Oh the Ways We Love to Stim

People often ask about stimming. It is something that “normal people” have trouble understanding.

Most people stim. Have you ever clicked a pen while thinking, swished your tongue around in the roof of your mouth, strummed your fingers tapped your toes. Some stims are less noticeable and are considered “socially acceptable” and “normal”.

I stim more than “normal people” but less than some Autistics. Growing up undiagnosed forced me to learn to hide what was not socially acceptable. Thinks like rocking and making funny sounds, though soothing and helpful, will get you funny looks. These things I love are not typically welcome in the workplace.

Alone I am left to stim freely, I like to jump, rock, and bounce about, sometimes doing things that would make people question my sanity – but it feels good, oh so good. Releasing so much tension, taking a break, shake it off, reset.

In public I do thinks like rub my hands, fingertips and wrists. I play with my phone or a necklace or bracelet. I tap my toes under the table and stretch in my seat. Sitting still is hard work and eventually I have to release the pressure.

Fidget toys, scented oils, snacks, playing with my laptop mouse, or swirling the spoon in my tea so I can listen to the sounds of the cup. Even if people don’t notice I am stimming constantly, regulating, focusing, trying to keep from being overwhelmed.

Sometimes I stim when I am uncomfortable. Stimming helps me relax. Sometimes I stim when I need a break. Stimming helps me focus. Sometimes I stim if I am anxious. Stimming can help me think.

Stimming can take me to another place or help me deal with what is happening in front of me. When things get bad I can always stim.



56 thoughts on “Oh the Ways We Love to Stim”

  1. Thank you for another great post on autism and on stimming. My main stim has always been rocking-in a rocking chair. I rocked my crib across the hardwood floor of my bedroom. I still rock on my hands and knees in my bed to this very day. A sailor may have a girl in every port. I have a rocking chair!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I’ve only started reading your posts recently, but I really enjoy reading them. I am or autistic, but I do have OCD. Not the same thing at all – I recognise that! But some of the things you mention and you discuss I do too and perhaps more than “normal people”. Thanks for putting your experiences of autism on the internet. You are informing and helping others with and without autism.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ThoughtsinIntervals,

      I have had the OCD symptom’s you mentioned. Try some Zinc. I do a lot of nutrition research and it really helped me.

      You can put use Zinc lozenges under your tongue to tell you when your body has enough Zinc. When the lozenge goes from Cherry or Orange flavor it was intended to taste like over say a half dozen lozenges more or less to a metallic spit out awful taste then your body has overcome it’s deficiency in Zinc.

      I hope this is helpful.


      Liked by 2 people

  3. I have this thing about mouth moving in a certain way if I was doing something and my dad hated it. I remember him getting upset if we were together working and he saw me doing it. I wasn’t conscious of it until then and I started managing it. I flick my wrist quite bit and I love rocking. My little boy is the same. Thanks for another lovely post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post. It’s only since I’ve realised that I am autistic (now diagnosed) that I understand now that a lot of the things I do are actually stims. I stim all the time. Rocking back and forth, picking my lips (or any part of my skin) LOVE SCABS! Messing with stuff in my pocket, stroking a little furry toy in my pocket, flicking my nails etc. As a girl, I used to spin all the time. It all makes sense now..

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post as always! I started carrying around something in my pocket to fidget with. It helps when there are times on my job when I’m just watching kids doing their classwork or playing outside. It helps to move around, do some pacing, but if that’s not possible, I can keep my hand busy with fidgeting.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m NT but I have a spinner ring that I wear on my forefinger and spin with my thumb. I find myself doing the motion even if I’ve taken the ring off. Everyone stims & autistic folks shouldn’t be shamed for it. STIM ON! 😀

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I have always loved to stim, when I was younger I would thump the back of my head against the back of the car seat (today I don’t do that anymore) It wasn’t super hard or anything, but it gave me pleasure. I also like to chew, rock, flap my hands, jump, twiddle my fingers, pace, spin, and fidget with my stim toys. I wrote an article for the Mighty about stimming


    Stimming is awesome!! 🙂 Great post Anna. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post! As always!
    In my case, I have a stim that I badly need to get rid of. It started out with chewing. Mostly on the inside of my cheeks and lips, which was pretty unhealthy for my mouth-hygiene, and also resulting in making some pretty weird faces in public, attracting stares. Instead, I now smoke. A lot. It’s really helpful in making me sit through my work-day and stay focused(how lucky I can smoke inside) but it’s just as bad for the mouth-hygiene, and the rest of me too. I wonder how to turn this bad habit into something less unhealthy.
    I tried chewing on basil leaves, and though it worked pretty well, I came to eat way too many, and got sick. So not that one.
    Maybe one of you guys have a tip?


  9. So much like tourettes, it’s eerie. The second I get in a car alone, or out in the woods on a run, my vocal tics take over. Can you “replacement stim” eg you want to crack your knuckles, but you can twiddle your thumbs instead?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Can you “replacement stim” eg you want to crack your knuckles, but you can twiddle your thumbs instead? – Yes. Some of my stims – picking my skin – are not good for me IF I notice doing one of them I try to put a toy in my hand to make it stop. Some Aspies also have tics and tourettes. Maybe the brain wiring is similar? We also tend to have epilepsy / abnormal EEG’s

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Interesting. I cannot consciously replace one tic with another, although at times it happens unconsciously. This is usually replacing a vocal tic with a physical tic like scratching an body part until raw.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Great post. I’m NT and hadn’t realised that I also stim until my son got his ASD diagnosis and I learnt about it. I had my tongue pierced and loved swishing it around in my mouth…I got it done because I liked to chew pen lids and thought how awesome it would be to have something in my mouth permanently 😁. I had to take it out after 10 years and I really miss it. I recently had a baby and during contractions I had to tap my foot like crazy. I didn’t think of it as stimming until I tried to explain my sons flapping to someone. Totally made me feel better and in control over something that was otherwise out of my hands. Stim on! X

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you for telling us what a stim is. I didn’t know the term and didn’t know I had some.
    Please continue to give us details of various factors. It is a perfect way to educate us AND then we find out what we also have. I strongly suspect what you describe is much more widely showing up in people.
    I for one have trouble with remembering faces. Some seem to stick OK but others I simply don’t retain. It is embarrassing when I should know who I’m talking to.
    I realize some people probably have more of these kinds of things than most others but it certainly helps to educate all of us about the “foibles” we all have.
    Keep up the good work.
    And by the way, doing it anonymously somehow makes it all work better in getting it across. Yeah!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I think it is funny/sad that stim comes from “stimulate” which is what pple used to think was its purpose. Instead, it is the opposite – done to soothe and help focus and adapt to the situation. If pple would only ask rather than assume!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Awesome post! I had never heard the term before, but it turns out I stim all the time- squirming in my chair and stretching my arms over my head at work, running my hands over my scalp when I’m stressed, etc. I’ve always been kind of embarrassed about those things, but they really comfort me too.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Aonymously Autistic,

    You have a great blog. I knew what stimming was because I have friends who have autistic kids and they find it refreshing to find someone to talk to that understands exactly what stimming is.

    That said in my nutrient research I have done for myself and others’ I came across a nutritional based condition while it might not be the cause it can contribute to stimming in some individuals.

    You should check out research on Pyroluria. It a Zinc and Vitamin B6 deficiency that might help some stimming activities.

    This a quick dr. google search that summarizes how it presents.


    This might not help but it worth looking into. As I noted above Zinc supplementation helped my OCD symptom’s.

    Check out my blog if you have digestive problems I have found taking Niacinamide 3/day for 3 to 4 months will help most GI problems.


    Pellagra is commonly confused for many GI problems today and can also present with dementia like symptom’s like OCD, ADHD, Depression, Anxiety etc.

    I know my depression/anxiety got much better when I began taking Niacinamide 3/day for 3 to 4 months.

    All my GI problems have bee in remission since taking Niacinamide.

    I hope this helpful and I really enjoy your insight. I think we all have “fidgets” we deal with but don’t stop to think there might be an underlying nutrition issue like the Zinc I mentioned that helped my OCD/anxiety.

    Keep up the good work. It is hard to think of something good to say each week that is informative and educational.

    Your posts are always enlightening and enjoyable to read.

    2 Timothy 2: 7 “Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things” this included.

    Celiac Posterboy by the Grace of God,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, yes lots of health problems unfortunately. I feel best when I do a mostly raw, whole foods diet, NO gluten. Diary does not bother me – thank goodness. I do believe food has the power to heal us. Some symptoms may be lessened and even eliminated if I can stay unstressed and have a good healthy diet.


  15. I have worry beads which I love, however can draw unwanted attention socially. I’ve got a fidget cube from a kickstarter campaign which my son loves, think they are available from antsy labs. They are good but I don’t like there tacky plastic appearance. My favourite is my titanium foreverspin spinning top (like the totem in inception) it spins amazingly every surface has a different effect on it, it is relaxing to watch when I need to focus, it’s also so smooth and always feels cool.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. neat to learn about othersÊ» stims. i like rocking or fidgeting with feet (semi-acceptable in public). iÊ»ve got silicone rings and bracelets that are nice to touch and stim with. i also like knitting and crocheting in public (noone rhinks of that as stimming, haha). keeping eyes closed, enjoying music or audiobooks and jamming… or touching things that feelcnice. or have things like little jongly bells or read braille or whatever 😉 nice to stim creatively

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Vocational Rehabilitation did not know I had Autism (2010) so when they were trying to role play helping me with interviewing skills, I could not stop playing with the ink pen! I told them that even Johnny Carson played with a paper clip every night during his TV show! If I had only been tested and diagnosed back in 2010, instead of 2016, but everything happens for a reason. VR did get me my wonderful job working for the University of Georgia! Go DAWGS!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. You’re lucky in one respect. At work, my stimming was often called “creating a hostile work environment” and about every other year I’d get called into the director’s office and chewed out. I didn’t realize what I was doing had an official name; I thought I was some sort of bizarre aberration. It wasn’t until I was done with my IT career that I found it was normal behavior for me, and that all the “getting called on the carpet” for being myself only caused me to hate myself more for not being able to stop.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I work with someone who has not been found to be autistic, but who has another situation that results in some very extreme, even self-injurious, stimming. I wonder about that–how does the ‘release’ from stimming turn into hurting oneself (we’re talking hitting self, biting that results in scars, picking till bleeding) and what is the role of the care taker?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Normally if that happens they are in GREAT discomfort. Think of it like a scale – more discomfort / pain / anxiety more intense stimming is needed to cancel out whatever the problem is. For example a toothache EVEN for ME makes me bang my head on the wall.


      1. So when you bang your head on the wall, does that distract you from the pain in your tooth? Is it like that? Because I do see he gets self-injurious when he’s sensorially overwhelmed. Obviously the “answer” would be to get him the heck outta there–but sometime it’s not possible. So should I try to intervene with self-injurious stims even if I can’t change the cause (the overwhelming noise or whatever).
        Also, it sounds like you and other commenters have found various replacement stims. So there’s some level of self control?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Maybe you could help find a replacement, it is hard if communication is not possible. Distraction is not the best word but the closet I can think of. Its just better then the alternative, it is predictable, and I can control it. Escape really is the best option, honestly. At that point I need to get away because I can NOT think clearly. When you can’t think it is not safe to be out and about.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s