young child reading a book amidst plush pillows

Space Holders and Learner Safety

A space holder is someone who can create and hold a safe space for a person so they can be themselves around them, knowing they will not be judged, they will be understood, valued and have an authentic meaningful connection.

As adults, we need to try and be embodied, calm and grounded to support our children to regulate, rather than expecting a child or young person to modify their behaviour themselves or change for external reward systems. We need to be a space holder for them.

Embodiment and Sensory Systems

Being a space holder is one of the most important jobs of teachers and parents.

Reflecting back on my life as an undiagnosed autistic kid, being a space holder for co-regulation and embodiment is what I most needed from my teachers and parents. Space holders cultivate learner safety and enable positive niche construction. Those are necessary and essential to accommodating my exposure anxiety, rejection sensitive dysphoria, situational mutism, demand avoidance, sensory sensitivities, and spiky profile.

We highly recommend “Embodiment and Sensory Systems” by Autistic Realms to parents and teachers. It’s a concise and accessible guide to understanding and supporting our complex sensory experiences in the classroom and in the home.

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