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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.