Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Stimming - What is it?

What is stimming? Stimming is a repetitive body movement that self-stimulates one or more senses. In psychiatry stimming is known as a "stereotypy", a continuous, purposeless movement. Classic stims such as hand flapping and rocking are pretty well known due to the film industry portraying many autistics this way. Many people with autism do not stim at all, it is just one of the many symptoms that effects people on the autism spectrum.

Here is a stiming list. The senses being stimulated are visual, auditory, tactile, vestibular and taste & smell.


My grandson did some stimming when they first fostered him until he was maybe three. I never saw him flap, but my daughter did a couple times when he was overstimulated. He would rock, and watch the wheels on trucks & cars as he moved them along the floor. He was obsessed with opening and closing doors. His mom couldn't take him through the freezer section of the grocery store because of his compulsion to stay there all day and open & close the doors. His stimming gradually decreased and we never thought much of it until recently when he started Kindergarten. His preschool lost their special education license so all special needs kids had to leave. My daughter tried her utmost to find another placement, but everything had a waiting list, so Michael started school a couple months late. They switched him from one classroom to another, and switched one-on-one aids that was assisting him. As Michael's stress level increased guess what came back, his stimming. He began to flap, and clap and rock. It broke my heart. Believe it, stress will have a major effect on the autistic child and the amount of stimming they do. I'm happy to report that the stress has been reduced and so has the stimming.

What are your thoughts on stimming? Does it drive you crazy? Do you accept it and allow it? At home? In public? Feel free to share a stimming story in the comments.

1 comment:

Erin said...

My daughter stims often. She puts her hand above her eye (like a salute almost) and chants "Oh, Oh" constantly. We let her do it unless we are in a situation where she needs to focus or it is possible that it is bothering others. Otherwise, we let her go with it..it seems to de-stress her.