What is stimming?

In it’s most simple form, stimming is a repetitive body movement that self-stimulates one or more senses in a regulated manner.

What types of stims are there?

  • Visual Stims
    • Flapping hands, blinking and/or moving fingers in front of eyes, staring repetitively at a light, pressing on closed eyes to create visual effect [pressure phosphene], …
  • Auditory Stims
    • Snapping fingers, tapping on objects, listening to the same song on a loop, rolling Rs, “cat noises”, repeating words, putting hands over ears, singing, clicking tongue, humming…
  • Tactile Stims
    • Scratching, rubbing the skin with one’s hands or with an external object, pinching the skin, putting thumb inside fist, sucking thumb, rubbing hands/feet together, petting preferred textures, tying knots/twirling string, twirling/stroking hair…
  • Vestibular Stims
    • Moving body in rhythmic motion, rocking front and back or side-to-side), spinning, pacing, walking in circles, walking on tip-toes, jumping up and down…
  • Taste Stims
    • Licking body parts, licking an object…
  • Smell Stims
    • Smelling objects or hands, smelling other people…
  • Rhythmic Stims
    • Tapping on surfaces/objects/self, clicking fingers, making repetitive vocal sounds, bouncing legs, foot tapping, hand flapping, clicking pens, …

There are a lot of other stims as well that don’t necessarily fall under the category of “repetitive” such as pressure stimming, which are still just as valid. Basically if what you do serves the purpose of the stim, you can call it a stim.

Why do people stim?

People stim for all different kinds of reasons. They may stim when they are happy or excited, when they are stressed, as a part of their normal body language, as a way of communication, as a punishment, as a response to something internal or external, as a compulsion, to focus, to self soothe, etc. Stimming can be a coping mechanism, but it can also be so much more! No matter what reason someone has for stimming though, it’s important to remember that all stims are natural and normal.

Who stims?

Anyone that find stimming useful, whether consciously or subconsciously, can stim. That includes neurotypicals, but mainly stimming is seen as something that neurodivergent people do and it occurs most frequently in:

  • autism spectrum
  • Tourette’s
  • schizophrenia
  • OCD
  • people that experience mania/hypomania
  • people with ADHD/ADD
  • etc

Where can I find stim toys/jewelry?