American Asperger's Association Support Group

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» **********echo*******************
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What is Stimming?

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1 What is Stimming? on Tue Jan 06, 2009 10:33 am

csweepigirl

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What Is Stimming?
Stimming is repetitive stereotypic behavior commonly found in autism, but also found in other
developmental disabilities. This behavior may involve any or all of the senses in various degrees
in different individuals. Several examples are listed below.
Visual – staring at lights, blinking, gazing at fingers, lining up objects
Auditory – tapping fingers, snapping fingers, grunting, humming
Smell – smelling objects, sniffing people
Taste – licking objects, placing objects in mouth
Tactile – scratching, clapping, feeling objects nail biting, hair twisting, toe-walking
Vestibular – rocking, spinning, jumping, pacing
Proprioception – teeth grinding, pacing, jumping

2 More stimming on Tue Jan 06, 2009 10:35 am

csweepigirl

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Self-stimulation:
(e.g. stimming)- Repetitive, stereotyped behaviors whose sole purpose appears to be to stimulate ones own senses.
To some extent we all engage in self- stimulation such as when we are anxious or bored, for instance, pen tapping, foot
tapping, hair chewing, nail biting, teeth grinding, gum chewing, etc. However, in children with Autism it becomes problematic because it can be an obsessive preoccupation, not easily redirected. It is one of the major diagnostic features of Autism.
Examples include repetitive motor movements such as rocking ones body, hand flapping, running in circles, spinning
oneself, inappropriate jumping, and clapping. Other forms of self stimulation can be manipulation of objects (twirling a string,
rolling paper, etc.), visual tracking of objects, prolonged gazing or hand regarding. The production of vocal sounds like grunting, humming, yelling, and repeating phrases out of context is also considered a form of self stimulation. Yet another form involves obsessions with rituals or routines. This includes lining objects up, holding items, Many people with high functioning Autism
have reported that some 'self stims' seem to serve a regulatory function for them (ie. calming, shutting out an overwhelming
sound, reducing stress in uncomfortable situations).
Individuals with Autism vary greatly in how their disorder presents itself and self-stim behaviors are no exception to this.
Self stimulatory behaviors can be generally divided in two types, excitatory and calming. Some self stims are somewhat
functional and can help a person center themselves, focus and cope with a situation. Other stims are purely excitatory
(child sees something they like and gets wound up, may make loud noises, hand flap, clap or become otherwise physically
active) and can interfere with focus and learning, These are usually more stigmatizing because they draw more attention
and are generally more important to redirect because they are less functional. Why then is it important to try to reduce self stimulatory behaviors?
1. It significantly interferes with attention

2. It's highly reinforcing to the child and makes other more adaptive behaviors less appealing
3. It is stigmatizing
How can you intervene to help reduce self stimulatory behaviors?
Redirect behaviors in a neutral way, don't comment on them or give them unnecessary attention.
Instead, provide positive reinforcement for the absence of the behavior.
Don't let the behaviors function in a way that allows the child to escape from demands.
If behaviors cannot be completely eliminated try to limit them to certain times and places (for example, you may choose to
let a child stim when they are at home in the privacy of their own bedroom but not in school or at the kitchen table). When
there are many behaviors to address, try to focus most of your attention on reducing excitatory stims versus those that
are calming. Also, sometimes when there is a lack of other motivators, self- stim toys or activities can be used as a positive reinforcement for other target behaviors. This way the teacher/parent is able to exert some control over the behavior as the
child works to earn "stim time". Since these behaviors are highly preferred (and thus difficult to eradicate) they can be very
powerful motivators for learning. This can be very helpful especially if a child does not have a large repertoire of reinforcers
to motivate him with.

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