The Lure of Stims

In the past I internally lived in stims. The stim was entertainment, escape, compulsion, and the easiest way to deal with the frustrations of autism. It is like an alcoholic who runs to a bottle whenever he is sad or tense. It is a way to avoid working on things. It really makes the situation worse though. It is also unfair to the rest of the people who interact with the stimming person because he puts his challenges on them. In my Health class we are learning about drug abuse and alcoholism. I can’t help but see a similarity in autistic stims.

In the first place, a stim is a sensory trip of enjoyable feelings. It may start small but it can take over your life- not so much life, but all you do is less important than the stim itself if it is compelling. So, it is an escapist drug and it is addictive. I used to stim a lot as a young boy, especially before I could communicate. Now I stim less because I am engaged in life at a normal level, so I stay in the world as much as I can. I am thrilled about that because I don’t want to live in Autismland flapping, tensing, and twirling my life away. It is hard but I am happy in school listening and learning. I may miss out on the social aspect of high school because I don’t have friends in high school- none of the disable kids really do, I’ve noticed- but I do have a normal day of regular classes and regular homework and exercise and so on.

But stims are there tempting me. I get stressed or bored so I return to my trusty alternative to reality. Stims are a necessary outlet at times but they have to be in moderation. If not we become drunk on them and it’s too hard to return to some self control. We need a lot of help in these times and lots of activity to keep our minds engaged.

6 responses to “The Lure of Stims

  1. Very insightful — you are an excellent writer. Thank you for sharing this perspective on stimming.

  2. Thank you for sharing this. Wow, this is a whole new perspective and I really appreciate your insight. The most persistent question I am always wondering, and the one wish I think I think I would as for if given one by a genie, would be to live in my boys’s shoes for one day. To know it’s like for him, why he does what he does, etc. This gives me more to think about.

  3. I don’t know if you know something about Son-Rise Programme, but using “joining” with my autistic son helped him to feel all my love and acceptante. He feels secure and it helps him to naturally diminish stim. No need to escape

  4. A few months ago, my son started a new stim that only lasted a few days. He would look towards day light and then put his hand close to his eyes. He would move his hands up and down quickly. I wanted to know what it felt like so I did it. It felt so gooooooooooooooooooood. LOL. It was as if my fingers acted like blinds and by doing the movement quickly it made my eyes unfocused and it was very relaxing. It reminded me of that feeling you get when you are about to black out when the anesthesiologist is putting you under before a medical procedure. Since then I have tried it a few times because I really wanted to feel that way again but I have not been able to recreate it.

    Since that day I stopped asking my son to stim by redirecting him or asking to have “quiet hands” or “boss your hands”. I have not seen him stim too much lately but he is walking around with his fingers crossed or in a claw position.

  5. Thank you for your insight😊

  6. i understand that i am autistic i stim a lot and somtimes i loose control. i disagree with the drug part instead i think of it as a rope swing fun but unsturdy and you would be able to fall of at any moment

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