Stimming is a self-stimulatory behavior which is often exhibited by children who are affected with autism to either increase their stimulation or to reduce their stress. This behavior often involves the five senses. Some examples of stimming behavior includes:
- rocking back and forth
- rubbing or scratching his skin
- staring at the lights
- blinking repetitively
- smelling different objects
- creating repetitive sounds
- snapping his fingers or clapping his hands
While these stimming behaviors are not harmful to either your child or to the people around them, engaging in any of the above behaviors can sometimes hinder your child from participating in other activities as there is a tendency to prefer to stim rather than to work on the learning activity that you may have planned for him.
Further, you must realize that when the stimming behavior becomes more frequent, there is a greater tendency for your child’s learning process to slow down. And to prevent this from happening, you need to be able to manage your child’s stimming behavior.
The first thing you need to do is to observe your child’s stimming behavior. What is he doing to stimulate himself? Identify his stimming behavior and try to look for ways in which you can replace it with a more appropriate behavior or learning activity. For example, if you find that your child likes to rock back and forth, you can encourage him to swing back and forth on a swing set instead when he starts to stim. Or if you find that he is creating repetitive sounds, you can encourage him to sing a song with you instead. Your goal is to reduce his stimming behavior by replacing it with activities that will give him a similar sensation.
It is also a good idea to encourage your child to engage in outdoor activities. Once you notice that he is starting to stim, you can invite him to go outdoors and encourage him to engage in a physical activity with you. You can play tag or jump around or engage in any physical activity that interests him. This way, you are able to redirect his energy into a more appropriate activity.