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.

 

Autistic Recreation: Vestibular Stimulation

A child diagnosed with an Autism disorder with a hypersensitive response to movement may avoid or draw away from movement completely. The child may not seek to participate in games or activities that involve movement such as Ring-Around-the-Rosie or Head-Shoulders-Knees-and Toes. Children that are hypersensitive to movement tend to prefer observing these and similar activities rather than participating.

On the other hand, and child that is hypo-sensitive to movement seeks to move more! These children crave and need the vestibular stimulation that movement provides. Often these children are labeled as “hyperactive” or “rowdy” and they may exhibit somewhat risky behaviors. That is because these children need plenty of movement and plenty of robust activities. Children diagnosed with Autism that have a hypo-sensitivity to movement may bump into things, hang upside-down for extended periods of time, spend excessive amounts of time spinning in circles,swinging, or climbing.

What’s happening with this blog?

It should be clear to most of you that I’ve almost entirely stopped posting here. Joey has left, and I have neither the time nor spoons to carry it on alone. I think it was a worthwhile project, considering we introduced many people (autistic and allistic) to the concept of stimming. It’s been a blog born out of my excitement about learning the term, and contains every article I’ve read and every video I’ve watched.

I’ve requested moderators here before because I can’t really run it on my own. Now I think I’m going to leave the blog. I no longer have the ideas or energy to be the main contributor. If anyone wants to take over the blog, send your Tumblr email address so I can add you.

In the event that someone does take over, I’ll still be a keen follower. I may even submit videos and ask questions.

But if no one comes forward, I’ll make the blog into an archive of links so people can find the information in future.

Two Door Cinema Club - Undercover Martyn

This is my favourite stimming song at the moment. The whole album of Tourist History has a similar amount of energy and layers. These two qualities seem to be key to stimming for me, especially because the layered sounds drown out any background noise.

The best example of this combination is actually at 2:19 in the song Eat That Up, It’s Good For You.

I can’t wait for their next album, which should be out the 3rd (UK) or 4th (US) of September.

- Rob

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’.

[content warning for video: contains brightly contrasting colours that flash and spin. Probably not suitable for photo-sensitive epilepsy. Some of you may also experience nausea or headaches, so proceed with caution].

iPhone App - Makanim

iTunes link: Makanim - http://tinyurl.com/makanim

Price: $1.99

Here’s another app I found that is useful for stimming reasons. I tried a lot of multi-touch visual animation apps. Many were far more complicated than these, filling the screen with thousands of individual dots. But simpler is better in this case.

These are some of my favourite animations on Makanim. The first one is my current favourite, because you see lines flying outwards as if affected by gravity. It satisfies my need to see things move dramatically (and in a circular motion!). Plus the multi-touch allows this to happen in several places.

Makanim can also be seen on the ipad here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5zh2dQ_EVg

- Rob

See also: iStarzzz app for iPhone.

Do you recommend an app? Or another stim toy? Submit it to us!

Sorry to the 4 of you waiting to get your questions answered

I haven’t forgotten about you. I have received your kind and thought-provoking messages. I just haven’t had the spoons to answer them. I’ve been dissociated and my reading comprehension is quite bad. To do these questions justice I need to feel as though I am giving an informative and accurate answer.

I do get a lot of anxiety from feeling too ignorant to comment on any of this. I I worry I’ll be told I’ve got everything wrong or am doing something that isn’t helpful to the autistic community. I guess this is the anxiety that people often get in activist circles. Perhaps it also shows an understanding of privilege, and a wariness about generalising upon the experiences of others.

In any case, if anyone wants to help queue interesting, self-advocating posts and shape the future of this blog, submit your email in a text post. More moderators will mean messages still get dealt with when I don’t feel up to it. I wanted this to be a vibrant community, and it was always my worry that it wouldn’t be successful. We have 175 followers, which should be enough to start a conversation and get some well researched posts together.

It isn’t just that I feel under pressure and want others to share the load. I feel partly responsible for this, because I decided to start the blog. No one has forced me to do it, so I shouldn’t really complain. But I think the conversation is lacking so many voices, and I know that there are many of you who are as passionate about stimming as I am.

I know I’m not the only one who is excited to be having this conversation. I know Joey is too. I know some of you have submitted videos, while 175 of you have come here for a reason. My main point is that the blog should not run on our energy and enthusiasm alone. Not because I feel too tired to keep up the posting rate, but because there is so much more we can achieve together.

Become a mod, and help to keep us going.

Signal boost if you deem it appropriate!

- Rob