Thank you to extendedexile for granting permission to share this here.
I have been thinking a lot lately about my stimming, or rather my lack of stimming. I have come to the conclusion that I have been suppressing my stims for very many years, and that this has been extremely detrimental. All my life, I have been described as ‘highly strung’, ‘like a coiled spring’. Massage therapists have commented on how much tension I store in my body, my pilates teacher talks about the ‘ropes of steel’ in my neck. About ten years ago, I developed costocondritis (inflammation of the connective tissue in the rib cage) which is known to be stress and tension related.
When I first figured out that I’m autistic, I was rather puzzled by my apparent lack of stims. Then I became aware that I tend to sit hunched with my legs crossed and any free hands wedged between or under them. And I realised that certain activities, which I find very soothing, could perhaps be viewed as a form of stimming – for example, pilates exercises, knitting, spending hours picking the varnish off an old table with my fingernail(!)
Since then, I have begun to allow myself to stim a little. At first, as soon as I became aware that I was doing it, I stopped myself – I couldn’t help it, I just had to stop. Gradually I am learning to let it happen. And the tension in my body is gradually subsiding. And the costocondritis is easing up. And I am feeling very much better for it!
My daughter’s stims are a delight! I am learning from her all the time…