What is Stimming?
Stimming, also known as self-stimulation, is commonly used by those on the autism spectrum or those with other developmental challenges. This tends to stimulate the nervous system and helps with the release of beta-endorphins, brain chemicals that contribute to certain sensations such as pleasure and content. In certain individuals, stimming can help reduce stress and can essentially be used to calm down in stressful or over stimulating situations. Stimming can also be used to express certain emotions such as anger or happiness.
There are various methods of self-stimulation, each corresponding to what we know as our 5 senses (hearing, touch, vision, taste, and smell). I will be explaining 5 of the most common methods of self-stimulating and how they are used. To begin, auditory stimming stimulates the individual's sense of hearing. Some examples include humming, covering or uncovering ears in a repetitive manner, tapping or hitting objects to create different sounds and pitches, repeating words, song lyrics, sentences in books or movies etc. Another form of stimming is tactile stimming, which stimulates the individual's sense of touch. Some examples include, feeling different objects and surfaces with various textures and properties, fidgeting with different objects, clapping, snapping etc. The next form of stimming is visual stimulation, which stimulates the individual's sense of sight. Some examples include, staring attentively at certain objects, visualizing certain colour schemes, following moving objects, animals or people with their eyes, continuous blinking or vision obstruction etc. The final common method of stimming is olfactory stimulation, this method stimulates the individual's sense of taste and smell. Some examples include having a favourite smell or taste, repetitive tasting or smelling certain objects etc.
It is important to note that stimming or self-stimulation should not be viewed as something negative nor abnormal. However, if the individual's method of self-stimulation begins to become harmful for the individual or other individuals it is important to seek medical aid and look for alternative stimulation.
Rudy, Lisa Jo. “Understanding Why Your Autistic Child Rocks, Flaps, and Paces.” Verywell
Health, 28 Nov. 2019, www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-stimming-in-autism-260034.