By David M. Perry
November 27, 2018
My son stims. He performs repetitive motions in order to generate sensory inputs that he experiences as fun, aesthetically pleasing, soothing, exciting, or otherwise necessary.
The word comes from the clinical term, "self-stimulatory behavior," but there's no need to be that clinical about it. His stimming is beautiful. To get him to stop stimming would require intensive coercion that, even if successful, would likely result in irreparable psychological harm.
"If someone's stims are hurting them," she writes, "we need to figure out why they are happening, and find a way for that person to get their needs met. We should be looking for medical causes, and supporting people to get their mental-health needs met and to access robust, effective communication. Imagine being in serious distress, and the only response of those around you is to punish you for expressing that distress. Eventually, you stop, sure, but the distress continues—and now you feel even more alone."Eb agrees, admitting that they sometimes stim by picking at their skin in ways that can leave small scars, but says, "If someone is stimming in a self-injurious way, I think the answer isn't to stop them stimming altogether but help them identify a less harmful stim that does what's needed."