Stimming is a ‘stereotypical’ behavior found in those who suffer from autism. However, before we dive into what stimming is exactly, it is worth noting that while it is a symptom of autism, it is also a behavior that everybody engages in from time to time. However, there are a few differences between normal stimming and autistic stimming, which we are going to touch upon on this page.
Firstly, what is stimming? Well, it is a self-stimulation behavior. Basically, any behavior which you use to ‘stimulate’ yourself. For example, tapping your foot on the floor repetitively, twirling your hair, rocking back and forth, or repeating certain words and phrases repeatedly. As with most other symptoms of autism, every person will ‘stim’ in their own way.
As mentioned previously, everybody goes through stimming to some extent. It does not necessarily mean that you have autism. What defines ‘autistic’ stimming is the type of action that is used. Let’s take nail biting for instance. As unhygienic as it may be, it is a common behavior found in those who are not suffering from autism. This makes it ‘normal’, to some extent. However, an autistic person may carry out stimming which is less than normal. For example, walking around, twirling their hands or walking around and repeating loud phrases to themselves over and over again. However, once again, it is worth pointing out that stimming does differ from person to person. There is absolutely nothing to say that a person with autism may not be dealing with one of the more ‘normal’ behaviors when it comes to stimming. This, again, means that the condition is going to be a whole lot harder to spot.
There are several reasons as to why people with autism may deal with stimming on a regular basis. These reasons may include, for instance:
- They use it as a way in which they can manage their emotions. For example, an autistic person may have to deal with stimming if they are going through a period of severe anxiety. They may even use it to deal with periods of fear or anger. Basically, if somebody becomes overwhelmed with their emotions.
- Many autistic people will use stimming as a way to deal with overwhelming sensory input. For example, if they are caught in an area which boasts too much light or noise.
For those with autism, stimming provides a distraction from the world and helps to make it that much bearable. Sadly, however, many people with autism suffer from stimming which can cause issues in their day to day life. For example, it can impact them in social situations, or it may put them in harm’s way. While many doctors out there will not suggest eliminating stimming completely, something which should never happen, they will suggest that methods are used to manage it. For example, finding ways in which to modify their stimming to be behaviors which have ‘less’ of an impact on their day-to-day lives.