Stimming is OK — it is not a bad thing. Stimming can help an Autistic person self-regulate, reduce anxiety, and express themselves.
Self-injurious stimming, though, should be stopped because it can hurt the individual. This can include cutting, biting, smacking one’s head, etc. This should be approached in a calm manner, and trying to understand why the individual is doing self-injurious stimming is a good thing to do. The individual may have anxiety, or the individual may be frustrated because he or she cannot communicate.
If someone does not want to or can’t do body stims in certain places, such as in a classroom during a lesson, a good alternative can be getting quiet stim toys to stim with. I have found some stim toys I can use during class if I need to. Some of my favorites are my Eni puzzle and my multi-color Klixx. A great place to find stim toys is Stimtastic, which is an online store where you can order stim toys. It has a great selection of stim toys and some pretty awesome chewable jewelry.
So, why is stimming OK?
- It is a natural behavior.
- It can help us express our feelings, such as anxiety or excitement.
- It can help us reduce anxiety and help us regulate ourselves.
- It feels just plain good!
When we are told to stop this, it’s like we are told not to express our feelings, not to use coping skills for anxiety. We are suppressed from doing something that can make us feel good.
Hand flapping doesn’t hurt anyone, rocking doesn’t hurt anyone, so why say stimming is “bad”? It is only bad if the stimming is self-injurious. So please, if an Autistic person is stimming in a public place, don’t try to stop them unless it is disruptive or if it is self-injurious. If the Autistic person needs to stim in a classroom, try to find stim toys to help the individual.
Stimming is OK. Stimming should be accepted. Stimming is OK — let’s promote autism acceptance by accepting stimming.
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