Meet the Authors
Leah Kuypers is the author of the book released in 2011 called The Zones of Regulation. Below are five questions we have asked Leah regarding her personal history, inspiration for the book, how it stands out from other emotional regulating curriculum and how to contact her.
Q: Where are you from originally? Where did you attend school? What professions have you had in the past and what is your current profession?
A: I was born in Rochester MN and grew up in River Falls, WI, which is just outside of St. Paul, MN. I received my bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of WI- Madison. I first started working as a pediatric OT in private practice focusing on sensory integration and later moved into the public schools. After getting married, my husband and I relocated to Minneapolis, MN where I worked for several years as an OT and later as an Autism Resource Specialist in School Districts 917 and 196.
While working in the schools, I returned to graduate school part-time, first getting my Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders and then my Master of Arts in Education from Hamline University. We moved to Oakland in 2009, where I currently work as an OT and social learning specialist for Communication Works.
Q: What was the inspiration behind your book, The Zones of Regulation, and the poster that accompanies it?
A: I was working in a school where all of the students had significant behaviors that kept them from attending their home schools. As the OT, I worked with them to regulate their sensory needs, but felt like there was a piece of the puzzle that wasn't being addresses. All of the students struggled to also regulate their emotions and impulses, yet it seemed there was a gap in the curriculum and these skills were not being taught. Building off of the work of Kari Dunn Buron and Mitzi Curtis's The Incredible 5-Point Scale and Williams and Shellenberger's The Alert Program, I came up with the idea of The Zones of Regulation while taking coursework for my Graduate Autism Certificate at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN.
Q: How does this book, and the lessons used within it, differ from other emotional regulating books and therapies?
A: The Zones of Regulation does not need to be a stand-alone approach to address self-regulation. It provides a framework to conceptualize all the different ways one feels into four concrete zones, providing an easy and safe way to communicate our emotions to others. Once students are able to identify which zone they are in, other strategies and tools they have learned to regulate their emotions and body can be filed into the different zones' toolboxes. The curriculum also provides numerous learning activities to help reinforce using tools to regulate, assisting students in understanding when, why, and how to use their regulation tools. Tools taught to include cognitive strategies, sensory supports and calming/mindfulness techniques. It also teaches students to reflect on how others are viewing their behavior, tying in the social cognitive factor.
Q: Was there anyone who was extremely helpful to you in the process of writing this book? Was there someone, or a group of people, who was/were your personal inspiration?
A: I never would have started on this journey if it weren’t for the encouragement of many of my colleagues, especially my fellow OT's Donna and Sue who always told me I needed to write a book. At the time, I believed that was nearly impossible. Early on, Kari Dunn Buron noticed my work and her support and encouragement meant everything to me. Once the book got to the publishing process, Michelle Garcia Winner was paramount in seeing the value of and guiding the curriculum that was first written to fulfill my Masters capstone into a user-friendly book for parents and professionals. Lastly though, it was the students I have worked with throughout the years, especially those who were misunderstood and labeled "naughty", who inspired me to think outside the box and get creative so they were more equipped to deal with the everyday stressors they encountered.
Q: Where are you currently located and if you want to be contacted what would be the best means to contact you? Is there a website for the zones book?