It’s time to start submitting your stims and getting the conversation rolling! The idea of this blog is to explore how stimming is experienced by autistic people, and to build a database of behaviour types. What are your stims? How do they feel? What parameters of the stim are the most relaxing? What music is best for stimming?

I want to hear how happy you all become when you do your favourite stims. I want to see diagrams of what kind of movements have the biggest effect. I want to see pictures of what you imagine when you stim. I ask not just what stims you have, but how you conceptualise stimming as a sensory experience.

I’m interested in what triggers them as well (add warnings if they’re traumatic). One of my major triggers is actually reading about stimming, so this will be an interesting blog to run!

The blog is currently run by Alyssa.

 

Grace Slick - Theme From Manhole

I’d point out which parts of this 15 minute masterpiece are good for stimming but… you can work it out just by listening.

- Rob

[image: a screenshot from the app shows a pie chart with an eighth of it shaded. A computer graphics person sits cross-legged beside it, their respiratory system visible, and a progress bar labelled ‘exhale’ is above].
App Review - Universal Breathing: Pranayama
I was looking for an app that helped to slow breathing today, and this one exceeded my expectations. Okay, so it’s not strictly a stimming app. But it’s an excellent way to calm down and reduce anxiety, and isn’t that what stimming is so often about?
Exhalation is set at half the speed of inhalation, which was hard to get used to at first. I slowly learnt to gasp air so that I had enough oxygen to breathe out for the extended time. I’m used to a fairly even breathing ratio, but I definitely felt the benefits once I got the hang of it.
You can concentrate on the rotation of the pie chart or the breathing progress bar. You can see the diaphragm of the computer graphics person rise and fall, which helped me breathe at the correct pace. There is an arrow that flies in and out of their nose which is similarly useful.
I downloaded the free version of this app, and it seems to have enough features. You can choose how many breaths per minute, and whether or not the breath is retained before exhaling. There are 5 musical soundtracks to choose from, each offering a smooth string or choir sound for each breath.
The paid version is $4.99, and promises a fully structured course with full customisation. The free version is limited to ‘beginner’ mode, but this is certainly sufficient for me.
The only criticism I have discovered so far is that the app cannot run in the background. The app takes quite a while to launch, and it has to do this every time you exit. As far as I know there is no way to use it with only audio, which some people on itunes have complained about.
If you download it, let us know what you think!
See a video demonstration here.
FREE VERSION: itunes | androidPAID VERSION: itunes ($4.99) | android ($3.15)

[image: a screenshot from the app shows a pie chart with an eighth of it shaded. A computer graphics person sits cross-legged beside it, their respiratory system visible, and a progress bar labelled ‘exhale’ is above].

App Review - Universal Breathing: Pranayama

I was looking for an app that helped to slow breathing today, and this one exceeded my expectations. Okay, so it’s not strictly a stimming app. But it’s an excellent way to calm down and reduce anxiety, and isn’t that what stimming is so often about?

Exhalation is set at half the speed of inhalation, which was hard to get used to at first. I slowly learnt to gasp air so that I had enough oxygen to breathe out for the extended time. I’m used to a fairly even breathing ratio, but I definitely felt the benefits once I got the hang of it.

You can concentrate on the rotation of the pie chart or the breathing progress bar. You can see the diaphragm of the computer graphics person rise and fall, which helped me breathe at the correct pace. There is an arrow that flies in and out of their nose which is similarly useful.

I downloaded the free version of this app, and it seems to have enough features. You can choose how many breaths per minute, and whether or not the breath is retained before exhaling. There are 5 musical soundtracks to choose from, each offering a smooth string or choir sound for each breath.

The paid version is $4.99, and promises a fully structured course with full customisation. The free version is limited to ‘beginner’ mode, but this is certainly sufficient for me.

The only criticism I have discovered so far is that the app cannot run in the background. The app takes quite a while to launch, and it has to do this every time you exit. As far as I know there is no way to use it with only audio, which some people on itunes have complained about.

If you download it, let us know what you think!

See a video demonstration here.

FREE VERSION: itunes | android
PAID VERSION: itunes ($4.99) | android ($3.15)

Manchester Orchestra - Leave it Alone

Just a minute ago I was hand-flapping like I’ve never done before to this song. I might have to record myself, it’s a really intense stim all the way through the song without pauses.

My arms hurt afterwards.

I think Manchester Orchestra are indie rock, but at times they seem to border on emo (not that I know anything about emo). A lot of emo bands did move into indie though, so I guess there’s a connection between the genres.

My favourite parts are 0:52 and 3:05, since this is where the orchestra is at its best. The whole album of Simple Math is good, especially the title track. I haven’t got any of their other albums yet, but I probably will soon!

- Rob

Time Lapse Videos

I’ve recently started stimming to time lapse videos, and I think it says a lot about how stimming works. Transportation tends to be the stereotypical obsession for autistic people, especially involving trains. I’m writing this on a train, so I guess it’s appropriate. Is there something about transportation that is inherently calming for autistic people? Or is it just my personal fascination with it?

I wrote about the concept of ‘running’ in 5 Helpful Stimming Metaphors. In the post I recommended imagining flying over fields or through city streets, and hand flapping as if to move the ground under you. Now when I watch time lapse videos of train or car journeys, I do exactly the same. The ground moves under me, and I sweep it along like spinning a globe.

I wonder how much of the human love of travelling is to do with the associations we make with places. To leave a stressful environment is to feel safer, and the more distance that is travelled the better. This has certainly been the case during previous meltdowns. With time lapse videos, however, I can have this experience without leaving the house, and it seems to have the same effect.

A good moving timelapse video doesn’t wait long at traffic lights. It has to be relatively long too: 4 minutes can be syncronised with music, but 30 seconds is useless. The pleasing aspects seem to mirror those of rollercoasters, long straights that are punctuated by sharp turns. I like the experience of seeing other cars pulling towards and away from the camera too, as it makes it feel like a shared experience.

When the camera is stationary, there should be a lot happening. For me, a few lights flashing on a building is not enough. When clocks or Ferris wheel is sped up, the resulting rotation is still slow. This is because they move so slowly normally that even in time lapse they aren’t that exciting. There should be a lot of traffic, pedestrians, or both. Ideally there would be a range of colours about too.

Most of my time lapse videos are of London, and there is a precise reason for this. I have talked about Jamie T far too much already to interest you, but I maintain his music is the sound of London. I associate it strongly with the many trips I have made there in the past year, more times in fact than the rest of my life combined. I grew up in a small town, so seeing the fast pace of city life is fascinating.

My stimming seems to be based around hyposensitivity, especially to visual stimuli. I imagine that many of you prefer a relaxed stim, and sometimes I do, but I usually want everything fast. Fast music gives me a goal to reach, and the more I synchronise my movements with it the better. ‘Running’ stims are about escaping anxiety and other unpleasantness.

I guess it’s a well kept secret that you don’t need to go anywhere to achieve that.

- Rob

I’ve posted some of my favourite London time lapse videos and one from the US. If you have any time lapse videos to submit, or any other type of video, head to the submit page, click ‘submit a text post’ and change it to ‘video’.

[Image description: Hand holding a “Fidget” toy made of fluorescent pink and yellow interlocking plastic pieces.]
My mom teaches elementary school, and they keep a stash of these to give to the spectrum kids, so she brought one home for me. I don’t like it quite as much as my beads, but it’s fun to manipulate and it makes wonderful clicky sounds.
-Joey

[Image description: Hand holding a “Fidget” toy made of fluorescent pink and yellow interlocking plastic pieces.]

My mom teaches elementary school, and they keep a stash of these to give to the spectrum kids, so she brought one home for me. I don’t like it quite as much as my beads, but it’s fun to manipulate and it makes wonderful clicky sounds.

-Joey

My favorite childhood stim toy

metapianycist:

When I was a child, I had a favorite stim toy. It was a stuffed Mickey Mouse doll, and I liked to rub its nose between the ring finger and middle finger of my left hand. This resulted in the doll’s nose falling off countless times, so mother would sew the nose back on whenever that happened.

When I turned 10, however, my mother decided I was too old to sleep with stuffed animals, and took the doll away from me. I haven’t seen it since then, and it’s been almost 13 years since that happened.

Since I didn’t have Mickey, I replaced the doll with corners of pillowcases, which resulted in my wearing holes in the corners of pillowcases from stimming with them. My mother still gets angry about my wearing holes in pillowcases in this manner.

I would really like to find out what happened to my Mickey Mouse doll. If my mother still has it somewhere in her hoard (she is a compulsive hoarder and would do that), I want it back.

the-daily-fun:

I find that I stim a lot to classical music. Especially renaissance choral music. I move my hands like a conductor and slowly walk around my room. It’s wonderful. So peaceful. 

Been meaning to share a bit of my vocal stimming for a while, so…here, have some weird cat noises. And some bonus rocking.

-Joey

Childhood Stims

Lately I’ve been thinking about a lot of weird shit I did as a kid that was not mere weird shit after all but actually stimming. For example:

-Tilting my head to one side to press my ear against my shoulder, or forward to press my chin against my chest.

-Chewing on ALL THE THINGS—my hair, the cuffs and collars of my shirts, my toys (I remember the feet of Barbie dolls being particularly satisfying), little bits of paper. This latter habit, combined with the fact that I frequently got the urge to chew things while reading, meant that I often tore bits off the margins of books so I could chew them into spitballs as I read. (I did this to library books, even. Bad self, no biscuit.)

-Touching the imprints left on my skin by clothing and whatnot. My fascination with these imprints was such that I began to play games with myself, seeing how long I could lie on top of my arm or sit with my thigh crossed over my ankle, to create deep and lasting impressions from my sleeve or sock. Grass was fun, too; if I sat on the grass with my hands on the ground and leaned on them, I’d be left with a lovely assortment of crisscrossing marks on the heels of my hands. The best part was picking the loose bits of grass off my skin and seeing the little trenches left behind by each one.

-I’m not sure if this last one really counts as a stim, but I’m going to put it here anyway: compulsively touching things. It’s hard to describe, but I would get a sense that certain inanimate objects wanted to be touched, and ignoring this feeling would cause me great mental anguish. It happened a lot with angles—like, say, where the leg of a table met the top part. At scout camp, there was a picnic table with metal supports, my mental map of which included an angle that wasn’t really there, and that angle desperately wanted me to put my foot in it, only I couldn’t because it didn’t exist, and I continued to obsess over it long after I’d left the camp.

There were loads of other things I did back then, like flapping and scratching, that I still do. This list is just the things I’ve mostly outgrown.

-Joey