Lab 8: Emotional Regulation and Sensory Skills


This weeks lab we have different stations with different types of sensory stimulation. Our sensory modalities include five senses: vision, hearing, touch, taste and smell. This lab included all five. Examples of touch stimulation in lab included a head massager, play dough, stress ball; sound stimulation included instruments; smell stimulation included peppermint perfume, rose perfume, vanilla perfume; and taste stimulation included pretzels as well as sour and sweet candies.

Sensory Skills (Brown & Stoffel, 2011)
Sensory integration is the processes involved in organizing multiple sensations from the environment. Some individuals may be hyperresponsive or hyporesponsive that their conditions interfere with daily life. Conditions with sensory processing disorders in children include attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder and learning disabilities.

During lab we were provided worksheets that discussed how sensory modalities can act calming or alerting. Take a look at the sheets below.

(Edgelow, 2013) – Taken from Lab 8.


(Edgelow, 2013) – Taken from lab 8

We live with different emotions everyday and sometimes they can interfere with our performance in day to day activities. However, for some people are not able to manage their emotional states which is when emotional dysregulation can become a problem. This condition can become draining and exhausting for the individual as well as for those involved in the individual’s life.

Brown and Stoffel (2011) define emotion dysregulation as emotional responses that are not adaptive to a particular situation…and involves an emotional experience that interferes with goal oriented activity. In addition, these individuals may experience impairment in modulation of emotions and intense feelings remain for a longer than usual period of time (Brown & Stoffel, 2011). Conditions that may be common with emotional dysregulation include borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, disruptive behaviour disorder or those with substance abuse (Brown & Stoffel, 2011).

What can an OT do? (Brown & Stoffel, 2011)
Dialectic Behaviour Therapy (cognitive behavioural treatment which combines psychotherapy with psychosocial skills training). Note that psychotherapy performed by someone trained in another disciplined unless the OT has specialized in psychotherapy.
 Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
– Recommend:
 Anger management programs: anger is one of the most common and problematic disturbances associated with emotional dysregulation

REST program for infant irritability: for infants, lack of response to soothing and difficulty modulating crying (3 or more hours a day, 3 or more days a week for at least 3 weeks) suggest emotional dysregulation. The program would target both the parent and infant and REST interventions include regulation (protection from overstimulation), entertainment, structure and repetition and touch. The parent is also provided with support and empathy.


Brown, C. and Stoffel, V. (2011). Occupational therapy in mental health: a vision for
participation. Philadelphia: FA Davis Company. Chapters 20 and 24.

Edgelow, M. (2013, May). Lab 8- Emotion regulation & Sensory Skills. OT 845 psychoemotional determinants of occupation. Lecture conducted from Queen’s University, Kingston, ON.


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