Emotional regulation is the ability to control one’s emotional expression. Early signs of Asperger’s Disorder as well as many other childhood psychological disorders begin with troubles with emotional regulation. Until their child is diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder, many parents do not recognize their child’s emotional flatness as a problem. Instead it is their child’s intense emotional reactions that often call attention to the disorder.
Being able to regulate or manage our emotions is necessary to function in every setting. Every child faces multiple situations each day that have the potential for upset. Through early teaching from their parents, nondisordered children learn how to regulate their feelings. They learn to not react to trivial upsets and just let them go. They learn that when they are angry, they must control their temper. They learn how to seek support from others or how to soothe themselves when they are sad.
They also learn how to have their behavior consistent with the intensity of their feeling. Like a pressure valve on a hose, emotional regulation allows us to control how much emotion we let out. Asperger’s Disorder children and teens do not have this type of pressure valve. Instead they seem to simply have an on/off switch.