Treatments for Stimming?
By Sarah A.
Posted May 8, 2012
My 7 year old has stimmed since before the age of two. He squeezes his hands into a fist, leans forward, wiggles his fingers, and holds his breath for about 5 seconds. Then he releases a giant breath and goes right back to what he was doing before. He says he is thinking of things he likes when he does that (favorite movie, etc.). He can hear me while he's stimming, but doesn't respond until he gets it out. He also stims by hopping/flapping across a room about 10 times in a row. Other than stimming, he has no more autism symptoms and is doing very well in a typical school. Any biomedical suggestions for this? Thank you
Answered: May 13, 2012 by Dr. Sidney Baker
Happy Mother's Day!
Short answer: no. If we broaden the definition of stimming to include a variety of repetitive self-soothing gestures, we will see that most of us stim and learn to do so within socially appropriate ways except, perhaps, under stress. Of all the features of children in the spectrum, stimming is the one that most frequently persists after all else is resolved, just as you describe the situation with your son. As you know, biomedical approaches are generally not symptom-specific.
I'd love to hear from any parent who has found a non-behavioral remedy for stimming, especially in the context that you describe. A remedy would, I believe, have to aim at the visceral sensory impulses that demand his attention and respiratory and motor responses. I think he will gain more from coaching from a behavioral therapist to help him modify his stims to the point of incurring less notice from his peers. At the moment, I believe that the mid-brain is where the impulses arise. I have not seen biomedical treatment diminish stimming as an isolated remainder in a recovered child.
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