Kind of how I would view me describing to a person what stems are:
-What are Stims?
-Stims or Stimming is short for self-stimulating behavior. Often seen as hand flapping, body-rocking,spinning, and even repetitive sequence of sounds in the Autism Community.
-But what is the purpose of self-stimulating behaviors?
-The purpose of these behaviors is to relax the mind from all the sensory input the body is receiving at that current time and place, to kind of focus on one particular thing to escape the reality of ones world.
-Whoa, wait. I thought this was an Autistic thing, however it sounds more like a human thing.
-It is. What people do not grasp is that everybody stems in a given day. What NT(nuerotypical) people see as relaxing time is them stimming to get away from what ever happened during the day. This can be anything from reading a good book, exercising, watching tv/movies, playing video games, playing sports, drinking a couple alcohol beverages, cruising the world wide web, shopping, and the list goes on and on.
-So why is it just connected to the Autistic Community?
-For one, it is the oddity of how a person on the Spectrum stims, the mere fact that a person would be seen as flapping their hands to try to calm their minds perplexes people. Secondly, the place that this population stems. For a person on the spectrum, speaking from how I deal/dealt when I need/needed to stim, is that it does not matter when or where you stim when you feel this unending feeling you can not control all the chaos going around, unlike NT people, who wait till the setting is appropriate to do what they feel they need to do to relax.Thirdly, the time a person on the spectrum can spend stimming. From my observations and self-awareness, given a choice to stim all day most would choose to stim all day.
-OK, but NT people binge watch tv shows and play video games for long hours a day so you really did not answer why this is connected to the Autistic Community.
-See the thing is, is that NT people can stim out by binge watching a tv show and go back to reality with little or no problems doing so. However, with someone on the Spectrum, once a stim stops/taken away, problematic behavior starts. This is why I consider stims to be lil-addictions. I'll put it like this, say a kid is no longer allowed to spin a top over and over again due to needing to do schoolwork or something else asked of him. Then said kid will do whatever in his discretion to get back to spinning the top over and over again, like hitting, biting, and cursing until adult in charge gives in. The same scenario can be added to most if not all addicts.
Last few words. Stims can be changed. Proper duration of stims can be taught to lessen or eliminate problematic behavior. Proper venue to stim can be taught to lessen even more social anxiety brought on by how some people view certain stims. Different coping skills can be taught for when overwhelmed in certain situations. Stimming is not a bad thing, but stimming all day and everywhere can lead to problematic behavior.
Mark Fleming- Person on the Autism Spectrum