This is something that I’ve always felt is a bit taboo for autistic adults. It’s very commonly discussed in children, ‘children stim by flapping their hands or rocking’ the most commonly described stims in autistic children. For those not aware of the term stimming, it is short for self stimulating behaviours that an individual carries out. One can stim in many different ways through gestures, vocally, physically. But stimming is not something only done by autistics, if you tap your pen while sitting at your desk or shaking leg while listening waiting for time to go by or even something as simple as whistling – you are stimming. There are many different reasons people stim. However, the nature of autism means that an autistic individual will not have the same awareness that a non autistic has. This results in an autistic’s stim to be more obvious and/or ‘unusual’ or non typical. When people act in a non typical way there is a fear factor, thoughts of concern for safety or woah they’re crazy, etc. Here are 5 reasons that I stim:
- Stress relief: when I’m stressed I need something to do depending on the level of stress or anxiety so for example I might shake my hands bending my wrist in a jerky movement repeatedly. This is my body getting the energy stored inside me out through my hands and doing a physical movement.
- Sensory overload: if I’m experiencing too much sensory exposure so for me a common trigger for sensory overload is the busy staff room and all the noise and people moving by. I stim because I have so my information that is trying to enter my brain and it is struggling to process, to filter and to sort it my brain. It just becomes like a box packed with too much stuff like my head is compressed. I therefore will twitch my hands rapidly which gives me something to focus on besides the noise (or whatever is triggering the overload).
- Keeping my brain awake: if I am particularly tired or if I feel like my brain is going to go into shutdown I begin to stim to keep my brain sending out signals and quite frankly give it something to do. I might blink my eyes rapidly and look around the room moving my eyes up, down all around. Also scrunching my nose or furrowing eyebrows, almost like twitches.
- Feeling an extreme emotion: I am not one for feeling emotions deeply so when I do people know. So if I’m happy about something I might hit my palms together like a clap but not using fingers but using the bottom of my hands it feels more intense than a typical clap it reflects the rush of emotions I’m feeling at the time.
- Enjoyment: I enjoy stimming I find that the rhythmic nature of it is calming and relaxing. It allows me to express myself and simply feels nice.
I feel that stimming should never be discouraged. A child or an adult will just move on to a different stim. What’s the point? If no harm is being done leave it. Forget about what is expected behaviour. Or what is ‘normal’ (I only use that word to make a point). The only exception for me personally is self injurious stims that could do serious damage. For example I went through a time when if I was angry, I mean like really angry I would hit my head hard repeatedly. I was kind of taking the phrase ‘knock some sense into you’ a bit too literally. I was desperate for my brain to just function typically so I’d try to send a message to myself to stop thinking. I now try my hardest not to do you know because it’s dangerous.
So the verdict is STIM! Stim all you want let’s break the taboo! Who cares how it looks, what people think. Do what brings you comfort, joy, relief whatever is right for you. Stimming4ever
Thanks for reading hope you liked it. Peace out!