Hello again, and welcome aboard the autism boat. Today I want to talk about a big aspect of my autism, stimming. Stimming is self-stimulatory behavior and I have been doing it my whole life in some way or another. Stimming is different for every autistic but it usually involves movement or sound. So lets dig deeper into how I stim, why I stim and why stimming is so important in an autistics life.
In my early life, looking back I stimmed a lot (my diagnosis wasn’t until I was 15). I used to ‘danced like Elvis’ when walking around, people just thought I was quirky but now I realize this was me stimming. I can only imagine what an odd sight this must have been and why I wasn’t assessed earlier.
As I’ve gotten older I have learnt to try and make my stimming smaller as so to fit into society better. This is awful but a reality lots of autistics are living in. This is called camouflaging but I will do a post about this later on. The main bit of stimming I do is rapidly moving my hands. I do this when I’m stressed, excited (happy hands!) or when I’m day dreaming. I may also lock my jaw when I’m day dreaming but I’ve only been told that. This is the most discrete I can get, as I don’t want to draw attention to my self. The other main one happens when I’m getting really distressed. I make low, grunting like sounds as I find it really hard to talk. This usually means I’m on the edge of a break down and need to go and rest. But with the polar opposite, when I’m really happy I make high pitch sounds. These sounds are also often accompanied by some movement. I might shake my body when distressed and not be able to sit still when I’m exited.
Now lets move on to why I think I stim. For me stimming is a way of combating negative stimulation with positive stimulation, so if there is a really high pitched noise I might start shaking my hand to combat this, consciously or unconsciously. I also think it’s to release energy when my brain is working too hard, which to be honest is most of the time as I have a very vivid imagination and my brain tends to wander a lot.
All of the above things are very positive, stimming is there to help you out so you can be healthier or concentrate for longer. So why is it that on the whole, especially non-autistics, see it as such a negative thing? Yes it can make us look a bit odd or sometimes threatening but it is a very good thing. I feel ashamed when I need to stim in public so it has lead to me having meltdowns in the middle of a busy street or my worst experience in Covent garden (a busy area of London), all because people would look and stare over something that we autistics can’t always control. This is why I want to raise awareness. I want autistic to be able to stim freely (as long as there not hurting themselves or others), as they would be much healthier as a result and I encourage reading this to tell your autistics in your live that its ok to stim and that you don’t mind as it will make them feel better.
I hope you found this insight into my life interesting, see you later!