Stimming and Me: As a kid, I thought I got over the traditional hand-flapping and stimming in therapy. Turns out, it’s actually been a lot more pervasive than I thought. At school or when having to sit still for homework or piano practice, I tapped my foot repeatedly, like a drum, when bored, fidgety, and/or agitated. I tend to pace a lot and talk to myself out loud (though it’s greatly gone down with the improvements I’ve made in vagal tone), especially when I’m thinking hard about solutions to problems or I just need to process. Sometimes, I’ll even have a few runoff steps after I leave a room, like when you decelerate after a sprint, where basically I mindlessly walk down the hall until I realize I’ve moved on from whatever I was doing in the previous room, especially if I was heavily thinking about something. Oddly, I don’t feel as if I have this in outdoor environments or anywhere dangerous; just home. Sometimes, at home, I pace when I text. I see my stimming as a way of getting out excess emotional/physical energy that accumulates that I can’t act on because I’m “stuck” in the current situation for whatever reason. That stuff builds up. I’m guessing as my vagal tone/somatic capacity gets better my need to do this will continue to reduce, especially given evidence from the changes I’ve made lately. The crazy thing is that I’ve reinterpreted a lot of my autistic habits as habits of high-performers, particularly pro athletes I grew up idolizing, and that’s what’s enabled me to justify having them for so long. I passed off my pacing as actual physical activity and “the reason I’m so thin despite eating so much.” “It’s not me being autistic, it’s me mimicking the NFL wide receiver I saw celebrating a TD on Sunday.” Thing is… I’d tend to dissociate when I stimmed, and as time went on and I learned to trust my mind to come up with solutions automatically, I usually found I could reach the same conclusions in hundredths of the time I used to spend stimming. I guess I just needed the decompression because I was so overwhelmed all the time, but I spent so much time trying to be a “big, cool boy” that I actually passed off those habits as “cool guy stuff” and denied and stuffed down those feelings all my life. But now that my vagal tone is better and my neuroception is better… I’m seeing that stuff for what it is. So I’m aiming to take the benefits of it while also not looking weird. As an example, I’ve found a place in my house, a relatively empty room that hardly ever gets used, with 2 living chairs and footstools. It used to be where I practiced piano and played Wii, but now that I don’t do either of those things anymore (and neither does anyone in my family), it hardly gets used. As it is, it’s a pretty big space, so I can exercise there if I want to or just chill on the empty living chair. I find it provides the same effect as pacing or lying in my bed, and hardly anyone goes up there to disturb me, so it’s a great decompression space. My brother has his art desk there, but he only goes up there late at night, when I’m either sleeping or close to asleep, so I’m already in my room. So I have a space where I can relax without going into stimming. As an added bonus, the chairs are in a corner of the room that’s not easily seen/noticed. There’s tennis balls there that I can also squeeze or toss up & catch (another stim that I passed off as normal athletic boy stuff). Overall, finding a healthy way to decompress as an Aspie is CRITICAL, and stimming is I guess my body’s way of doing it. My best advice would be to find a productive way to channel and express that excess energy (load is more accurate, but energy is what it feels like), and be resourceful in doing so. Heck, even writing/typing/drawing can be a stim if done with the right mindset.

Posted by marcopolo_96 at 2024-04-08 02:18:27 UTC