Ok, I started off with a very controversial title, I know. I’m sure I will have lots of detractors out there. I used to be one of them. I HATED when Michael did any of his stims, and I tell you, there have been many over the years from spinning, rocking, watching the same tv show or reading the same book over and over again. He now loves to do verbal stims to unwind. These stims range from screeches to other high-pitched noises that grate on my nerves. There. I’ve said it. I don’t feel like a bad Mom anymore though. I’m just being honest that these noises bother me, like Michael has said it bothers him when I talk too much about my blog or writing or meditation and yoga. 🙂 He still loves and accepts me even if he does not agree with everything I say and do, and I feel the same about him. I have learned, as have most parents of kids on the autism spectrum, that stims or self-stimulatory behavior is not done to annoy or upset neuro typicals in the environment. It is a way for the individual with autism to acclimate to the environment mentally, physically and spiritually if they are stressed, nervous or having a hard time.
Of course, if this behavior is all your child is doing it is not healthy, and you have to find ways to engage them in the world around them. When we first leaned Michael had autism, we were so scared and sad that he was not communicating with us in any meaningful way. Our son felt lost to us in his own world. We saw he was happy there, and though at first I wanted him in our world at all costs, I gradually began to see that his world was fun too. I could meet him there, and he could meet me in my world, and we would bond somewhere in the middle. Occasionally though, when social pressures have been hard and he is tired, I know stimming helps him renew himself and helps him be whole. I don’t try and stop it anymore as it is a natural part of who he is.
That would be like someone telling me don’t get up in the wee hours of the am or stay up late at night to write that poem or finish that novel chapter that is aching to come out. It can wait until morning they would say. No, actually it cannot. I have experienced what feels like real discomfort and tension in my stomach and throat if I am not writing creatively for an extended period of time. People who are not writers have told me that I am crazy. Well, I must be. Because when those words pour out of me the release I feel is like no other. I am at peace with myself, my environment and the world around me. I imagine Michael and Exceptional Kids like him feel that when when stimming. Interestingly, he told me a few weeks ago that he stimmed too long and now was stressed.
“Next time Mommy, I won’t stim so long on the couch. I didn’t need to this time.”
Exceptional Parents, how do you feel about your Exceptional Child’s stims? Do you try and stop them or encourage your kids to have this time? Every kid stims differently with autism, but I can assure you it is normal and healthy for them at certain times. We are always scared in the backs of our minds to “lose” our kids again in their autism world. Butt rest assured, once they see that you accept them for all they are and know you, your children will always come and find you. They are versatile, adaptable and very smart children. As they learn what their body needs, let them do what it takes to adjust to the world. And remember, be receptive to them when they seek you out. Until next time.