What exactly is ‘Stimming’?
The term ‘stimming’ is actually slang for self-stimulating behaviour. And even as i type that, the image of someone wanking themselves into oblivion pops up in my brain.
Which to be fair the majority of us do, do, that could be seen as an act of ‘stimming’. It’s repetitive and it feels good. We tend to do that to relieve ourselves of tension, either sexual tension or even just feeling stressed out.
People with Autism can have various types of ‘stimming’ behaviours. Some are done in private, and some are done in public. It can be hand-clapping, foot tapping, wiggling your fingers, etc. Something that provides a sense of stimulation, either of the mind or body, but frequently benefiting both.
What do i do?
Because stimming is something that all of us do at some point or another, but are seen as ‘normal’, when i do it, it’s not noticeable, unless you’re really looking for it. Of course, i’m talking about what i do, when i’m around people.
Sometimes i’m not actually aware of it myself. But it has been pointed out that i will frequently use the same words or phrases when talking to people. Other than that, i wiggle my fingers, tap my feet or rock very gently from side to side – especially when i’m standing doing nothing.
I should note here, that it’s extremely annoying when people do point out my odd behaviour, as it just makes me very concious of it. And stimming is very different from having ‘habits’.
Why is there a sheet of wood on my bedroom floor?
I will only talk about this once, here, and no where else. This is something very intensely private to me, but something that people are always curious about….
Since i was a toddler, my parents can remember spinning around in a spot, to music. Like any parent they were amused by this. Their little daughter was learning to dance, in the adorable way that kids do at that sort of age.
Curiously, they didn’t find it odd, and it was never queried, that i didn’t grow out of this.
To this day, i still do this, in the privacy of my bedroom. No one is allowed in the room when i do it. And it’s something i don’t talk about.
The act itself is very important. It’s not just a quirk, it’s a need. Like needing air to breathe, food and water to live, etc.
It’s important because it helps me de-stress. It helps me to filter and deal with thoughts and feelings, that i may be having that time. It also helps me to re-balance myself as a person.
Music, my life long partner
I feel sorry for my neighbours that i had when i was a kid, because accompanying this act is the need to have loud music with it. Now, fortunately, i use headphones. So much so, i go through them a lot, and have amassed myself a collection of them.
Some people, that i have (uncomfortably) spoken with, about this, have asked me, can i still do it, without music? The short answer being, no. I’ve tried in the past, and it just doesn’t work. I lose myself in the music. I’m transported to story ideas, acting out various social situations that may have happened or due to happen – this strengthens my social skills more than you (NT’s) could ever know!
I’m not just listening to music and spinning around on this bit of wood on the floor. I’m in my mind, in space as a fighter pilot in star waves, i’m in a band doing a world tour, i’m on a date with my crush who’s asked me out next week or i’m battling dragons and saving damsels in distress. In short, i have a vivid imagination ;D
Me and music have had a very important relationship since i was very young, because i don’t just listen to it. I feel it. It becomes a part of me.
When i tell people this, they think they understand. Because we all like music. I’ve never met a human who doesn’t. But ultimately they don’t. Because people in the past haven’t realised the importance of when i send a song to them. It’s not that i think you’ll like it. But it’s because either it makes me think of them, or i’m expressing how i feel. So it ends with them saying they either don’t like it or it’s nice or just no feedback at all.
I sometimes find it difficult letting people know how much they mean to me. Or how i feel about something. So, sometimes songs help. It’s me, reaching out to you. Trying to connect in a meaningful way.
For more info: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-ouch-22771894