Thursday, July 18, 2013

Stimming, Explained

I'm reading this book called "Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid" by Gina Gallagher and Patricia Konjoian, and it's fabulously funny and uplifting.  Yesterday I was having a bad day, and I read for a few minutes while the boys were in therapy, and it kind of pulled me out of my funk.  I'm really enjoying it.

So this morning I came across something in this book that I couldn't wait to share - it's an explanation of what stimming really is, and how every single one of us does it.  Every one of us is doing the same thing kids with autism do, just in a different, more socially acceptable way.  They cite for this definition.  Here's the passage:

Stimming is "any nonfunctional behavior involving repetitive or rhythmic action that is an unconscious or purposeful response to anxiety, stress, or boredom.  Examples include gum chewing, toe tapping, nail biting, or cracking knuckles.

Examples of abnormal stimming might be -

  • hand flapping, body rocking, spinning or flipping of objects
  • repetitive vocal sequences (humming, mouth or throat noises)
  • Imposed sensory input behaviors (atypical body postures, teeth grinding smelling, tasting, staring)"

I bounce one knee, almost constantly.  It's very difficult for me to sit still, and if I stop concentrating on not bouncing my knee, it'll start up again and I don't even realize it.  This is my stim.

Sitting in church with my family when I was growing up, I'd rattle the whole pew.  My dad used to tell me to stop it, and I'd tell him that if I stopped bouncing my knee, I wasn't sure where that energy would come out - and it might not be pretty.

When you bite your nails, or tap your foot, or even just chew gum for goodness sake - you are doing the same thing for yourself that a child with autism is doing when he flaps his hands wildly, or in the case of my boys, bounces up and down.  It's just that society accepts what you do as normal.

We're all the same.

(By the way, autocorrect, you need to figure out that "stimming" is, in fact, a word.)

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