Part 1: The Reason for Emotional (dys)Regulation

Part 1 of this course focuses on the role of the amygdala in emotion regulation and how variations in the size and function of the amygdala can affect emotional regulation in individuals with autism. The amygdala is a small but powerful structure located in the brain that plays a key role in the processing of emotions. It is a key processing center for emotional regulation and is involved in the “fight or flight” response, helping us to quickly and instinctively respond to danger or stress. However, studies have shown that individuals with autism may have abnormalities in the structure or function of their amygdala. For example, some research has found that the amygdala may be larger in children with autism up until around age 12, but then tends to shrink in size by adulthood. In contrast, the amygdala normally continues to develop until around age 25 in neurotypical individuals. This means that the emotional responses of individuals with autism may be highly unregulated due to these neurological differences. It can also be challenging for individuals with autism to discern the emotions of others, which can be a primary strategy for managing anxiety and feeling “out of place.” The course will provide strategies and techniques to manage anxiety and out of placeness.