Let's Talk About Stimming
Many people have heard of self stimulating behavior, or stimming, and have some idea of what it might look like, but what is it really? Stimming is repetitive actions that stimulate the senses and is used to self regulate. It can help people relax when feeling overstimulated, destress, regulate emotions, express emotions, communicate, focus, and much more.
Did you know there are different types of stimming? We can categorize them into these six areas:
Vestibular: These stims relate to movement and balance; this is what a lot of people think of when they think of stimming; it can look like jumping, spinning, pacing, rocking, head banging, falling purposely, etc.
Proprioceptive: These stims relate to a person’s body, this might look like seeking pressure / squeezes or enjoying weighted blankets / vests.
Olfactory: These stims relate to smelling; this might look like smelling things that seem unusual, like a rubber ball or a plastic toy.
Tactile: These stims relate to touch; this might look like rubbing things together, petting or putting face to different textured items, biting, licking, or grinding teeth.
Auditory: These stims relate to sounds; this can look like repeating the same sounds, putting noise making objects near ears, screaming, etc.
Visual: These stims relate to visuals; this could include looking out of the side of eyes, looking at things very close, looking at lights, etc.
Stimming is an important regulatory and expressive behavior; if a stim is not putting the person or others at risk, we should listen to try to figure out what they are expressing and never discourage them from regulating their body and mind.
-Katie Jarvis M.S., CCC-SLP
Putt, A. [mrsspeechiep]. (n.d.) Posts [Instagram Profile]. Instagram. Retrieved October 31, 2022, from https://www.instagram.com/p/Cb_Tcjwvfrj/