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Joined: 24 Mar 2016
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19 Apr 2016, 4:06 am

I've seen full on autistic rocking and hand/arm flapping. I don't do that sort of thing.

I do subtler things. A lot of things I've done my whole life and never thought of as abnormal. Never thought of most of them at all. But autism's been on my mind and the more attention I pay the more I notice and the weirder these things I do seem.

I've seen it said that even NTs drumming their fingers is a type of stimming. So am I an overexcited hypochondriac NT, misinterpreting completely normal stuff as evidence of autism? Or am I way more stimmy than I ever realised, because I was only looking for the more extreme versions of stims, or not looking for anything at all before learning about autism?

Spinning. :compress: I spin myself, in my computer chair, round and round (but doesn't everyone?) If I'm standing in one place for a while, like at the bathroom sink brushing my teeth, I'll slowly turn around on the spot. I spin objects - coins, cups, when I was young I flipped toy cars over and spun the wheels.

Pressure. Can't sleep under lightweight blankets. Heavy, even in the summer heat, or nothing. I rub/massage and squeeze myself - pressure from my arms on my chest. I squeeze my hands, bend my fingers back (to a point of discomfort, not pain), wedge my legs and feet into gaps and push against immovable objects, just for pressure.

Flapping. I don't flap empty hands but if I'm holding a flappable object (pen, spoon, CD case)... flap flap flap.

Finger flicking? When walking I flick/scratch fingertips/nails against each other. Make scratchy sensations and little clicky noises.

Rocking. When I'm mildly drunk and light headed, forwards and backwards rocking gives me a bit of a rush. But everyone goes rocky when they're drunk, right? When I'm not drunk, I do not really rock. Maybe a gentle side-to-side/rotation version in my computer chair. But ordinary people own rocking chairs so this one I think is me being a hypochondriac, or it would be if not for all the others.

I like chair spinning. It's fun, I like the feeling of acceleration. The others, I don't get anything out of them as far as I can tell. They aren't a stress or excitement response. They're not involuntary. The obvious ones like chair spinning I don't do in public, the subtle ones like squeezing I do. Most I don't consciously decide to do, I just do them. I'm aware of them in the background, usually my focus is on something else.


1. (Aimed at the NTs in the audience, or those who know a lot of NTs) Doesn't everyone do this stuff? Regular people spin coins, have rocking chairs, fiddle with pens...

2. (At anyone who can explain) When it's something weird that most people don't do, how do I tell whether it's specifically autistic stimming or just an unusual type of fidgeting? Degree? Purpose? Or is 'an unusual type of fidget' just what autistic stimming is?


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Joined: 3 Jan 2013
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19 Apr 2016, 6:30 am

It all depends on the amount of the action. For example, if you occasionally to rarely spin on your chair, then that's nothing worth thinking about.

However, if you do that action rather frequently, in stressful situations or to get down/relax/forget about the world, without you noticing it/instinctively, then it could be considered stimming for sure.

Stimming is commonly seen as having to be a "non-typical behaviour" by some people for some reason, but of course it doesn't have to be such. Someone might stim by flipping a pen or bouncing their leg, or maybe even just tapping their fingers on their desk, something many people do occasionally or when bored, including NTs. It's just about how often they do that which makes it stimming.

By the way, the pressure story you told seems very common on the spectrum. I like pressure too and "squeeze" myself into the corner of my bed when I am about to go sleep. Yes, pressure from my arms on my chest sometimes too, depends on my mood. Heavy blankets are a bonus, but not necessary for me (it does feel better, however). Could also be some kind of stimming... :)

Diagnosed with Aspergers.
BSP-errors are awesome.


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Joined: 19 Aug 2014
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19 Apr 2016, 6:33 am

I think 'bigger' stims can be a sign that someone is seek more input, for example jumping gives a lot more stimulation that tapping ones fingers. When it's to avoid stimuli, I do still find that small stims might not be enough. Of course, it depends on the person and at times whether they've been conditioned to use a more acceptable stim.

I think one thing to keep in mind is that all the autism traits occur in the general population to some degree. There are no autism traits that are exclusive to autism. However, much like someone who occasionally mistakes a facial expression or is a little awkward isn't autistic, someone who taps their fingers sometimes when bored or stressed isn't either.

The difference between NT stims and autistic stims is degree and frequency - we do more stims/more intense stims more of the time.

It's quite possible that some NTs would meet ASD stim criteria, just as some NTs would meet some but not all criterion for the other criteria.

Diagnosed with:
Moderate Hearing Loss in 2002.
Autism Spectrum Disorder in August 2015.
ADHD diagnosed in July 2016

Also "probable" dyspraxia/DCD and dyslexia.

Plus a smattering of mental health problems that have now been mostly resolved.


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Joined: 30 Mar 2014
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19 Apr 2016, 10:42 am

Except: stims are not solely autistic behavior. For example people with simple SPD do it too.
The question is whatever or not you have the social and communication difficulties people with ASD face.

My NT aunt stims quite a lot, less than I do but way more than any other person I know. Especially when I stim - she either tells me to stop because "it pisses her off" or she starts stimming too. She also tells people to turn down music or stop yelling because she has sensitive hearing.
But aside of that - she is pretty normal. She likes social parties(often sets them up), has a lot of friends with whom she often meets, participates in social events in the city etc. Her social skills are good. Although she is more on the introvertic side too (she is a bookworm).


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Joined: 15 Dec 2015
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19 Apr 2016, 2:57 pm

I do things that most people don't think of as stiming. Though In public I do things that are rather associated with childish behavior so it doesn't seem like I'm stiming.. I am also short for my age so I look younger. I carry around a stuffed piplup every where and snuggle it when I'm nervous. I also spin pencils. I also tap my leg occasionally, while spinning pencils. Though I usually do the Piplup one, more than the others. The thing is that people don't understand what the point of it, therefore only categorize a few also, the think it is a badthing because they don't do it. If someone would try to discourage me from stimming. I'd be like I don't give a F**k what you say! Like the guy said. Stiming does one three things. If you want to know more I'd refer to this video, It is a good resource, Watch more if you like. That should be all you need to know about stimming. Also there is passing but that is kind of a bonus. :) :P

ever changing evolving and growing


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Joined: 4 Feb 2010
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19 Apr 2016, 5:16 pm

I don't think it matters what stimming you do, it's all about degree. Lot of people rock but I noticed I did it more often that other kids in my school. Lot of people pace but when I did it, it made everyone nervous. Lot of kids like to spin but autistic kids will do it more often. Also one thing I don't understand is when does a nervous habit become a stim because autistic people stim when they are nervous. NT's do the same thing too.

Son: Diagnosed w/anxiety and ADHD. Also academic delayed.

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Joined: 6 Apr 2014
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19 Apr 2016, 5:48 pm

I rock, play with my hair, crack my fingers, wring my hands, push on my fingernails and fingertips, push my fingers backwards. I'm not sure my stims are related to my autism, but some people have thought they are.
I don't flap my hands anymore, or any of the more obvious stims.

AQ: 39 ---- RAADS-R: 187.0
Nonverbal Learning Disorder; diagnosed September 2010
Schizoaffective disorder; diagnosed December 2012
ASD/Asperger's Syndrome traits; diagnosed August 2014
IQ 120
(Diagnosed using the DSM-IV, not DSM-5)


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Joined: 18 May 2011
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19 Apr 2016, 9:03 pm

The stims you mentioned are all normal things that anyone may do, but some do more than others.
Stimming is autism is more abnormal than this.
It is like constant repetitive movement like rocking, or doing some simple mindless repetitive activity like waving a feather in front of your face for hours a day.

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