When I first started reading about autism, so many things in my life seemed to fit the description. I looked at experiences that I’d never linked together and suddenly things made sense to me. I was sure I was autistic.
But I was convinced I didn’t stim. Stimming is another word for self-stimulating behaviour, or as the DSM refers to it, stereotyped or repetitive motor movements, use of objects, or speech. It actually rather worried me, because I was afraid that without stimming I wouldn’t be autistic enough to get diagnosed.
Alright, I did have a tendency to get very bouncy when I was excited about something. But that’s not really stimming is it? Stimming is the flapping and the rocking, right?
And then I read somewhere that playing with your hair is a stim. And I thought, “Hey, I do that. A lot. Actually a whole lot. In fact, my mum was always telling me to leave my hair alone.” And then I read another blogger who stroked the satin binding on her blanket as a stim. And I thought, “Mmm satin binding, that feels nice, I need to buy more stuff wi… Hang on. That’s stimming too? I do that.”
I’m not the only one who reads the standard descriptions of stimming and thinks it doesn’t apply to me. I’ve heard dozens of other autistic adults say the same thing. So I have taken the initiative to compile a list of stimming behaviours, based on a survey with over a THOUSAND responses. Yes, you read that right. Not just autistic stims, but ADHD stims, OCD stims, Tourette stims, manic stims, depressed stims, stressed stims, and any other stim you can think of.
A list showing all our unique ways of coping with our environment. A list that might help others recognise the same things in themselves.