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Is “Stimming” Okay?

A sudden thought just popped into my head, so I thought I’d share it with you.

Sometimes I catch myself doing things, and only in the midst of them, I realize that if I was a person who was observing me, they would likely think I was behaving in a highly atypical manner.

It’s Friday afternoon, a few hours before Shabbat.

I’ve had a nasty cold for the last few days; thank G-d it is beginning to improve.

I woke up with a serious brain cloud today, and I wasn’t able to tell how much of it was due to my head being bunged up or due to being sad and restless.

I wandered around the house doing chores for a few hours, and the situation didn’t improve. I decided it would be best to take myself back to my bedroom and put on some quiet, calming music (Idan Raichel, if you are familiar with Israeli artists), and tackle the enormous pile of ironing that was waiting for me.

So, for the last two hours, I have been sitting cross-legged on my bed, listening to music and ironing.

Sounds pretty “normal”, right? (whatever that means…)

But here’s the catch…in between the songs and pressing the shirts, I have been rocking. And my brain has finally begun to clear, thank G-d!

What caught me by surprise was that I suddenly realized I had been rocking on and off for the last few hours without even noticing it. Then I thought that there are many people who would observe an autistic or neurodivergent individual doing something similar, and they would likely consider it to be something negative, a “stim” or “behavior” that should be stopped.

So, I’d like to remind you- “stimming” is not negative and does not detach people from their environments. It simply rebalances their dysregulated sensory/vestibular systems and/or their emotional state.

I believe that many neurodivergent people learn how to balance themselves over time. Sometimes they need help to do so. And I don’t believe that the things that ND people need to do to self-regulate should be discouraged. They help us to rebalance and establish a sense of well-being.

Please respect this reality and do your best to accommodate it.

I’d like to share one more thing with you that helps me and our family members incredibly- and I imagine you can guess by the picture…our wonderful service dog! She hasn’t left my side all day, bless her! Observing her sleeping peacefully next to me always helps me to regulate and elevates my mood.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend, and to those of you who celebrate-Shabbat Shalom!

#autism #neurodivergent #neurodiverse #brain #SelfRegulation #SensoryOverload #SensoryProcessing #WellBeing #aba #ServiceDogs #ServiceDog

*If you found this post insightful, invite you to read more of my thoughts on my blog on jackisbooks.com, and to read my book “Moving Forward: Reflections on Autism, Neurodiversity, Brain Surgery, and Faith” https://www.amazon.com/Moving-Forward-Reflections-Neurodiversity-Surgery-ebook/dp/B08YNQC4QQ

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Jacki Edry

Jacki Edry

Jacki Edry is a graduate of Hampshire College and has an extensive background in education, writing, and marketing. She has been exploring the world of autism and neurodiversity for over thirty-five years. 

2 Responses

  1. I actually encourage stimming in my neurodivergent children when I can – it helps them so much.

    1. That’s wonderful! I’m sure it helps them. Many years ago, while I was recovering from my brain surgery, I felt as if a heavy weight was pushing me sideways. My physical therapist told me to hold on to a chair and rock back and forth to balance out my system. I was refreshingly shocked because I was used to educators and therapists that were trying to discourage autistic kids from rocking and stimming. When I told my PT about this, she was surprised as she said that it is well known that rocking helps balance the vestibular system and she couldn’t understand why anyone would discourage it. I told her I agree with her, it doesn’t make any sense to me either…

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