As it relates to autism, stimming is a repetitive body movement that self- stimulates one or more senses in a regular pattern. Stimming is one of the symptoms listed for autism dianosis although it is also observed in about 10% of young children without autism. Also, many children with autism exhibit no stimming behaviour. Common forms of stimming among autistic individusals include hand flapping, body spinning or rocking, lining up or spinning toys or other objects, repeating sounds, etc.
Stimming can result from a variety of causes. We don’t know for certain why stimming is so common, the most popular theory is that it helps to regulate sensory input. Stimming helps the individual to block out any uncomfortable sensory input such as noise, light, etc. – and allows the person to experience the sensations they crave. Changes in the diet may help to improve stimming in some cases.
Although stimming behaviors in children with autism are very common, the good news is that many of these behaviors can be minimized if the underlying causes are addressed and corrected. As these excessive body motions are reduced, children become more teachable and responsive to their therapies, therefore improving autism dramatically.