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  • Writer's pictureZoe Wiltshire

Stimming - what is it and why do we do it?

We sat down with several of our students to discuss what stimming is and how it presents itself. We originally recorded our student’s thoughts and have summarised them below:

Stimming is a type of coping mechanism that autistic people tend to do, however it isn’t solely an autistic trait.

Some examples of stimming are running, hand flapping, certain gestures with the body, humming, rocking, fidgeting, clicking…the list goes on. It's a way of regulating ourselves or in the context of school, to keep us in the green zone (this is in relation to the Zones of Regulation). It’s something people do with their bodies when they are happy, excited or anxious. People stim in all different ways.

Sometimes stimming shows emotions. For example, if I am trying to concentrate on something, I'll use a squishy toy. And if I'm trying to relax, I will cross my toes and tense them until I relax, which is a sort of stim. It's also a way of telling everyone we're scared, excited or nervous and I sometimes do it when I'm tired.

When I’m panicking, I sometimes rock back and forward, tap and have fidgety fingers.

And if we weren't allowed to stim, I would be very confused as I don't know any other way of showing that I'm nervous because I don't like talking to people.

This is something I don't think society knows a lot about because they tend to just criticise and not understand why you are doing it. It's sad, and the reason why it's sad is because it helps us and we can't help doing it.

It's not just autistic people that do this, it's everyone. You’ve probably done it before too.

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