“Stimming is a repetitive body movement that self-stimulates one or more senses in a regulated manner.Stimming is known in psychiatry as a “stereotypy”, a continuous movement. Stimming is one of the symptoms listed by the DSM IV for autism, although it is observed in about 10 percent of non-autistic children.”
That’s the wiki definition of stimming. However, stimming is also described as a coping technique for sensory overloads and being underwhelmed sensory-wise. Stimming is often repetitive and is categorized as noticeable movement.
However, autistics have different ways to stim. It’s not just rocking and flapping.
-Visual stimming can be watching a colorful gif over and over, shining light in our eyes, or pressing the tops of our eyes to do that weird static thing eyeballs do.
-Verbal stimming (not to be confused with echolalia. More on that in another article) includes humming, vocalizing the same sound repeatedly(on purpose) and others.
-Auditory stimming includes listening to the same song or sound over and over. This can include podcasts, music videos, soundtracks, even sound effects.
-Phsyical stimming, which is the most common stim associated with autism, can include rocking and flapping of the hands, head shaking, knee bouncing, chewing, and fidgeting.
Before you mention it, yes, there are harmful stims, such as biting, scratching, and picking skin or scabs. I have found that redirecting is the best course of action to keep an autistic not only happy, but healthy as possible. When I get the urge to pick my skin, my chew my nails, I grab a chewie stim toy from Stimtastic and start crocheting.
It’s important to remember that stims exist to help us cope with our surroundings, to ease stress, and to keep us grounded. Something in that particular movement is soothing, or meets a sensory need we aren’t getting.
It’s also important to remember that not all stimming is happy stimming. But stimming IS important to our health and well-being. Stopping us from stimming is ignoring the cause to treat a symptom, so to speak. If you see an autistic person stimming and they aren’t hurting themselves or another person, leave them be.
Remember, be kind to autistic people.
As a reminder, my friend Ashley and I are Jamberry consultant and are donating 10% of our sales to ASAN at the end of the month.
If you would like to join our facebook group, visit the Autism Acceptance Month Fundraiser on Facebook.