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Stimming is important for autistic children


Stimming means ‘Self-Stimulating Behaviour’. This covers any repetitive action or sound that a person does to get a physical or emotional input. Typical ‘stimming’ may include spinning, hand flapping, rocking or fiddling with specific items.

Why do people stim?

Should I stop my child from stimming?

No - Stimming is a form of expression. It is just as likely to show happiness or excitement as something negative. It’s important that autistic children can express themselves, stimming allows them to do this.

Some parents like to find out the reason for a particular ‘stim’ so that they can give their child a less obvious way of giving the same feeling. For example, a child who used to flap and loudly clap their hands a lot did this because they needed the proprioceptive feedback (feeling of where their hands were in space). We taught them to squeeze their fingertips quite hard which gave them the same ‘tingling’ feeling but without looking obvious and making lots of noise.

If the stim is dangerous or harmful in any way but the action seems to soothe your child, try to find something to replace the action but that gives the same feedback. For example, if your child bites people or themselves, or puts inedible items into their mouth, try giving them a biting ring or chewable jewellery. This will give them the same feeling but without hurting themselves or others.

For Parents: