What is stimming? This word is short for the term “self-stimulation,” describing a behavior in children and people with autism or sensory processing disorders. But the fact is that all people stim from time to time, whether that is fidgeting in your seat or tapping the table when bored. But in children with sensory processing issues, stimming will be more repetitive and extreme, even to the point of being unhealthy. Here is some more information about stimming and how you can help your child manage it.
Autism and Stimming
Stimming is how children naturally cope with their environment, whether they are understimulated or overstimulated. Rocking, pacing, and repeating words are common forms of stimming. The reason why stimming might be a concern for a child with autism or another SPD is because of how much the environment affects their ability to cope. When it comes to sensory processing issues, it can be difficult to have the proper amount of stimulation. Children can become anxious, and their stimming behaviors might get more out of control. Or in some instances, a child’s stimming behavior could be socially inappropriate, such as spinning, flapping arms, or hitting.
What to do about Stimming
A child needs to be able to stim in a way that is comfortable for them as well as healthy and safe. As a parent, you want the best for your child, and that doesn’t necessarily mean you should try to eliminate all stimming behavior. But there are ways to help channel and control their stimming if it gets excessive. First, if your child is at risk of harming themselves or others, you should talk to their doctor and therapist for advice. Regardless, it’s best to see a doctor to make sure that stimming isn’t a symptom of another medical issue. Otherwise, if their stimming isn’t harmful but causes a significant distraction in their everyday life, then your goal is to work on ways to limit it. Try creating a designated time and place, like a sensory hideout, where your child is free to stim when they need to. You can also use other activities, like exercise, which can help replace stimming to an extent.
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center serves families of children and adolescents with disabilities and special needs. We are a team of experts in the fields of pediatric speech, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and behavioral sciences. As a team, we offer intensive hands-on therapy for children and adolescents, as well as informative and useful resources for families. If you are interested in learning more about what we can do to help your family, visit us online or give us a call at (301) 577-4333. Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.