Skip to main content

What is Stimming and what does it feel like?

According to wikipedia, stimming is;

"a jargon term for a particular form of stereotypy, a repetitive body movement (often done unconsciously) that self-stimulates one or more senses in a regulated manner. It is shorthand for self-stimulation, and a stereotypy is referred to as stimming under the hypothesis that it has a function related to sensory input."

The wikipedia article then goes on to propose some theories about the function of stimming and how it is designed to provide nervous system arousal. The theory being that it helps autistic people "normalize".

I'm not sure how much I believe that theory - I helps us relax and it feels good... but normalize?? Not sure.

The most commonly cited form of stimming is body rocking. Such is the prevalence of this form of stimming in Hollywood films concerning autism that you could be forgiven for thinking that autistic people stim by rocking most of the time.

How far does stimming go?
Stimming is much more than just rocking. It also includes;
  • Hand Clasping

  • Flapping

  • Knee bobbing

  • Finger Tapping or Drumming

  • Spinning Toys

I'm going to go out on a limb on this one and suggest that stimming should also include a few other behaviors. The wikipedia article has already suggested that in some cases, stimming includes deliberate self-harm, such as cutting oneself and head banging.

I believe that stimming also includes the following;
  • Making funny noises

  • Facial Tics and expressions

  • Certain types of singing, talking or babbling

  • Nail (and finger) Biting

My eldest child is particularly bad with the vocal stimming. Especially first thing in the morning on a weekend when you're trying to get a little extra sleep.

How does it feel?
Stimming is often an involuntary thing and we aren't always aware that we're doing it. Personally, stimming by rocking is quite uncommon for me because this is socially unacceptable. I don't think I ever really needed this form of stimming much anyhow.

At its simplest, the stimming allows you to concentrate on sensitivity and relax the thinking parts of the brain. In an Aspie, being able to stop thinking, even for a short while, is bliss.

Stimming is a very good relaxant and this probably explains why it is more often seen in stressful situations.

Of course, it also feels good.

As a parent, should you try to stop stimming?
Not really... No. (well, sometimes).

I think it's fair to say that stopping stimming could lead to stress in a child and also that it could cause them to change to a less visible means of stimming, such as self-harm.

It's probably worthwhile videoing your child while stimming and letting them see what the undesirable behavior is. Perhaps you can get them to be more discreet. Remember though, that they won't always be aware that they're doing it at first.

If stimming behaviors are causing your children harm then you should discuss them with your paediatrician.


Unknown said…
Hi, I work with children with autism and I have a quick question for you. Do you find that "stimmy toys" tend to increase stimming after the toy has been manipulated? For instance, a child who stims visually plays with his leapster and other pocket games with a lot of lights/ visual stimulation. Afterwards, he seems to be more "revved up" and stims in other ways (vocals, physical). Has this been your experience? Any ideas/ suggestions to help him regulate these intense feelings? Thank you!
Gavin Bollard said…
That's a rather interesting observation. There's no doubt whatsoever that computer games increase stimming and also significantly increase anxiety - particularly amongst children who don't like to lose.

I'm not sure how well that applies to other types of toys. I do remember being "hyped-up" for hours after playing Merlin and other hand-held stimmy toys in the early eighties, so that could be right.

I'll have a think about it and will probably post a follow up. Actually, I might ask around.
Anonymous said…
My son does what we call "hands". He kind of rolls his fingers inward. When he is at home he loves to go into his room and walk in a large circle while doing "hands". When he is at school he does it under the desk. He also kind of freezes his face (sometimes his tongue comes out on the side.) I am so worried the kids at school will make fun of him. My husband and I would like him to only do this in his bedroom. Are we wrong to try to get him to stop?
Gavin Bollard said…
"Hands" is definitely stimming and it's probably not great to do socially.

The hand motions themselves are probably not too bad and I'd be more worried about face freezing and walking in a circle etc.

His school friends may not notice the hand movements by themselves.

As far as stopping him from doing it, you can't - it will just increase anxiety and could cause him to stim in other (worse) ways.

Instead, I'd concentrate on reducing the parts of the hands routine that are most visible to other children.
Anonymous said…
Hi, I have 16 YO AS son who blurts out dialogue from TV shows and/or movies, and chews his fingernails to the quick. He says he does these when bored. He doesn't always realize he is stimming and doesn't like to talk about them. Is it a good idea to teach him control them when in public, or would it be better to find a quiet stim as a substitute? Also, when most AS's stim, do they block out their surrounds. I am concerned about stimming while my son is driving. Thanks for info. DM
Gavin Bollard said…
Stimming by biting nails is a relatively safe stim, even if it isn't the most social behaviour. Unfortunately, it's a very difficult habit/stim to kick. I suspect you won't have much luck breaking it - and if you manage to break it, what will it be replaced with? Something worse?

Blurting out movie and television quotes is a very common aspie stim. It is also pretty much socially acceptable.

The point you raise about aspie awareness levels during stimming is a good one. I guess the best comparison is to liken it to listening to music while doing ones homework. From a parents point of view, this doesn't seem very practical but for many people, it provides more of a benefit than a loss. Many children produce better quality home work while listening to music than when they are not. The same is true for aspies and stimming. They often produce better work or are more settled in their surroundings while stimming than when they are not.

This is not to say that there isn't a loss of awareness. Depending on the degree of mental processing required for a particular stim, there will be some impact on concentration. It could possibly affect driving skills but it is only really likely to have an effect when a situation out of the ordinary arises. During these situations, it is quite likely that the aspie will stop stimming.

One more point about driving; When they're old enough, I intend for my children to attend safe/evasive driving courses as well as the usual driving lessons. This is because when I was young and had my first car accident, I did more damage as a result of my panic than the crash would have done had I completely let go of the wheel. The shock of the car going into a uncontrolled skid took too long for me to process because I had not previously been exposed to that motion.
Anonymous said…
Hello... I have a son with ASD, who visually stims often. He looks very closely at objects, walls, counter tops, everything really. I have read about visual stimming and most of the described stims involve looking at things from an odd angle or from the side, but this is not what my son does, he is more hyper-focusing I feel. although I could be wrong. Is this common amongst people on the spectrum, is there anything I should do to rule out a vision problem?
Gavin Bollard said…
You could certainly get your son's eyesight checked but if it all turns out ok, don't worry.

Visual stimming takes a lot of different forms. I remember going through two really particular types myself.

The Squint
This is where you mostly close your eyes and all lights take on a funny appearance. Tilting your head one way or another would make those those lights "dance".

The Fade
Unlike the squint which relies on eye closure and head movement, the fade is more of a stare. I found that if you looked very closely at an object, you could get the surrounding areas to fade to grey. It's hard to achieve a complete fadeout because the slightest movement will cause the picture to return.

It sounds more like your son is doing a "fade".

You might want to try asking him what he's doing - not in those words though. Perhaps approaching him when he's doing his "thing" and asking "are you trying to get something strange to happen with your eyes... how does it work".

A "buddy-style" question like this has a better chance of getting a correct answer. Good luck.
Anonymous said…
Hi, I've never been officially diagnosed with a PDD (at the age of 24), but I highly suspect it! I want to ask about things I do in relation to stimming.

For as long as I can remember I have smelled objects! The most convenient: my shirt and fingers. Although while I have been doing this for as long as I have known, I always thought it was because I enjoyed the smell. I do it public, even during college classes. I don't know if what I'm doing is considered stimming or not.

I used to repeatedly look left/right on car rides, or bang my head lightly against the back of the seat. I did them because I enjoyed them, although I don't know why I enjoyed them.

I have problems getting to sleep. I can't stop thinking. I didn't realize that was the problem until a couple of years ago. I do remember though as a child I would bang my head lightly, humming made up tunes to myself. I'd do this until I fell asleep. I stopped doing that at the age of 16, and occasionally I'll wake up to myself doing it.

Rocking is one thing I actually didn't notice until recently. I was checking out traits of stimming, and I told my friend, "Well, I don't rock!", and he said, "Yes you do, you were doing it just last night with your dog in your lap." Since then I have noticed that I in fact do rock on occasion. In fact, quite a lot on this new couch (it's very bouncy).

I've quite a lot of different things that from appearance would be assumed to be stimming. However, from my own perspective, I don't quite understand why it is I do them aside from saying, "I like it, I don't know why but I do."

Do you think what it is I do would be categorized as stimming, or just something I do because I enjoy doing them?
Gavin Bollard said…
Stimming is generally any sensory behaviour which is repeated because it provides a calming effect and enjoyable feeling. The sensory aspect could include motion, taste, vision, smell, touch, sound/noise-making or hearing. The "smelling" and head banging behaviours you report could certainly be described as stimming.

The constant movement of aspie heads while in motion could also be a form of stimming. It's a fascinating insight. It's certainly a very strong feature of aspergers and one of the key reasons why we are often described as "extremely distractable".

Sleep issues are definitely a problem for aspies - I've discussed them here before. When you start using noises/tunes to help yourself to sleep, you're actually performing a common form of vocal stimming.
Ron said…
Im in the process of being diagnosed for Aspergers. Im not sure I have it but there are many signs that suggest I do. Two of my stimming behaviours are: visual stimming: I look at surfaces like walls and try to visualy travel along the edges of objects that are in front of the surface like paintings, mirrors, cupboards etc. The second one is stimming by touch. This sounds probably weird but anyway; I take a piece of fabric from my trousers between thumb and middlefinger and by pressing down the index finger I make the fabric snap. I actually makes a snapping sound, jeans are the best fabric to do this. Its a really weird habit and drives my wife crazy but it relaxes me...
Anonymous said…
Hi, I have a nephew who has Aspergers who lives in Bolivia where there is little to no information about anything ASD related. He is a lawyer, 32 years old, married, kids, etc... A pretty successful life. However, his stimming is something he can no longer control in public. His stimming involves holding a pen, stick, comb anything he can get his hands on and talking to himself....he says he goes into his own fantasy world and talks about whatever appeals to him at the time. Is there anything you can recommend, he sometimes starts stimming in restaurants, in front of co-workers and he feels people think he is crazy. He says it is really hard for him to control. He does it when he is not focused on work...once his mind starts going free it starts. Any tips????
Gavin Bollard said…
Stimming is often considered to be the aspie's way of "self-medicating". This means that in the majority of cases, you probably should try to leave it alone - or modify the stimming to a less obvious form. Some articles suggest that simply increasing exercise helps to do this.

If that isn't possible then there are medications, like Venlafaxine (Effexor) which can reduce stimming but be warned. These medications have significant side effects and are usually anti-depressants. Many of them can also be addictive.

There's an interesting discussion on stopping stimming here which covers several alternatives. You might find some useful options within it.

There's also a great article on Stimming here which might offer some alternative and less obvious methods.
Anonymous said…
I think a good strategy is to engage in activites that fulfill the need for mild stimulation, occupation,or relaxation that are not that noticeable.

Visual stimulation can be acheived without notice by counting. For example, counting and estimating numbers of objects in the room.

I frequently roll or fold bits of paper, such as straw wrappers or store receipts. Alternatively, the corner of a sweater or shirt can be unobtrusively folded, thus providing hands/touch stimulation.

Hearing is the most unobtrusive activity as you can stop for a minute and try to consciously hear and identify the many background sounds in the environment. This is also a path to a quick nap, if you need it.

I suggest these as examples of stim type activities that might be used in place of more socially noticable ones.
Someone... said…
My parents say I stim a lot, but I am usually aware when I am pacing or humming, so I don't think it qualifies as stimming. Try telling them that though...
Donna said…
Here's a rather embarrassing one, but one nonetheless. I have AS and whenever I'm nervous or uneasy I quickly rub my hand in between my legs and smell my hand, thereby smelling my crotch. Or, If I'm sitting, I'll just spread my legs extra wide and smell.. It provides me with a sense of well being and ease like few other things can. Is this stimming? Have other Aspies done this? Am I totally abnormal?
I also rock when I'm alone, by the way.
Thanks for any input.
Gavin Bollard said…

Stimming is very much a sensory thing and it follows the five senses (and maybe one or two additional ones that are less obviously identified).

Some aspies have problems dealing with particular sights, sounds, smells, touch etc; and will therefore find alternative ways to stim.

Aspies stim visually when they stare at patterns.

The most common source of audio stimming comes from music but some aspies will stim using all kinds of other repetitive noises.

This is really what you're describing and believe it or not, I've actually heard of aspies stimming in this manner. Given that it's an embarrassing thing to admit, it's likely that more aspies stim this way than are reported.

This is a lesser stim but I've still heard of it happening. It's more common to stim by mouth-feeling which is actually a touch stim, and something that babies and younger children do when they put toys in their mouths. Biting the nails is also a kind of taste-stim.

Rocking and knee bobbing are actually forms of touch stimming as are most forms of fidgeting or wringing of hands.

Mental Stimming
This is a different type of stimming and it's relatively unrelated to the five senses in the sense that it's from internal stimulii. It occurs when an aspie starts following mental patterns which could be daydreams but could also be reciting of routines (eg: mathematics) or lists, such as train stations in their heads.

Stimming is a normal part of autistic behaviour and unless it is dangerous or particulaly unsocial, it's not something you need to worry about.
Donna said…
Thank you so much for that helpful info.
I always do the crotch thing in front of other people but subtly... Don't know how to stop. It's rather embarrassing but I'm not really ashamed, as I know how much it helps me. I guess it could be seen as public masturbation to people who don't know. What should I do about it? Any advice would be appreciated.
Donna said…
Thank you so much for that helpful info.
I always do the crotch thing in front of other people but subtly... Don't know how to stop. It's rather embarrassing but I'm not really ashamed, as I know how much it helps me. I guess it could be seen as public masturbation to people who don't know. What should I do about it? Any advice would be appreciated.
Gavin Bollard said…
If you could change to a less embarrassing stim it would probably be better.

Although it would be possible to carry a scent, I suspect that the action is just as much part of the stim as the scent itself.

Provided that you're discreet and hygienic and not being caught, it's probably ok.
Pat Smith said…
I really like your 'what is stimming and what does it feel like?' blog-post Gavin; I put a link to the post in a blog-post of mine the other day. The post gives people great insight into this not-so-well-known phenomenon known as 'stimming'.
Anonymous said…
our consultant diagnosed what your describing as tourettes...we didnt realise tourettes doesnt have to be verbal. the stimming repetitive movements can be 'motor tourettes'. look ito it, its amazing, all this time we never realised the twitching and movements were this. Didnt realise tourettes can also involve involuntary movements. you cant surpress them, the consultant asked us to imagine an itch which if your not allowed to scrach would build up & up & you'd habve to scratch it. hence the stim feels the same to the person needing to stim...I hope this helps someone out there.
Anonymous said…
Just this weekend I noticed my God daughter constantly with her hands by her sides and touching her thumb to each finger tip sequentially and both hands in unison. It started about 6-8 wks ago and her mom asked her about it and she said she didn't even really know she was doing it and her mom asked me if I noticed it and what I thought. I also noticed at times when she looks at you she has an odd stare and slowly turns her head while keeping her eyes on you, sort of..or towards you at least. Any advice or ideas?
Gavin Bollard said…
Touching the thumb to each finger in unison is a common stim and certainly one of the more socially acceptable ones.

It's probably best to leave your God daughter doing that as attempting to change it may result in it being replaced by a considerably less acceptable one.
Anonymous said…
so, i've been labeled with AS (which i was told is not very common in girls but there isn't much info out there on the differences that AS girls tend to exhibit in comparison to boys).

anyway, recently i've been wondering if it's actually more akin to tourettes because my "echolalia" is limited to losing track of a conversation because of a sudden hyperfocus on sound, such that i hear a syllable and it repeats in my head, without meaning, getting louder and louder in my head each time it echos until i can't take it anymore and i have to "reset" my focus by making a different sound myself, out loud, such as "Ah!", which isn't yelled but is certainly loud enough to catch the other persons attention, and apparently often comes across as an "i forgot something and just remembered it" kind of sound.

also, i sometimes have invasive and sudden thoughts, usually about something embarrassing or regrettable, to which i will respond again with the "reset" sound in order to get my mind off of it. when that happens, those around me often ask "what's wrong?" so i figure it sounds about the same as when i get fixated on a sound and had to "reset" for that.

as for the mental stimming, i've never heard of that before but i do have this habit of "relaxing" throughout the day by designing in my head or on paper. i NEED to do this several times each day and i do it for at least a half hour each time, so i am viewed as a "daydreamer" and i'm not extremely productive in school or at work.

when i escape into my head, i will design ANYTHING by any means, employing lists, flow charts, 3D drawings, etc. but i most enjoy designing houses. i envision each being built on a real piece of property which i will find on Google Earth and which i have chosen according to research i have done on the surrounding area's culture, towns, geographic interests, etc. i will design the house right down to the selection of materials, "green" systems used, and interior design elements included, with the primary focus being the interaction of human lifestyle/workflow and solar positioning (all because i prefer natural lighting to artificial lighting)... does this classify as mental stimming?

what exactly are the differences between AS and tourettes in regard to these possible stimming behaviors?
Anonymous said…
I am curious to know if pulling hairs (from the eyebrows, eyelashes, nose, and even from the head) is a form of "Stimming", when it becomes a comforting obsession...?
Anonymous said…
My son is 7 and has aspergers. He spends a lot of time jumping up and down and kind of flaps his arms and hands while he jumps. He can also hum quite a lot when he does this. He does it a lot in school too and he looks like he is not concentrating at all, although he is (to some extent anyway). We really don't know the best way to help him as it draws attention to him in a big way. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Gavin Bollard said…

If your son is jumping, flapping and humming, then the stim is probably drawing a lot of unwanted attention.

It would be best if your son could change to an alternative stim.

Your son is going to need to jump. That's a very common thing amongst children on the spectrum. Maybe get him a trampoline to help him get that out of his system.

Then try to find something else (less distracting)that he can do in class, like fidgeting or touching a piece of felt on his pencil case etc. Encourage him to do that instead and save the jumping for home.
(This has been one of the most fasctinating set of comments I have read in a very long time, about anything).

I suspect highly that I have aspergers or something along the autistic spectrum.

The girl that touches the fingers sequentially and looks at you while moving her head: I do that - and I never really thought much about it 'til the last week or so thought for real that I might have aspergers.

You should see if she is musical - see if she has perfect pitch, could play musical instruments. I'd love to see if that stim is related to music. I've played the piano since a toddler, had lessons since I was five, and couldn't understand why other people couldn't make music out of any instrument, or bottles, or 5 gallon buckets, etc.

As a toddler through to today, I strum my fingers against tables, have to fight the strong urge to TOUCH everything in the store (I don't, but REALLY want to), never quite figured out the right timing to look at people, talk VERY quietly or too loud, make comments that get ppl to say "Did HE just say THAT!?"...

I'm almost moving some muscle somewhere in my body. The focus shifts. I either look up/down/side-to-side, cross and uncross my ankles, wiggle my fingers (I do that EVERYWHERE, especally wiggling the tips of my fingers), make slightly funny faces (they amuse me - I'm doing it now).

I'm very introspective, clumsy walking (unless I walk quickly - otherwise I don't quite know where to put my feet), like to babble songs in a made up language (too bad I'm not in a talking-in-tongues group - I would do it in a heartbeat, anytime, anywhere, if it were socially acceptable).

addicted to cigarettes (again, engages the senses, like a mini-meditation). Rocks front to back when playing the piano - and when I'm tired, shake my feet.

And all of these little things I do thousands of times a day amuse me greatly. They keep me happy, satisfied. Some mini faces (like an elvis curl of the lip) make me chuckle.

I type at 110-130wpm (even with a broken laptop keyboard), find it sometimes painful after a shower for 20-30 mins and drying off. Skin feels like its crawling and a deep itch - its not mere dry skin, although mega b-vitamins and magnesium and zinc seems to help calm the nerves down).

Do I have aspergers? Heck if I know. I figured it was ADHD, too much coffee, anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, or some other thing. But having aspergers would make a WHOLE lot of sense.

My brain works 10,000% better than my mouth. I feel like Moses who had to have his brother do all the talking because Moses had speech difficulties. Stuttered as a kid. Had to get biofeedback to control what mom calls those times I was "Inconsolable" - I'd get upset and wouldn't listen to anybody or anything 'til I was done).

I have a naive, positive outlook on life, yet I've learned skepticism and to be unsurprised when people have nefarious motives, even though I can't fully understand it. Always have a backup plan, get comfortable with Murphy's Law - anticipate it, even. Keep a child-like outlook but be as skeptical yet as fair as a good court judge, or a minister, or college professor or schoolteacher.

And I've never really known anybody like myself except when volunteering for the cerebral palsy center in union nj many many years ago (I'm in naples, fl now). I felt a real connection to the kids and teens who had cp, downs, emotional problems, autism - and this was back in '93 or so).

Thanks for listening. -Ken, Naples, FL Homepage
Anonymous said…
Oh yes - the ability to stop thinking, even for a moment! To be able to turn you bloody mind off! forever going on and on and on at you, chains, mountain ranges of thought upon thought... I've so often wished my mind had a dimmer switch, so I could just ease it all down a bit.

I suppose I think of "stimming" as the classic rocking or hand-flapping, but it isn't that simple, is it... I do do things - fiddle with my bangle and ring or anything near my hands, chew things (anything) make repetitive patterns of muscle movement... when I do this, it's generally because I'm all wound up, so I associate it more with anxiety than calm. Also I feel like a stupid weird child doing peculiar things AGAIN!!! as I do so often.

I'm 48 - official diagnosis a year ago, thought I had it years before that, though - and what I'm finding a bit tough right now is the idea that it's neurological not psychological: that there is something different about my brain - my actual brain - and that will never change.

Thank goodness for the Net, anyway. The lives we'd live, alone with all this - it doesn't bear thinking about.
UnderINK said…
Hi. I recently began reading up on Autism and Asperger's Syndrome after several of my Aspie friends (I have difficulty making any other type, it seems) made numerous comments about how many symptoms of Asperger's syndrome I seem to have (which are a lot). I've spoken to a few people that are also relatives of Aspies or run groups that deal with them frequently, and they have all concurred on that point. Anyway, one of the "symptoms" that was pointed out to me is that I seem to "stim" quite a lot. When I was younger, I used to frequently bite my nails to calm myself down (until my step mother terrified me by telling me my fingers would fall off). I frequently pace in circles (like if I am outside on the phone, I walk in circles around the car very quickly). I also have problems with frequent leg shaking (I share this stim with an ex of mine who is an Aspie) as well as repetitive and quick 'mouse clicking' when I am online (clicking really quickly in a blank space on the screen while I am reading something)---another stim I share with my ex (we noticed our habits when we first started dating, before he was diagnosed with Asperger's, when we were on the computer at the same time and both began clicking around the screen superfluously). Anyway, I tend to do it frequently in both social situations (when I was in school, at a gathering of friends or family) and in situations that require me to focus (writing papers, reading books or articles). I was wondering if this sounds like true "stimming" to you. I am supposed to be seeing a specialist in Michigan when I move.
Gavin Bollard said…

Everybody stims, Aspies and NTs alike and usually they're unaware of it.

Aspies tend to stim more often than NTs and it tends to be more for stress/anxiety relief. Most aspies won't be aware that it's a relief mechanism, they'll probably just tell you that it feels good.

Virtually any kind of repetitive behaviour without a specific point other than "feel-good" can be a stim. The difficulty involved in stopping the stim and the frequency at which it occurs is what distinguishes an aspie stim from a neurotypical stim.
Anonymous said…
Hello, I am a 17 year old girl, and I've been dealing with symptoms of AS since as long as I can remember. My parents were very concerned when I was little, and as a result, took me all over to try and find a "cure" for my odd behavior. All of the people they took me to said that I exhibited some of the symptoms of AS, but not all. I didn't quite fit, as they put it. Anyway, they tried to stop me, but they couldn't. I know it's never going to go away.

The most obvious of all of the symptoms is the hand flapping. My mother called it Hand Dancing. I wave my fingers in front of my face, and suddenly, it's like I'm transported into another world. My parents argue that it interferes with my productivity, but I think otherwise. When I "hand dance" I make up stories, compose music, and create entire movies in my head. I am very involved in all of the arts. Some activities take me closer to the stimming than others. Playing the piano actually helps me control it. Writing makes it worse.

Less pronounced symptoms include ritualistic behavior, and a lack of empathy. I always thought that empathy was just common courtesy. When someone was feeling upset, I would comfort them because I felt like it was socially required. I only recently discovered that empathy isn't just polite behavior, it's a legitimate feeling--a feeling that I apparently lack.

Over the years I've learned how to hide all of it. Every person I know--with the exception of my family and a few understanding friends whom I confide in--believes that I am perfectly normal. I stopped doing it in public after the bullying became too painful in elementary school.

My question is whether or not a person can be diagnosed with AS if they only exhibit some of the symptoms, and not others. For instance, though I "hand dance," exhibit ritualistic tendencies and lack empathy, I am able to read people very well, make perfect eye contact, and more than adequately express myself in both written language and speech. The doctors said that I was just "idiosyncratic." Now, I'm not so sure.
Preston E. said…
I am a 14 year old diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. I stim often (although it has decreased with age), which usually involves tightening my jaw with my head down and sometimes other face tightening to go with it. However, although according to this article Aspies do this to stop thinking, I feel like I often do it more to think harder, like when I do homework or think of ideas for movies/video games. Other times I just do it when certain senses are being worked too hard (moody lighting in a restaurant, several conversations going on at the same time in a get-together, etc.) What does this mean?
Preston E. said…
I have more to add. I just read the post of "17 year-old girl" and I find a lot of similarities between me and her. Another symptom that I lack is little or no empathy. On the contrary, I actually have extreme empathy. It's almost like I "feed" on the emotions of others around me. I usually don't like to watch more adult comedy tv shows unless there is someone (like my dad) with me who can laugh along. It gives me such a warm feeling. It works the other way around as well. If someone that I know that's around me is even mildly sad, I am often almost thrown into a temporary state of depression. I read on the Wikipedia page on Aspergers that some Aspies do have extreme empathy. Is this true?
Anonymous said…
Hi! I am a step-mom to a 7 year old girl. for the past 4 years I have been asking her father to have her evaluated because it is pretty evident to me, and many others, that she has Aspergers. She is constantly walking in circles (i counted 106 times around the table once)and is ALWAYS humming. She cannot sit still and throws multiple tantrums (yesterday it was 4) over small things such as getting dressed. She makes friends well and is advanced in reading and writing. But lacks expression in her voice and is extremely literal. I have never once heard her have a "belly" laugh, or laugh on her own unless others are laughing. However, her parents (her mom is a nurse) think she is prefectly normal. I was told by dad and several family members that she cried for 14months straight as an infant and was slow to walk talk, and hated bath time. My husband and his ex feel that if something is wrong with her, her teachers will tell them. I have been in the teaching field for 10 years, and know that they have to take an initiative. Her teacher has only mentioned that she hums and it is distracting. How do I get my husband to listen to me? and convince him I am not crazy????? Please help =) thank you very much
M. said…
This whole thread has been so interesting! I haven't been officially diagnosed, but I'm pretty sure I have AS, especially after reading some of these comments.

Preston, that is so interesting to hear you talk about "extreme empathy". That is one thing that I have always wondered about. When I was younger, I felt like I was closer to lacking empathy, but lately, in the past two years I describe myself as "feeling too much" often. I can cry just thinking about certain painful experiences my boyfriend has been too, and I cry sometimes after sex because I love him so much. It's like whether it's good or bad, I get moved to tears. It's not always him that triggers this extreme empathy, but it happens with him most frequently.

Interesting to hear that this might have to do with AS too.

As for stimming -- I have LOTS of them. One question I have for all you though is -- how many of you involve pain in your stimming? If I am having an argument or tough discussion I often pinch or pick at my lips repeatedly and it helps calm me down. Anyone else?
Unknown said…
My son jumps up and down alot when on the playstation. He also sings/talks alot of made up 'nonsense' to himself. Is this stimming? He used to hit himself/pull his hair, etc when couldn't cope. Now he does the jumping/singing when he's relaxed ...
Gavin Bollard said…
Jumping is frequently a stimming behavior however many children, including those not on the spectrum, jump excessively while playing computer games.

It's something to do with co-ordination and muscular control.

Singing and nonsense talking or noise making are all very common forms of stimming. There's nothing wrong with them (except early in the morning when everyone else is asleep).
LaiTress said…
my son is 4 and about 2 yrs ago he started this bringing his hands to his face and kinda making a fist and twisting them while making alot of noises thing. he seems to me to be perfectly fine and excelling really well in class as any 4 yr old would. its just this tic thing that i assumed was from him being excited. he seems to do it alot everyday usaully while watching t.v. and playing w/ his toys.(things that get him excited). he loves trains almost obsessivly and we absolutly cannot leave the house w/o him wanting to bring at least 2 toys. even when he goes to school. he knows he cant play w/ them there but has to have em in his back pack. im assuming for the bus ride home? loves cars too!! anything w/ cars. his imagination is outstanding! his sitter says he is the best kid ever. she says he is content w/ a couple cars and will sit for hours playin w/ them. my question is: is this something i should worry about? i do believe he is unaware of his tics or stimming (as ive heard it called this) i will on occasion quietly ask him to calm down. he also is sensitive to certain sounds. the cable went out one day and it was static and he covered his ears and acted as if this was hurting him. also if i holler for his brother to come for diner. he will cover his ears and say "thats to loud" whats going on? please help me..thank you!
Unknown said…
Oh this thread has been amazing!! I was stimming almost the entire time. I am a 24 year old female who just discovered that I have aspergers syndrome. I noticed some odd behavior from my son and was panicking reading all the symptoms of aspergeres and realizing my son fit the discription until I realized, oh my gosh , I have aspergers!! I am so relieved to have answers to lifelong questions and now my puzzle fits! I am not afraid of my sons diagnosis Bc I "get" him! He is very smart and I do not feel aspergers should be on the autism spectrum! I am beautiful, bright, and very special. Although I have some trouble maintaining relationships, now I know why and I will try to be more understanding of "their world" since "mine" has only ever made sence. I hope parents facing this with their children can realize that while you might now always "get" your child, there is hope with intervention and therapy. Although I never received any myself, I will be seeking help for my son. I get why he stims and it feels so good. I great way to make sence of things that don't make sence. My world is perfect. I wouldn't have it any other way. I am beautiful, I am radiant, I am free, I am me! :))
Anonymous said…
Hi - My little boy is 4 and we are suspecting Asperger's. It is so hard to know for sure because he seems to "grow" out of so many the behaviors and he is still obviously young. He does stim occasionally, but it is usually only when he is excited about something. While playing with blocks, or coloring a picture and being praised for it, looking out the window while we are driving (not everytime), at a birthday party before cake, etc. We don't notice it when he is under stress or upset - seems to be only when happy. Just not sure what to make of it since most everything I read says that stimming occurs to self soothe in stressful situations. He is a very happy kid, loves being around other kids, honestly the only "thing" we notice is the stimming for the most part. Any info would be great! Thank you!
Gavin Bollard said…

Everybody stims, it's just that children on the spectrum stim more frequently and more intently than most.

If stimming is the only behaviour you notice, I wouldn't be too concerned. You might want to redirect the stimming to less socially difficult forms but otherwise, don't panic.

When your son starts school, the teachers will be able to tell you how he is in relation to the other children. For many parents, that's the point at which diagnosis starts.
Anonymous said…
It is quite likely that I have AS. I have been yelled at for clicking my tongue, and I constantly cut my nails with my nails, or tap my toes.
I am currently attempting to convince my mother to take me to a specialist, yet it is hard to start the conversation. Might you give me some tips?
Anonymous said…
I have a 5 year old son who for as long as i can remember has done some sort of stimming. when he was younger he would constantly bang on the table, chair, wall whatever he could reach. Now that he is older it has progressed to vocally stimming. Hes constantly repeatedly making noises, humming, singing the same song over and over again, clicking his tongue, makes faces and odd pitched noises. It goes on allll day allll the time. There was a point where he did this hand flapping thing and no noises but that didn't last long and now he is back to the constant repeated noises just worse. It seems to get worse the older he gets. He never slept well when he was an infant either. I don't think that he has much empathy either. I haven't been able to get any answers about whats going on so i know how to deal with this because its driving me crazy. One doctor said adhd and another said that was wrong. He can sit with intense focus on a task for hours at a time. And he is very smart and verbalizes well and is pretty advanced for his age. He is very literal also. Does this sound like aspergers to anyone else with similar situations? I"m kind of stuck.
Gavin Bollard said…
That sounds very much like aspergers.

See criteria here;

You've cited A(4) and suggested A(2).
Stimming is B(3)

Have a look at C-F and see what you think.
Anonymous said…
Gavin, you are right. He is also very intensely focused on a subject and wants to learn all aspects and details. I.E. we just spent the last month every night reading a book about volcanoes, how they work, why they happen, where they are etc. He was saying words by age 1, and has very 'adult' vocabulary. He can be obsessive about some things to the point of anxiety if you don't let him do it. He is much better when he is around immediate family but socially he is very inept and exhibits the same characteristics as described in your link. Having lived with aspergers yourself how did you cope with school? I'm very worried about my son who is only in preschool right now and starting kindergarten next year on being able to have a good school experience. He is very smart and loves to learn but it's difficult when he gets in a social situation with other kids/adults and it then becomes an impairment. (the noises, outbursts, and funny faces) I have no idea how to go about this as no one in my family or my husbands has this type of behavior/disorder. Any advice for a mom with no clue?
mazwk said…
hi could do with some advice my son is 7 going through cahms for asd hes always been fascinated with weird things not toys but household items lawnmowers lighters washers etc he suffered speech delay as a baby and always had problems at school now im worried about his habits he keeps twitching his eyes and moving up and down making a noise its worrying me he goes throught different habbits the last one was moving his eyes to the right and blinking them i could go on forever anyone in the same boat as me thanks
Gavin Bollard said…

If your son is verbal now, have you tried talking to him about his stimming. If possible, sit next to him next time he's doing it, and look at what he's looking at (or do what he's doing) then ask him what he's doing with his eyes.

It could be a stim, it could be deliberate (like squinting his eyes to make lights appear different)or it could be involuntary.

Medications can also produce these sorts of side effects so if he's on any, consider stopping them briefly to see if the stim goes away.
Anonymous said…
Hi, I am 17 and have aspergers. I do this thing where I tense up my biceps and release them over and over again. I also always have a pencil with me and am rubbing the eraser. Are these thing stims?
Anonymous said…
my son is not diagnosed, but may have aspie, and has in the last few moths started rocking more and more, I'm starting to worry about the social impact it will have when he goes back to school in September, and seriously considering getting him seen by a doc for a referral, even though his dad insists he is neurotypical and doesn't need any extra support. I have no idea if NT kids rock&stim, but do you think rocking will be a big deal in a class of 7-8yr olds?
Gavin Bollard said…

1. There's always someone in the family who denies the condition. Unfortunately, denial doesn't make it not real.

2. Anything that makes a child seem different to the group will be noticed. This includes stimming.

Having a diagnosis won't include anything which helps your child to stop stimming. Therapy can make it less noticeable and a label can make it more defensible. That's really the best you can do.
Anonymous said…
My 20 year old son has been diagnosed with Autism/Aspergers Syndrome since 5 years of age. He is extremely bright, but now has great difficulty focusing on college course work. He gets A's in psyics and calculas, and then failes courses that are easy, or not an interesting subject for him. He also has an ususal stim...whereby he will hold hands close to face, finger flap, while crossing is eyes and chewing on lips. Needless to say, this is not socially accepted. He has now learned to curtail this stim in public, but will continue at home, or with trusted people. He says he makes him relax, feels very good, and he is thinkng of a beautiful/pleasant thought at the same time. I don't know his prognosis for even graduating from college or holding down a job. His drivers license was taken away, since he raked up many tickets and our insurance soared. He is funny, bright and a wonderful person, who has some close friends. I am seeking help with higher education guidance counseling for my son.
Mallory said…
I'm 15 years old and have had Asperger's for most of my life but my parents never mentioned it much until I asked about it.
I've recently started reading up on what the symptoms and issues that go along with Asperger's are. I've always known I had strange behaviors and had no idea why I acted that way until recently.

Some of the things I do are pacing around in the dark late at night or skipping/running around my house when my parents are out. Occasionally one of my parents will catch me doing it and I feel extremely embarrassed about it.

Would these be considered stimming? If they are, how can I change them to more acceptable/ less noticeable ones?
Julie said…
I have a 4yo son who was just diagnosed as Aspergers. When he is in a rage, what calms him down is hitting something, such as the back of a car seat, the door, or even a person. I feel it is more the arm motion and the impact of the hard surface that is calming. Is this stim behavior? If not, do you have suggestions for how to redirect this behavior so that it is not harmful to people? Remember that I'm dealing with a 4yo.
Devon said…
Hello Gavin,

I have an adopted daughter from China who will be 2 next month. She is still very young and has only been home with us for 6 months, but she has been given an ASD diagnosis. It is difficult for me as her parent to determine (or maybe accept?) that she is truly on the spectrum. She spent the first 17 months of her life extremely deprived of proper care, nutrition, and stimulation. We have noticed a lot of self stimming behaviors from the beginning, and new ones have emerged over time. These behaviors include staring at her hands, playing with shadows, staring at her reflection in any reflective surface, squinting, constantly making noise, rocking and head hitting (with her hand). We've been able to help her lessen rocking by rocking her in a chair ourselves everyday and giving her time to rock on a rocking horse and a swing. But, we don't know how to help with the visual stimming. Is there something we can do to give her the sensory input she needs to help with these behaviors? Thank you for your insightful blog and for taking the time to respond!
Gavin Bollard said…
@Devon, it's sometimes difficult to differentiate between underprivileged children and children on the autism spectrum.

2 is quite a young age for a diagnosis unless behavior is significantly different - which, in this case, it sounds like it is.

For the time being, you might want to treat the label as "possible" because six months probably isn't long enough for her to adjust to her new home and family.

Of course, the label should give you access to funding and services, so it's a good idea to take these onboard.

Most of the things you would do for a child with autism would also apply for a child with delays and apprehensions due to other psychological causes - so you should still continue down the path of autism.

You're doing great work in reducing the stims and you'll find that patterns, particularly stark black and white ones, will enable her to stim at home without being so obvious.

Keep in mind though that stimming is both an anxiety/stress coping technique and something that the child enjoys. Unless it's actually harmful, there's little benefit in taking it away from her.

As she grows older, she'll either move away from stimming or develop more socially appropriate forms but at 2 years, it's a bit too early to be concerned.
Devon said…
Thank you so much, Gavin! We understand that it's still early, and we're thankful for early intervention. She is getting great services. At this point, we're still trying to determine whether her autistic features are institutional or constitutional. Her social responsiveness has improved dramatically over the past few months. Though she still avoids eye contact at times, she seeks it out at other times, and she loves playing social games like peek-a-boo and patty cake. Time will tell... For now, we will let her stimming serve it's purpose for her. Thank you for your time and insights!
Devon said…
Thank you so much, Gavin! We understand that it's still early, and we're thankful for early intervention. She is getting great services. At this point, we're still trying to determine whether her autistic features are institutional or constitutional. Her social responsiveness has improved dramatically over the past few months. Though she still avoids eye contact at times, she seeks it out at other times, and she loves playing social games like peek-a-boo and patty cake. Time will tell... For now, we will let her stimming serve it's purpose for her. Thank you for your time and insights!
KGold said…
This was such a great post and follow up comments! My son (7) is being assessed for Aspergers and stims anytime he is a. idle or b. concentrating. It is so hard. He doesn't realize most of the time he's stimming. Right now, I'm reading a book (aimed at OCD) about helping alleviate compulsive behaviors. A few of his stims MUST be replaced/removed as they are UNACCEPTABLE (ie pinching himself, touching his privates, nose picking) and a few that are annoying at best (squawking...other verbal stims). I know that with OCD compulsions are driven by fear rather than a compulsion one doesn't even realize he is imposing; although, rigidity is a problem here too. Anyway, I found this a great read and thank you for sharing!
Thank you!
Anonymous said…
Hi Gavin,
Thank you for such an interesting post. I was googling stimming and this was the first one to come up. My son is 7 and was diagnosed with Aspergers 12 months ago. He has been seeing a psychologist and occupational therapist for most of this time, and really seems to be progressing quite well at school and home. I am a school teacher, and did a day of relief in his class last week. I noticed that he stims the whole time he is in the classroom. He sits at his desk while the others are on the mat (something he arranged with his usual teacher..) and he rocks back and forth in his chair, squeaks, rubs his hands over his mouth and then puts them between his legs. He will stim at home quite often, not to this extent, and when he does we will send him out to the trampoline to jump, or break the stim with a game etc. I am a little sad for him that this is how he spends his day at school, because his classmates do notice now and comment on it. Is there anything I can do at all? I understand that I can't stop him from doing it, but I wish there was something I could do to 'help' him so that it doesn't become such a social issue in the future? Many thanks, Liz
Anonymous said…
My son is 6 and stims constantly, he either plays with his hands or his clothes or labels on his clothes and hum. His classmates have all noticed it and I am worried about bullying. He said to me it's all about feelings, he does it when he is happy and anxious but not sure how to introduce something that would be more acceptable, I give him fidget toys but he just reverts back to playing with his hands or clothes and he seems disnegaged from everything. I am wondering if diet would changee things.
Anonymous said…
You're an idiot! You've let all the therapists and concerned parents and psychologists convince you that they're right because they're the majority. You gave in. Why do you think people should live by the dogma of social acceptability? Why try to "normalize" your children??? This world is so sick and wrong. Our culture preaches individualism and creativity but then turns around and suppresses it.

Autism is not a disease, syndrome, or disorder. It's a set of traits that coincide with each other, like any set of eyes coinciding with blond hair, a good singing voice coinciding with a good sense of rhythm.. Autism is just smart minds coinciding with special sensory abilities, being different due to off-the-charts creativity and a unique perspective, and sometimes having learning difficulties because the brain is wired differently and we don't yet know how to get through to them. And that part still doesn't make it a disorder because the good far outweighs the bad. Everything in the world comes with a negative side.

I personally think it's a not-yet-fully-developed evolutionary response to industrialized society. We used to have an agricultural society where everyone had to do a variety of tasks relating to their survival, instead of specializing. Now we are one big interconnected system with each person managing a tiny part of it. This system works more efficiently than the former, might I add.

So-called Aspergers children have obsessions with specific things, sometimes even parts of things. For neurotypical people, it is not normal to love and cherish and know all about one repetitive thing or part, yet it is required in many occupations, such as factory work. For "autistics" it is natural, therefore they are adapted to these aspects of modern society and it's easier for them to specialize.

As the world becomes more computerized, "autistics" will come to dominate the Bill Gates. They have both technical skill and charisma on the internet, the new form of communication. One company hires only autistic IT technicians, not out of charity, but out of utility. The challenge right now is to make sure they know they're beautiful just the way they are and that there's nothing "wrong" with them. It's part of the natural diversity of genes and traits.

As for the difficulty with social interaction...that's a result of EVERYBODY ELSE being closed-minded. Take a look at how they interact with each other.

I hope that in the end, those who know who they are and won't be beaten down by normalcy will pwn you and all the others who doubt them. They will pwn with their amazing minds and unshakeable focus.

Trying to discourage them from stimming is like trying to shut down their fundamental mental processes. Stimming induces a state of high creativity, intense joy, organized thought, and amplified visualization ability in some. Who wouldn't do it? Those who think its a bad thing are probably jealous or something.

Anonymous said…
I have Asperger's Syndrome and I do a type of stimming that involves rocking. I've done it for as long as I can remember, but my parents kept trying to make me stop. When I was a child they didn't know I had AS, in fact it hadn't really been identified yet.

I, myself, didn't understand my desire to rock, constantly, but with some educational enlightenment I now know why I do it.

It really doesn't "feel" like anything - in fact, I'm often doing when I don't even realize it. Usually somebody else points it out to me.

As a child I was considered to be "retarded." That was the word used to describe people like me, back then. Many of those same people ended up eating those words when I obtained a master's degree and maintained a straight A GPA in college. I'm currently pursuing a Ph.D. and plan to become a professor.
Anonymous said…
Wow, it's amazing that this post is so alive after 5 years! I don't know if that's unusual for your blog. All of the comments are very interesting for me too. Autism and Asperger's spectrum diagnosis - ADHD too - is such a strange and fascinating thing for me. I have been drawn intellectually and emotionally to study and understand these categories, especially in conjunction with the study of movement and touch therapies.

I find myself very drawn also to people who are somewhat marginal socially. None of them, including myself, would be considered classically autistic or asperger's, however, almost all of my closest friends "stim" in some way or another at all times. Much of our internal group culture is dedicated to accepting and even celebrating these habits.

Most of us were socialized in childhood into acceptable "stims." For example, I sucked my thumb and twirled my hair until I was 8 (I would hide it behind my book in class) when my dentist weaned me off of it over a 3 month period. Now I find myself pressing my mouth with my hand and playing with my hair. I could even say that my love of dance and yoga are a way to "stim" acceptably. Those are both daily activities for me.

You do say that everyone stims, that it's the intensity and focus and duration that set apart those on the spectrum. But what I feel, and this is truly a feeling, not a thinking, and certainly not "expert" knowledge, is that the autism category is a useful way to think about behavior and development, provides a starting place for treatment, comprehension, and compassion, AND is not the only way, sometimes not the best way, to categorize someone's behavior/personality.

I think that many of my friends, had they been born in the 90's instead of the 80's, would have been diagnosed on the ADHD - Autism - Asperger's spectrum. Many of us have had to learn how to be socially appropriate, I certainly did - I taught myself, because my parents didn't really know how to be socially appropriate and maintain close friendships either. They are extremely intelligent, but not much socially.

Maybe we just rejected society and chose a different, bohemian, punk, hippie lifestyle. Maybe we're just quirky and odd and never really "fit in" - but not disordered. Or maybe we are all somewhere on that spectrum, and because of the time in which we were born, have learned to deal with it by living primarily in community with others who are similar and creating networks and systems that allow us to survive happily without having to change our quirks in order to be acceptable. We may not flap our hands, most of us, or if we do, we don't think it's a problem. But if we had been born ten or 15 years later, would we think it was a problem and think we were all disordered and instead of trying to create a lifestyle that meets our needs, be trying to conform to that imposed by media etc even more??

I don't know. Maybe it's easy for me to say all this because I've never been labeled, other than "slow but smart." But I am very glad that I never was because it would have been devastating for me, to carry that around for my life. I think about going to a hospital or specialist when things get really hard for me and I don't understand it. Instead, I go to my friends.
Anonymous said…
I'm sixteen and in high school. Although stimming does not affect much of my life, it is something I have dealt with after developing depression and generalized anxiety disorder. Body rocking, rolling my hands and feet, and cracking finger joints are things I do almost continually.

I just want to let people know that stimming does not necessarily mean your child has Asperger's or autism. And don't tell your kids to "stop doing it"! I've actually calmed myself down and effectively stopped or prevented panic attacks by stimming.

And I've never been called out, picked on, or scorned because of this. Granted, my stimming habits are not as severe as some people's, but just because your kid stims doesn't mean they'll be bullied. :)
Unknown said…
Very interesting thread. I have a 15 year old son who has been stimming since he was 2 1/2 yrs old. It started with a Darth Vader action figure that was loose in the middle. He would take the action figure and make Darth's legs spin around. His stimming then progressed to a cup with a pencil inside and he would move the cup around and then watch the pencil move around inside. He would talk very quietly while doing this and it sounded like faint gibberish. For the last several years he has been using a child's plastic hanger with the hook part broken off and a lint remover without the tape on it. The lint remover is put in between the hanger and he makes the hanger spin. His stimming has dramatically decreased as he has gotten older and the only time that he does it now is when he is sitting on the toilet and when playing video games. When he was younger, I asked him why he did it and his response was that it made him think. Now he says it is just a habit, like someone who spokes cigarettes. He also showed signs of a sensory issue while in kindergarten. Loud noises bothered him, now there is no issue at all with that. I did take him to a Psychologist when he was about 5 and that dr thought he might have Asperberger's at first, but then after testing, we were told he had a touch of everything (OCD, ADHD, ASD). The dr and his pediatrician did not have an explaination for his stimming and just called it a "very interesting habit". A couple of years ago he was formally tested for ADHD and was diagnosed with ADD (inattentive type). Is stimming common with ADD or maybe my son does have a touch of ASD.
Anonymous said…
could picking skin till it bleed and scab picking be a stim?
Gavin Bollard said…
@Anonymous, yes; picking at scabs is a stimming behaviour. It's more common in younger adults but I can remember several people who did this when I was little.

It was their way of introducing sensory feedback.
Anonymous said…
thanks for the reply- my son who is 10 has been picking skin to make scabs & picking scabs since he was about 3. he's recently been diagnosed with tourettes & dyspraxia but i suspect he may have aspergers so i'm trying to suss out at much as i can before his next hospital appointment. if he touches anything with one hand he has to touch with the other- could this also be a stim? he said if he doesn't the urge starts to build.
Gavin Bollard said…
That last bit sound a little more like an OCD behavior than stimming. It doesn't mean that he has OCD too... in fact, he may not even have the other things he's been diagnosed with.

Aspergers has a way of masquerading as other conditions. (See: Co-conditions)
Anonymous said…
I'm an adult with Aspergers. I do the visual thing that someone wrote earlier where I follow the outlines of things with my eyes- like window frames, cupboards, etc. When there are patterns in things, I count them in my head and use my fingers (usually held down) to imitate the shapes. I will follow the shape of things with my eyes and use my fingers discretely to follow the shape.
My other stim involves books. I read a lot. When I was in school I would be reminded to be quiet because as I was reading a textbook, I would love to constantly roll a pencil or pink eraser up and down the top of the book. Now as I read, I constantly ruffle pages at the corners or hold a single page at the side and middle and make it "wave" down the the middle, then create the wave toward the top, then wave down to bottom. Repeat. I also like to finger the binding at the top and bottom of the book. But my favorite is to have a book with that thick plastic covering. I crinkle the edges over and over as I read. I love the sound- I'm in heaven and it helps me focus on reading. Needless to say, when I return a library book, it looks very used! I can browse a shelf at the library and recognize any book that had been in my hands because it's crinkled and wrinkled! I cannot imagine reading books on kindle or the like. I would not be able to focus or have any pleasure reading if I could not handle and fidget with the book. Poor books!
Anonymous said…
Also, AS people can become irritated by other people's stimming behaviours even when they do the exact same thing themselves.
Annabelle said…

My child was screened for autism at age 2 and at age 3, both times they said highly intelligent but no special education services needed. He's 4 now, and I still think he's on the spectrum. Can you tell me if these things sound like aspergers or autism to you? I'm considering getting him screened again, but by a different service this time around.

1. Stimming - (mostly at school storytime, nap, and at bedtime) constant movement, constant whispers/babbles, licks book edges and licks knees, also moves head in unusual way while babbling. (kind of like stevie wonder does when he sings).
2. Tantrums at school, hitting, pushing, throwing, normally over toys, results in tantrums and time outs, gets in a lot of consequence type situations at school, 1 teacher thinks he's oppositional, another thinks he may have special needs
3. Is extremely intelligent, very articulate, family and friends almost always suprised with how well mannered he is, how he's like talking to a little adult.
4. Very sweet and adorable child but struggles in school mostly.
5. 80% of the time repeats questions in an unusual way "Son, would you like an icecream", responds "I WOULD like an icecream" or "I can have an icecream" rather than just saying 'yes'
6. Finally, he struggles a bit with directions, if you say 'look infront of you' he may look everywhere but infront.

Its been difficult with screening as he goes in just adorably sweet, we believe he saves the majority of his stimming for when he gets home, right after school. He has socially struggles with other children but not so much with other adults. If you met him for 1 day you may notice articulate bright child, slighty monotone voice, but if you spent a week with him, you'd notice more. The autism screening is just a 1 or 2 hour session so i believe they are missing it. I think he could potentially continue through public school system as he is very bright, but he does also need some help.
Any advice? Should I take a video of him stimming to a screening to show them? or is this going overboard?

Please advise!
Anonymous said…
No i believe this is called tricotillamania and is an anxiety disorder where people relieve anxiety by pulling out hairs,eyelashes, etc just as u desribe
Anonymous said…
Would an eye stim in a 6 yr old be a sudden onset? My grandson about 3 wks ago started looking out of the corners of his eyes at things, saying it makes them look bigger. wasn't all the time then but now it's most of the time he's swinging his head looking out of each side. He looks me in the eyes when I tell him to and if I hold his head he can keep focus on me straight ahead. He did nothing like this or what I've been reading on your blog until 3 wks ago. He's 6 yrs old and I'm afraid for him to go back to school. Kids are cruel.
Gavin Bollard said…
Stims can certainly appear suddenly "out of nowhere" as a child learns how to do a certain behaviour.

A fine motor skill, like a specific eye movement is a good example.

If you're not sure, get it checked out by a doctor but if it's a stim, there's very little that you can do about it.
Anonymous said…
My son son always does vocal hums or like a jump ip and down when hes on computer games i asked why are you doing that he says he has to do it he as always had obsessive behaviors and ocd behaviors and gets upset very easily he is under cahms at the moment ongoing
Sam said…
I'm a 29 year old female and am convinced I have mild AS. I have done quite a lot of research, including reading a few books by RUdy Simone( highly recommended for any females with aspergers). Anyway.... I just wanted to know if the following are considered stimming or are just part of my life long anxiety/depression... (which I also believe to be a unfortunate part of aspie life)
- whistling... Usually the louder I can get it, the more satisfied and happy I feel.
- teeth grinding or putting pressure on alternate sides of my jaw/teeth to the tune of songs I make up in my head (this often happens as I am trying to go sleep)
-clicking in my throat
- skin picking, I have many many scars on my back /arms/face from years of picking and this is generally worse when I am stressed/anxious.
- making my shoulders/back/stomach tense up and releasing them repeatedly to the point where I find it hard to control and it actually isn't a pleasurable/relaxing habit, more annoying and uncomfortable.
I think these are the main 'Stims' I am questioning. Many thanks for any response, :)
marvstoltz said…
My son who is 13 now was diagnosed at a school as having PDD-nos while in Pre-K. He had a severe expressive language delay they said, hated loud noises, loved tactile things such as sand, water, gravel, fur, and had irrational fears, (such as the sound of a train crossing a mile away he was sure would come and run over him). He lacked empathy and would avoid eye contact. He often seemed in his own little world and we had his hearing tested just to make sure but his hearing was normal. You could say his name repeatedly but we had to touch him and force eye contact for him to respond at times. He had severe night terrors at times where even when we turned on the lights to show him there was nothing to see he would continue to see whatever he was scared of for a few minutes. He quoted movie lines and felt anyone who looked at him without his approval was teasing him. I took him out of school and began homeschooling. I used to make sensory bins with pasta and beans for him to sit and play with. He would go into a trance sort of state for an hour or more just flicking them through his fingers. We eventually tried medications but the side effects were scary so we stopped them. He has improved every year but has switched certain behaviors for others. He reads very well, has good understanding but walks in circles, flaps his hands, touches his lips repeatedly while daydreaming aloud (whispering sometimes), wakes the house with odd noises every morning or three a.m. (random), gets excited when others are excited and tenses his whole body up while grinning from ear to ear and so much more. He is left-handed, double-jointed, has gigantic corneas, digestion problems, and something called optic nerve headdrusen (deposits in the back of his eye surrounding the optic nerve and causing elevated pressure. He is very unique and gifted. He has near perfect rhythm and has been able to play drums since he was 3. He has never drawn pictures unless coerced and has no drive to be creative except in his imagination. I believe he is Aspergers and not just PDD. Also very, very hyper.
marvstoltz said…
My son has exhibited hand-flapping, sound hypersensitivity, touch hypersensitivity, avoiding eye contact, spaciness, pacing, daydreaming aloud, especially in the mornings, walking in circles, expressive speech delay, and so much more. He is 13 now and has grown out of some of the behaviors, such as night terrors and unrealistic fears, but now touches his mouth alot with his fingers and flaps much more. He was diagnosed at a school in Pre-K with PDD-nos but I believe he has Aspergers. We eventually pulled him out of school because he was treated as a problem to be solved and alienated (small school) and he is now a very good reader, has good comprehension but very poor math skills and difficulty dealing with abstract ideas. He loves animal fur and seems addicted to peanut butter and bananas, (high in phenols) but he is a great drummer and good at sports. He is so unique and has a great sense of humor.
Anonymous said…
Very good article. I will be facing many of these issues as well.
Also visit my web site ... How To Cure Anxiety
Anonymous said…
I believe that I stim at times.
I was at an awards ceremony with a friend and I was unconsciously drumming on the table. When I was younger, we had these porch chairs that rocked, and one time at dinner my dad told me that my rocking was making him dizzy.
I also repeatedly say whatchamacallit and thingamajigger and thingamabobber because I know what I'm thinking but it gets blocked or slowed somewhere between my brain and my mouth.
I'm also very fidgety, playing with my pens and pencils during class.
I also haven't ever been very good with empathy. My little sister gets homesick, I just tell her to take my phone and text mom as many desperately homesick texts as she wants, as long as she stays out of my room.
I also tend to be a little domineering. I want things my way, all the time. I think its a search for control, because I can't depend on a schedule, given that my family's too big to rely on one.
Anonymous said…
I frequently touch my mouth with things. It was embarrassing once because I accidentally did it with a friend's earbuds. I also stick out my tongue while concentrating or (usually) scheming.
Anonymous said…
I watch a kiddo that walks in circles & plays with their fingers a lot ,also when someone knew comes in the room this kiddo puts their head down & won't play till they leave just sits there. I'm not sure what is wrong something just doesn't seem right,but mom says her child doesn't act like that @ home but I have heard her say this child does with gma when she is not around. Is this kiddo just a nervous kiddo or is something else going on?
Gavin Bollard said…
Although those are stimming behaviours, stimming is not uncommon in children who aren't on the autism spectrum.

Usually it's the amount and intensity which matters.

I can't really say without knowing more about the child but if it's a problem, you should take the child to see a specialist.
Mandygirl238 said…
My 3 year old son has started a weird habit. He puts his head on the floor and speed crawls with his head on the carpet. All the time. Our older son has some of the characteristics of SPD but his pediatrician just thinks he's quirky, not SPD or aspergers. Is my 3 year old stimming or having a sensory issue, or is it just because it feels good. He's given himself rug burns on his head and bonked into things because he's not looking.
Mandygirl238 said…
My 3 year old son has started a weird habit. He puts his head on the floor and speed crawls with his head on the carpet. All the time. Our older son has some of the characteristics of SPD but his pediatrician just thinks he's quirky, not SPD or aspergers. Is my 3 year old stimming or having a sensory issue, or is it just because it feels good. He's given himself rug burns on his head and bonked into things because he's not looking.
dawn said…
my son is 9 and has adhd, and sPD but is not on the ASD scale. Stimmining for him is a way of taking anxiety and calming down, even the hand held leapster he played with or now his DSI, its all a way of stimming, and callming for HIM, they even sell a disc, the dizzy disc for kids with vestibular problems, my son has that, and after stimmming on that particular device, kids and adults can be calm for hours on end (Amazon sells this tool, just read the reviews) anyway im commenting because ,maybe WIKI, needs to understand that stimming for different disorders, produces a different result! I use to self stim when i was little, i'd start by walking in a tight circle, and up the speed until my body felt like it was sideways almost, and then i'd be relaxed! I too was dx'd 39 yrs ago with HD, and my doctor would not put me on the "new" meds they had, so I had to figure out ways of coping, and I did. I got lucky! to this day im the leg shaker, i didn't know why until my sons DX, then it was like AHA! I used to do those things too!! Oh one more thing, he does like to chew on his arm, and i have bought a bracelet made for this, and since then his arms have been left alone.
Anonymous said…
Hi, I am a mom to a 4 year old boy who I suspect has Aspergers. Although not as expressive with his language, he is extremely intelligent, he started reading books at 2 and a half, could count up to 100, knew the alphabet, all the shapes(even cone. cylinder, octagon etc) He maintains eye contact for short periods of time, is hyper, recites lines from movies especially funny movies. He went through a stage when he learned all the logos of car manufacturers, and would name every make and model on the way to nursery (he had various obsessions including lego, sticker activity books etc) however his latest and longest one is googling Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Universal etc, repeatedly watching the videos of them on youtube. He even hums the tune and has been researching different ones dating back to 1920 etc. He refuses to potty train, and sometimes is so busy on his Sony tablet that I have to feed him his lunch or dinner. He runs back and forth across the living room for 10 minutes at a time ( he can do this at 45-1 hour intervals if he is not busy with his obsession) He also uses lego blocks(builds a small structure and holds it close to his eyes at every angle). Recently he has been studying a plastic hanger(I am guessing the triangular shape represents "Paramount Pictures" logo..) I finally have an appointment with the paed at the end of this month and I am so nervous about the assessment. My biggest fear as a mom is that my beautiful, intelligent, amiable child will be bullied due to his lack of social skills...
Dennis said…
Hey, I do the fabric snapping thing too! All my life, I've pinched the thickest part of the seam on my jeans hem and snapped it! Pillow seams too! I've always worn them down. The balls of my thumbs have calluses. Also, up until I was 16 I had to rock myself to sleep. But at that age I forcefully made myself stop and found that I could sleep all the same.
Anonymous said…

i have a 3,5 years old son and he has Asperger. The main problem is that he jumps up and down all the time, like 70% off all day. We somethimes manage to disturb him in jumping, but sometimes, he is very mad, and doesnt want to stop it. it draws lots of attention of other people. Please, tell me, what terapy could reduce this stimming? To whom I should go? Will he ever stop to do this stimming and will he ever be aware of this unwanted behaviur? Thanks.
Gavin Bollard said…

Probably the best thing you can do for your jumpy 3.5 year old is to get him a mini-trampoline and let him get his jumps out there.

In time, you'll be able to teach him that his jumps should be done on the trampoline and that if he needs to jump at school, he should try to save it for later.

It won't always work but it will reduce the attention he draws to himself. When he gets a little older, you can give him something else to do when he feels the need to jump, such as a squeeze-ball that he can carry in his pocket.

For the time being though, he'll probably need to jump until he's old enough to understand the social implications.
Anonymous said…
Thanks a lot for so quick answer! We bought a mini trampoline a month ago,and we put it in our living room, but as we put it there, he wouldnt do anything but jumping. So after a day or two, we decided to put it away. I tried to do lots of things to reduce it... but with no succes.Maybe I could put it on the second floor of our house ( we live in third floor) so when he starts to jump, maybe we should say him to go on the second floor? What do you think? So, he speaks well, his coumunication with us in house is also well, but this jumping and repeating conversations from cartoons are thing that op.... I am preaty sad and worried. What is prognose for "jumpers"? Will he be able to go to regular school? He is very inteligent, but this behaviour... I am so worried.... I am sending you many greeting from Croatia. On our forums, I couldnt find lot about jumping.... Tnx.
Gavin Bollard said…
Jumping does reduce over time but it will be a long while before it becomes manageable.

Putting the trampoline in the living room is probably not the best thing to do as you want your son to know when he needs to jump and to learn to jump in a more private setting.

You also want to try to encourage him to play and talk normally in the living areas.

Given that he's still quite young and that speech is developing normally, there's no reason to believe that he won't be well suited to a normal school.
Anonymous said…
Let your kids out of the house. Have them run around. Sign them up for organized sports or other activities.Seems like there's all these people inside their houses, and other people analyzing their every friggin movement. Let. Them. Out. Stop staring at them.
Unknown said…
My son has asd he chews, rocks,flaps, fecal smears, he makes sounds, eats his feet, finger nails, sits in odd positions, he is extremely intelligent, over loving, never gets mad, thoughtful, sensitive, however is in mostly regular classes in school. maybe ive been around him too long but it all seems normal to me, i chew, bite my nails, and rock, im obsessive,
Mandy said…
I feel a little bad picking your brain about this! It seems you have been answering questions for over year now from this post! My son has Asperger's--just recently qualified for services through the school. He is five. Right now, he says lines from TV shows and sings a lot. I never thought this was a problem (he is my first child and just thought he had a song stuck in his head). Anyway, he got in trouble in school today because he could not stop making noises during story time. I am assuming all this repeating of lines from TV shows (which seems somewhat socially appropriate because they are usually humorous), and singing is a stim. Do you have any suggestions for alternative things he can do when he wants to vocalize at a time when it's not appropriate?
Mandy said…
My son has Asperger's recently diagnosed. Do you have any suggestions for alternatives to vocal stims (he likes to sing and repeat lines from movies)? Right now he is running into trouble at school because he won't be quiet during circle time and story time. Would a quiet stim (squeezing a stress ball) be a good substitute to a vocal stim? He is five, by the way. Thanks!
Unknown said…
I have never been diagnosed, but was curios. I just thought it was a bad habit. I like to rub my finger tips, thumb tips on slightly sharp objects. ie. I will fold a piece of cloth or paper to create a sharp point,then rub my finger or thumb against it. I do it almost constantly to my book corners while reading them...which has made having an e-reader rather a challenge for me.

I know I started this in grade school, I know there was an improvement in my grades after I started this but doubt it was the cause.

My mother said I was pacifying my self much like sucking my thumb, which I have never done.
Anonymous said…
Hi I'm 20 yrs old I don't know if I have anger issues or not probly... But sometimes I get so mad upset I just start to punch the hell out of my face/check bone area below the eye and if it gets really bad I'll take a baseball bat to my head a couple times, and I can't stop my self I've been doing this for about 4 yrs now does anyone I mean anyone no why I do this? Please help like I can control the baseball bat to the head but my fist to my face I never / can't control that please tell me why it would help a lot thanks
Anonymous said…
I punch my self in the face I even get a baseball bat sometimes and just start hitting my head I can never stop it I can never control it please help and don't delete my post this is serious this is real this is my life and I need answer okay
Anonymous said…
Does chronic masturbation count as stimming?
Anonymous said…
My 2yr old son places 3 fingers on his forehead and crosses eyes while starring at them. He also places a cuffed hand near the side of his face, jumps on toes consistently, hums, and has a vocabulary of about 10 words. I have had him evaluated and the results stated non categorized disability with a possibility of autism. Can you please offer some insight, im looking.for more answers. Thanks n advance.
Michelle said…
I have AS and I'm a girl (30). One of the posters above seemed to doubt the diagnoses because it wasn't 'common' . Friend, Lots of things in life aren't common. I have no doubt about my diagnosis.

This is a great blog with much good information.
Jessica said…
As the original post was quite long ago I am not sure if you check it anymore. If so I would love your suggestion on a stimming problem that my son is having at school. He taps his fingers, pounds his desk with his fist rhythmically and makes snorting noises when he gets anxious or frustrated. It is really upsetting his teacher and it disturbs the other children but he says he can't stop and when his teacher demands that he stop he has a full on melt down. What can I do-he says he doesn't know he is doing it until his teacher is already mad about it then he gets so flustered that she is mad that it only makes it worse. Everyone is frustrated and I keep getting called down to the school without a clue how to actually do anything more than clean up after this mess each time it happens. Any suggestions would be great.
nancy k said…
My 8 year old daughter was diagnosed AS 15 months ago. Finally, all her quirky habits made sense. She got a note in her daily notebook log yesterday from her teacher asking her to please stop singing and humming in class. When I asked my daughter about it she began to cry and said she can't help it.She also jumps a lot and flaps her hands. She struggles in math but excels in reading comprehension. Just wanted to share our experience.
Karl Nordling said…
What do you think of the Son-rise method, of the care giver joining in in the stimming to help establish contact, maybe with a non-verbal autistic person?
Gavin Bollard said…

Good question. Lets take it out of the whole Stimming context for a minute.

You're listening to a song in your head - perhaps even singing along. You like the beat, it calms you.

Then someone comes down, sits next to you and starts singing the same song.

Is it good?


The short answer is probably no. When you're in the right mood and you don't mind the other singer joining in, then it all works and you establish great contact. This is rare however.

Most of the time, the other party becomes at best a distraction and more likely an irritation. It actually makes you annoyed at the person and damages the bond.

In my opinion, copying stimming behaviours carries more negative than positive baggage and if repeated regularly creates a risk of the child further distancing themselves from the other person.
Anonymous said…
Most of the mentions of stimming I had read previously described hand flapping. or rocking. Since I don't do those things I thought I don't stim.I did not realize til reading this article and these comments that I probably do stim in various ways. nail biting, subtle finger presses against objects, etc.
Dawn said…
Hello, from los Angeles. My son has Down syndrome and Autism. He is 10, and since he was a toddler he has been doing a mouth tapping stim, and he includes humming "eeee" and teeth grinding. He holds most electronic leapster type toys with music to his ears and sways back and forth and mouth taps and hums to the music. (loud, "ahhhhhhh") But the teeth grinding and mouth tapping are continuous, regardless of toys, and I can say "hands down and he will stop - but picks back up again. My question is, have you heard of this mouth tapping/teeth grinding and what can I do to help him minimize the need for it? I've heard once, that using a trampoline is beneficial. Thanks in advance!
Gavin Bollard said…
Hi Dawn,

Using a trampoline is only beneficial in this sense because it's almost impossible for a child to continue a stim while jumping. He'll most likely go back to the stim as soon as he stops jumping.

The same could be said for giving him chewable things such as chewelry and gum.

I'm not sure how you could stop a stim like this unless you could get him to understand the danger to his teeth.

Perphaps you could take some steps to reduce stress on the teeth, such as a mouthguard?
Akash Farrugia said…
i was diagnosed with Aspergers, after many years of misdiagnosis's, i find myself constantly counting things, for example i will count how many letters are in a word and so on. i also bite my nails and at night my brain starts to shut down and i start rocking backwards and forwards. the only way i can stop rocking is to go to bed and sleep till the morning. is there anyway i can stop the severity of the counting as its really annoying???
Unknown said…
Any advice for a NT adult guy living with an 'Aspie' woman??? Intellectually I think I can understand what's going on with her stimming, but is there any way that I can get her to 'see' what she's doing, and how it may be impacting upon another person. EX: while I'm driving a car, I find her constant hand motions incredibly distracting, and worry that one day I'm going to get into an accident. She seems totally unable to modify/control this in any way, no matter how many times I point this out to her. Maybe my more basic question is - can as Aspie 'see' /comprehend their behavior at all??? I try to point things out to her constantly, always hoping that she'll gain some insight into herself, but it always seems to lead to a BLIND, dead-end. HELP & thanks for your advice.

Anonymous said…
Gavin, first of all, thank you for your blog. I'm so glad I found it.

My oldest son was recently diagnosed as having an autism spectrum disorder by a school psychologist. I think it's Aspergers. He stims by doing what he calls "hand shows". While his current teacher has helped him enormously to decrease this behavior at school, he hasn't stopped it. In fact, he seems to be doing it more at home now. When I tried to explain this to her, she didn't understand.

I brought it up again at a recent follow-up meeting to his IEP; he's transitioning to middle school next year. Again, his teacher failed to understand my point. I was very gratified when yesterday, our inclusion support teacher (I work at this school) spoke to me when she gave me copies of the paperwork we'll be submitting to his next school. She understood my concerns, and doesn't think he needs to stop his hand shows. I don't either. I would like him to minimize it in public, so he's not shamed or bullied, but I don't expect him to stop it. I know it provides him some relief. I just wish I could get his teacher to understand that I appreciate all she has done for him, to minimize his hand shows at school, but also to understand he is not going to ever stop stimming.

Again, thank you so much for your blog - and for this topic in particular. It has been helpful for me to read your comments and the comments of so many others.
Squishy said…
Hi I am in the process of getting my son diagnosed with aspergers. He does some things that I am concerned about. He talks to himself alot generally from when he wakes up to when he goes to bed. His obsessions with certain things like star wars is a tad full on and can't seem to get him to move on from it. The main thing inam concerned about is that he has been crushingnhis hands forntge past year and a half now. He puts one hand on top of the other and rocks up and down putting pressure on his hands. He zones out while doing this too and takes a while to come out of it even if we are yelling at him to stop. My husband and I are quite worried that this is doing damage to him. He is only 9 years old and I have been told that this is borderline self harm. Can anyone please help with ways to help my son stop this behaviour. Thanks
Kezza said…
Hi, love this post, very clear explanation of stimming. I have referred to your blog post in my blog. Here is the link.
Anonymous said…
I don't think anybody should ever tell anybody on the spectrum not to stim, or to only stim in private. Stimming is an integral part of our development and the management of sensory overload (which is what it means by normalise), taking that away from somebody can do a lot more harm than good.

Who cares what people think of you, if it's a stim that helps relax you, go ahead and stim to your heart's content.

Before I was diagnosed, my parents forcibly stopped me from doing what we now know were 'stims' and it did a lot of harm to me. When I realised what they were and that I shouldn't be ashamed of them, it made my life a lot easier to handle.

Please don't make people feel bad for doing something that is as natural to them as speaking to people is to you.
Unknown said…
I have a 12 year old I suspect is an Aspie kid. He had delayed speech, has been diagnosed as hypotonic, has been in OT for years. He has been stimming forever. This may sound weird, but when he was a year old, I would strap him in his highchair to eat, and he would kick the removable tray of and hang upsidedown...just looking at me while smiling. He then would constantly touch classmates and walls, anything, when in elementary school. As he got older, he would laugh constantly while watching television and flap his arms. At 12, he still does it, but has tried to suppress his laugh to an awkward chuckle, which he does for 50% of the show. Do you have any suggestions that may help him socially? He is going into middle school this year, and I am terrified his peers will crush his beautiful spirit.
Anonymous said…
my three yr old son is going throught referral process,at moment. one thing he does is constantly repeat a nursery rhyme over and over and some dayas are worse than others ive always thought it was an obsesive interest but the interest is always on repeatigng the rhyme. could this be stimming
Gavin Bollard said…

It's certainly possible that your three year old could be stimming via nursery rhyme.

I guess it depends on why he is saying it but if the aim is to calm or provide pleasurable feedback, eg: if he's clearly enjoying the sounds of the rhyme (ie: vibration on the tongue, possibly motions associated with it).

Endless repetition is only part of the stimming cycle. The feeling is the other part.
Anonymous said…
I have never read up a lot on any sort of autism, but I just read an interesting thing that I've experienced myself and I have never been considered to have any sort of ASD, AS, or any sort of Asperger's. I have done the thing where I focus in on a pattern or object until a gray (really more of a blue) surrounds what I'm focusing on, but as someone else stated, one slight movement, one distraction, and that is all gone. It looks normal again. I found this interesting to know that others have experienced this. Despite experiencing this, I doubt I have some form of autism. Good luck to all of you and just be yourselves!
Anonymous said…
First, get a diagnosis from a doctor. Contact the school and schedule an IEP meeting. The school is required to make allowances and adaptations for your son. Next, as the owner of this blog has said, try to find stims that are less distracting to other students. You want to try to keep your son in regular classes as much as possible.
Moe said…
Thank you for the helpful article. y 21 year old brother has this habits of doing movements with his hands as if he is giving the finger. He has had this habit for a couple of years now and recently has started talking alone in a high voice. We hear him saying a couple of words loudly when he is alone in his room.
Do such things fall under stimming? Should we take him to a specialist?
Thank you.
They sound like Tics - it may be stimming, I mean, you can take him to a specialist if you like, but imagine things this way:

Many of these are social disorders.

They "look funny" to those around him that don't do them.

They want him to be just like them, or a closer resemblance to them.

But if he isn't harming himself or others, to me, it's normal for him and they're just outbusts - just as if someone either banged their first on the table when mad or laughed when happy.

Thing how strange laughing really is in the scheme of human behavior?

He expresses himself differently - not for the benefit of those around him, but for the benefit of himself.

An urge that he follows.

Kenneth Udut
Naples, Florida USA
Anonymous said…
Hi Gavin! Thank You for this blog. : ) I am hoping you can help. My 6 yr old GD has been diagnosed as having Asp, but am now concerned with her having tourettes. For the past several mths she constantly twists her head as far as she can to one side as though she is looking at something far behind her. sometimes throwing her off balance. she does this continuously. she is also obcessed with swearing and just rattles things like be quiet even when we are not saying anything and she'll keep repeating it. she doesn't fall quietly to sleep, she is jumping or dancing wildly until she DROPS to sleep. It is exhausting for the rest of us and no matter how much of an active day she has, we know she is exhausted too. She DROPS at all hours of the night. Defies any type of schedules. Can tell that she just cant seem to help it. look forward to hearing from you. Thanks again.
MochaBarbie11 said…
Hello Gavin, I have an 5 year old cousin that has experienced the death of his two parents about two years ago. He comes over to play at times and while he's watching movies I can see him getting up walking back and forth waving his arms and biting his finger nails. If he sees me he'll ask me what I'm doing. I'll ask him what he's doing and he'll say I'm doing the happy dance. I'm a little worried about him because he says that it makes him tired. He has also been flapping his arms since he was younger no one really thought anything by it.
Gavin Bollard said…

It's possible that your 5 year old cousin could have aspergers but stimming is also a reaction to stress. It could also relate to trauma. You should see if it can get looked into by a professional.
Anonymous said…
Hi. I am a 16 year old girl and I am concerned that I may have Asperger's. I recognise the feelings you describe about stimming and was wondering if the following spcould be classified as stimming behaviours:
Foot tapping/knee bouncing - I do it all the time, usually when sitting down. It makes me feel like I am resaeing nervous energy, in control
Biting and chewing things - objects, clothes, people when I was little
Compulsive urge and enjoyment of picking scabs
Wringing my hands together
Gavin Bollard said…
Anonymous, Every single one of those things is a stimming behaviour which signifies at least high levels of anxiety.
Unknown said…
Hi, my 9 year old boy has Aspergers and we were discussing his 'need' to get into verbal arguments with us. He intentionally goads us, he is incredibly rude and when we suggest that he is doing it on uprise he agrees, we try to tell him that when the argument is over he will regret it but he seems completely intent on 'seeing' the argument out. He is highly verbal and very bright. Ordinarily he is a lovely boy, but when he is (mainly tired, anxious) ready for a fight, he will do almost anything to get one, including throwing bottles of water at me, throwing things in my face... All with the intention of getting into a verbal argument, where he says the same things again and again.... Our psychologist has suggested that this behaviour might be a verbal kind of stimming. Any thoughts?
Gavin Bollard said…

Given that the behaviour that you're seeing with your boy is reactionary, it's clearly not stimming.

Stimming is a mostly subconcious thing. This behaviour from your son is deliberate.

As you said, it's probably something to do with being tired. It might also be a way of guaranteeing some one-on-one time with you.

If the opportunity arises during these episodes, try to divert him to an activity which you can both enjoy. Give him some one-on-one time with you but in a non-confrontational way.

If this works, then you need to find a way to get him to "use his words" when he wants time with you.
Anonymous said…
My daughter is ASD, however my question is in regards to myself.
I have never been diagnosed with autism but some of the things I do have got me thinking that I might be on the spectrum too.
Examples: I do this knee bobbing thing and sometimes I pace back and forth, tapping my fingers together.

When I was younger I used to compulsively bite my nails.

Today, I had this meltdown brought on by problems with my computer and I started rocking and hitting myself(feeling embarrassed by it now)

I have been told by a couple friends that I have some signs of aspergers? o.O

Anyway, is it possible to go my whole life this far with autism and not even know it? I'm 31 now and my daughter is 4(asd/spd)
babbusito said…
I hum constantly, especially when nervous. I can't stop. I tell myself to stop and then realize I'm doing it again. my grandson does this along with rubbing a silky tag on his nose and sucking his thumb. other family members do similar things. is this learned behavior or are we "aspergers through the genes"? I also make guttural noises once in a while.
Reyra said…
it's awesome explanation
love this
Anonymous said…
My son started off with chowing on his shirt and rocking back and forth. Then he stated added on more like constantly blinking , and moving of his lips. That's been going non for 2 years now. We'll just today he started moving his head up and down. I asked him why he is doing that he said it's just a habit.
I don't know what to do. I thought it has to do with Adhd?
Anonymous said…
I am a 35 year old woman who has been in therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder for many years. Just recently I read a message board in which someone asked about the difference between BPD and Aspergers. Once I looked up Aspergers, I began to wonder if that's what I actually have. The BPD diagnosis fit for many years, but doesn't cover the social problems I've had - the problems connecting to others.
I am starting to put pieces together and am wondering if certain things I used to do and currently do are stims.

For example, sometimes I used to randomly touch my thumbs to my fingertips sequentially. But since I was a pianist, I had reasoned that I was just basically practicing piano scales (like air guitar, but air piano). Now I wonder if it was an aspergers' stim.

When I was in elementary school, I used to suck & chew on the ends of my braid.
I also colored paper with a pink crayon, and chewed it, pretending it was gum. ( we were not allowed to chew gum in school).

In 5th grade, after having the chicken pox, I was sent back to school with many scabs on my scalp which I picked off during class and slid through my hair. (disgusting!)

I am always catching myself bouncing one or both legs, or shaking my foot up and down when I have my legs crossed.

Ever since I can remember, I have rocked myself to sleep by moving my feet a certain way in bed, which rocks my whole body.

And as Donna above wrote:
"Here's a rather embarrassing one, but one nonetheless. I have AS and whenever I'm nervous or uneasy I quickly rub my hand in between my legs and smell my hand, thereby smelling my crotch."

I think I used to do that too, when I was a teenager, but always when I was alone!!!!

Nobody ever caught any of these things. I come across as very normal, but on the inside, I have never felt normal. As a child, I had to keep everything perfectly organized and arranged just so. My crayons were in order by color, my games were perfectly kept, the dice in the game boxes always had to have the number 5 facing upwards. I loved to put things in order. When I showered, my body parts had to be washed in a certain order. I was a very anxious kid, with extreme separation anxiety.

I was very smart, always at the top of my class. I have perfect pitch in music. I could read very early on, but couldn't do lots of things the other girls could do. For example, it took me a long time to learn to tie my shoelaces, I couldn't do "cartwheels", I was always very stiff when roller-skating, and even still it is difficult for me to follow along when learning dance steps or doing aerobics. I have basically quit trying to learn.

I am still not sure whether I have Aspergers and even my psychiatrist doesn't know. If I do have it, I have learned to cope and cover for it very well, and I put on a good "normalcy" act.

However, I am still single because I fell in love very hard in my early 20s and have never gotten over him. I am no longer even interested in men, although I feel it would be nice to have a family.
Anonymous said…
Forgot to mention in the above post from August 22, 7:47 a.m. that I when I (very rarely) get very excited, I jump up & down and pace until the energy dissipates a bit.

I also have never seen the point in wearing "girly" clothes, which to me seem very impractical. Skirts, dresses, and high heels are torture for me. Instead I practically live & go to work in jeans and t-shirts, and will not wear slippery or scratchy fabrics.

But I never had a "special interest" that I talked about, and I was rather shy as a child.

Anonymous said…
I am a 26-year-old man who was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome in 1993, at the age of five, when the diagnosis was relatively new. I've read through all these examples of "stimming" behavior, and I recall exhibiting many of them as a child. However, I distinctly remember one other example, and still exhibit one possible example, that nobody has mentioned yet. I'm wondering if this should qualify as stimming or not:

My hair - the mere existence of it - has bothered me for as long as I can remember. I used to constantly play with my hair and run my fingers through it. As a kid, getting a haircut was such a thrilling and liberating feeling, and I would beg my mother to let me get crew-cuts, against her objections. Now, as an adult, I shave all my hair right down to skin level, including my armpits and my pubic hair. When it grows back in again, I always find myself inadvertently stroking it (especially my beard and facial hair).

The other possible "stimming" behavior I can't seem to shake is my habit of (in private) taking my shoes and socks off, and scratching my feet very vigorously, to the point where flakes of skin come off. I also run my fingers through the spaces between my toes to the point of making my skin peel slightly. I get nearly as much of a "high" from this behavior as I do from masturbating.
Anonymous said…
I have a 14 year old son who has Down syndrome, atypical autism and sensory processing disorder. He constantly stims and I am finding it very hard to deal with lately. He mainly rocks vigourously, hand flaps, hums loudly and grimaces. He does other things but they are the main ones. He does this when he appears to be over stimulated ie listening to his music or watching his chosen TV. He also does it when when these things aren't happening which confuses me. He is very obsessed with his own TV programmes and music and if you try to remove these things he becomes very agitated and can display aggressive behaviour. Like I say his constant stimming is really getting me down and I also worry as he looks so trapped in it and over-stimulated. I have asked his child psychiatrist to consider medication but he does not think it will help and he suggested I cannot medicate my child to make things more peaceful for me. I found this hurtful as I think my main consideration is my child and how tensed up he appears to be. Any advice?
Gavin Bollard said…
Anonymous, Unfortunately I don't have enough experience with how Downs Syndrome interacts with autism to be certain of my responses but I do know that people with autism stim for "relief" and to calm themselves.

It may seem to you that his stimming is making him more agitated but it's more likely that it's calming him internally.

As you said, it could be a response to overstimulation via TV or music. I don't think that you can take these things away though without finding something to replace them.

If you have the time to engage your son on other things, then it would be worthwhile taking him out for walks or trying out social interactions such as autism or downs syndrome social groups. They may be able to get him involved in things like Tai Chi or other non-media hobbies.

There are no medications which reduce stimming behaviours, so the only medications available to you would be ones to sedate him. I really don't think these would be a good idea.

If you're finding it hard to cope, then you clearly need a little time-out yourself. You should look around for respite care to put your son in. Talk to local support groups, neighbourhood centers and doctors. Don't accept "No" for an answer because all carers need time out.
Anonymous said…
Thank-you for your informative and understanding response. I love my son so much and hate admitting I'm not coping too well at the moment. I think if I could just get my head round the fact that he needs to do this and he's not hurting himself in doing so , it would be a bit easier to cope with. It just doesn't look pleasant to me. I so want him to be more relaxed but I suppose this is just to do with my need for him on what I think relaxed should look like. It's hard to witness all day long .
Anonymous said…
Hi. I have a 9... almost 10 year old son. He has never been diagnosed with Autism but he does the hand flapping thing. I've been told that this is stimming. Does stimming always mean Autism? As far as I know he does not have any other symptoms of Autism and the stimming does not seem to have a negative effect on him at school. Im afraid as he gets older that kids will start making fun of him. Is there any need to have him diagnosed with anything if it is not affecting him academically?
Anonymous said…
Wow... after reading some of these I realize maybe my son does have more symptoms than I thought. He frequently tells me he doesn't have any friends and gets kind of depressed about it. I usually just talk him out of it though and point out that kids like him he just has to ask if he can play with them. When his classmates see him at the store they always say hi. He says he doesnt play with anyone at recess but I've pretty much just chalked this "no friends" thing up to just being a kid. Another thing he used to do but I havent noticed in awhile is he used to randomly make this odd expression w/ his mouth open and his tongue bulging (tip still in the mouth) I dont really know how else to describe it. I havent noticed it in a couple of years though so either I got used to it or he stopped. He also picks; his nose, his fingernails, his lips. To the point that he gives himself a bloody nose sometimes. Also something I always just chalked up to him being a kid. He is OBSESSED w/ farts and poop and thinks they are absolutely hilarious. Could just be a boy thing too LOL. He has always gone through phases where he really likes a certain thing. Like from when he was 2-6 or so he loved Cars (the movie) and all toys associated with that. Then there were the other phases... Star Wars, Transformers, Super Heroes, Pokemon, etc. Again... I always chalked this up to being a kid. It seems like the things I dont allow in my home are things he obsesses over more. Once I allow it he gets over it. My husband cracks jokes a lot and he has recently started trying to tell the same jokes... but he doesn't seem to use the right tone or something because people just look at him weird when he says it as opposed to laughing when my husband does. Also something new I've noticed lately is that he now seems to have security items. He sleeps w/ a certain blanket he got for Christmas. He got sick on it one night and it ended up in the trash by accident. I didnt realize he was attatched to it until that point. He cried wanting his blankey. He is not a crier at all so this was weird to me. We looked every where for a replacement and couldnt find one. Finally got him to settle for a different blanket but he would occasionally still get sad about the blanket. Luckily we finally found one. Now he has a stuffed pig that he plays with, talks to, and tucks it in to "sleep". This is odd because hes almost 10 and even when he was younger he never really played with or cared about stuffed animals. I dont know if this is another sign of aspergers or something else going on with him. I would appreciate your imput on all of this when you have time
Gavin Bollard said…

You more or less just went through a mental tick list of things which apply to Asperger's syndrome.

Individually, most of those things can be chalked up to "just being a kid" but together, they paint quite a different picture.

Of course, some kids cope better with the challenges that Asperger's syndrome places on them than others. If your son doesn't seem to need help, then there's no pressing need to run out and seek a diagnosis.

It mostly depends on his comfort level with himself.
Anonymous said…
The other thing... I thought I posted about it before that last entry. He does this flippy thing with his hands too. I assume stimming? He doesnt seem to notice when he's doing it and will stop if I point it out. His dad and I are not together and I haven't said anything to him about my suspicions of him having aspergers. He isn't the nicest guy and already makes fun of my son as it is. He doesn't like anything that makes him the slightest bit different. He had problems w/ reading and his dad made fun of him for that. He has glasses but his dad makes fun of him for those and tells him he's not allowed to wear them at his house. Is this something he would necessarily need to know about? What about at school? Is this something I should mention to the teachers or just wait and see if they notice anything? Is there anything his teachers or school counselors could do to make things better for him? He seems fine academically other than having trouble with reading. I dont want his teachers to think he's different than other kids unless it would benefit him.
I would like for him to have friends. He's had friends before but had to move so he doesnt see them anymore. Its been 3 years since then and each year he starts out saying he doesnt have friends but by the end of the school year he's fine. Then the new year starts and he has all different class mates again. Do you have any tips I could give him to help him with this? Also, should I tell him he has Aspergers? I dont want him to feel like he has something wrong with him but if I, at 31 years old, found out I had it and my mom had known since I was a kid and never said or did anything about it Im not sure how I would feel about that.
It might well be a regular boy; boys are weird; men are weird too - we just learn to hide our weirdness for a few decades until we get old enough not to care anymore.

Are his classmates similar to him or different? Also, has he expressed concern that he might be different?

Boys often obsess over a single thing for a very long time then shift to something else; introversion may explain some of it; Of course, it's possible he has Aspergers as well...

When i was around that age, I stumbled upon one of those kids "Am I normal?" books that went through things that can be surprisingly normal and some other things that "you might want to ask your parent/teacher about"

I don't remember the title; but they exist (I'm sure much improved; I'm 42 and better kids' books have come out with more up to date info in them).

It's a hard thing: Having a "name" for something you may or may not have *could* bring comfort, "Well, that's just my Asperger's acting up" - giving him a self-talk that's comforting when he doesn't understand himself.

Or.. it could be a prison (Oh no I'll never be normal) or an excuse for behavior ("can't because I have Aspergers").

He's old enough, I think, with the right materials, to work *with* you to decide if its something worth investigaging further; if his self-esteem seems intact, "leave well enough alone" might work.

If you're concerned, talk to him about it.

But again; from a girl's/woman's perspective, boys are weird. The only people that called me weird in school were girls; the other boys were more or less weird like me and understood. But having the label "weird" was something it took a lot of years to process.

labels can have a lasting impact that change your self-image; my opinion, as a non-licensed anything; is "handle with care".

Maybe you could pick up a few books or watch some youtube videos on "What's normal boy behavior" and go through it step by step and compare. It's a start; at least eliminating a few and perhaps highlighting others. That's something you could do that wouldn't involve anything dramatic on his life just yet. Just a thought.
Anonymous said…
My daughter is 2 n a half n when she's either in her push chair or car seat she repetitively moves her legs and bum as if shes swimming as in a frog like swim is it sot to worry about?
Gavin Bollard said…
There's really nothing to worry about when it comes to stimming unless a particular stim is inherently dangerous.

At 2.5 though, generally a child is too young to have stimming actions taken too seriously unless a parent is already known to have autism.
Anonymous said…
I work with a girl who has AS. Many times throughout the day she does a behavior that I am not sure is stimming...She twists her legs and feet around each other while sitting at her desk and squeezes and tightens her legs like she is doing keigal exercises. I want to know if this is a stimming behavior or if she is masterbating. When I tell her descretely to relax her legs or uncross them she gets annoyed and keeps doing the movement. How can I tell the differenc?
Unknown said…
jeez, it really sounds like you're overstepping your business, both on the query, and on telling a coworker how to sit, or how much muscular tension to adopt.
Anonymous said…
Olive Pip..thanks for your post but I think you misunderstood. I should have said I work with a student and this is in a school setting. I am just trying to get some feedback to determine if this is stimming or something else that should be brought to guidance.
Unknown said…
Ok, with your more accurate description, as a very uninformed guess (given that your description of her behaviour and context are also lacking in detail) I feel relatively confident that this is stimming. I have AS & I do highly similar things. I will explain it to you. the difference you would feel in your own body and psyche between a) yourself dressed in your usual attire, and b) yourself naked standing on the edge of a windy roof. (this relates to the proprioceptive and body feedback senses) for me to feel normal and psychologically competent, in my body and environment I need to be either in a state of movement (walking for example), or I need to recieve body feedback otherwise. the only way to achieve this is with pressure/ muscle clenching. Personally I like to sit with my legs folded up underneath me, but when I feel obliged to have my legs in a standard seated position, I would entwine my ankes, and rather than the ostentatious flexing you allude to, I'd probably stamp furtively hard with one foot upon the other.
I have to add that people who persistently look at my legs and feet annoy me enormously for making it harder for me to function and simultaneously meet every persnickety nuance of appropriate body language & posture. I'll also add that "discreet" sounds like an ambiguous way to raise an issue with a (young person?) with AS. And I'll also add that I'm still unconvinced it's your business.
Anonymous said…
Hi I have boyfriend I just notice that he always touch his fingers and I don't nkow what is the problem but make mi feel curious.because I can't hold his hands the way he touch mi looks like he can't touch well his hand always fold so I want to nkow if is any problem with it.
aspiemam said…
My son did something similar! He would lay on the floor on his stomach with his 2 underneath his crotch and he would hump the floor! There were signs he would get aroused and it was sooo emmbarrasing. As he got older though he learned that this was extremely socially unacceptable and now thankfully he no longer does this in public
aspiemam said…
Hi I've replied to this once but can't see it. Wondering if u saw it or whether I need to re-type? My son was diagnosed with tourettes when he was 5.
aspiemam said…
My son is a LOT like u! :)
jen said…
Hello, i have a 10 year old son who since the age of three has had lots of different quirks.The last four years have been the predominant.They have all been individual at first then sometimes together.Such as head twitching,grunting, reapeating words,stuttering because he is talking to fast,jumping and touching his kness at the same time,touching the floor before he runs or walks,rubbing things,smelling things,repetitive touching over and over again,easily distracted,hypoactive.constantly licking his nostrels back and forth,and bringing his lips up to his nose,
facial movements.His teachers dont see it as a problem due to not disruting others,however all that must be a barrier to his learning bless him and hes going to secondary school next year.Tried to get a diagnoses but feel like im banging my head against a brick wall. I dont want a diagnoses for any other reason than to access support for him.I work in education and its all about the funding!!!!
Amber W. said…
Gavin, I'm not sure you still check this post since it is quite old, but if you do, I'd love your perspective. Thank you. I have a 6-year-old who has been diagnosed with ADHD and SPD, but over the past year, we've wondered if he actually has Aspergers. We've noticed at home that he often claps his hands on his sides or stomps, and he inserts the word "donut" into conversations frequently throughout the day. He loves saying this word. I believe he thinks it's funny - could this be considered stimming? We're perplexed by this. He also makes high pitched noises - his teacher says he does this every afternoon around 2:30 when kids are gathering their backpacks. He wants very badly to make friends, but he's overly exuberant and scares people away with his energy, but he doesn't sense that these kids don't want to play with him. He doesn't seem to understand personal space either. And he may say awkward things like, "I love you, donut girl." (He calls people "Donut" a lot.) He often becomes very absorbed in something like building elaborate tents in the living room and has a meltdown if anyone moves a pillow or blanket - tantrums are very common with him. At school, he seems to have trouble knowing if someone is playing with him or being mean. I think they're trying to play tag with him, based on what he's told me, but he thinks running away from him can only mean they don't like him. He's only interested in being friends with one girl at school and follows her around everywhere and tries to hard, coming off as being awkward. He's told me if he can't be friends with her, he just wants to play by himself because it's "peaceful." Everyday when we get home from school, he wants to be by himself in our van because he says it's dark and quiet and peaceful - he craves quiet, but he's the loudest person I know. Can you make sense of any of this?
Anonymous said…
My 9-yo son has aspergers and inattentive ADD. In 1st & 2nd grade he would stim by flapping his hands. Now that he is in 4th grade he stims by play acting with a pencil, which leads into maladaptive daydreaming. According to his teachers, the majority of the day is taken up by daydreaming and he will jump if touched. I would love to know if anyone has experience in this area. We are trying to come up with ways to keep him in the real world for longer stretches of time, between the daydreams.
Anonymous said…
I've always sort of taped my toes inside of my shoes. Especially if I'm in a moving vehicle. I stare at the dashed lines on the street passing by, or other things like walls that are composed of segments (pretty common on New Jersey highways idk about other places). Sometimes I rock back and forth, but very slightly. I've recently realized how much the ADHD-inattentive subtype fits me. I'm going to try and get a diagnosis, because the other symptoms-lack of focus, lack of executive functioning, etc.- are ruining my life.
Anonymous said…
My son is 11 and he does this and I just try to call him to distract him butwould you say is the best solution I don't why he does it and i don't think he notices it but I know he does it alot and he is not diagnosed with anything
Anonymous said…
I am diagnosed with ADHD. I am 47 yrs old and I have always rubbed or tapped my fingers. I don't know I am doing it until I see people looking at my hands. I rub my feet together when I am in bed.
Anonymous said…
This thread and the posts of all the nice people have been really informative, Thank you all! I am a 50 yr old male and have had stimming issues my whole life. I was isolated in the corner in grade school through many grades. I still rock L-R,whether its standing w a group of people or sitting in my chair. I jiggle my legs all day long mostly. I learned to stop banging my head into my pillow in college and have been able control it since then. I bite my mouth and fingers to this day, then smell them, grind my teeth, I smell my hands and seem to habitually smell everything under the sun obsessively. I cannot detect sarcasm, but I have very high almost overwhelming degree of empathy. I have no sense of privacy,and am too open to a fault. I have high anxiety and serious tense muscle issues (high CPK) and inflammatory body issues. I take unnecessary risks for the thrill feeling. I have exhibited a high libido (that has happily diminished @ 50 - a "relief" really). My wife barely tolerates me after 26 years but she loves me and I am blessed to have her. I really have a hard time,the older I get. I am successful as a field engineer in medical imaging and play lead and rhythm guitar as a musical hobby. Music does help me. Depression comes and goes and I am not a believer in much medicine except for Gabapentin and small amounts of Tramadol, although my wife is adamant I keep on anti depressants (for her sanity). I don't know what is wrong with me- but i am convinced I am not a good person due to the pain I cause my wife. My kids are normal with minor anxiety issues, Thank God. I feel guilt but somehow feel self righteous at times. That is bad, huh? It's a bad way to be and I am trying to improve myself in this world. I feel that you can be successful professionally if you control the things you say and try not to be too open in professional settings.
Sorry for saying so much here-the biggest problem in life is that I find no satisfaction in it even though i am blessed with so much and that is really my greatest problem of all. I am helping people with literacy and am finally beginning to turn the tide in my life by dropping material things and helping my borthers and sisters on this planet. I feel great joy from this and feel that this is what I (and all of us)are meant to do. Thanks for your posts and listening. John in Ohio
Julieta79 said…
My 2.5 is all of a sudden running next to walls and fences to track visually the line. Also lifts toys up and follows with his eyes.
He has no development delays. Speech is typical for age, with lots of joint attention and engagement.
Do neurotypical kids stim visually like this ever? Or should I book an appt for testing? We have had ASD ruled out few times but I guess the mild cases are hard to tell early.
Gavin Bollard said…

Everyone Stims because it's a calming thing. Younger children arguably stim more than older ones because they haven't developed other coping mechanisms yet. 2.5 is probably too young to worry about things, particularly if your son's other milestones are on track.

Stimming is more common in stressful situations though, so it's worthwhile noting when he stims in case there are common factors (such as under certain lighting conditions, room decorating, separation anxiety etc). At this stage though, it sounds more like he's just orientating himself to his environment.
Anonymous said…
Hi I have been diagnosed with ADHD and then shortly after Asperger’s at age 35, my son is autistic and my daughter also has Asperger’s. My mother Bi-polar and Dementia and My grandmother Schitzophrenia and then Alzheimers I have 2 autistic cousins and a Nephew with severe Aspergers/Prater-Willi too. The one side of my family is really covered with these conditions its pretty crazy actually. All were assessed and diagnosed by the relevant medical professionals no self diagnosis. So I have a few related questions.
I do stim, I know this - but its not usually that noticeable. I have a reclining business chair in front of my computer in the home office and I rock back and forth on that and swing side to side a bit. I also twirl and curl my hair on my fingers a lot to relax. I also bite my lips a bit and pick my fingernails and wring my hands/rub my fingertips together in circular motions. Nothing too weird there right?
My main issue is a compulsive habit I’ve always had for as long as I can remember, I snort and sniff and clear my throat constantly, I try not too but the compulsion builds up and I do it. Sometimes I do it at the end of a statement, its incessant like 5-10 times a minute all day and night especially when I’m stressed. Having recently been diagnosed and dealing with the damage between me and my wife and also the kid’s diagnoses has seen it really skyrocket for me in frequency. On the days I am home alone and it goes unchecked I will do it continually. I feel fine when I wake but by the end Of the day or middle of the day I have packed my sinuses so tight with pressure that I get crazy headaches and vertigo, when I stand my vision blacks out on me. I’m not getting past it and it’s wearing me down. I have to work so hard not to do it in public and the only relief with holding off is that the relief of snorting is that much greater when I start after a break. I also clench my teeth really hard which adds considerable pressure to my jaw and temples and I also tap and grind my teeth side to side in a rhythmic fashion with music or to create sound in my head when there is none, it is much worse when I drive as I tap my teeth in rhythm to the passing dots on the road. My jaw and head are very tight and sore I currently take Dexamphetamine 40mg a day. So how do I stop? I have realised recently that there are some things I can change with my condition but there others that will never change. The stimming is fine its therapeutic and rocking and spinning in my leather chair and biting my lip, curling my hair etc. are not destructive behaviours for me but the clenching and grinding teeth and the snorting/sniffing/throat clearing are not only causing me pain but are socially inappropriate too. I’ve had this behaviour so long (for like 32 years) and I’ve tried some behaviour modifications to change it but they do not work. Could the Dex be making it worse - it has helped immensely with my cognitive thought process and being able to organise my thoughts and words, it doesn't make me feel manic at all. There was no change in frequency when I first started taking the Dexamphetamine so I do not think so but I could be wrong. I’m wondering how to stop but I just feel almost unstoppable compulsion to do it. I wonder if even though its unpleasant all these behaviours serve to put pressure into my head for some reason maybe?
Is there anyone who can help me please? I need help.
Unknown said…
Please never EVER begin taking the medication Effexor (Venlafaxine). It is physically addictive and has so many terrible side effects. My doctor prescribed them for me almost 15years ago and I can't get off of them.
Kat said…
To the anonymous poster of September 24/15: You should read this book: The World's Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family
by Josh Hanagarne. What you describe in "I snort and sniff and clear my throat constantly, I try not too but the compulsion builds up and I do it," sounds exactly like Josh Hanagarne's situation, and he has Tourette's. Hope this helps!
C. said…
Thank you for keeping this thread alive after so many years. I've recently become aware that some of the behaviors I've kept as kind of 'dark secrets' for decades might be symptoms of ASD or something along those lines, rather than signs I'm mentally ill (I don't feel crazy!)

Aside from various more neurotypical forms of stimming, two lifelong behavior patterns have always worried me:

1) When I'm especially distraught, I have to start speaking in gibberish. This makes me feel much better, and I can control it long enough to get out of hearing distance before I start. In high school, this was daily; now, in my thirties, it's a couple times a year (I'm not upset very often). But it leaves me ashamed, as it seems like such a scary, crazy thing to do. This is the first time I've told a soul.
2) On a daily basis (and more powerfully when I'm emotional) I feel compelled to draw the same pattern, over and over. I could do it indefinitely if left undisturbed. I'm a good enough drawer (and by now have enough practice) that people usually are complimentary of my 'work' if they notice. Sometimes, however, it's inappropriate and gets embarrassing. But I feel a kind of buzzing in my fingertips if I don't do it.

Would either of these count as stims? Or do they sound like something else? Any insight would be hugely appreciated. Thank you.
C. said…
P.S. Just occurred to me that it might be helpful to include that a) I'm a woman; and b)I meet the other Aspergers conditions. Since that's not on topic for this post I won't elaborate!
Audrey said…
Thank you so much for this, Gavin. In case you ever start a list, knitting is an awesome stim.
Anonymous said…
My 9 year old son jumps up and down with some hand movement periodically . It is noticeably more when he watches some tv programs he is excited about. He also chews nails a lot. The jumping is concerning as he grows older and he is tall for his age. It seems like he suddenly gets an urge and starts jumping.
Anonymous said…
Hi Gavin,

I am a 40 year old female. When I was a child ASD, ADHD etc was not really a common diagnosis. I always felt like I was a little different from other kids. I did not have any speech delays or anything of that sort, but I was slightly delayed in learning to read and write, and for several years ended up behind children my age, I seemed to catch up after the age of 8. Each time I was evaluated for a learning or developmental disorder.....they came up empty even though looking back something was always "not quite right". Later into my teens I was probably higher than average intelligence.

When I was a young child I did have behaviors such as tantrums that lasted until I was 6 or 7 years old, and rocking that probably persisted into my early teens, but I would only rock in a rocking it did not really come off as socially unacceptable in any way. As an adult I don't really feel the urge to rock-- perhaps because I don't have the opportunity. I sometimes knee bob instead or pace....I don't always do it. But I do have one particularly odd behavior,that I guess is stimming of sorts-- I like to dangle or spin objects in front of me ( particularly beads, or chain or something of that sort), I have no idea why I do it, other than that it provides some sort of release. If the object of choice is not available I will find something else to do it with ( although not with the same satisfaction), and I do this repetitively at various times during the day. I have done this since I was a child but have more or less hidden the behavior for the most part because it is socially unacceptable. So I don't do it in front of others, I will only do it alone in privacy behind closes doors. As a child my parents observed it at times...and at first asked what I was doing and then let it go -- as it was not harmful. As an adult no one other than my boyfriend has caught me doing it and it freaks him out...he demands an explanation to which I don't have one. Sometimes it is distressing because i can't tell him why I do it, and he has at times accused of chants or spells or whatever which it certainly is not ( I am not into any of that).

Other things I have noticed are that if I am reading, and I make a mistake with a word or a paragraph or whatever I have to start all over, same thing with writing...If I make a minor mistake I start from the very beginning.

As far as empathy, I feel that I lack empathy at certain times but not always, it seems that I have more empathy for some people and things than others. And the times when I don't have empathy, I try to feign it in someway because that it what is socially acceptable. As a child I did experience difficulty in making friends; at first I thought it was because we moved often...but later the same problem persisted. Other kids thought I was a little odd...but I was able to cultivate 1 or 2 close friendships....the same as an adult I have a few close friends...a lot of acquaintances but often prefer to be alone ( other than my dogs). I don't really enjoy large social gatherings, and often feel awkward in such settings-- but I can do it if I need to....but I will keep conversation to a minimum. Sometimes during conversations I have a hard time changing topics etc.

I have seen psychiatrists off and on for years, and have been labeled as everything from Borderline personality, Bipolar etc.....but most have said I don't really fit the bill for any of these exclusively. They are not aware of the stimming if that is what it is....because I obviously am afraid to talk about it.

I am wondering though if AS is a more accurate diagnosis.
Anonymous said…
I am a 25 years old female. I have never been diagnosed with aspbergers but I was bpd. I sway side to side whenever I find idle time, a lot of the time I did not noticed. Kids noticed when we were in middle school, I remember thats the first time I felt caught, but soon after I had people tell me it was the most comforting so it would domino. Sometimes I rock so long or so far away from my own mind and then the next thing I know I am on my feet scurrying across the floor, a lot of the time just the feeling of breaking away and running a couple steps is so resolving ugh I can do that in a loop on days I feel the most finicky. I fight with myself in my head about it until I find myself half way through a competely different thought. I yell thoughts away that come to me. Very quickly but that I can control in public because my mind has more than enough and too muchbto deal with at the same time face twitch and clench hands, intent staring I innocently thought was seen as my normal face a couple more. These are things people have told me about but never too rude. Sometimes I dont understand why they ask. The rocking is the only one I thought as a little odd and thankfully I have never been insulted to my face. My grandmother used to call me sarah bernhardt haha and I sing I sing sing, I used to rock for hours in front of my front door and sing into the glass until I was in my teens I can go out in public and completely never see a single face, almost like my mind has a special mechanism that wont allow me to process people's emotions good or bad. Perhaps I am just trying to get a haircut while I'm near the shop (read a lot of comments) I know that. I have always wanted so badly to meet the right person to TALK about how it is, instead of hearing how they see me. I used to think this conversation up. I do have two children. My son loves to jump and hum and I always until reading this thought he did it because he mirrors every thing I do. I have a lot of empathy for my children though as soon as I realize maybe they think their mommy is a little strange, but I feel a lot of my other emotions for others is purly out of the respect that they were willing to tell me something personal. I dont have bad intentions for them and I understand the pronlem they are in I just cant actually worry myself when I am back to being alone with myself but god damnit its weird anyway I said a lot here already
Unknown said…
Our son is 30 and has been diagnosed with high functioning autism. Some of the quirks he had as a child I could "deal with" with relative ease, though they were always challenging (smelling things, refusing certain textured fabrics, odd obsessions, etc.). He had been out on his own for five years but recently moved back home in order to save money. I hate to say it, but his behaviors seem to be regressing since he's moved back, and he is driving me crazy! He tells me constantly that he chose me to "annoy". On a typical day, he may blurt out specific "catch phrases" (currently, they're either, "What would Hillary do?" or, "Someone needs to go to Home Depot") anywhere from 50 to 100 times. I know he does that as a coping mechanism when he's feeling overwhelmed or anxious. He'll even come into the house from some outdoor activity just to say these things. He also stems by shaking door knobs, makes strange-sounding shrieks, and will jerk his hands in a contorted manner as he snaps his fingers and parades in little circles. I know that he is autistic but I believe he purposely exaggerates his behaviors just to "get my goat" because he laughs at the situation whenever I get exasperated. He seems to enjoy acting immature though he expresses a desire to one day find a girlfriend and settle down.

I'm wondering if anyone else has encountered a situation like ours. Am I a bad parent because I can't cope effectively with my child's behaviors? It seemed manageable on a daily bases when he was a child - but not as a grown man! My husband seems oblivious to our son's regressive behaviors because he mostly exhibits when just he and I are in the house.

Gavin Bollard said…

Bad parents are people who harm their child by choice either physically or mentally or who refuse to seek or accept help when they need it.

You're clearly not a bad parent.

One of two things has happened;

1. Your son's behaviours haven't changed but are simply more apparent to you now that he's back in closer contact (ie: living at home)

- or -

2. You son's behaviours have changed, most likely because of the change in the environment.

If it's the former, then there's very little you can do. It's simply how your son is. If it's the latter, then you need to think about why those behaviours have changed. The most likely reason would be stress.

There could be all kinds of stressors in his new environment which may not be apparent to you. For example, it could be sight, such as stressful colours, wallpaper, clutter (or lack of clutter), it could be smells, for example cooking. Note: This doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with your cooking, it could be simply that when he was by himself he was cooking very simple food with fewer smells. Other stressors could be noise or perfume.

It's unlikely that your son will be able to tell you exactly what is stressing him out -- that takes a special kind of calm.

Stimming is commonly used to reduce stress. It might provide clues as to what is bothering him.

I don't think that your son would be exaggerating his behaviours to annoy you but if you're giving him a reaction that he finds pleasing, it might be time to find a way to stop giving that reaction. If it's attention-seeking behaviour, try giving him attention via a more constructive approach, such as playing a a game.
Anonymous said…
Hi Gavin my son is 17 months old .

he is babbling but does not say any real words, he doesn't really make eye contact I can call his name 50 times and he will not look at me , but if I play a certain kids cartoon he will immediately turn his head to see my phone or the TV ,

he loves all spinning toys , and recently I have noticed he will take any object and repeatedly hit it on the wall are any hard surface

.. Flips all car toys over to spin the wheel . And when he is excited he does flap his hands . I'm a little scared!
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gavin Bollard said…
Hi Anonymous,

At 17 months, your son is clearly language-delayed. So, if nothing else, you need to be working on this, probably with a speech therapist. If you don't already have a paediatrician, you need to see one.

You should get his hearing tested, just for good measure in case it's a range thing but it sounds like his hearing is okay. He may not have made the connection between you calling his name and him having to look at you.

Pretty much all of the behaviours you've described are pointers to autism but it's fairly uncommon to be diagnosed as young as 18 months.

There's no doubt that it's a scary experience for any new parent but you need to deal with your self and your son (in that order).

This means that you need to reassure yourself that your son was born safely, lots of kids aren't, that he is in a place where he can be helped and that you're doing some pretty good "mothering" by noticing it early and talking to people.

The two most critical things for your son at this stage is a paediatrician and language. If your son is clearly struggling with words, you might want to try getting him to communicate with pictures. Hopefully your paediatrician can recommend some exercises and/or contacts.
Anonymous said…
Hi, I have no idea about Aspergers, but ever since I can remember I have had this thing where I have to press against my finger and toes and sometimes I do it without knowing and other times it over takes my thoughts and its all I can think about. This has been happening now for about 18 years. I really don't know if this has anything to do with Aspergers but when ever i google it it takes me to these sites and i really cant find an answer anywhere.
Unknown said…
Hi my son is 4 an masterbates as a form of stiming how do I get my family to realise it's somthing he can't control his doctor said it is somthing he will never grow out of I can't even take him around other family members they say oh your just letting him do this you don't care an that's not the case at all an I was just wondering if anyone has any advice would be greatly appreciated thank you
Unknown said…
My son Bailey is 4 an does the same thing he'll walk around with his hands in his pants squeezing his penis he's always red in the face when he's doing this to thank god he doesn't do this in public thank you.
Unknown said…
Hi I am a 27 year old and have aspergers. I was wondering do you have any suggestion for "stimming" which means stimulation, in a good way. I am understimulated all the time(my psychiatrist says I am like that) and i have to take a high amount of omega 3 supplements every day(this increases stimulation in its own way) to function better(especially socially).
It seems sound is very stimulating to me,(from music especially that i enjoy) but i can overdo it, especially if i sing the lyrics out loud or so which increases the stimulation i get.
Basicly im wondering do you have any ideas of a way to increase/decrease stimulation for someone with aspergers, that usally works with most people. I am high functioning to a level that its hard to even know I have aspergers to begin with, but that is thanks to my omegas and certain anti depressant medication(to lower anxiety and so on) so i am always decently stimulated. So, what can i further do to improve the balance of my stimulation?(or at least know more tricks/tips how to increase or decrease it.)
Unknown said…
I already sent a message to Gavin, but I figure the community might be able to help me as well. This is the word for word message I sent to Gavin.

I'm wondering if you might be able to help me understand myself better. For as long as I can remember, I have done what I'm fairly certain is stimming. Whenever I get too excited, or when my thoughts get carried away in an imagined scenario, I will lose control of my hands and face for a short while. I'll begin wringing my hands or rubbing my fingers against my palms, or maybe just tapping them quickly against my thumb, and I'll open my mouth and tilt my head and move my facial muscles a bunch without meaning to do so. While this is happening, my brain is going on overdrive. I'll be in whatever scenario I was imagining, not in reality. It feels incredible—honestly, it's comparable to the feeling of being on LSD.

When I was a child, my father took me to several doctors and specialists, but nobody ever had any answers. A neurologist attached electrodes to my head, but I couldn't make myself do my "thing" (as my parents called it when I was growing up), so they could never figure out what was going on. Everybody told us I would grow out of it. I'm nineteen years old now, and I haven't.

We always thought they were something like miniature seizures that I could stop. We thought this because my mom has grand mal epilepsy and she may have been on an experimental drug for that epilepsy while she was pregnant with me. I'm not so sure anymore. When I came to college, I met a dude with either autism or aspergers I'm not entirely sure, who does the exact same thing I do. I became friends with him, not just to get information, but because he's a cool dude, and eventually I asked him what he thinks it is. He said it was caused by overstimulation. After hearing him say that, I began researching autism and aspergers. I don't think I have either, but I'm also not an expert. I used to have a lot of trouble fitting in at school, but I think a lot of that came from having a terrible home life. I've learned how to make friends, and now I'd even say I'm popular—something I never thought I'd be. I'm not obsessed about any one thing. In fact, I find that I'm too interested in too many things. Basically, the only symptom I show is what I think is stimming. It's not just like biting my nails or something, though. My mind is on fire when it happens, and I'm slightly exhausted when it's over.

I don't want or need to stop doing it. I do, however, have an intense desire to figure out what is going on. While I doubt that I have aspergers, I can't really be certain. Do you know of anything else that could cause what I've described to you? Or do you think I should see a therapist who specializes in aspergers?

Thank you very much for your time and consideration,

Unknown said…
I'm not sure whether my last comment was sent to the moderator or not, so I'm sending another just in case. I just messaged Gavin, but I thought the community might be able to help as well. Here's the message I sent to Gavin.

I'm wondering if you might be able to help me understand myself better. For as long as I can remember, I have done what I'm fairly certain is stimming. Whenever I get too excited, or when my thoughts get carried away in an imagined scenario, I will lose control of my hands and face for a short while. I'll begin wringing my hands or rubbing my fingers against my palms, or maybe just tapping them quickly against my thumb, and I'll open my mouth and tilt my head and move my facial muscles a bunch without meaning to do so. While this is happening, my brain is going on overdrive. I'll be in whatever scenario I was imagining, not in reality. It feels incredible—honestly, it's comparable to the feeling of being on LSD.

When I was a child, my father took me to several doctors and specialists, but nobody ever had any answers. A neurologist attached electrodes to my head, but I couldn't make myself do my "thing" (as my parents called it when I was growing up), so they could never figure out what was going on. Everybody told us I would grow out of it. I'm nineteen years old now, and I haven't.

We always thought they were something like miniature seizures that I could stop. We thought this because my mom has grand mal epilepsy and she may have been on an experimental drug for that epilepsy while she was pregnant with me. I'm not so sure anymore. When I came to college, I met a dude with either autism or aspergers I'm not entirely sure, who does the exact same thing I do. I became friends with him, not just to get information, but because he's a cool dude, and eventually I asked him what he thinks it is. He said it was caused by overstimulation. After hearing him say that, I began researching autism and aspergers. I don't think I have either, but I'm also not an expert. I used to have a lot of trouble fitting in at school, but I think a lot of that came from having a terrible home life. I've learned how to make friends, and now I'd even say I'm popular—something I never thought I'd be. I'm not obsessed about any one thing. In fact, I find that I'm too interested in too many things. Basically, the only symptom I show is what I think is stimming. It's not just like biting my nails or something, though. My mind is on fire when it happens, and I'm slightly exhausted when it's over.

I don't want or need to stop doing it. I do, however, have an intense desire to figure out what is going on. While I doubt that I have aspergers, I can't really be certain. Do you know of anything else that could cause what I've described to you? Or do you think I should see a therapist who specializes in aspergers?

Thank you very much for your time and consideration,

Unknown said…
I do this too, so reassuring to hear someone else does it. I also rock, roll my bottom lip between my fingers fidget my feet, pull my hair and sometimes if I nod my head for some reason, like to agree with someone, I can't stop my head from nodding for ages afterwards which can be really embarrassing when I realise.
Lovemykids0077 said…
My 5 year old sits titghtens her legs and scoots her bottom back and forth with a stare. Shes autistic and delay in speech. Is this a form of stemming.
Unknown said…
Hi, I'm a young adult with Asperger's syndrome and recently heard about stimming.

I've been recently noticing the fact that I have been pushing down impulses to do certain things that I think might be stimming? If that's the case that may partially be why my anxiety has been so severe these past few years.

Vocally, I get the urge to make noises (akin to purring, cooing, and crow caws as well as a few others) when in social situations where I'm having a hard time keeping up with the conversation. I've been able to do the "purring" quietly enough so that no one can hear it. I do feel more relaxed when I do it. I also used to have dermatophage (biting/tearing the skin around my fingers rather than the nails) and have had that for years; I almost always start doing it unconsciously. I wasn't sure if that would be stimming? I have subtly rocked before, and I have noticed that when I'm extremely happy/excited I get this burning urge to hop up and down and flap my hands (I don't let myself but that one really burns I want to do it so bad sometimes). My Aunt (who pretty much raised me) also used to point out that I make weird "noises" while I eat (I don't think I do anymore though).

I did within the last year or so get a toy for my anxiety to stop the finger-biting; it's a soft squishy rabbit (those kind filled with sand) that I hold in both hands and turn repetitively in an inward circle motion.

Lol sorry that's a lot - I'm just more curious now about my behaviors and trying to let myself be okay with them. I only went to therapy for a year after I was diagnosed and that was years ago so I'm sort of at a loss as to why I do what I do.

(Also I apologize if this message is completely incoherent as I was about to go to bed.)
Unknown said…
This is the first time I'm ever writing on any forum about this. This child sounds like a normal young one that maybe isn't getting to burn enough energy. Go to the park or run around before energy builds up. All kids go through a phase where they hate bath time. 4 tantrums HAH! There are tantrums and there are meltdowns. Have you ever seen rainman when the smoke detector went off.. My son has about 100 of those episodes before noon...easy! And it looks exactly like that. Banging head and all. He is autistic. My other son is high functioning Aspergers. At 6 months old we could already see signs. But it didn't become definitive until 3. He had rainman meltdowns if we tried to take his shoes or sweater off. For two years (1-3 yo) we could not take the vacuum out of the middle of the living room. There are tantrums. Funny bored behaviors and then there are son who is 4,we can't even talk in the car-it hurts his ears. He didn't even know his name or call us mom and dad appropriately at age 4. He wouldn't go on elevators, ride in any car but one... Even when we had to rent a car. It took 3 large men to try to get him in the car together and FAILED... He was too strong and spirited. Nothing you wrote sounds like Aspergers to me. Running around the table 106 times... Eh... Sounds like you should have gone outside to let her burn some energy... Instead of watching her go nuts and counting. The fact that you counted... Hah! Aspergers! Lol. I count when I swallow drinks. I count, group, organize by sensory, size shape color season, etc. 4. Haha. That would be a dream. We have three autistic spirits in this home... And while we are in great company of understanding... It's also a clash of wills.
Unknown said…
This is the first time I'm ever writing on any forum about this. This child sounds like a normal young one that maybe isn't getting to burn enough energy. Go to the park or run around before energy builds up. All kids go through a phase where they hate bath time. 4 tantrums HAH! There are tantrums and there are meltdowns. Have you ever seen rainman when the smoke detector went off.. My son has about 100 of those episodes before noon...easy! And it looks exactly like that. Banging head and all. He is autistic. My other son is high functioning Aspergers. At 6 months old we could already see signs. But it didn't become definitive until 3. He had rainman meltdowns if we tried to take his shoes or sweater off. For two years (1-3 yo) we could not take the vacuum out of the middle of the living room. There are tantrums. Funny bored behaviors and then there are son who is 4,we can't even talk in the car-it hurts his ears. He didn't even know his name or call us mom and dad appropriately at age 4. He wouldn't go on elevators, ride in any car but one... Even when we had to rent a car. It took 3 large men to try to get him in the car together and FAILED... He was too strong and spirited. Nothing you wrote sounds like Aspergers to me. Running around the table 106 times... Eh... Sounds like you should have gone outside to let her burn some energy... Instead of watching her go nuts and counting. The fact that you counted... Hah! Aspergers! Lol. I count when I swallow drinks. I count, group, organize by sensory, size shape color season, etc. 4. Haha. That would be a dream. We have three autistic spirits in this home... And while we are in great company of understanding... It's also a clash of wills. It sounds like you may have a "blended family" issue going on. Sounds also like you have some "feelings" toward your step child that you may not want to admit to and the child probably senses that. Which might continue the behavior. Also as a step mom it's really kind of odd that you are pushing so hard to have his child evaluated over 4 tantrums over small things. It's a young child clearly with a broken family and a step mom who clearly has resentment... Easy to read in your tone. And for the "many others" that see it... They are probably YOUR friends hearing YOU suggest it. Nothing sounds off with this kid... Except for a step mom who might need counseling with husband and child to help ease the blending of the family. Pardon my honesty and Bluntness.. I have Aspergers so I don't really sugar coat things. The truth.... The problem is you.. And that is obvious just in this post you have written alone. Go get evaluated
Unknown said…
I wasn't sure where to put this. Here goes. I have the most severe case of complex tourettes the Dr's have ever witnessed. Painfully so. And Stimming... Hah... Can't even count them... And that's saying a lot because one of my stems is counting things. I even count when I drink my G2 Gatorade. The only drink I drink aside from one cup of coffee in the morning and one cup of tea at night. I have to cut out coffee in morning now because my medication has relieved my tourettes to a minimum. I have ASD. Sensory issues to the max, problems with symmetry, my day from wake to sleep is lived out in pattern. One big ritual. And I don't like it disturbed too much. Stimming. I have yet to read any of my Stimming on any board so you will probably love these gems. I have to touch every sheet before I will purchase because it has to be precisely as soft as I require. Right now I have temperature control, moisture wicking sheets that are super soft. 160$.why...Because I HAVE TO RUN MY FINGERS AND TOES THOUGH THEM. required. It feels good. I do it for hours. I'm doing it now haha. I hold the sheet with some between each finger and each toe and I alternate each hand and foot. Since I can remember. Another, I put my hand to the edge of tables and put paper against edge or also between fingers and slide against skin. This used to drive people nuts at school. I'm 38 now so. Just today I moved my hand towel in kitchen from one place to another for ten minutes. Tomorrow I will be cleaning an entire drawer out to make a place for it. I have been known to fix blankets while kids still under them or on couch. I will make everything perfectly even and straight. Wherever I stand I have to frame what I see out the window. If the view out the window is not balanced and symmetrical... I will move, tilt, stoop, squat... Lol i get extremely melted down if something is broken. I cut my front yard with scissors once because my mower was broke down and I couldnt handle my grass being long. My husband thinks it's hilarious to do things like hang the Christmas lights crooked to mess with me... But I see it as cruel torture and it makes me secretly resent him. I love him... But to me... That's mean and cruel because I can't change these things about myself. He has tried to convince me that things don't need to be perfect. The problem is that I don't require perfection in others, him or my children. But some things make me uncomfortable to a point of melting down. Stimming is NO DIFFERENT than my tourettes... I have to do it. It has to occur. The ocds I have are just like tourettes. They are all neurological. Every single one of them sensory related. Not one of them is an attempt to control him, kids, life, pain, crisis, or prevent anything. Every single stim only differentiates from tourettes in that it feels good, better, relief. My son is autistic... Two of them actually. Thank God I have this because when my son starts dashing through house and hitting or flapping and flapping at the cat. I know exactly at that moment what is happening inside him. I understand every frustrating agitation he has. He is only 4. He has 100s of meltdowns before noon. I mean rainman (smoke detector scene) meltdowns. I know that working out, lifting weights... Can calm it all if done first thing in morning. Significantly. But he's only four. So I'm trying essential oils (lavender) in play dough tomorrow
Unknown said…
We can't even talk in car.. Not even whisper. It hurts my sons ears. It's a sensory issue. It literally HURTS. I have it and so does my son. Pain. Striking pain. Pay attention... PAIN. You have to make others understand that they are causing him pain they can't see. Like dropping a soup can on the top of your foot. Pain.
Unknown said…
Question. My adopted grandson is hypersensitive to light, smells, textures, tastes, & sounds. We haven't had him diagnosed or anything but since I've raised one aspy I noticed and changed some of his environment so that things are easier now (he and his mom have lived with us for about 8 months now) as long as we maintain his schedule. My question is this: we've noticed that when it's been about a month since he's seen his dad (dad lives in another state) he starts snapping his fingers all the time. At first it was one hand. Lately it's been both hands. Is this stimming from anxiety? There's nothing we can do but get his dad to fly up to spend a weekend and then after he leaves it subsides for a few weeks. He's 7, BTW. Is there anything else we could do?
XxjoyxX said…
this is interesting. i was reading a story and one character is on the spectrum. i was reading his behaviors and it made me think really really hard. like: "Omg i do that". So i started reading all about autism and aspergers. And i realized ive always felt different, and been different than other people. I'm going to get a proper diagnosis soon, but i'm positive i'm on the spectrum. i thought a diagnosis like this would be bad, but its honestly made my whole like make sense.

When i was in kindergarten i was extremely dyslexic, clumsy, i couldn't speak correctly. I always walk on my toes cuz i hate how the floor feels. i could eat the same 3-5 meals for the rest of my life. the fan in the bathroom and above the stove drive me INSANE. I have a hard time making and keeping friends. i cant make eye contact unless i know theyre not looking at me.

i hate to travel. I replay the same verse of a song over and over and over for hours. I have social anxiety, anxiety, depression. loud places make me anxious. the fabric used to make sweaters drive me crazy. too itchy and scratchy and i generally over heat often. rocking while standing side to side.

stims ive out grown but still do sometime are pressing my fingers into my closed eyes to see the colors same with staring at light bulbs. plugging my ears with my fingers and making Zzzzzz sounds. used to bang my head on the wall or couch. the more embarssing stim would be hitting myself in the head with my hand.

so glad i found this community. sad i slipped thru the cracks and was never diagnosed though. i could of felt like i belong somewhere sooner
Anonymous said…
Hi :)
I was diagnosed with aspergers at the age of 22. ( Now I am 30 years old.)
During the last days I read about this stimming topic and I never thought I did
this. But now I am not sure any more. I mean when I had to answer all those
questions during the process of getting diagnosed and learn what it means to have
aspergers, I was in doubt because I thought maybe I simulate and I am just awkward but "normal". I kind of tried out if it would calm me down when I rock, although I never noticed myself doing this before. Also I only learned about the stereotype of an asperger. So when I tried some repetitive movements willfully, I did feel calmed but also thought I persuaded myself.

But now I know that it is not only leg shaking and rocking I recognized that I seem to have a lot of stimming behaviours. Some are harmless but two of them are a problem.
What I did for the last years was pulling skin from my lips, which my husband hates and he tries me to stop by saying I have beautiful lips and I should stop hurting myself. I don't do this because I want to hurt myself. It's not that I could not stop this behavior. I just want to do this and it feels good. There is a bigger problem that is hard to describe for me in English. For a few years now, I often have to tense up the muscular palate. It gives a clicking sound in my ears, like when you have a cold and blow your nose or try ear clearing when you dive. It costs me a lot of concentration not to do this. Some times it happens more and some times less but it never goes away completely since it happened for the first time. When it happens very often, I get a headache and my ears hurt because of the tension.

I really don't mind looking awkward or weird to others. So I am fine with things like making a clicking noise by touching the fingernails with the thumbnail in the same order again and again. Skin picking often is less of a problem because I can just play with something else to keep my hands busy. But I am really suffering from this pain in my ears because I can't do anything to cut out this movement of the muscle palate. Is it just an stim or could it be a tic? Can I train it off? I would be happy rocking and bouncing in public if I only got rid of this!
Anonymous said…
I personally do stimming a lot. This includes compulsively shaking my left leg, rocking back and forth (very aggressively), shaking my left ankle, and tapping hand in a certain type of rhythm.
newme-oldme said…
My son (7) has recently been diagnosed with asd and we're looking at educating ourselves as not much support so far (only had diagnosis for a coupe of weeks now).
I think my son stuns using my hair but could someone with knowledge let me know....
Out of nowhere, he will come over to me, sniff my hair or stroke it and often talk to it (often threatening it?!?). It's only for a few seconds but will happen at least 10 times a day if I'm with him.
It's getting rather frustrating and he is even now 'talking' to it across a room at timeS which is worrying my husband.
Any ideas if this is a stim please? It doesn't happen always when he is upset.
As I said - completely new to this so looking for advice.
Thank you x
Anonymous said…
My son has been recently diagnosed with ASD. He has banged his head, "sang" a sort of medicine chant and rocked since he was 7mths old. No one could tell me what this behaviour was! I'm so relieved that he is finding comfort in these movements. I always worried that he was in pain or unwell. All this information is so helpful for us. I even caught myself stimming and started asking questions about my own behaviours!
babbusito said…
I often make weird gutteral noises in my throat. I also hum nonsensical tunes almost nonstop. I tell myself to stop when I think about it, but within a matter of seconds I'm doing it again! I can't stop. It really got to me when I watch a video I took & could hear myself humming on it! Embarrassing! My sister does this humming also. My grandson has these quirky habits too. Does this run in the genes or is this just a habit you pick up? I don't know. Do we all have Asbergers?
1 – 200 of 204 Newer Newest

Popular posts from this blog

Aspie Myths - "He Won't Miss Me"

I apologise for the excessive "male-orientated" viewpoint in this post. I tried to keep it neutral but somehow, it just works better when explained from a male viewpoint. Here's a phrase that I've seen repeated throughout the comments on this blog on several occasions; "I know that he won't miss me when I'm gone because he's aspie" Today, we're going to (try to) bust that myth; Individuals I'll start off with a reminder that everyone is an individual. If all aspies were completely alike and predictible, they'd be a stereotype but they're not. Each is shaped by their background, their upbringing, their beliefs and their local customs. An aspie who grew up with loud abusive parents has a reasonable chance of becoming loud and abusive themselves because in some cases, that's all they know. That's how they think adults are supposed to behave. In other cases, aspies who grew up in those circumstances do a complete about-fa

Why do Aspies Suddenly Back Off in Relationships (Part 2)

In part one, we looked at the role that Change Resistance plays in causing aspies to suddenly go "cold" in otherwise good relationships. This time, I want to look at self esteem and depression; Self Esteem The aspie relationship with themselves is tedious at best. People with Asperger's commonly suffer from low self esteem. As discussed in earlier posts, this low self esteem often results from years of emotional turmoil resulting from their poor social skills. Aspies are often their own worst enemy. They can over analyze situations and responses in an effort to capture lost nonverbal communication. This often causes them to invent problems and to imagine replies. Everything made up by aspies will tend to be tainted with their own self image. This is one of reasons that people with Asperger's will sometimes decide that they are not good enough for their partner and that they must let them go. Sometimes, the aspie will develop a notion of chivalry or self-sacrific

Why Do Aspies Suddenly Back-Off in Relationships? (Part 1)

One of the most frequent questions I'm asked is why an aspie (or suspected aspie) suddenly goes "cold" and backs off on an otherwise good relationship. It's a difficult question and the answers would vary considerably from one person to another and would depend greatly on the circumstances. Nevertheless, I'll try to point out some possibilities. Negative Reasons I generally like to stay positive on this blog and assume that people are not necessarily "evil" but simply misguided. Unfortunately, I do have to acknowledge that there are some people out there who take advantage of others. I read a book a few years ago on "sociopaths in the workplace" and I was stunned by the figures. They suggested that sociopaths were so common that most workplaces (small business) had at least one or two. The fact is that there are lots of people out there who really feel very little for others and who are very manipulative. I'd like to say that aspies aren