Stimming is a self-stimulatory behavior that your child does to get extra sensory input when needed. Hand flapping, rocking, head banging, grinding teeth, biting and scratching himself. In this article, we describe why it happens and how you can help your child with autism stimming.
#1. We All Self-soothe
Everyone has a comfort blanket, whether it is pacing, biting your pencil or biting your lip – you’re stimming. The reason children with autism are affected more because of the sensory overload they experience. So by not viewing your child as unusual for doing this, you can better help your child with the sensory overload and not the self-soothing only.
#2. Replacement Behavior
- The child is tired – offer a short nap if possible.
- The child is excited – replace with clapping hands or holding hands together.
- The child has been sitting too long – offer alternative seating such as a pillow or small exercise ball. Encourage a movement break for a few minutes.
- The child is angry – give him a pillow to hit, squeeze or bite. Go for a walk. Encourage self-calming strategies.
- The child is flapping fingers – replace with pushing hands together or squeezing hands. A stress ball may help.
- The child is rocking – replace with side to side rocking. Give a big hug and squeeze him all over his torso so he feels that sensory cue instead.
- The child is biting himself – replace with something to chew on such as a chewy sour sweet to give the mouth a sensory cue.
- The child is scratching himself – give tight squeezes all over his body or roll a big ball over his body while he lays down. Try different things if your child doesn’t feel comfortable.
#3. Music Soothes The Savage Beast
Music is known to be a brilliant sensory input for anyone. Play soothing music when a child is feeling anxious and upbeat music when a child is bored.
Here is music to ease anxiety
#4. Reward Appropriate Behavior
This can be done by giving praise, stickers, treat and hugs. Never ever punish self-soothing behavior.
#5. Seek Help
If the stimming becomes injurious, then you would definitely need to seek professional help. These tips may help but there will be times where you will need help, asking for help doesn’t make you a useless parent – it makes you a good parent.