What is stimming? Stimming is a self stimulating behaviour that common ones include rocking or hand flapping. Generally. They are harmless and usually result in looks or comments with the public. There are more harmful stims out there such as head-banging, hair pulling or punching oneself. Those are the types we need to watch out for and to support others who do get these urges. Some stims can include using fidget items such as spinners, cubes, bracelets, chewable necklaces or even just watching sequined cushions because they are a shiny distraction.
As an autistic myself, I do stim. However, I have been told to stop when I was younger, as expected with many autistic’s because it “looks stupid” or “it’s not normal”.
I do still stim, but I feel that they are more subtle. I used to rock a lot (especially when listening to music) when I was a child, but now. I rock more subtly (I don’t realise that I’m doing it half the time!). Another similar stim is when I listen to music and I let my imagination overload in my mind. This gives me a rush and I have to move. So I walk. My walking looks different when this happens, If I can’t walk, I need to be in a place of movement, such as sitting on a bus or a car. I do it when I digitally compose music as well.
Hand flapping is another one, I mainly do this when I am excited. Othertimes when I’m anxious, but mostly it’s a happy stim. Smelling objects is a weird one of mine. I tend to do it mostly with food to see if it’s not expired, or with clothes to see if they smell clean. I dunno if it counts as a stim as such but I only recently thought of it as I got questioned about it recently. It’s similar to when I like to feel things on my face, just to check the temperature. I did this once to a boiling hot phone charger and had a burn mark that took ages to disappear.
I like colour and shiny things. Anything that’s hypnotising to watch. It’s a good distraction of mine. Sequined pillows and fidget spinners are fun to look at. I also love colourful lights in a room. I love the ambience it brings. One way for me to accomplish this stim and to wind me down is to play “Zone” in Wipeout Omega Collection on PS4. The constant rising speed and changing colours and shapes calm me down untill I’m near my record. It’s like you’re in a trance state.
Unfortunately, I do have some questionable stims. I bite the skin of my fingers when I’m bored or anxious. Thankfully, they don’t bleed but they can get really sensitive to heat. I’m a nail biter, always have been but i think it has progressed to this. I’ve been a chewer for years and I still do. I chew on pencils and pens is my primary example. Others include smacking my head or at worst, scratching. But thankfully those are rare and only come if I’m feeling at my worst.
One stim I find rather amusing is Echolalia. I say random quotes from tv shows daily! Or even obscure stuff such as old cartoons. Another example of echolalia is when I binge watch a youtuber. I tend to repeat a quote or jingle from their videos. I do it randomly in my daily life when I;m walking or making coffee for my partner. Examples being singing “Caddicarus” or saying Korean Englishman’s channel in korean “yeong-gugnamja (영국남자)” in a specific tone that Josh does. It can be annoying when I say it at the most random times when I shouldn’t, but hey.
This video by Agony Autie explains stimming very well and I’d advice you to check it out!
Embrace the stim if it makes life more tolerable for you. Stims can be a good distraction for overwhelming daily activities for autistic PEOPLE. They can be fantastic coping mechanisms. We shouldn’t stop stimming because it “looks annoying” to other people. However, for that for the positive ones. We should monitor the negative sides and prevent further harm. Stimming has both a light and dark side so it’s good to be aware!
Feel free to comment below about stimming. I’d love to hear your stories!