Monday, 25 April 2011

Stim City and the Internal Trampoline

Stimming as described in the book the Autism experience by Valerie Foley is "the repetition of physical movement or sounds in order to stimulate or calm oneself".   
There was a time when I didn't think that Dillon had any stims (I also thought Autistic= Rainman so.....) because in the beginning, he didn't do the usual things like spinning, flapping or rocking.  There was this thing he would do with his fingers in front of his eyes and so for a long time I thought (or maybe hoped) he had a problem with his vision.
However, once we received his official diagnosis it was as if the sky opened up and all the stims rained down on top of us.  First we had the spinning, boy did we have spinning.  There wasn't a thing safe in the house.  Cups, glasses, plates, toys, toast (yes toast) you name it, he could/would spin it.  Even if there was nothing to spin I would often see his hand making the motions.  With the spinning becoming out of control (not to mention dangerous),  I decided to try and direct him to other things and eventually it stopped.  You know what they say though 'a rolling stone gathers no moss'.  Just when I would be feeling all pleased with myself a new stim would emerge.  We've had them all : teeth grinding, throat clearing (or hocking if you prefer), constantly pacing the house, flapping, playing with cords, walking the perimeter, licking walls (that threw me especially as he only ever did it out of the house), loud vocalisations, running the taps, flushing the toilet, going back and forth to touch me several times a day, finger flicking, repetitive use of talking toys, music and so on.  Most of these things take turns and some of them keep company.
We've had a fairly busy start to the year.  First up there was the birth of our 4th boy, Oisin (pronounced Osh-een for all the non Irish) Next the Paddy had a nasty accident at work where he received steam burns to his chest, neck and arms, requiring 2 weeks in hospital and skin grafting. A major upheaval but enough said about that for now.  These events plus the school holidays no doubt  resulted in this happening!  Which leads me to the latest new stims.  Ever since the 'great escape', Dillon has developed this little internal bounce which occurs numerous times a day and then there is this........

 Hmmm, I wonder what he is trying to tell us?
I'm pretty moderate when it comes to stimming,  ya know, we all have our ways of unwinding and coping with stress.  I have to admit though, I'm pretty anxious for the school term to begin.


  1. I hear you! It's interesting that in the beginning of this journey the behaviorists all said to always interrupt a stim. But I am ALWAYS interrupting something with my little man around here (mostly to do with inappropriately chewing or scratching things), so in order to lessen the craziness which already has its hands quite tightly around my family's neck, I let the stimming go. And, well, because my little guy stims in some form or another pretty much all the time. Oy vey.

  2. Love it!! congrats on the birth of your blog!! I love the way you write you have a talent for it my friend!!

  3. It seems, at least, a lesson learned? Or am I seeing too much there...

    Our "best" stim would involve attempting head-stands, and climbing the nearest available parent.

  4. Hell no! There's no lesson learnt. He just can't get out. There are more than 1 lock on that door. :)

  5. OMG! I never thought Aspie Lad really had stimming behaviour but just watching that little clip I can now think of several examples from your list that I have seen!

    Hope the next few weeks are calmer ones. I am also sort of holding on til the return to school!

  6. Why can't I make this video work...grr.
    It makes me wish someone could 'map' these behaviours, so we could decode the communication in them...


  7. Both my boys have 'stims', too. Sensory processing is so complex. It seems the most common for them are physical, especially hand flicking or finger tensing. At least vocal ticks don't hang around for long and I can actually ask them both to stop, which is pretty amazing.
    I really hope the return to school helps everyone! It really looks like Dillon wants out in that video :(