They're back! 8th grade is full of projects and homework, so the blog has been on the back burner for a bit, but both Ashna and William are back with their perspective on stims. Although they wrote their blogs separately, a common theme emerges: everyone stims. Maybe it's time to adjust our perspective on how we view these actions. Once again, William & Ashna...
The View From Here - On Stimming
Stimmy McStimmerson. Sir Stims-A-Lot. That’s me and my hell-bent-on-stimming boys. To outsiders, we look like lunatics. My friends flap, pick strings, repeat words they hate saying, and watch kiddie shows ad nauseum. Stims come in many forms but they all serve similar functions as far as I can tell.
Only last week I had this fierce argument with my dad over watching Sesame Street. We started watching Stranger Things together, and he was hoping this would replace Sesame Street in my TV lineup. Don’t get me wrong, that show is freaking awesome. The opening alone gives me chills. But I am constantly at full attention. The beauty of Sesame Street is that I don’t have to be that vigilant. Turning Sesame Street on lets me turn my brain off.
So many of us have stims, but only autistics get shamed for them. The grown ups I know watch trash TV, but this is called a guilty pleasure not a stim. Some teachers tap their pens or bounce their legs. These are called habits. To stim you apparently need to be autistic.
The purpose of almost any stim is to go outside your current reality for a bit of respite from wilderness of senses. Till I found out that most people have some sort of stim I never thought much about why I do it. Turns out we all need a distraction from reality once in a while. Totally rotten to make stimming a negative thing. Better to think of it as an escape hatch from the world.
Hard to say why stimming starts. Bad feeling? Gap in the scope of the free time? A drift in thoughts that hooks onto a movement or sound? I know for me, my stims are getting life in place. They allow gathered thoughts to float into file folders of my brain.
The singing wonder Ashna spells and sings simultaneously. Lame songs fill my head and at times come out my mouth. Kind of like the stuff I listened to when I was little, even though now I’m into other music. Game for some to sing them back to me, but for the most part you should always ignore it. Laughing at my songs a bit helps me feel comfortable although it has to be friendly laughter.
The thing about stims is that if you interrupt them instead of competing, some awful compulsion grabs my brain and forces me to stim harder. You stim too, dear neurotypical reader. Tap your fingers? Chew your pen? I’m sure they serve a purpose for you. Really find it annoying that this isn’t called stimming. Next time you find yourself spinning a coin, ask about an autism diagnosis. At least then, you can own your stims like I do.
William is a fourteen year old guy who communicates by spelling and is navigating the second year of mainstreamed education.
Ashna is an eighth grader in Maryland who cares about doing good talking points for autism and rapid prompting method.