Self stimulation is a key aspect of autistic children. While other children and adults cannot understand why the autistic child does this behaviour it is something they are rather obsessive about and seemingly unable to stop. This behaviour is also commonly referred to as stimming. Stimming is a repetitive behaviour that keeps the child engaged in their own world but serves to stimulate their senses in some form or another. It is often used to help the child regulate themselves in a stressful environment.

Many children with autism have difficulties interpreting sensory information. Whether the world seems to rough, too bright, too loud or any other number of things, it all boils down to their minds not properly coping with the world around them. Stimming is one way that the autistic child can bring back control of their world. It can manifest itself in many ways such as running in circles, arm flapping or humming. Though these behaviours may disturb those around them, they are the child’s way of working out things in their world that don’t seem right. They are not doing it to seek attention or to create a fuss, they are simply trying to cope with a stressful situation.

There is a positive and negative side to stimming, one side are calming behaviours which help the child to regulate themselves and overcome a situation of stress or upset, the other kind is just like when any child becomes over worked and wound up, where they run in circles or yell and scream. You should try to refocus your child to the calming behaviours without reprimanding them for their excited behaviour. A negative reaction to the excited behaviour may actually do the exact opposite of what you are trying to accomplish and may lead the child to doing the behaviour obsessively out of reaction to your reaction.

No matter the self stimulation your child engages in you need to understand this is something that they need to do in order to find peace in their autistic world.