What I Understand about Stimming

My son has always had some form of stimming going on. Some behaviors stay with son, while others cease to exist, and new ones take their place if I am allowed to be honest with you. These behaviors are sometimes weird and annoying. His behaviors would create a sense of awkwardness and nuisances that have always been hard to justify publicly. I often feared that it would interfere with the social climate of his surroundings and with him making meaningful connections. Although anyone can have stimming behaviors, people on the spectrum may struggle to control stimming behaviors, leaving loved ones and onlookers inflexible, unkind, or intolerant. Understanding the person and the behavior can create an environment for acceptance and understanding. However, some forms of stimming can be disturbing and harmful, and if this is an issue, helping to develop healthy behaviors to cope with the sensory processing problems is essential, as well as being able to identify the behaviors and the correlation of when they are happening.

My Son Experience with Stimming

As I speak of this, I remember when my son was small, and as we drove in the car, he would always scream and cry every time we would travel by train yards or places with murals. It went unnoticed initially, but after enough times of the same behavior, I understood that this made him uncomfortable and decided to take a different route—other examples of provoked circumstances for kids with difficulty with loud noises or sensitivity to fluorescent lights. A way to remedy that would be darkening glasses or noise-canceling headphones. A friend of mine has a son who would always jump from high places. A weighted blanket might be an idea for aiding that behavior.

Stimming is not just a behavior limited to neurodivergent; it can show up in any person’s biting when nerves are getting the best of them or rocking your foot back and forth, to name a couple. Mild behaviors may seem benign, while sporadic behaviors might cause social isolation and harm. Not all stims are awful and bothersome, and for those, there is no harm in giving them space to exist. Not being able to stem can cause episodes of both depression and anxiety. Stimming is a means to self-regulate and is an integral part of how they experience the valid as long as the behavior is not destructive.