How many times have you seen someone in a chair, with legs crossed, rocking one leg back and forth or rotating their ankle? Sometimes they’re not even aware they’re doing it.

What about other actions such as twirling of the hair or pulling on one’s ear lobe in response to stress or boredom?

Most likely you’ve engaged in similar behavior either intentionally or subconsciously. Either way, you have “stimmed” before.

To “stim”, “stimming” or have “stimmed” is very common for an Autistic yet we all do it on occasion.

Autistics (those on the Autism Spectrum) perform self stimulatory behavior that was portrayed in the film Rain Man by Dustin Hoffman. Hoffman’s character had an extreme case (thanks to poetic license of the director) of “stimming” but the point was made.

The extent of “stimming” varies depending upon the functional level of autism one is afflicted with.

Nonetheless, before pointing fingers, please note that we all have “stimmed” off and on and for various reasons during our lives. Of course, not as extreme as Hoffman’s character but “stimming” in the pure sense of the word that is deemed more socially acceptable.

Autistics “stim” by rocking back and forth, twirling around in circles, flapping hands and so forth.

When Jonathan was smaller he did lots of these things and even got inside the dishwasher and would spin the spraying mechanism round and round.

Much to our dismay, Jonathan would also spin the chandelier out of the ceiling and we had to have it repaired on numerous occasions.

Fortunately, with much correction, we finally convinced him that there were other ways to “stim” as well as have fun.

As is true with the onset of Autism itself, it’s very important to address these types of “stims” early on and modify or replace them with more socially appropriate motions. Doing so significantly reduces or eliminates any ridicule an Autistic child may encounter in school or elsewhere in the community.

What unique “stimming” have you witnessed?

How did you react and what did you do to address “stimming” in a positive manner?

Share your story about “stimming” now, leave your comment below.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

Karen Simmons
Mother, Wife, Author, Founder & CEO of

P.S. Here are recommendations of tips, strategies, and tools you need to help understand and cope with “stimming”.

To download a video presentation that will help you understand the nature of and simple solutions to “stimming”, click this link: