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Featured Are these Stims?

Discussion in 'General Autism Discussion' started by AngelaS267, Nov 9, 2019.

  1. AngelaS267

    AngelaS267 Active Member

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    Hey, so I'm new to learning about a lot of my behavior being on the spectrum. I have been going back over my behavior trying to decide if what I'm doing is stimming or not.

    I keep touching my face... A lot. And I realized that I've done that a lot through my life. I will run my fingers over my forehead, then put my hand on my cheek. Rub my cheek, then touch or pick at my lip. It's all very subtle. I probably appear bored. But I notice I do it when I'm sitting in public or studying. Very nervous habit

    I'm also doing this thing when I lay in bed where I'll put my left hand in the air and just let my hand dangle there. It feels comforting in this subtle way I don't know, but I've been doing it since college. Are these stims or am I thinking too hard about it?
     
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  2. Alexej

    Alexej Member

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    they may be

    I am recentl diagnosed and I know that when I am in company I will often touch myself or fiddle with the chain round my neck for jewelry I or touch my skin elsewhere
     
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  3. Kalinychta

    Kalinychta Well-Known Member

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    I don’t think those are stims, no. Stims are rhythmic and repetitive. Here’s some info:

    Stimming- a repetitive body movement that self-stimulates one or more senses in a regulated manner. While everyone stims sometimes, people on the autism spectrum do it far more frequently than their neurotypical counterparts. We categorize 3 specific types of stimming:

    • Hand stimming, including hand flapping, finger waving, and finger wiggling
    • Body stimming, including rocking, spinning, and head bobbing
    • Vocal stimming, including groaning, screeching, and various forms of vocalization
    Stimming is used for self-soothing, self-regulating and to gain control over our bodies and environment- like the urge to scratch an itch or move to music.
     
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  4. SusanLR

    SusanLR Well-Known Member

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    Rubbing my forehead, touching my face, picking my lip or chewing on my lower lip, scratching my temples,
    smoothing my hair, playing with my ring, yes, they are all stims.
    Done most as you put it @AngelaS267 more so when studying or around people.
    I've done it all my life, but, not until I was diagnosed did I know why.
    Some of these were questions on the test and therapist calls it stimming
    since it is a constant thing I do in these situations.

    I found this thread from 2014 on the face rubbing subject and stims:
    Touching and rubbing my face at almost all times?

    Discussion in 'General Autism Discussion' started by Athelstan, Dec 5, 2014
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2019
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  5. Autistamatic

    Autistamatic He's just this guy, you know? V.I.P Member

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    "Stimming" as is probably obvious to most, is derived from the word "stimulation". It's not been acknowledged as am aspect of autism by the establishment until relatively recently, and the accepted view is that it's closely related to "stereotypy" which is commonly observed in captive animals. It's also been pathologised as "SMD" (sterotypic movement disorder) and treated as a medical condition requiring therapy.

    Now autistics are able to gather and talk to each other via the internet, our shared experiences have brought forth a different view. A stim doesn't have to be a repetitive movement, or even a movement at all. It can be something visual, aural or tactile. It can be a food, a drink or even a person. A stim is simply something we frequently use to calm ourselves, stimulate our thoughts or motivate ourselves. It can be a pose, a dance, a favourite picture, a toy, a song... The possibilities know no bounds. If it serves the purpose of calming or focusing the mind, it is a stim. Whilst there is no doubt that repetitive movement is the most visible and arguably the most common form of stimming, it is not the only form. ABA/PBS "therapists" put a great deal of effort into stopping autistic kids from stimming in the conventional, accepted sense of the word because it is portrayed as "difficult behaviour" yet they have no idea how deep our need to stim goes or the many and various ways in which we do it.

     
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  6. Misery

    Misery Photo-Negative V.I.P Member

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    The definition of "stimming" seems to vary from one place to another.

    Not all stims involve back and forth motions. It doesnt need to be a repetitive movement... it simply needs to provide constant sensory stimulation, thus the name. Hand waving CAN be a stim, sure, it's setting off all sorts of nerves there. But so can just jamming your hand against your head and applying pressure for awhile. HOW the sensory input is created is irrelevant. So long as it is created at all, with sufficient intensity to do the job (fulfilling the desire/need for that input).

    Heck, I have one particularly odd stim I'll do at times where I take this large pen and just jam it between the two smallest toes on my foot and just leave it there for awhile. No, I dont know why. I dont waste time asking "why", as only madness lies down that road (or I simply dont care enough). I just sort of roll with it when I feel like doing it. Though obviously I dont do this in the middle of the freaking Walmart or something. That'd just be silly. But at home, when I'm already not wearing shoes/socks anyway (which is most of the time), it's fine.

    Another one, if I'm getting really nervous, is a single violent "clap", just slamming my hands together really freaking hard exactly once. It's not the brightest move... just hurts like heck, and that lingers for awhile. But it sure does distract me from whatever is making me anxious. Also makes the dog start barking, but then he also barks if someone walks by or simply because it's Saturday, so that's not saying much.
     
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  7. Kalinychta

    Kalinychta Well-Known Member

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    What do you think distinguishes autistic stims from “normal” stims, though? Everyone stims in some way, not just autistic people. Many people shake their legs, click their pens, swing their chairs side to side, stare into space while thinking, twirl their hair, touch their faces, crack their knuckles, bite their nails, doodle, etc. Everyone in the world stims in some way. My autistic stim is rocking. I’ve done it since I was a baby. But just like “regular” people, I also stim in ways that I don’t associate with autism. So, how do we differentiate?
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2019
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  8. Kalinychta

    Kalinychta Well-Known Member

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    I’m really glad Angela posted this thread, because the difference between normal, everyday stimming that every human does and autistic-specific stimming isn’t well understood or clear. But I found this on Wikipedia:

    “The biggest difference between autistic and non-autistic stimming is the type of stim and the quantity of stimming. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association, stimming behaviour is described as ‘stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms’ and listed as one of the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder. Different perspectives suggest that stimming involves both sensory and motor functions. Insufficiencies in these sensorimotor functions can result in stimming behaviours produced by the person as a controllable response.”

    So the distinction is the type of stim and the quantity of it. Playing with my hair, tugging on my clothes, and fondling my fingernails when I’m nervous or bored aren’t autistic stims. They’re normal stims. Sitting on the floor and rocking back and forth when I’m upset or stressed or happy: that’s an autistic stim. So I would say that if Angela becomes upset about something and feels compelled to sit down and rub her face over and over and over until she’s calm, then I would classify that as an autistic stim versus just a regular fidgety one.

    What does everyone think?
     
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  9. Autistamatic

    Autistamatic He's just this guy, you know? V.I.P Member

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    You've answered the question much as I would myself @Kalinychta

    I talk about it in the video posted above - everybody stims in some manner, but in autistic people (and many ADHD too) the need for it and the frequency is significantly greater. It helps us concentrate, calm our nerves in difficult or tense circumstances and to focus ourselves to overcome executive functioning impasses.

    It's no coincidence that many of the items sold as stim toys can also be found marketed as "executive toys" because the need to fiddle with something when in deep concentration is there in all of us, spectrum or no.

    Stopping an everyday human from stimming might be an irritation to them and might break their concentration, however after a momentary reorientation they'll usually get back to it. Do the same to someone on the spectrum and that could be it - stopping the stim may also stop them dead in their tracks and unable to continue with the task at hand.

    The essential differences would therefore be need, frequency and consequence.
     
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  10. Kalinychta

    Kalinychta Well-Known Member

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    Agreed. I think we have a tendency to mistake normal stims for autistic stims, though, is what I mean. Autistic people have normal stims and many of us have autistic stims, but we assume that every stim and nervous, repetitive, fidgety behavior is an autistic stim. Probably this is because AUTISTIC becomes an enormous part of our identify, so we tend to think that every little thing about us is the result of autism. I watched a TED Talk the other day given by an autistic girl who thought that reading all of the Nuremburg trial transcripts in college counted as an intense, fixated interest in terms of autism criteria, and she thought that not understanding something a staff member at a hotel said to her (something that was unclear) counted as taking things literally. She was incorrect about both. She was looking for things in her life that could count as autistic symptoms that she doesn’t actually have.

    So my point is that stimming is more complex and specific than we think. And not every autistic person stims anyway, by the way.

    The video is great. I watched it a few days ago, actually.
     
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  11. AngelaS267

    AngelaS267 Active Member

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    I suspected it was a stim because those actions are repetitive for me. The face touching more so

    Yes. If I'm just trying to function, I feel like I'm just touching my face for mild comfort in a social setting like a classroom, or starbucks. So when I'm working on a project at starbucks and it's not going my way because I can't focus, or I have a test at college or something, I'll start looking for something on my face to pick at. I'll run my fingers over my forehead in distress, and usually I go to my lip when I can't find anything. It gives me relief.

    When I'm happy and laying in bed, I'll lift my left arm in the air for a bit. I also used to do this thing where I'd lay on my back on the couch in our living room, and balance one of the pillows on my feet when with my family.
     
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  12. AngelaS267

    AngelaS267 Active Member

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    That's a great point and what I suspected so I wanted to be sure. I know I do have autistic stims, many of which I learned to stop doing, but it's those subtle ones that just make me question. I guess it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things since it's so subtle anyways. It doesn't look socially unacceptable if it were in fact an autistic stim. The face touching is more closely related to my skin picking.
     
  13. Kalinychta

    Kalinychta Well-Known Member

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    Have you been officially diagnosed with autism yet? A specialist would be the one to talk to about this if you really want to know, of course. Autistic stims just tend to be stranger, very specific, and more of an intense, overwhelming need than a fidgety anxious habit. If you have a terrible day at work, do you go home and rub your face over and over or pick at your skin over and over (in a regulated, repetitive manner) or lift your left arm into the air until you feel calm again? From what I understand, that’s what would make it an autistic stim.
     
  14. AngelaS267

    AngelaS267 Active Member

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    Yes. I pick in private and I could do it for an hour and not realize it. I've done it since I was a child. I've tried to stop for years but I'd say the picking is more intense than the face touching. The face touching happens when I'm trying to focus. Like, If I have a bad day at work, or get bad news, I will pick at myself. It is a regular repetitive manner. I run my fingers over my legs until I find something scab like (Its gross I'm sorry) But I pick it and then roll between my fingers, that part is the most satisfying to me. I would never do it outside of my house, but I'm guessing when I run my fingers over my face, its kind of like a calmer version of me searching for something to pick at. That's definitely one thats super repetitive. It's gross sorry if that grosses anyone out.
     
  15. Kalinychta

    Kalinychta Well-Known Member

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    Dang, that’s bad! Do you bleed and get scars? Have you tried to stop doing it? Maybe you could get a hand stim toy like Autistamatic was talking about. That might help you stop picking.
     
  16. AngelaS267

    AngelaS267 Active Member

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    No, I don't cause as much bleeding, anymore. I used to, but I've become so accustomed to doing it, that I've formulated methods to picking to where it won't bleed most of the time. But sometimes I am convinced I can get something and end up causing scarring on my legs which I hate. I have tried to stop on multiple occasions, especially in high school. I do it much less now, but I still do it without even thinking a lot of the time. I still run my fingers across my arm looking for them. I mostly stopped with my arms, and the front of my legs
     
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  17. zurb

    zurb Eschewer of Obfuscation

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  18. Aspychata

    Aspychata My Art Work

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    If nervous, l chew gum, and l recognize as such because it calms my nerves instead of me clenching my jaw. Sometimes l don't know the outcome of how l will be treated so the gum distracts me enough.

    I listen to things over and over. I use to pick at myself as a younger child. I tap my foot a lot, l love to spin, l have something l can spin on. It is very soothing.

    Now l have the ability to relax a lot more in my life and deal with my emotions. That has really helped me the last couple of months. Staying home and just feeling free.

    I rate it as a stim if l feel relaxed doing it.
     
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  19. BlueSky Aozora

    BlueSky Aozora Well-Known Member

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    Interesting. Do NTs stim too? If yes, how is it different compared to mild autism/asperger stims?

    Edit: Oh okay, you've answered it in the other posts. Sorry
     
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