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Joined: 1 Dec 2012
Age: 24
Gender: Female
Posts: 1,338
Location: USA

23 Mar 2014, 9:35 am

I used to control my stimming for years, but lately I've been at it again and I feel embarrassed. I don't want to stim all the time, but I always do.

My stims are very noticeable too. I put on loud music and make groaning noises and grimaces while rocking back and forth. I also jump and skip around and make strange animal sounds like a dolphin or something and wriggle my hands, kick my feet under tables, and all sorts of humiliating stuff.

The problem is that when I do some of my stims, family members and other people say it looks like I'm trying to masturbate, and I don't want people thinking that.

I just want to find something less obvious to do that doesn't make me look even more special needs than what I really am. I don't want anyone to think I'm unintelligent and I need to stop some of it because, when I stim, I fantasize about an alternate universe I invented and what it would be like to live there. If I stim too much, i get stuck and obsess over trying to manipulate my life to be more like the AU. Please Help!


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Joined: 24 Sep 2013
Gender: Male
Posts: 25,920
Location: Twin Peaks

23 Mar 2014, 10:07 am

I have lanyard I play with at school to try toning down my stimming. I twist it and wrap it around my fingers and stuff like that. I've gone through like five of them.


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Joined: 3 Feb 2006
Age: 37
Gender: Female
Posts: 11,395
Location: Ohio, USA

23 Mar 2014, 10:20 am

First of all, please don't be too hard on yourself! You don't need the extra stress and anxiety. You are who you are, and if people think you are more "special needs" than you are, that's their problem. People think I am intellectually disabled sometimes, and to be honest, I've never really minded. They treat me like I'm a little kid, but I see it as an opportunity to observe them and the way they act with me as opposed to someone they think has normal cognitive ability. Their opinion of me doesn't change who I actually am. Nor do people's opinions of you change who you are.

Your stims are particularly noticeable, and they may distract others, but you can do them in your own room whenever you like. Stopping your stims is probably not a very good idea--they fulfill some kind of need for you, and if you stopped, you wouldn't get whatever benefit you get from them. But redirecting them--that's a possibility. Your goal, as far as I can gather, is to change your stims so that they are less annoying to others, and less potentially embarrassing for you, yeah?

Okay... let's see.

Stim toys. Lots of us love stim toys. Smooth, hard things; squishy things; soft things; springy things; interesting things to play with. Many of us will carry these things around with us, anything from a smooth glass bead to a stuffed dolphin to a Rubik's cube, and fiddle with them when we need to.

You also have large gross-motor stims, big movements, whole-body stuff. Rocking looks a bit odd, but people get used to it. Pacing, hopping, hand-flapping... ehh, they all look odd and can't be done in the classroom, but they work well anywhere that they won't distract others. To stim in the classroom when I wanted to get up, I learned how to surreptitiously tighten and relax individual muscles in my body, in a way that didn't move the limb and couldn't be detected unless someone were to actually touch me. On the other hand, I have one friend who usually can't stay in his seat for very long, and will get up and pace, twirling a keychain and tossing and catching a coin. I don't think he's autistic, but he certainly can't sit still for long, so I guess maybe ADHD or something close to it? He may even be neurotypical and particularly active. However it is, it works for him, and he doesn't bother us unless he drops the coin and it clatters on a hard surface.

Your vocal stims are also something you seem to want to change. There are many stims involving the tongue, mouth, throat, and breath; some are quite easy to hide. Some people suck on their tongues (this does push the front teeth forward a bit, though). Breathing in patterns is another common surreptitious stim. Some people chew on things. Do you like to sing, hum, or whistle? If so, that may substitute for the groaning noises you make.

Bottom line, though: Your comfort and function is more important than looking a certain way to the people around you. Sometimes the best solution for an autistic trait is acceptance, both yours and theirs, and the willingness to tell them to take a hike, because you have the right to be yourself.

Reports from a Resident Alien:

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Joined: 23 Jan 2014
Age: 28
Gender: Male
Posts: 525
Location: UK

23 Mar 2014, 10:28 am

All you can do is fine what works for you if you want to change your stimming behaviours.

Maybe try some bubble wrap? Something touchy feely? Maybe if you have a smartphone, download a game or something?
Get a wrist band and play with that?

Your Aspie score: 187 of 200
Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 25 of 200
AQ: 43
Empathy Quotient: 8
I have ASD, ADHD, Hypermobility Syndrome.

Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmouse

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Joined: 22 Mar 2014
Age: 39
Gender: Female
Posts: 39

23 Mar 2014, 9:47 pm

Maybe you can set aside times to stim everyday, set aside a safe place to stim.
Another part of me says you should be able to stim all you want, as long as you're not hurting yourself or others why should people care, though I know society isn't like that.