(Us on 10/7/2017; at one of the most beautiful places in Washington state–Twanoh State Park)
I asked Justin to write a blog post about stimming. We watched the movie The Accountant, with Ben Affleck, a while ago, and he does the stimming where he racks a piece of wood on his shins listening to hardcore music for 10 minutes. I didn’t really get it. From a neuro-typical point of view, it looks crazy. This apparently is called stimming, which is sort of a self-soothing/stimulation thing for Aspies and Autism-spectrum people everywhere. I don’t really notice now when Justin stims, and I know it’s something he needs to do. His stimming behavior isn’t too out of this world–he just gets lost in music or does 15 things at once, and it seems to help. I found a really good article about it:
I recommend reading this. It helps to understand why they do this & that it’s normal for them.
So I had Justin write about it, too. Here’s what it’s like in his world.
Stimming From An Aspie’s point of view
Have you ever watched a really, really good movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time? Or read a mystery novel that you just can’t even? You know that weird tension you feel where you feel you gotta keep bouncing your leg or move to the edge of your seat, or just can’t sit still?
That’s how autism feels some days. All day. ALL DAY. It’s not regular. Some days I wake up just fine, and some days I wake up feeling like I want to run around the block 17 times. I feel the odd tension and just have this weird energy. Some people with Autism shake, or rock back and forth, or flail their hands and legs and arms. But it’s only temporary. I didn’t know what it was until recently, and it’s stimming.
Apparently I’ve been stimming most of my life. For me, loud music is my go-to. I don’t really care what kind of music it is (not screamo or anything like that), but I just pick the song or station, blare it (sorry, neighbors) and it takes me to a totally blank place. I don’t feel my whole body, and I don’t have my usual billion thoughts. I just feel better. But sometimes I feel emotional afterwards, which is weird, and feel like I need to cry. I haven’t figured that out yet.
Multi-tasking, or doing 10 things at once helps me too. While typing this up, I also have a YouTube up with a football player’s biography and another YouTube up with my favorite band Korn playing in the background. Some people can’t do this (my wife, for example), because it’s too much at once. But it helps me a lot. I am only focusing all my thoughts on this writing, but I also can hear all that and focus on the writing at the same time. I also can get completely lost in researching things. My wife told me about Chernobyl, which I had never heard of until I met her. I got obsessed with learning about this, and spent hours losing track of time and completely sucking up all information I could find on this topic. This was me 24/7. I barely did anything else (except the music and other stuff in the background, of course!).
Up until I married my wife, I thought everyone could do this. She can’t have anything on while she’s focusing, like on homework or something.
So if anyone you know is autistic or has Asperger’s and flails their hands or taps, that’s usually why. Stimming helps us a lot.
Be patient with those who have this behavior. You know how that anxiety can feel, and they feel it worse than the neuro-typical. Don’t shame them for it, and just let them do what they gotta do.
Do you stim? Do you know others who stim and what their self-soothing behavior is? Share with us. We’d love to hear how others tackle this.