Education Blog

What Is Stimming and When Is It a Significant Child Behavior?

September 20, 2021

The autism community uses the term “stimming” to refer to repetitive self-stimulatory behaviors such as hand-flapping and rocking. The behaviors are common in children are in the normal developing process. It helps diagnose neurodivergent disorders such as autism, dyslexia and ADHD etc.. Parents who observe repetitive behavior in their children might struggle to understand what autism stimming is and what normal developmental behavior. It is important to assess how disruptive and persistent the stimming behavior is, as well as how long they persist beyond their developmental window.

Stimming Examples

According to Dr. Somer bishop, an associate professor of psychiatry at University of California San Francisco, there are two main types of stimming behavior. She explains that “these behaviors are not only specific to autism.” You can see them in a variety of neurodevelopmental disorders, as well as children who are normally developing.

You can divide them in two categories, repetitive physical and emotional behaviors. As well as behaviors that demonstrate a child’s need to be the same.

Bishop points out that toddler parents could easily observe each behavior. She also notes that toddlers are naturally repetitive. Learning is only possible through repetition. She says that once they understand how something works, they love to repeat it.

Early childhood is known for its insistence on the sameness. Children often find a rhythm that suits them and stick with it. This is a natural developmental phenomenon that children exhibit. It’s about developing a sense and self-worth.

Bishop says, “My daughter wore her Halloween costume every day for three months.” This is a normal part of development, and it’s a way to learn how to assert autonomy and take control.

A developing neurological system can cause repetitive behaviors. Babies will, for example, flail their arms in frustration or excitement. This is because their neurological connections are not strong enough to communicate, point or indicate what’s happening. How can parents learn to recognize autism and its symptoms?

“Autism Stimming” Versus Non-Autistic Stimming

Repetitive stimulatory behavior alone does not make an autistic diagnosis. Although it is true that an autism diagnosis cannot be made without these behaviors. Behaviors are only one of a number of symptoms that must be present in order to make a diagnosis. You can also define autism by social communication deficits.

However, autism-related stimming does have some unique characteristics. One is that repetitive behaviors seem to persist beyond the point they are developmentalally appropriate. Neurotypical children grow up and learn new ways to learn. Same goes for a stubbornness to be the same. As children grow, they discover new ways to express their autonomy.

Bishop states that autism has a unique problem in that the behavior doesn’t seem like it will go away on its own. When you observe the behavior interfering in someone’s ability for age-appropriate social interaction, it is a sign that they are causing concern.

What to Do If You’re Worried

Bishop says that parents should immediately inform their pediatrician if they are concerned their child may be suffering from autism symptoms. They should not give up if they don’t feel heard. Their insights are valuable and essential to diagnosing.

However, stimming behavior isn’t always a cause of deep concern. Stimming behaviors decrease with age, even for autistic people. Parents should stop stimming behavior that is disruptive to the social life of their child.

Bishop states, “There is no reason to panic.” “What we want is to determine if these behaviors are associated with autism and then to try to be sensitive to the needs of a child. It is possible to integrate their interests in other activities.

You can reduce stimulating behaviors with early intervention and patience. These behaviors are something to be aware of, but not to worry about.