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militarybrat
Deinonychus
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02 Jul 2015, 2:42 am

Stimming behaviors can be very difficult to change. Generally speaking, unless the behavior is self injurious or so intense (either in type or duration) that impedes his ability to function it is usually best to just accept it. You can try to set up a designated "stimming area” where he can go to when he needs to stim, that way he can stim without being distracting. Also, explaining what stimming is to his peer groups so they don't see it as "weird" can reduce social issues around it. Finding the underlying cause of the stimming and reducing those can reduce the frequency of the behavior (if it’s a nervous stim or an overwhelmed stim dealing with the cause of his nerves or stress is more effective than addressing the behavior itself; if it’s a happy/excited stim just leave it alone, it’s ok to express joy). If it is primarily a need for motion different kinds of motion could be used (there are desk chairs that have bike peddles under them for kids to peddle while they sit at their desks which can help some kids focus who just need to move but can’t just get up without disrupting the class). If it is a more specific stim you'd have to slowly replace it with a similar but more socially acceptable stimulatory behavior. You could try one of those button-on-a-string whirligigs (the button is on a looped string and spins when pulled) and see if he responds to that; since it’s a toy it wouldn't seem too unusual in public and may provide a similar sensation for him without generating negative social feedback from others.



pddtwinmom
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05 Jul 2015, 4:00 pm

Hi Murrie. I hear your concern - I have a visual stimmer who used to spend all day stimming. He is very HFA, though, and is mainstreamed at school now at 4 years old, for context.

Can you schedule his stimming? I'm imagining a daily schedule that has regular 15 min (or whatever makes sense) stim breaks every hour (or half hour, again whatever you think will work). You could also have a big block of time, an hour or two or three where he gets to stim to his heart's desire. I'd use a visual schedule and an egg-time or other audio cue for when stim time begins and ends.

Gradually, you can stretch out the mini breaks over longer intervals, and cut down the big block bit by bit. During non-stimming schedule times, I wouldn't chastise him for stimming, just try to redirect him to the activity gently until he can tolerate having a full non-stimming block of whatever length of time. Once he can accomplish a block of time consistently, I'd try to extend it.

The goal, of course isn't to stop stimming. In my mind, it's not even to move on to a more appropriate looking behavior, although I know that's what you asked about. I'd instead be targeting getting him to 1) be able to tolerate not stimming if he needed to to accomplish something, and 2) to incorporate his stimming into his activities if he needs to (mini-stim) as opposed to stopping the activity completely.

I know it's tough, especially if you know that your child has the ability to do other things! Try a schedule and setting clear goals and objectives. The activities that he gets to do at first instead of stimming should be high value, but things that more closely mimic school activities (I.e. Playing catch or really messy unstructured painting or dancing or whatever he likes). The schedule should include lots of those instead of big, big things like swimming. Certainly, keep swimming and field trips in! But, the goal is to get him to do other things while he's in the house and not on some grand adventure.

Hope that helps!



ASDMommyASDKid
Veteran
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05 Jul 2015, 5:19 pm

The issue with trying to extinguish stimming is that it fills a need. You also have to be careful because if you try to extinguish a harmless stim, sometimes the child will switch to something else that is less harmless than what s/he was originally doing.

An OT can help by attempting to move them to a different stim that is maybe less socially problematic (or whatever a given issue is) that is something the child will accept, and that fills the same need.

Every child is different, so you have to go with trial and error. The fan idea was a good one. He also flips he shirt up, but I don't think of it as a visual stim. I thought he just likes his tummy. :) Maybe it is, though. He also flaps his hands at the sides and looks at it through his perepheral vision. I wouldn't know how to teach that, and I am guessing that would not be the kind of substitute you would want.

In addition to Japanese style fans that you can flap, there are little portable battery-operated ones that back in my day, kids thought were cool. Also, maybe a yo-yo? We didn't worry about the visual stims, too much as we were more concerned about the vocal one the school was upset about because they were distracting to others. My son doesn't blend, anyway, and you cannot focus on everything or you will accomplish nothing.

Without getting into the whole pro/anti stim thing, there are stims that are problematic, and ones you let go. Some are OK in one context and not in another. You may change how you feel about which ones go in which category as your child gets older, changes stims etc.



ConceptuallyCurious
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15 Jul 2015, 5:01 am

Hm, not a direct exchange but what about a water (or magic sand for different colours, etc) tray with toys.

They have ones with spinning turbines. Or maybe a marble run (or similar - they have things with cars that clack down if he might chew them)?

These would help with motor skills and you could easily use Floortime techniques to stretch play.

If you were interested in special needs toys then maybe a foam tube with flashing lights in or water disco tap type things for the bath?


Since he seems to crave sensory input in general, if you moved away from visual stimulus (it sounds like he stims less when he's doing activities like stimming) you could try sensory toys where he moves about lots.