What Does Stimming Do That Is Positive
Stimming can help a person with ASD deal with sensory overload, and anxiety in a postive way. A very good blog post from The Mighty explains in detail what those with ASD experience when stimming and why they need to do it. Some examples of stimming are rocking, hand flapping, head banging, stroking a piece of cloth all can serve as a calming strategy. As one woman with ASD explains:
Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed, upset or angry, I need to let it out. I feel antsy when Im over stimulated, so I need to move around and let out some noise. Its the only way I know how to cope. It calms me down. A common one for me is humming loudly to myself and most commonly, Ill bounce my leg. Its involuntary, so I dont always realize Im bouncing my leg. It bothers some people, but I cant help it.
Temple Grandin described stimming this way:
When I did stims such as dribbling sand through my fingers, it calmed me down. When I stimmed, sounds that hurt my ears stopped. Most kids with autism do these repetitive behaviours because it feels good in some way. It may counteract an overwhelming sensory environment, or alleviate the high levels of internal anxiety these kids typically feel every day.
Chris Bonnello from Autistic Not Weird points out that many non-autistic people exhibit stimming behaviours as well they just arent as visible.
You Are An Expert Observer Of Your Child
Every autism parent Ive ever met is an incredibly observant, detailed observer of their childs behaviors. Every autism parent Ive ever met has told me of those beautiful fleeting moments when their child did something really great. Armed with a tagger, the split second you see one of those wonderful moments, you can tag and treat, and thus reinforce that micro-second of great Eye Contact, Interaction, Vocalization or Quiet Mouth. When you reinforce a behavior, it will happen again.
What Is The Most Aggressive Type Of Dementia
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease causes a type of dementia that gets worse unusually fast. More common causes of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, Lewy body dementia and frontotemporal dementia, typically progress more slowly. Through a process scientists don’t yet understand, misfolded prion protein destroys brain cells.
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Now For The Good News
As a child gains new skills, skimming will often resolve itself on its own. Stimming tends to be most pronounced in children who lack the language and other tools to interact with their environment, so as the child develops these skills, stimming will often run its course.
Because of this, and because treatment options are only moderately effective at best, we typically intervene with stimming only if one or more of the following are true:
1.) The stimming behavior poses a safety risk to the child for example, if a child engages in self-injury.
2.) The stimming behavior is socially stigmatizing the child for example, if stimming prevents a child from making friends at school.
3.) The stimming behavior interferes with the childs learning for example, if a child hums during class and is therefore unable to listen to the teacher.
Humming As A Distraction
Q: My daughter is in 7th grade and she has a habit that is really causing problems socially. When doing independent work in class, she constantly hums. She also does this when doing her homework at home. Shes done this for as long as we can remember, but now in middle school it the kids are teasing her about it. The teachers will often tell her to stop, but my daughter does not even seem to realize she is doing it. Many kids are asking the teachers to sit them away from her. She was diagnosed with auditory processing disorder when she was 7. Is there anything we can do to help her stop?
A: There are several reasons kids might hum, and all of them have to do with improving concentration:
- They create their own white noise to drown out distracting noises
- Input on the physical level to help with focus
- An oral sensory issue where the child needs mouth stimulation to focus
- The child is anxious and the humming is calming.
Ask your daughter why she is humming. She may very well have an answer and it will give you a clue as to the cause. There are several things that can be done to help her minimize the humming:
All of these are accommodations that can be written into a 504 or IEP.
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How Research Can Help
My research aims to deepen our understanding of the brain-activity patterns associated with sound hypersensitivity and difficulty with language in adolescents and young adults on the autism This participant is looking forward to watching Frozen now that her EEG cap is on. Image courtesy of Boston University Center for Autism Research Excellencespectrum.
These insights, we believe, are the first step to developing personalized interventions that can support communication and improve quality of life.
Im pursuing this work under the mentorship of Helen Tager-Flusberg, director of Boston Universitys Center for Autism Research Excellence, and Barbara Shinn-Cunningham, director of Boston Universitys Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory and Center for Research in Sensory Communication and Emerging Neural Technology.
An integral part of this research is to see if autism-related difficulties in using and understanding language stem from a combination of brain-based auditory processing issues and the behaviors these individuals use to escape the distress and anxiety caused by their sensitivities to sound and social communication more generally .
Remember, children typically pick up language by listening to people talk and detecting the patterns of that make up speech. If the brain cant process these sounds effectively or the sounds are being blocked out, this can present a serious challenge to learning language.
Why Is Autism More Common Now
The prevalence of autism in the United States has risen steadily since researchers first began tracking it in 2000. The rise in the rate has sparked fears of an autism epidemic. But experts say the bulk of the increase stems from a growing awareness of autism and changes to the conditions diagnostic criteria.
Rird For Vocal Stimming
Vocal stimming presents a tougher challenge, since we cant directly block the behavior. But we do have a couple of approaches to vocal stimming that may help:
-We give the child a non-preferred vocal demand. For example, if a child hates to answer what questions, as soon as the child starts to stim, we give her a bunch of what questions to answer. The act of answering these questions will distract and redirect her away from the negative behavior.
-If theres something environmental the child might want as a reinforcer, such as a particular toy, we might withhold the object until he stops the vocal stimming. We want to find something that trumps the pleasure the child receives from the vocal stereotypy.
Please remember, the best approach to stimming is to focus on skill development. A child who is well equipped to interact with her environment will be less likely to need to rely on stimming behavior to soothe herself. But if your child is engaging in self-injury, is being noticeably stigmatized or is unable to learn due to the stimming, the approaches weve outlined above may be the best place to start.
For more help on other challenging behaviors in children with autism, please look at these other blog posts!
Screaming Loud Noises Verbal Stimming
These are the sounds we autism parents hear all too frequently in our homes.
They never seem to stop.
They drive us to distraction.
They can destroy the peace and quiet of the family. Sometimes they can destroy the family itself.
When my son was little, he did a lot of screaming and verbal stimming. I discovered that with the positive behavioral method known as TAGteach I was able to reduce these sounds, increase appropriate vocalizations and get some of that precious peace and quiet.
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The Calming Tag Points
A tag point is the behavior that will result in a tag and reinforcement.
The calming tag points are five tag points that I come back to time and again because they are so useful. The calming tag points are:
- Quiet Mouth The child is silent
- Appropriate Vocalization or Communication The child communicates in his/her own way
- Hands Down Hands placed at side or in front of body
- Feet On Floor Both feet touch the floor or ground
- Exhales Child breathes out you can see shoulders/chest go down upon exhalation.
All of these are simple behaviors that a child performs often, so there are lots of opportunities to tag and reinforce. Reinforcing these tag points brings about increased calm and communicative behaviors in children with autism. Plus, the more reinforcement and success our children experience, the happier they are.
Sensory Red Flags And When To Get Help
Weve been working hard over the last year to bring you monthly posts about sensory processing and how the sensory systems relate to child development.
Each month, weve written a post about one of the sensory systems from our point of view as pediatric therapists and our friend Dayna, from Lemon Lime Adventures, has written a post about the same sensory system from her perspective as an educator and a mom of a child with sensory processing disorder.
In this series of child development resources about sensory processing, weve written about the tactile system, the auditory system, the proprioceptive system, the vestibular system, the oral sensory system, and the visual system.
Today, as a part of an even bigger series with over 40 other bloggers called , well discuss sensory red flags behaviors related to sensory integration that might indicate that its time to get some expert advice to help support your childs sensory needs.
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Why Does Vocal Stimming Happen
Self stimulatory repetitive behaviors and movements can provide sensory input for children with ASD, helping them cope with anything stressful in their environment, or helping them to focus or express their feelings. It can be calming because it is a predictable behavior they control. In a crowded restaurant, a child with ASD might feel overwhelmed by the noise, and stimming would help them to ignore the loud sounds. Dr. Mary Barbera, a board certified behavior analyst, equates stimming to the activities we might do in our leisure time, such as playing an instrument or a sport.
Tips For Reducing Stimming Behaviors
In most cases, stimming is not harmful and does not need to be stopped or suppressed. Karen Wang, author of the book My Baby Rides the Short Bus: The Unabashedly Human Experience of Raising Kids With Disabilities, believes that any stim eliminated by a caregiver is likely to be replaced with a new one.
Despite this, some parents might want to reduce a particular stimming behavior to avoid self injury or help maintain a level of social acceptability. For example, a caregiver might use an autism helmet to prevent a child from injuring him/herself when head banging.
If you are concerned for your childs safety, here are some more ideas for reducing stimming behaviors.
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How Stimming Affects Autistic Children And Teenagers
Stimming isnt necessarily a bad thing, as long as it doesnt hurt your child. But some stimming can be self-injurious for example, severe hand-biting.
Stimming can also affect your childs attention to the outside world, which in turn can affect your childs ability to learn and communicate with others.
For example, if a child flicks their fingers near their eyes, they might not be playing with toys so much and not developing play skills. When the child is older, if theyre absorbed in watching their hands in front of their eyes in the classroom, theyre not engaged with schoolwork. Or if the child is pacing around the fence in the playground, theyre missing valuable social opportunities.
Rird For Motor Stimming
For any motor stimming behavior, we employ a two-step process: block the behavior and give the child a neutral task appropriate for the skill level, such as a puzzle, stacking blocks or a pen and worksheet.
-If the childs skill level is on the lower end, we make it harder for the child to display the behavior. For example, we may use weights on the childs wrists to make it harder for her to flap her arms.
-If the stimming leads to self-injury, we give the child protective equipment. For instance, a child who exhibits head banging might be fitted with a helmet to reduce the risk of injury.
-When possible, we modify the trigger that causes the stimming. For example, if a child likes to flap his arms while watching another child play a video game, we may tell the child that he can only watch the video game if he keeps his hands folded.
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Concerned About Your Childs Development: What To Do
If youre concerned about your childs development, talk to your child and family health nurse or GP about a developmental assessment. Getting an assessment and diagnosis is the first step to helping your child and getting services and programs suited to your childs needs.
Its important to get help and support as soon as possible. Early therapies and supports are the best way to help autistic children develop and thrive. Thats because they can help autistic children learn the skills they need for everyday activities. Sometimes children who get early intervention need less or no support as they get older.
Tagteach Uses Positive Reinforcement
TAGteach is based on the science of Applied Behavior Analysis and uses positive reinforcement to build desired behaviors. In addition to the positive reinforcement, TAGteach adds an event marker i.e., an acoustical signal to indicate to the child when he/she has performed a desired behavior. The acoustical signal is generally a click sound, called a tag made by any type of clicker device, or better yet, a TAGteach tagger. After the tag, you give a reinforcer to the child. Heres how I used this.
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Is Humming A Sign Of Alzheimer
Alzheimer’s disease and the other dementias often impact words and language. This may be a simple form of communication for them or a behavior covering up their failing vocabulary. Persons with dementia often do have compulsive or recurring behavior. A loved one’s humming may be a similar symptom./span>
Should I Tell My Mother She Has Dementia
Although you may dread telling her, it might serve a form of relief for her to openly talk about her disease and the life issues she is facing. Additionally, withholding the truth about a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia could lead to paranoia later and cause a breach of trust between your mom and yourself./span>
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Lack Of Emotional Attachment
Some babies on the autism spectrum are very affectionate, so you cant use that to rule out autism. On the other hand, if your baby doesnt have any emotional attachment, it may be cause for concern. If your baby does not like to be cuddled, does not show warmth to you and other loved ones, and does not seem to need you for emotional support, take note. Lack of emotional attachment is one of the early warning signs of autism. My younger was this way. He couldnt STAND to be touched or held from the time he was born until around two and a half years old. It broke my mama heart into pieces, but he has more than made up for it over the last year, with his 180 degree turn! Now he is the most cuddly little thing Ive ever seen!
Question About A Child Humming All The Timefeb 19 2013 By Downsyndromecentre
A. A child who is humming non-stop can be difficult to cope with, especially as the humming can be caused by so many independent variables. We could look at some possibilities, and you can decide what you think might be going on for your child?
1. All sorts of activities are happening within a childs mouth as he grows and develops. He may have discovered humming as it resonates within his ear, nose and throat systems. The ear, nose and throat are all connected. The sensory systems are connected to all three, particularly the vestibular system. This system supports good balance and inner ear activity, so that he could be starting to discover his inner self .
2. Children of this age are getting molars and humming can be a gum-cooling activity.
3. Humming patterns start from an exploration of sound and sensory feedback. Added to this, a pattern may have emerged whereby you noticed this humming, and then reacted to it, maybe by saying, Stop that. This would have negatively reinforced the humming. Once reinforced, this humming is now a good way to get your attention.
4. Children often use humming while they are playing. They are self-instructing their progress. It is a very natural way for a child to concentrate.
5. Your child may have auditory sensitivity and be hypersensitive to sound. This has sometimes been described as hearing white noise and is linked to the inner ear, so that your child uses humming strategies to tune this out.
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