Many issues in autism involve altered regulation:
- Regulation of emotion
- Regulation of sensory “gating” (intensity of sensory experience)
- Regulation of hormones and neurotransmitters
- Regulation of sleep-wake cycles
- Regulation of immune function
- Regulation of attention
- Much more
The idea of autism as a “regulatory disorder” resonates with a systems (or systems biology) perspective. Metabolic and molecular processes don’t just “get tasks done;” they constantly modulate what is happening so it is in tune with the constantly changing inner and outer environment.
Moreover, from a systems vantage point there are inter-connections underlying superficially separate functions. So it is not surprising that if regulation is disturbed in one domain, it will be disturbed or altered in many others as well.
At present there is a lot of autism research and discussion related implicitly to the idea of a “regulatory disorder” but little using the term explicitly. There are some papers in the general literature around “regulatory disorder.”