I started this blog because I watched a youtube video about a girl that described some of her behavior through typing on a computer. A little over 2 years later, I was again led to a video about this same girl. I posted a link to the video at the bottom of this post.
Stim is short for self-stimulatory behavior. According to this girl, stim is output to reduce input. Like twirling your hair or tapping your pencil or biting your nails. We do it to help handle sensory input and to cope with emotions. About.com says that it is used to help manage negative emotions, but I’ve found that I use it to handle overwhelmingly positive emotions as well. Although these may also be considered negative in context because I usually use stim when the positive emotions are not normal or socially acceptable.
For example, I have times when I am so happy that I want to jump for joy. However, when you’re working a night shift and a jump could possibly wake people up, flapping your hands is much quieter, although less socially acceptable if people were around. Another example is with laughing. I sometimes tap or run my nails over something when I have the urge to laugh at an inappropriate time. I also do these things when I’m stressed, hungry, uncomfortable, anxious, and a variety of other emotions.
Some other ways that I personally show self-stimulatory behavior are playing with my fingers or nails, twisting my hands, shifting in my chair, or playing with objects that I have access to. Most of the stim behavior that I use is pretty socially acceptable because I’ve learned to keep the socially unacceptable stim to when I’m alone where no one else can see it. I can tell when people consider some of my hand twisting or chair shifting as abnormal and I usually try to walk around for a bit in these cases.
In general, most stim can be controlled to socially acceptable forms. However, not being able to have any self-stimulatory behavior would make me and probably other people with autism go crazy. It’s just too hard to keep all those uncomfortable emotions and feelings inside of yourself. It’s like a coping mechanism that makes the world a place we can handle a little better.