Should I Stop My Child From Stimming?

Another question we are asked quite often is, “Should I stop my child from stimming?”

What is stimming?

“Stimming” is a repetitive behavior that children, mainly autistic children, will do over and over and over and over. It can happen multiple times throughout the day, or only in certain situations. This includes behaviors like rocking back and forth, jumping up and down, twirling, shaking the hands. It can be listening to the same thing over and over, like a 10-second clip of something on an iPad. It can be repeating books or movie phrases over and over. It’s any behavior that they do over and over and over.

Where does come from?

The short answer to “Should I stop my child from stimming?” is no. You don’t want to stop it, as long as they’re not harming themselves or another person. These behaviors are calming to the kids. You can, however, limit the stimming in some circumstances. 

Where does this behavior come from? It comes from the central nervous system, and it’s activated when children, or adults, feel like they’re overloaded. When they feel overloaded they’ll start to stim to calm themselves down. 

Or, they can be feeling lethargic or tired, and starting to wind down, and they’ll stim to bring themselves back up. They use the stimming to modulate how they are feeling. 

When you should limit it:

Another reason children might stim is because they’re trying to tune out the environment around them. Kids who do this are often constant stimmers. For these kids you will definitely want to limit the amount of time that they’re stimming, but we don’t want to stop them because these behaviors are calming to them. 

If you have any questions about your child and stimming behaviors—or anything else—just give us a call at the clinic. We’ll be happy to talk with you!

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