, which highlights that the benefits of affect regulation and that a shift in behavior may take time to appear. We discussed other applications for the model and future potential research directions and a trial starting using a canine assisted version of the model. Rebecca explains that her and her team will be publishing their manual and are currently training clinicians in the use of this model.

Rebecca C. Shaffer, PsyD, is a clinical psychologist and currently serves as an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital with an affiliated appointment at the University of Cincinnati. Rebecca is the director of Psychological Services for the Cincinnati Fragile X Center, where she oversees the assessment and treatment of individuals with fragile X syndrome (FXS). Rebecca and her team have created an emotion dysregulation treatment program for children with ASD called Regulating Together. Regulating Together treats emotion dysregulation, especially with reactivity and irritability, in a group setting with concurrent caregiver training. She currently leads several research studies, as well as publications, focused on the development and efficacy of this program. She also serves as the primary investigator of the Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research (SPARK) study at Cincinnati Children’s and other ASD-specific studies. Rebecca has had numerous publications and trains clinicians in Regulating Together throughout the country. To learn more about training in Regulating Together and the research behind it, check out the Shaffer Lab and contact by clicking here.

45 min