I recently read a blog post (the link is below) and it really got me thinking about stimming. I’ve always thought worrying about a kid’s stimming issues is sort of like worrying about a car’s paint job when it doesn’t have any brakes. The author, who has ASD, made a lot of sense to me.
Stimming is something that is discussed a lot among parents and professionals. Here’s my 2 cents on stimming. If you need to stim then stim. I care about you learning the concept I’m teaching. If you need to shake a string to help you find the blue dog, then shake away. If your stim is disruptive to others, then lets find a more socially acceptable way to stim. If a stim is self injurious, try to find a replacement that’s safe. If your stimming is already socially acceptable and safe feel free to do it anytime any place! If you need to get up and walk around because it’s hard to do the work and control your urge to move; I’ll walk with you and read you the questions. You may have to get very creative; but there’s usually a way.
I acknowledge that this post is more opinion/anecdotal than evidenced based but something about completely eliminating a stim seems wrong. It’s seems wrong to me because we rarely require it of neuro-typical people. Why do the rules change for Autism? People do weird things all the time when performing difficult tasks. Is it normal to tap your foot as you write? Technically speaking, no; it isn’t, especially if you’re in an extremely quiet library. What if when you were dancing ballet you hung your tongue out and to the side? Everyone would think you were acting weird, right? Well, when Michael Jordan dunked, that’s what he did and no one says he’s a weird person because he did it.
My point is this, you never really know what task or thing is difficult for someone. Lots of people (ASD and Neuro-typical) do weird things when doing something difficult; even if it’s mental and others can’t see it. That’s not specific to Autism. Until we are willing to tell MJ to put his tongue back in his mouth; I’m not taking your string!
I’ve decided to turn this stimming post into a series of posts on stimming. There is a process to determining why a child is stimming and finding something that satisfies the sensory need and/or is socially acceptable.
I’ll get off my soap box now. If you’d like more specific information on stimming and great perspective from a person with ASD on the subject, click below.