Stimming and autism: What is stimming, and why do Autistic kids love to do it?

Let’s explore what stimming is, why it’s important, and which toys and tools your Autistic kid might love to use while they stim!

Are you curious about the repetitive movements and sounds that we commonly associate with autism? Have you ever wondered what "stimming" is and why Autistic kids do it? Look no further! In this blog post, we will dive deep into the world of stimming, exploring what it is, why it's important, and how you can support your child with autism in their stimming behaviors. From sensory balls to weighted blankets, we'll also give you examples of toys and devices that can provide comfort and stimulation for your child. Join us as we demystify the world of stimming and learn how you can help your child thrive.

What is stimming?

Stimming is a behavior that is commonly associated with autism. The term "stimming" is short for "self-stimulatory behavior," It refers to repetitive movements or sounds that an individual makes to stimulate their senses. Examples of stimming include rocking back and forth, flapping hands, making noises, or repeating words or phrases.

Why do Autistic kids stim? 

Did you know that everyone engages in stimming to some degree, but it's more prevalent in individuals with autism? That's because stimming is a fantastic tool for kids and adults on the spectrum to manage their sensory input and regulate their emotions. The world is an overwhelming and stressful place, especially for Autistic individuals. When bright lights, loud noises, and unfamiliar social situations can all be too much to handle, stimming can be a lifesaver! It's a way to provide a sense of comfort and control. Imagine a parent rocking a newborn back and forth; it's not just cute, it's also a way to soothe them and make them feel less anxious.

Stimming is for more than just managing sensory input. It also helps people on the spectrum to express themselves. For those who have difficulty communicating verbally, stimming can be a way to communicate their needs or feelings. 

Remember: Stimming is not negative and should never be discouraged or punished. It's a natural and normal part of autism. So next time you see someone stimming, remember, it's not just a behavior; it's a way for them to cope with the world around them.

What are some cool stim toys for Autistic kids?

Here are a few examples of toys and devices that Autistic children may use while stimming:

  1. Sensory balls: These are soft, squishy balls that can be squeezed, tossed, or rolled. They can provide a sense of tactile stimulation, and kids can use them for hand fidgeting. Stress balls are a great example of this.
  2. Fidget spinners: These are small hand-held devices that can be spun around, providing a sense of motion and visual stimulation.
  3. Weighted blankets: These blankets provide deep pressure touch and can help to soothe and calm children who are feeling anxious or overwhelmed.
  4. Chewable jewelry: These are necklaces, bracelets, or other items made of a chewable material that can be bitten or chewed to provide oral stimulation. These are a great alternative to nail biting or chewing on pencils and pen caps.
  5. Squishy toys: These are soft and squishy toys that can be squeezed or manipulated to provide a sense of tactile stimulation. Stuffed animals or other plush toys can fill this need.
  6. Light-up toys: These are toys that emit different colors of light, providing visual stimulation and can be calming.
  7. Sensory boards: These boards have different textures, shapes, or buttons that kids can press to provide a variety of sensory input.
  8. Music toys: These are toys that make music when played with, which can be used for auditory stimulation.

As a parent of a child with autism, it's vital to remember that every child is unique and has their own preferences when it comes to what types of toys or devices they find comforting or stimulating. It's an exciting journey to discover what works best for your child, and it's always worth trying different options and observing what resonates with them.

Embracing and understanding your child's stimming behavior is a crucial step in providing them with the support and acceptance they need to thrive. Create a safe and comfortable environment for them to stim in, and show them that you understand and support their needs. Remember to love and encourage your child every step of the way.

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