A while back, some of us at A4A decided to create a day to celebrate stimming. Welcome to the first International Day of the Stim!
What is Stimming?
Stimming is a term for repetitive body movements or moving/touching an object in a way that is stimulating to various parts of the nervous system. Although it is stimulating, it also often has a rhythmic, calming effect that helps neurodivergent people to relax.
Stimming isn’t something that only we do: it’s common for many neurotyopical people as well (think of tapping a pencil or twirling hair). The difference is autistics may stim more or in different ways. In fact, stimming is an incredible resource to help us manage sensory input as well as excitement or stress.
Our stims are something that should be respected as an essential tool for emotional wellness. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.
Despite all that we know about the usefulness of stimming, it is still being repressed by ABA therapists. Stimming is the perfect example of when some therapists take an action that most everybody does – and say it’s not okay when an autistic person does it.
Some therapists or group home workers will grab a person’s hands to stop them from flapping or even strap them down. Some will tell parents or support workers to say “Quiet Hands” to a child whenever they flap hands. The effect of this is devastating, because flapping hands is a form of communication. To “extinguish” flapping is basically the equivalent of yelling “SHUT UP!” in a child’s face.
We all have the right to stim. We have the right to flap. We have the right to our bodily autonomy. Stims help us relax, they make us feel better and they don’t hurt anybody. It’s time to stop the practice of “extinguishing” stims. It’s time for everyone to understand and embrace the positive role stims have in our lives.
Events on This Day
In London, Ontario, London Autistics Standing Together (LAST) is meeting up today at William’s for coffee and sharing stims!
In Winnipeg, Canadian Autistics United (CAU) is having a meetup that is focused on celebrating stims (Check their Facebook page for information.)
CAU Vancouver is also celebrating. CAU Vancouver was part of a group that developed a Stim Toy Lending Library through the Simon Fraser University library system. This awesome little library is also mobile for events in the community!
We are using social media to have a global conversation about everything stim. To learn more, visit the official blog for the International Day of the Stim or our Event Page. You can also follow us on Twitter @a4aontario to add your insights, photos and comments #stimday.
Wishing everyone in our community a safe and stimmy day!