When the general public (which is my floppy term for people who know about the existence of autism but not too much about what it means) thinks about stimming in autism, most will probably come up with rocking, or hand flapping and the like, maybe also audible stims if they have ever been on a long flight with an autistic individual that happens to partially stim vocally. I believe most who have not gotten to know autistic people more closely will not think of more subtle ways of stimming or small stim toys. And I guess that's the point, in a way.
I'm not a hand flapper, nor am I a rocker. If I am autistic I am high-functioning, and I have been raised strictly, so any highly visible or audible stims would have been taboo at all times. Instead, I am what you could call a no-fidget-no-thinker. If I sit still in my university courses, not much thinking will take place, let alone verbal contributions. Rather, I will just act as a prop. Had I been in the theatre group of my school, I would have been the best tree that would have ever tree-d in an adaptation of Shakespeare. Realistically I'm not unintelligent, but I am sometimes slow to process information, and it worsens the more people are around. Consequently, while it might be a nightmare for people who aren't terribly into doing their assigned reading, I come to life in seminars with only two or three other students.
When I read about stimming, I thought I would give it a try. Maybe it would help me think faster and enable me to put my thoughts into more concise words?
So I sat in my 10-people-seminar, braiding the fringes of my scarf, and contributing to the discussion as I wish I could always do. At that moment I realized I need something to do with my fingers, but preferably not braiding my scarf fringes no matter the temperature outside until the day I graduate and further. The serious researcher I am, I remembered my explorations of stim toy ads on Instagram (as I briefly described in my previous post Childhood favorites are stim toys today) and found something I very much like: jewelry. It didn't take long for me to find a spinning ring to order online. It was my early Christmas present to myself, so to speak.
It's been around a month of spinning and for the sake of our time, I will cut straight to the chase: I'm not sure at all if it's worth it. Worth wearing it, worth the money I spent on it. This is not about the ring itself, which is a beautiful piece of handcrafted sterling silver jewelry, made by what is basically a tiny one-woman-company, which is definitely a good thing to support. But did it really have the benefits I had hoped it would have?
First off, I do definitely play with it when I am wearing it. It is not uncomfortable nor impractical (apart from the constantly lingering fear of ring avulsion; if you never heard of it, don't google it), so there are no obvious drawbacks to wearing it. But it didn't turn me into a more efficient thinker or speaker, at least not to the degree it's noticeable to me. From watching myself, I believe I use it more as a toy when there is nothing to do or think about, in the elevator for example. I will rarely spin it in class (even though it is almost completely silent). There are two theories I have that come into play now:
As far as I am informed, stim toys are supposed to help individuals concentrate on certain (mental) tasks and improve sensory processing and my expectations towards the ring stem from that line of thought. If that is not correct, it is time to start typing your comment, dear reader. Your girl has a deep interest in improving her academic/cognitive performance and in case her assumptions are false, she would gladly be corrected by more knowledgable individuals so she can go and search for her holy grail elsewhere.
- Either I need to teach myself to use the ring when thinking and/or listening, i.e. make it a habit,
- or I completely misunderstood the point of stimming and stim toys.
Dull self-criticism aside, I am left asking "What's the point?"
I will not yet give up my spinning ring. I paid too much money for it to disappointedly throw it into a corner of my room after a mere month. Initially, I wasn't planning a sequel but writing this post I have come to the conclusion (yay, at least one has been reached) that I must give another update in a month or two, which obligates me to keep wearing this thing on a regular basis and overcome my deep aversion to mixing different metal colors. In the meantime, please do tell me about your experiences with stimming, what it does for you, and anything related.
Until next time. Cheers!
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I tried stimming: Spinning rings