‘A self stimulatory behaviour.
The repetition of a movement, a sound, or a repeated movement of an object.’

There are the ones people are more aware of.
The constant spinning of wheels, hand flapping, rocking, jumping up and down on the spot.

We all do it.
It is not predominately found in Autism.
We all need a certain amount of sensory stimulation to make us feel comfortable.
Some of us bite our nails, some suck their thumb, some twirl our hair, some tap their foot.
We manage to keep them private.
We know when it is appropriate…..acceptable….to do them.
People with Autism don’t recognise this.
Some people with Autism spend their days stimming.
It can become obsessive.
That is when it can become difficult to manage.

Some stimming behaviours can be frightening.
Some can cause injury such as the need to headbutt the floor/wall repeatedly.
Whilst stimming is a useful tool, it needs to be discouraged if it becomes dangerous.

Stimming can be used to self calm.
As a relaxation tool.
It can be away of blocking anxiety provoking situations.
It can be away of distracting themselves away from the world around them.
It is done to receive a desired consequence; a sensory reward.

My girl has a few stims.
Mainly she wiggles her fingers, jumps up and down on the spot, flaps her hands and spins.
Spinning has been her main stim since she was very young.
When smaller she used to run around in circles constantly for long periods of time.
She has always had the ability to spin for a long time without getting dizzy.
She either stands on the spot and spins, or runs around in circles.

Spinning helps her to understand where her body is in relation to space, and enables her to feel motion intensely.
This is because she has problems with Proprioception, something that is affected in people with Autism and sensory difficulties.

Out and about people find it strange to see her spinning.
I explain to people that she needs to do it.
It drastically reduces her anxiety.
It shuts out the world briefly.
It makes things easier for her to cope with.

After a shopping trip today she was spinning before she would get in the car.
Whilst looking a bit odd to some people, I felt quite proud of her.
Proud because she held it together in the shop.
No meltdowns.
Her fingers wiggling the whole way around.
But she coped really well!


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