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What is stimming?

Now, I’m not an expert on what stimming is. I am going with some research I have done and personal observations. I encourage people to talk and educate on their own terms so if anything in this article is wrong or needs expanded on please comment.

The word “stimming” refers to self-stimulating behaviours, usually involving repetitive movements or sounds.

Everybody stims in some way. It’s not always clear to others.

Stimming is part of the diagnostic criteria for autism. That’s not because stimming is always related to autism. It’s because stimming in people with autism can get out of control and cause problems.

Stimming isn’t necessarily a bad thing that needs to be stifled.

Source: https://www.healthline.com/health/autism/stimming

The word “stimming” is short for self-stimulatory behavior and it sometimes is called “stereotypic” behaviour.

Different types of Stims

There are many forms of stimming which range from:

  • Tactile

Touching things with textures such as soft feathers, snapping fingers, flapping hands, even rearranging objects and such.

  • Visual

Some things such as snow globes, repetitive blinking, rotating objects and lights can distract from an overload.

  • Olfactory

Smells – who doesn’t like the smell of scented oils, incense sticks, bread being baked and such.

  • Dance

Dancing whether sitting down or standing up – allows someone to channel the energy from a potential overload.

  • Dermatillomania (derm-a-till-oh-may-nee-ah)

This is a skin picking disorder which quite often is done during times of stress and it is not always a conscious action.

  • Trichotillomania (trick-oh-till-oh-may-nee-ah)

This is also known as trich. It is not known why people do this. It is something which is done when they cannot resist the urge to pull out the hair on their head or other places such as their legs even eyebrows.

Dermatillomania: Anxiety and depression might aggravate or exacerbate the problem, but they’re not what causes it.

Fed Penzel
  • Touch

Rubbing and stroking particular things such as twiddling hair on the head, clicking a pen repetitively,

  • Hitting/Self Harm

Sometimes someone might have a sensory overload which can lead to behaviour which can shock people and sometimes can lead to behaviour which causes concern. Such behaviour can be head banging, punching self, biting and more.

If I get sensory overload then I just shut down; you get what’s known as fragmentation…it’s weird, like being tuned into 40 TV channels.

Source: National Autism Society (https://www.autism.org.uk)

Here is an amazing video about Stimming by Agony Autie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bhT2R9HiLs

Please respect the stim and try to understand

I took the terms from the video by Agony Autie and did additional reading. It is important to acknowledge that stimming is not harmful behaviour. We should only worry if there is a danger to the person’s health, life or if it leads to social exclusion.

Most people stim in some form, we don’t realise it and it should never be discouraged.

One last thing

Did you know that some people who are on the Neurodiverse spectrum experience Synaesthesia.

So, what is Synaesthesia?

Synaesthesia is a rare condition experienced by some people on the Neurodiverse spectrum . An experience goes in through one sensory system and out through another. So a person might hear a sound but experience it as a colour. In other words, they will ‘hear’ the colour blue.

Source: National Autism Society (https://www.autism.org.uk)

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