Original Research

Managing self-regulatory behaviour in young autistic children in the Western Cape, South Africa

Sunkiree Veerasamy
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 14, No 1 | a1352 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v14i1.1352 | © 2024 Sunkiree Veerasamy | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 March 2023 | Published: 09 January 2024

About the author(s)

Sunkiree Veerasamy, Department of Humanities, Faculty of Specialist Teaching: Autism, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand


Background: Self-regulation is the ability to understand and manage one’s behaviour and reactions. It leads to stress management, reducing anxiety and well-being of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The most prominent clinical and phenotype characteristics of autism are associated with social and behavioural communication, language impairments. Researchers argue that autistic children have difficulties with self-regulation in their schooling life, which may impact their learning.

Aim: This study reveals how teachers understand and manage self-regulatory behaviour in the classroom.

Setting: The sample comprised six teachers who specialise in teaching autistic children from Autism Specific Schools and inclusive mainstream schools.

Methods: A qualitative research methodology was adopted to gain an in-depth understanding of teachers’ perceptions of self-regulatory behaviour in autistic children. The study adopted an interpretive approach.

Results: The data revealed that teachers held positive views on self-regulatory behaviour. They valued self-regulatory behaviour as a tool to recharge and cope with the stress of functioning in the neurotypical world. However, they did not know how to manage the teaching of autistic children as well as adapting the environment for them to learn and be accepted.

Conclusion: It can be concluded that (1) there is a need for change in the way we perceive and support autistic children, (2) training programs and professional development are required in schools, (3) teachers need to adapt the learning environment to manage self-regulatory behaviour, (4) recognition of neurodivergence.

Contribution: The study contributes to better management of self-regulatory behaviour to support teacher training in the management of self-regulatory strategies.


autism; stereotyped movements; self-stimulatory behaviour; qualitative research; teacher perspectives


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