A lot of us, in the early days of autism, wince when we see our kids' stims, because they are what remind us so starkly of our child's condition and because they frequently seem to be manifestations of stress and seeing one's child stress is like having one's heart squeezed in a vice.


But when you put the child in an environment without sensory stresses - no strip lights, no industrial noise, no smell of cleaning solvents, no radio, no perfume/cigarette smoke/yappy dog - and you replace that with, say, nature, the stims change.

The stims then become often calmer, slower pleasurable.

So there are stress stims and pleasure stims.

What we should target are the pleasure stims.

Because those are usually around obsessive interests, which if we encourage will, over time, become expert areas of knowledge. Even if we can’t see the value yet of the stim - remember that a rocking, flapping motion can become dance. Banging can become working with tools. Chanting becomes singing.

Don’t believe me? Talk to adult autists. for example Cisco Buitron who is on the spectrum and works as a consultant for horse boy, talks of how he harnessed his banging stims into the making of chainmail, which dovetailed in with his childhood and adolescent obsession about the middle ages.

Photo Credit: Cisco Buitron

Now he’s being paid to make chain mail for our local jousting troupe and starting to sell his pieces freelance obsession becomes expertise becomes livelihood.

So get interested in those stims. Try to create an environment where they are pleasure stims not stress stims, and see what happens...

What have you got to lose?

For more of Ru's autism tips join our free web community forum - the horse boy tribe - where he posts regularly, connects with other parents and autists, and all previous tips are archived: http://www.horseboyworld.com/?cat=3&option=com_wordpress&Itemid=131