Let’s first review the meaning and purpose of stimming:
- Stimming is defined as a repetitive movement, which can be paired with noises.
- Stimming has been linked to a soothing mechanism to manage emotions and cope with a situation that they feel overwhelmed in.
- Replacement behaviors- give your child another behavior to engage in which would elicit the same soothing effects. Example: your child claps his hands, have him rub his hands in a ball-and-forth motion, allow him/her to clap their thighs (to decrease the noise) or give your child a toy to place in their pocket as a fidget.
- Change environments- many times children feel overwhelmed by their environment. Changing their environment or going on a break can decrease their stress levels. For example, if in a loud room, take a break in the hallway or bathroom.
- Sensory- fidget toys, soft pillows or stuffed animals, music with headphones, noise canceling headphones or blackout face masks can be used temporarily in high stress situations. These items are easy to take around town and can be used in a pinch.
- Reinforcement- ensure to offer a sensory item or a replacement behavior and reinforce that behavior. Many families will offer a cookie or a preferred toy to decrease the stimulus. This will reinforce and “breath life into the stim.” For example, the child begins stimming, the parent gives the toy, the child plays with the toy, the parent says, ” great job calming down with the toy or great job using your toy.”
Just remember, life has its up and downs. We all stimuli in our own way. Allowing your child to stimuli is allowing them to relax and cope. If we are not relaxed, we cannot learn.
For more information on how to manage stimming behavior, contact your BCBA or contact us to set up an appointment.