Self-stimulatory behavior


Stimming is short for ‘self-stimulatory behavior’. This means, technically, that somebody is doing something to give themselves sensory input.

When most people say something, it’s usually to communicate; when they do something, it’s usually to have an effect on the world or themselves; when they look at something, it’s usually because they’re getting information from it. You do something because you want to achieve a consequence. When someone is stimming, they’re speaking, moving or gazing purely to enjoy the sensation it creates, and the state of mind that sensation produces. It can be a way of shaking up ‘hypo sensitive’ senses – that is, senses that need stronger input to feel things. (‘Hypo’ is the opposite of ‘hyper’; it means under-sensitive.

We all need a certain amount of sensory stimulation to feel comfortable, and if it doesn’t happen in the ordinary run of things, stimming can be a way to get it. It’s also, according to the people who do it, just a nice experience, something that you do because it feels good, calming you down and helping you relax.

Stimming is a self-created sensory reward loop: you use an ordinary moment, put it on repeat, and, basically, groove on it. A person with Autism Spectrum Disorder can stim on almost anything; it just needs to be something that appeals to them.

Proprioceptive System

The proprioceptive sense refers to the sensory input and feedback that tells us about body position, movement and the sense of where you are in relationship to the space around you. The receptors are located in the muscles, joints, ligaments, and other connective tissue. Without this important system, we would not know where different parts of our body where when not looking at each part. To give you an example, close your eyes and take both hands and touch your ears. You were able to do this without seeing where your ears were because of proprioceptive input. The relation of where your ears are to the placement and movement of your hands through space.

Proprioception is all about body awareness, and ALL kids need this awareness for proper development. So if the proprioceptive sense is not receiving or interpreting the information correctly then it is a proprioceptive dysfunction. Sometimes when a child is inaccurately processing stimuli from their environment or from their own bodies there may be patterns that emerge showing either “sensory seeking” or “sensory avoiding” behaviors.


Sensory Seeking Behaviors:

·      Enjoy jumping, hopping, and bumping—sometimes to the point of being unsafe.

·      Frequently falls on floor intentionally

·      Enjoy swinging.

·      Touch people and objects often.

·      Frequently gets up from the chair to move around.

·      Seek out or make loud noises.

·      Grind teeth

·      Colors too hard but writes with low pressure.

·      Bangs body parts e.g. bangs head with hands.

·      Likes to see things falling; purposefully throws objects and watch them falling.

·      Rocking, swinging, jumping, pacing, running, tiptoeing or spinning – all of which give the body’s sense of balance and position a boost.

Sensory toys to help students and children self-regulate and just melt away the troubles that are causing big emotions.

·      Fidget spinner

·      Calming bottle

·      Koosh ball

·      Theraputty

·      Bubble wrap toys

·      Tangle therapy

·      Sand timer

Benefits of Sensory toys:

· Calm

· Focus

· Provide Sensory Input

· Distract from worries/anxieties

· Self-Regulation

· Fine Motor

Bouncing activity:

·      Bouncing supports can be calming or alerting, depending on the needs of the nervous system at any given moment

·      It provides proprioceptive input to the spine and lower body joints, which is also calming, organizing, and regulating

·      Improves body awareness and body in space

·      Helps the lymphatic system with circulation and drainage

·      Improves core strength

·      Movement helps the auditory system process

·      Improves lower body proximal stability and weight shifting

·      Supports attention to task and cognition

·      Supports visual processing and visual motor development

·      It is meaningful, purposeful, and fun!