What is stimming?

For people looking up information on Autism you may have come across the term ‘stimming’ but a lot of people don’t seem to be clear on what the term means. There are also a lot of people who will have seen people stimming but not know what the actions mean so here is my little guide to stimming as best as I can describe it.

What is stimming?

Stimming is a repetitive action that many autistic people do for different reasons, it could be a response to intense feelings, something the person does because it has a calming effect or it could be a pattern behaviour that has become a habit. My own stimming is something I do because it feels calming and also feels like personal reassurance that it’s ok.

What does stimming look like?

Autistic people have their own unique way of stimming but the most common actions include: clicking fingers, biting nails, playing with hair, arm flapping, tapping, clicking their tongue and tapping. There are many other ways to stim but, as they are a repetitive behaviour, observing someone with autism for a length of time will make stimming behaviours obvious.

Is stimming dangerous?

Stimming can be dangerous as some autistic people will bang their hands, scratch or bite themselves to stim so focus needs to be applied to try and change this behaviour into a more positive stimming action or object. This is why sensory toys or objects can be a great lifeline as it can focus stimming behaviour into something more pleasing and also more socially acceptable.

What are my stims?

I am still in a discovery stage in what my stims are. When I was a child I would be in my prom constantly clicking my fingers, something that was thought of as just funny and different at the times. I have bitten my nails since I was 4, something I always thought was just a bad habit but discovered is actually a stim recently. I also fidget with my hands, such as rubbing them together, when I am feeling overwhelmed or distressed in public as this feels quite calming to me. I have lesser stims that I don’t do as often, for example rubbing my hands on the sides of my legs, that seem to be something I only seem to do when I’m restless rather than when I’m stressed.

I would love to know if there is anyone out there who has noticed they have more unusual stims. Or if there is anyone needing any help or advice with anything, feel free to contact me.


Author: AdultsWithAustism

I decided I wanted to do something positive with my life and speak out about what it feels like to be an adult with autism.

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