Autism Stimming: Causes Management And Types
Here are some tips to help autistic children learn how to recognize and regulate emotions :
- Explain to the child why he/she might be behaving a certain way. This is the first step towards helping him/her understand forms of emotion. Let the child know that others also experience these feelings, but there are ways to overcome them.
- Understand the childs sensitivities and unique reactions to situations and create an action plan. For example, if the child gets anxious in a noisy room, teach him/her to find a quiet place to calm down.
- Prepare and inform. When a situation, perhaps a social event, is likely to occur which will cause the child stress, inform him/her beforehand and challenge the child to go through it with the promise of a reward when he/she succeeds.
What Is Body Rocking
Head banging and body rocking are types of rhythmic movement disorder that usually involve some type of repetitive stereotypical whole body or limb rocking, rolling, or head banging behaviors. These behaviors are usually seen in children around naptime and bedtime and may recur after awakenings throughout the night.
Whats The Reason Behind This Pendulum
The act of rocking back and forth or, body rocking, extends beyond the realm of mental illness. For instance, the gentle rocking of a cradle soothes newborns and babies. Additionally, as bone, joint, and muscle pain increase with age, we can find relief in the form of rocking chairs. In fact, certain animals, including elephants, sometimes move their bodies from side to side to alleviate pain or distress.
Though it may appear primitive, rocking triggers the brain the release of endorphins, the feel-good chemical. Exercise, aromas, certain foods, and even music can also release endorphins. David Givens, the author of the Nonverbal Dictionary, states that rocking, whether back and forth or side to side, stimulates the vestibular senses, referring to parts of the inner ear and brain that regulate balance and eye movements. These senses are closely aligned with the part of the brain that manages pain and stress.
Abnormal movement can be a symptom of various mental health disorders. There are many types of movement disorders, but stereotyped movements or stereotypes are most commonly seen in mental health disorders. Illnesses including schizophrenia, autism, OCD, addiction and other neurological disorders may present with unusual or stereotyped movements.
Changes in a neurotransmitter called dopamine cause most movement disorders. Excess of dopamine may cause stereotyped movements and decreased dopamine may lead to Parkinsonian type symptoms.
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How Does Stimming Differ In Autistic People
Almost everyone engages in some form of self-stimulating behavior. You might bite your nails or twirl your hair around your fingers when youre bored, nervous, or need to relieve tension.
Stimming can become such a habit that youre not even aware youre doing it. For most people, its a harmless behavior. You recognize when and where its inappropriate.
For example, if youve been drumming your fingers on your desk for 20 minutes, you take social cues that youre irritating others and choose to stop.
In autistic people, stimming might be more obvious. For example, it may present as full-body rocking back and forth, twirling, or flapping the hands. It can also go on for long periods. Often, the individual has less social awareness that the behavior might be disruptive to others.
Stimming associated with autism isnt always cause for concern.
It only becomes an issue if it interferes with learning, results in social exclusion, or is destructive. In some rare cases, it can be dangerous.
How To Manage Baby Rocking Back And Forth
Usually, this type of behavior gradually goes away. It may also be your babys way of trying to seek out your attention. If you suspect this is the case, do not pay any attention to it and he or she will eventually stop.
If your child does this sort of behavior in bed, try to keep the crib or bed slightly away from the wall. This will ensure it doesn’t bang on the wall and cause any harm to your child. Also, be sure that there are no hazards inside the crib.
If your baby is nearing the crawling stage and your notice him or her rocking back and forth while on all fours or in a sitting position, you should encourage this further. He or she is well on the way to meeting proper motor milestones and is getting ready to move!
As previously mentioned, if you are concerned about your baby’s development, seek advice from your doctor. They know you and your baby best, and will be able to help diagnose any possible disorders or conditions .
It’s completely natural for parents to worry about seemingly unusual movements or actions that children are participating in. By looking into whats really going on, youre doing the responsible thing. If there is a developmental disorder, its best to find out early on so that you can help your child in any way he or she may need.
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What Does Autistic Rocking Look Like
When a person with autism engages in self-stimulatory behaviors such as rocking, pacing, aligning or spinning objects, or hand flapping, people around him may be confused, offended, or even frightened. Also known as stimming, these behaviors are often characterized by rigid, repetitive movements and/or vocal sounds.
How Can Parents Help This Behavior
The first thing to do is understand the function of repetitive behavior. It will be easier to adjust to intervention or support to give to the child.
Another thing that can be done is to modify the environment and remove or adjust things that are causing the child anxiety.
In addition, autistic individuals respond very well to structures.
They like knowing what will happen next. This could help reduce the occurrence of repetitive behaviors that stem from anxiety of moving from one activity to another.
You can also contact an expert autism counsellor to manage the anxiety levels of your child.
Early intervention would be a great way to get ahead of the situation as it becomes difficult in time to modify the behavior.Here are some other practices you can try to take repetitive behaviors under control in a positive manner:
Boundaries: Determine clear and consistent boundaries. You can limit the time that the child could talk about a subject, for instance. Start with small limitations and increase them gradually. Set realistic goals that you can plan together and try to achieve them. Again, start slow to build on success and increase the confidence of the child.
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What Should I Do If My Baby Rocks Back And Forth
The only thing you should definitely do is make sure that your baby is safe while theyre rocking and rolling. For example, if they like to rock in their bed and theres a nightstand with a sharp corner beside it, babyproof the corner so that they cant knock their head.
Its also possible to replace the rocking behavior with something else. You can encourage a nearly-mobile baby to stop rocking and start moving forwards by placing a toy just out of reach. Or you could give a baby whos trying to rock themselves to sleep something comforting to hold instead.
Generally though, you dont need to do anything to encourage your baby to stop rocking back and forth. If theyre enjoying practising their new skill, join in, be silly, and treat it like a game.
And heads up. You can find other parents going through the same thing in the Peanut community.
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Rule Out Medical Conditions
Some medical conditions like ear infections, migraines, and physical pain can worsen stimming behaviors in autistic people, so its important to have this checked and addressed as soon as possible. It can be particularly hard to tell if a medical issue is present if your child is non-verbal, so its worth visiting your doctor regularly. If a medical condition is the reason for the stimming, it could reduce or stop completely with treatment and support.
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Accept Stims Like Rocking
Stimming isnt bad behavior that needs to be stopped. Its good behavior your child is meeting their needs that needs to be embraced.
Autistic people should not be forced to stop stimming just because it makes non-autistic people uncomfortable. Most often, autistic people are stimming in the first place because of not autistic people and environments.
At the end of the day, autistic people deserve to be accepted as they are, even if they do appear weird. If someone is staring at your child because they are rocking or swaying, or even flapping their hands, it is not up to you to placate that person who is staring. Manage your own anxiety and insecurities, instead of imposing it onto your child.
It is possible for an autistic child to grow up without trauma, in a loving home where their family accepts them as they are and embraces their autism. Its not too late to work towards that now.
Remember: Struggling means youre trying.
Does your autistic child rock back and forth? Tell us about it in the comments below.
About Jane E. Lively
At a glance, Jane Lively is an autistic adult in her early 30s living independently for the second year in a row. She considers herself a cat mom to Galaxy, who helps her with social skills and emotional regulation. Izzy has worked with autistic children and struggled as an autistic child herself. She shares what it’s like living outside the box on her blog, Autistic Jane.
Chronic Stress And Anxiety
Rocking can be an indicator of stress and anxiety in the individual where they need to stay comfortable and relaxed makes them rock or fiddle. When the stress is excessive and severe, individuals calm themselves and get rid of the stressful reaction and distress by engaging in such movements.
Other than the most common and prevalent mental illnesses associated with rocking and other rhythmic movements, it is also an indicator of PTSD, panic attacks, depression, dementia, Parkinsons Disease, alcohol withdrawal and claustrophobia.
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Helping Autistic Children And Teenagers With Stimming
Many autistic people feel they should be allowed to stim because stimming helps them to manage emotions and overwhelming situations. But if stimming is hurting your child or affecting their learning, social life and so on, it might be best for your child to stim less often.
You might be able to reduce your childs need to stim by changing the environment or helping your child with anxiety. Also, stimming often reduces as your child develops more skills and finds other ways to deal with sensitivity, understimulation or anxiety.
Changing the environment If your child finds the environment too stimulating, your child might need a quiet place to go, or just one activity or toy to focus on at a time.
If your child needs more stimulation, your child might benefit from music playing in the background, a variety of toys and textures, or extra playtime outside.
Some schools have sensory rooms for autistic children who need extra stimulation. There might be equipment children can bounce on, swing on or spin around on, materials they can squish their hands into, and visually stimulating toys.
Working on anxiety If you watch when and how much your child is stimming, you might be able to work out whether the stimming is happening because your child is anxious. Then you can look at your childs anxiety and change the environment to reduce their anxiety.
What Do Sensory Issues Look Like
Many people with autism show certain behaviors when they are experiencing a sensory issue:
- Increased movement, such as jumping, spinning or crashing into things
- Increased stimming, such as hand flapping, making repetitive noises or rocking back and forth
- Talking faster and louder, or not talking at all
- Covering ears or eyes
- Difficulty recognizing internal sensations like hunger, pain or the need to use the bathroom
- Refusing or insisting on certain foods or clothing items
- Frequent chewing on non-food items
- Frequent touching of others or playing rough
- Difficulty communicating or responding as the brain shifts resources to deal with sensory input
- Escalating, overwhelming emotions or need to escape a situation
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Do Autistic Toddlers Watch Tv
“Kids with autism are more predisposed to watch screens,” he explained. Kids with autism symptoms may use screens as a soothing device, instead of turning to a parent. That may lead a parent to engage less than they would otherwise like to, Bennett explained. The study was published online April 20 in JAMA Pediatrics.
What Causes Hand Flapping
Hand flapping is categorized as an automatic response to specific triggers in a persons environment. It is a physical response without deliberate thought- that is why it is called an automatic response.
For those of us who live with or work with a child who has autism, we know that hand flapping in autism is also a self-stimulatory behavior- otherwise known as stimming. A child with autism uses stimming behaviors to self-regulate their emotions or anxiety. Since children with autism have difficulty identifying their feelings or expressing them verbally, stimming provides a way to process those feelings.
Typical children and adults do it, too! Nail biting, fidgeting, pacing, or twirling your hair while you talk on the phone are all automatic responses similar to autism flapping. They accomplish the same thing- self-regulation and processing.
What triggers hand flapping will vary from person to person with autism. Any of the following can be considered triggers:
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Where To Go For Help With Stimming
Occupational therapists can help you look at environmental adjustments to support your child.
If your childs behaviour is causing your child harm or hurting other people, speak to your childs GP, paediatrician, psychologist, another health professional working with your child, or school support staff.
What Are The Early Signs Of Autism In Babies
As we said, babies rocking back and forth might indicate autism in certain situations, but this is also only true if its part of a larger pattern of signs and traits.
If youre concerned that your child might have a form of autism, let a healthcare practitioner know. Theyll have a look at all your little ones language, social, and communication skills. Theyll consider things like when your child is meeting milestones and ask if theyve regressed and lost a skill they had before.
As you wait for an appointment, its a good idea to keep a diary of when the rocking are happening. Taking a video of your child while theyre rocking will also help your doctor.
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Why Do Babies Rock Back And Forth
The same concept applies for when you see your child participating in unusual behavior of any kind. And while at this point, you may have finally just started to feel back to normal, including having sex after delivery, tackling any sex issues postpartum, figuring the ins and outs of breastfeeding like nipple shields, and, generally settling into the mom life, youre still figuring things out. Youre learning to love your post-baby body, and youre getting to know all about developmental milestones with your baby.
When a baby rocks back and forth, it can mean various things. It may mean your child is feeling particularly playful or it may indicate that he or she is trying to gain the necessary leg and arm strength to efficiently crawl where they please. Most often, its nothing to worry about. In fact, it should be encouraged if your baby is on all fours, as this movement helps gain strength to be able to become more mobile and meet those movement and developmental milestones. But lets take a closer look. What should you be made aware of?
If your baby is rocking back and forth at about 7 months of age and has shown an inclination toward attempting or trying to crawl, this motion is really nothing to worry about. They may stay on all fours or in a sitting position and rock back and forth as they try to determine how to propel themselves forward into a crawling motion. Its all part of your baby exploring his or her motor skills and trying to develop them further.
Autism Stimming And Hand Flapping: What Are The Key Causes And Behaviors
If youre an autism parent, it is likely youve seen your child present repetitive stimming behaviors such as hand flapping, spinning, and shaking. These behaviors can be worrying if theyre not fully understood.
In this guide, we will discuss everything you need to know about stimming in children with autism spectrum disorder and how to manage stimming behaviors.
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How To Reduce Stimming
Here are some ideas for increasing relationship skills while reducing time spent stimming: