Question: What Is Stimming? Fun Answer: Stimming is awesome!!
Official Answer: from about.com‘s article:
The term “stimming” is short for self-stimulatory behavior, sometimes also called “stereotypic” behavior. In a person with autism, stimming usually refers to specific behaviors such as flapping, rocking, spinning, or repetition of words and phrases.
Stimming is almost always a symptom of autism, but it’s important to note that stimming is also a part of most people’s behavior patterns. If you’ve ever tapped your pencil, bitten your nails, twirled your hair, or paced, you’ve engaged in stimming.
The biggest differences between autistic and typical stimming are the choice of stim and the quantity of stim. While it’s at least moderately acceptable to bite one’s nails, for example, it’s considered unacceptable to wander around flapping one’s hands.
There’s really no good reason why flapping should be less acceptable than nail biting (it’s certainly more hygienic!)
But in our world, the hand flappers receive negative attention while the nail biters are tolerated.
Like anyone else, people with autism stim to help themselves to manage anxiety, fear, anger, and other negative emotions.
Parents, friends, caretakers and caring people:
You can help individuals on the autism spectrum by encouraging them, and showing by example, safe and positive ways to stim.
Try casually stimming along with them. It works best to neither make a big deal OR a little deal out of it. It shows them that it is okay to be unique!
Stimming together can also be a fun activity, and bonding moment. Stimming is just another coping mechanism in life, like meditation or exercising.
One of the things I miss most about teaching kids with autism are stimming breaks. So fun!