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Pegs

How do I get started with Zones of Regulation?

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My 8yo ASD kiddo has had a few episodes of high anxiety lately which seem to be heading towards panic attacks. He also experiences some discomfort many days which he identifies as "boredom."

 

From the little I've gleaned just from hanging around these boards a bit, I'm wondering whether understanding the Zones might be useful for both DS and myself.

 

So how do I get started? What do I read? How do I explain it to DS in order to get him on board?

 

Thanks in advance!

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It does sound like Zones would be good, but his easier starting point might be working on interroception. Mighteor is super, super fab for this. The Interroception book is fine but it's $$$ and sort of blandly, um, ineffective. I mean, don't say I said that. I'm just saying talking at someone doesn't get them as far as FEELING it and then putting words to what they're feeling. 

 

Technically everything you need comes in the Zones book. If you're bookish and learn really well from books, it's all there. If you're the type who does better when it comes alive, with a person talking, with visuals, with stories, with touching and handling the things pictured in the book, go to a training workshop. $$ but definitely worth it.

 

Zones is very useful for *you*, but I'll just say that as the mom I don't find Zones to have really, really changed the life of my ds. I'm not saying don't do it or don't get the book. I'm just saying that my ds9 with autism isn't really at a place developmentally, mentally, where he just grasps it and owns it and implements it. And we've been working on this for, um, 3 years now? 

 

What it will definitely do is give *you* some tools to recognize what is going on and structure things better. But whether he'll just take to it like a fish and go oh wow, thanks mom, you solved the problem of my life! that really depends on where he is maturationally. For my ds, that would be a nein, a not likely.

 

For the anxiety, you might like the Hooperman book on anxiety. I think it's All Birds Have Anxiety. There are a number of other books in that vein. Social Thinking sells some probably. Personally, I think Mighteor is really good on this, because it's tapping into that mindfulness and interroception and self-monitoring and self-awareness part of the brain. When you engage that, then ANY can be regulated better because he'll be more AWARE. I've got my ds doing Mighteor twice a day right now as part of our approach. I'm crazy keen on it. 

 

What is driving the anxiety? Has anything changed? And is he enrolled or homeschooled? What is causing the stress? 

 

Usually in autism they'll connect stress and anxiety. So as they're stressed, the rigidity and anxiety and protective behaviors kick in. Reduce the stress, increase the predictability, and gradually that overall anxiety level goes down. 

 

I'm saying it might not be one thing but several things. Are you doing anything with magnesium or l-theanine or b-vitamins? Have you added anything lately that might correspond to the increase in symptoms?

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I bought my copy of Zones directly from the publisher I think. I'll bet SocialThinking.com has it. But yeah, it really is as simple as buying the book and reading it, wrapping your brain around it, printing some of the goodies from the disk, and getting started. The workshop was excellent, and I'd go to the advanced in a heartbeat if I had a chance. But yeah, you can do it with just the book.

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Okay. I'll give it a go with just the book. I don't think they do workshops in Australia, and I can learn from a book just fine anyhow.

 

I've looked up Mighteor before, upon your recommendation. When I factor in the exchange rate and the shipping cost it's a bit beyond my means, but it does look good. I understand why you'd be recommending it, and that's great that it's helping your DS. :)

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What is driving the anxiety? Has anything changed? And is he enrolled or homeschooled? What is causing the stress?

 

Usually in autism they'll connect stress and anxiety. So as they're stressed, the rigidity and anxiety and protective behaviors kick in. Reduce the stress, increase the predictability, and gradually that overall anxiety level goes down.

 

I'm saying it might not be one thing but several things. Are you doing anything with magnesium or l-theanine or b-vitamins? Have you added anything lately that might correspond to the increase in symptoms?

He's homeschooled, and always has been.

 

The biggest changes afoot are increased time with his father, both visits and phone calls. He's also become needle phobic and has been referred to a private paediatrician to get his vaccinations done under sedation. 5mg valium did not suffice last time we tried - he reported fuzzy vision and seeing stars and just looked all over terrified. Very pale, pupils dilated, trembling.

 

So you're right, the increased anxiety hasn't come out of nowhere.

 

No changes to any supplements. He takes a multivitamin in the day and melatonin at night.

Edited by Pegs
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I missed you were in Australia! Does anybody there do CBT? Wow, that's a huge risk (sedation) to go through for the shots, ugh. Have they talked about a medication that he could take every day for it? 

 

The other thing you can do is mindfulness. Since it's easier for you to get books than software, yes go ahead and get the Interroception book. What you're wanting to do with that is to start waking up that portion of the brain and then help him connect oh when I feel like that, this is what my pulse is doing, this is what my skin feels like, etc.

 

Ten minutes of mindfulness a day can give a 30% bump in EF. It's something you can do 3-5 times a day, just for those few minutes at a time, to see if it can give him more calm, more awareness. 

 

Phone calls are very awkward for a person on the spectrum. if that has been mandated by the courts, that is very insensitive. If he's uncomfortable with them, you could see if you could get them cut back due to the disability.

 

The Mindfulness is something he can take with him when he goes on his visits. You can download Sitting Like a Frog and he can take it with him. 

 

When you do the Zones check-ins that they teach, maybe kick it up a notch and customize for his anxiety. If you could get something to let you take his heart rate quickly, then you could do that at check-ins and throughout the day. You could just make it like a game, recording how he feels and what the heart rate was. So he's doing his math and gets frustrated and his face gets flushed, take his heart rate. And so on. That way he can start to connect ok when I feel *this* then this is what's going on. For instance, you'll laugh, but before Mighteor I had no clue that when I felt "warm" it was my pulse going up. No clue. I was feeling it but I was putting the wrong words or explanations to it. Once I realized ok you're flushed, your heart rate is up, then I could make a better choice when I felt that again. THAT is the kind of connect you're wanting him to have. The software and experience with Mighteor makes it easy. Like if you had the choice between the Zones book and Interroception book OR Mighteor, you'd actually make more progress with Mighteor. But it is possible to do it without the software. And I get the cost is prohibitive. I'm just saying when you're doing your calculations, that's how I would be calculating it out. Zones is a *concept* more than anything. You can probably find a lot on pinterest.

 

They're trying to get Mighteor ready for apple/ipad at some point. I don't know when. I was told they're working gangbusters on it and really want it to happen. I assume at that point they'll sell it in the app store and be able to have it deliver just as one gigantic app. Right now, because it's on android, everything loads as a zillion apps, which is why they have to preload everything and set it up on the tablets the way they do, because they're making it look like it would look if it weren't on android but apple. (one button, click, everything happens) So I would think when they get it ported over to apple, maybe in the next year, it will be available for you. You could write them and ask how that's going. 

 

If you're able to get CBT with a counselor, it might be helpful. 

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Thanks for prompting me to get on to CBT and mindfulness. I've just ordered Sitting Still Like a Frog.

 

If I can find a local child psychologist, Medicare will cover a large portion of the cost of each appointment. I guess we're looking at therapy sooner than I'd thought.

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A Mighteor app for the iPad would be great. I'll hold off spending too much elsewhere and keep an eye out for updates on this.

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Oh okay, great. Thanks.

 

The book's on it's way anyhow - I'm imagining that we could read together during Morning Time.

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