Published by: Medical News Today
Written by: Lori Smith
Repetitive body movements or repetitive movement of objects is referred to as self-stimulatory behavior, abbreviated to stimming. Stimming can occur in people with autism and other developmental disabilities.
Some people will stim when nervous, employing behaviors such as pacing, biting their nails, hair twirling, or tapping their feet or fingers.
In this article, we will examine why stimming occurs and the different types that occur. We will also look at what can be done if someone’s stimming behaviors are causing them problems in day-to-day life. Click
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“Stimming” is short for self-stimulatory behavior. (or stereotypical).
It is common among people with developmental disabilities such as intellectual disabilities and Fragile X Syndrome.
It is also prevalent among people on the autism spectrum.
In fact in many cases, it is part of the diagnosis due to the repetition of stimming.
Stimming is often used as a means to self-regulate, self-calm and for self-expression.
The movements are repetitive and are used to self-stimulate the 7 senses.
It is often described as a repetitive motor behavior that can disrupt academic and social and other activities.
One of the theories behind stimming is that beta-endorphrins are released in the brain casuing an euphoric feeling which is generally a response to pain.
Stimming behavior. based for self-soothing and to help a child or an adult regain emotional balance.
Sensory Overload. Too much sensory information can lead to stress, anxiety and eventually a meltdown.
It is observed in 10% of non-autistic children.
common forms of stimming include spinning, hand-flapping and body rocking
Benefits of stimming include the increased ability to remain calm, reduce meltdowns, and increased focus and time management skills.
Love ones and society may consider stimming socially inappropriate
Autistic people should be allowed to stim as much as needed
Autistic people may bebefit from stress balls, fidget toys, and chewy jewelry.
Stimming helps to relieve anxiety.
Most people in the autistic community oppose attempts to reduce or eliminate stimming
This is due to understanding that stimming is an important tool for self-regulation.
Stimming can help block out excess sensory input
Stimming helps provide extra sensory when needed
repeated banging of the head actually reduces the overall sensation of pain.
Visual. Repetitive movements such as fluorescent lights which tend to flicker.
Smell (Olfactory) Includes repetitive behavior in licking, tasting objects,
Tactile. Skin-rubbing, hand movement, and repeatedly grind teeth
Vestibular. Moving body, rocking back to front, spinning, jumping and pacing. Vigorous exercise reduces the need to stim.
Autism Asperger’s Digest
Child Mind Institute
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (2013). APA 5th Edition