Thursday, August 19, 2010

Stim Time

Stimming, or "self-stimulation", is a term many parents who have children with autism understand.  Children with autism enjoy many activities that seem odd to us and are generally done alone.  Generally I dislike stimming because it's time that could be replaced with more productive activities, but I realize Alanna enjoys it and sometimes she just needs to do it.

Some favourite stims include:
  • Bouncing on the couch
  • Kicking her feet
  • Many different sounds, including a cry sound that is really really irritating
  • Throwing things and picking them up, then throwing them again
  • Chewing on inedible things (PECS are a favourite)
Usually stimming means:
  • I'm bored
  • I'm tired
  • I really need sensory input (see I'm bored above)
This one is new and admittedly was kind of funny... (don't mind the highly expensive duct-taped couch).


  1. You know I have been watching stims for last year (once I knew they were stims and then realized I had been watching stims from 6 months of age - of course a lot of 6 month olds stim, but they stop) - I have seen little NT kids "stim", and other autistic children (much older) stim.

    Most of my son's stims are all of what you described but there is one point that you missed out I feel - "I am overwhelmed and anxious" - time and time again I have seen this - and they resort to their most comforting one in those times - the one you see the most.

    Maybe you will see it as she grows up.

    I know high functioning kids that you wouldnt know were autistic (Until you sit down with them and challenge their executive functioning) - and the two I know - will stim when this happens.

  2. Stranded, you are absolutely right. Alanna DOES stim when she is overwhelmed and/or anxious. It's her way of coping and trying to regulate herself. This is a cue to us that we should try to help her regulate, remove her from the situation, or let her stim to get through it if we cannot help her any other way. Great observation!