You have an infectious smile. It is so true. You can simply light up a room just by flashing that simple grin & oh so precious dimples! Your joy is a blessing when you share it. There is also another unique feature that you have that also sets you apart from the rest of the kids at the playground. You stim. You may not know what that is, or even that you do it, but you do and I am going to teach you all about it.
Stim. Stimming. Stims. All strange words referring to an even more fascinating behavior. Stimming or in short "stim" is short for self-stimulation.
What is stimming, or self-stimulation exactly? Well, stimming is described as the repetition of physical movements, sounds, or repetitive movement of objects common in individuals with developmental disabilities, but most commonly seen within people with autism.
Yikes! That was a mouthful!
You see baby, in this world you are constantly battling to find that perfect balance of sensory stimuli, or sensory satisfaction in your life! A battle not many of us are familiar with. But hey, guess what, you're not really all that different from anyone else in that regard. We ALL stim! It's true - fact even! Your stimming is just considered less socially acceptable. Not the "normal". WHAT-EVER.
It's not that uncommon for us to meet new people and then me notice them trying "not" to stare at you. Unfortunately my dear it's just human nature for people to look closely at things they don't understand, even if it is a cute, lovely little human being with feelings and a killer grin! Most people just smile and don't ask questions, although you can see they are just dying to know why it is that you are doing what it is you're doing!
For those that do ask questions (which is always more than welcome) there generally tends to be an awkward silence when I'm finished explaining and then they go on to tell me about an autistic person they once knew or know. Perhaps in an effort to make us feel better that they "get it", or to justify their stare as something they've seen before. Whatever the case it's a pretty routine experience for us.
To be honest if I didn't know you, when you stimmed, I'd probably take a second glance too...your hands become tight and rigid in front of your face to which takes on a almost pained, scrunchy looking one eye closed as if your hyper-focusing on your tiny fingers in front of you, you shake a bit from the tightness of your movement and let out a lengthy sound. Yup, not exactly something you see someone do everyday (unless you are us!) For us, you do this a lot so it's just our "normal".
The fact of the matter is we all actually stim in some sort of fashion. Some people twirl their hair or tap a pencil while taking a test, bite their nails when nervous, pace the kitchen or living room floor while talking on the phone, the list could go on and on...all of these "stims" are helping them focus their attention to something else.
We all stim for the same reason, but remember that battle I was talking about? Most people aren't fighting this fight. When you're overstimulated, it helps block out excessive sensory input. When you're under-stimulated, it provides the extra sensory input you need! Even your emotion, positive or negative can trigger some intense stimming. All this comes down to self regulation. Soothing or comforting ourselves, just like babies naturally do when they suck their thumb.
The age old question is why do you stim the way you do? Well my dear, there unfortunately is no real medical or magical answer to that. There are reasons the behavior exists in human nature, but why it is manifested differently in everyone is still unknown. No one can stop stimming from happening completely, we are all just wired to do it. It can however be replaced, but that's a gamble that your replacement stim might be even less accepting in this world or even worse harmful to you or others.
So, for you my love, although it may not look "normal" to the outside world, Remember "normal" is really just a dryer setting.
I love you.