As a mother, I will never give up on my child. As a mother of a child who has autism, I will never give up hope.
I look into his eyes and I see all the potential that he has to offer to this beautiful world and I just know that one day the world can see what I see.

Follow my blog as I share my life and my experiences as a person who loves someone with autism.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Self-regulating or stimming

Yesterday I talked about self-regulating, or ‘stimming’, a way to self-regulate sensory input and manage sensory integration dysfunction and may be stimulating or calming.

Some people look at stimming as embarrassing or inappropriate, depending on what the action is. I look at it as my child’s own way of relaxing himself and while it can be frustrating at times, and yes, can even be embarrassing or inappropriate depending where we are and what he is doing, I don’t stop it. That being said, I don’t encourage either.

Bryce’s most recent way of stimming is putting his pinky finger in the back of his mouth, and from what I can tell, in between the inside of his cheek and his teeth. (I’m pretty sure he’s not chewing on his finger.) He usually does this when he is drawing, or focusing on something, and it may even help him concentrate on what he is doing. Every time he does do it though I ask him to stop, and he’ll stop for a second or two, and then go back at it.

While it can be disruptive in society’s eyes, I don’t see it as something bad, and unless it turns into something that harms him, or harms someone else, I allow it. Not because I want to, or even choose to, but because it’s a way for Bryce to regulate himself and relax. I wouldn’t want someone taking away something that I do to relax, and I definitely am not going to stop something that helps my child relax.

On the plus side, Bryce’s stimming is an indicator for us to see how he is coping with a situation. For example, when he was first entering the school system, he’d come home with a soaking wet t-shirt because he was chewing on his sleeves, and on his collar. He did it to calm himself because he was over stimulated at school. From that we learned that when Bryce is stressing out, he’d chew his shirts as his way of coping the situation. This helps us understand when he is stressed so we can help prevent it.

If you are trying to stop a self-stimulating behaviour, for whatever reason, my only advice would be to replace it with something else that you find more appropriate or more suitable, don’t just take it away.

Thanks for reading,

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