stimming

when a seder is overloading

alexeidarling:

realsocialskills:

thelimpingdoctor replied to your post: Passover asks?

How do you deal with sensory overload in a situation where you can’t leave?

realsocialskills said:

Based on context, I think you’re probably asking about being overloaded at a large noisy seder.

There might be more options for leaving and taking a break than you might realize. I’m going to discuss those, then some thoughts on how to deal with it if leaving isn’t an option.

Some options for taking breaks:

Helping in the kitchen

  • At seders, there are often (not always) things going on in the kitchen that people would welcome help with
  • If you find doing stuff in the kitchen less overloading than being at the table, excusing yourself to go help might be a socially acceptable way to take a break
  • Some examples of things people might welcome help with:
  • Cutting vegetables
  • Serving soup
  • Bringing out other things
  • Washing dishes

Playing with the kids:

  • At a lot of seders, there are little kids who kind of run in and out
  • If these are kids you know, or they’re related to you, it may be socially acceptable for you to take breaks and play with the kids
  • This depends on the culture of your family or community; it’s fairly common for it to be socially acceptable, but it’s not universal

Pretending you have to go to the bathroom:

  • At a long seder, most people will excuse themselves to use the bathroom at least once
  • If you take a break for about that amount of time, that’s what people will assume you were doing
  • (You can also actually go to the bathroom even if you don’t need to use it - bathrooms can sometimes be a good place to take a break from sensory overload since people will usually leave you alone for a few minutes if you’re in the bathroom)

Options if you can’t take breaks or taking breaks doesn’t help enough:

Get oriented:

  • Sometimes sensory overload is caused as much by disorientation as by sensations
  • One way to become more oriented is to think through in advance what’s likely to happen
  • If you feel like stuff is more predictable, it’s likely to be less overwhelming and sensory stuff might be easier to manage
  • If this is a seder you’ve been to before, it might help think about what usually happens. Who will be there? How do they usually act? Who will ask the four questions?
  • It also might be a good idea to look through the hagaddah. Here’s one online.
  • If you’re feeling overloaded during the seder, it’s worth considering the possibility that you have become disoriented
  • If you look through the haggadah, figure out where you are in the seder, and how much is left, it might help you to become more oriented and less overloaded
  • It may also help to use a visual schedule, which shows you at a glance what to expect and in what order. Here’s one you can print, organized by cup.

Using solid objects to ground yourself:

  • If you’ve become really overloaded or disoriented, sometimes grabbing hold of something solid can help a lot
  • If you’re at a seder, the most readily available solid thing is likely to be the table
  • If there’s someone present you trust who is ok with it, holding someone’s hand can help a lot too in ramping down overload

Sit in a less overloading place in the room:

  • Sitting on the edge of the room is likely to be less overloading than sitting in the middle
  • Sitting on the end or near the end of a table is likely to be less overloading than sitting between several people
  • Sitting near the door is likely to be less overloading (especially if you get overloaded from feeling trapped)
  • If there are florescent lights in the room, it helps to pay attention to whether one of them is flickering
  • If you’re already overwhelmed going into the room, you might not notice right away, even though it will bother you later. If flickering lights bother you, it’s worth making a point of checking to see if the light is flickering when you decide where to sit
  • If the room is likely to be very loud, you might be more comfortable if you use ear plugs. You can get disposable ones for cheap at a pharmacy

Stimming:

  • Some people can stop overload by moving in certain ways
  • Most people can at least mitigate it a little
  • Rocking back and forth can help a lot (and it’s not that weird in a lot of Jewish settings, particularly if there are a lot of religious people present.)
  • If you have stim toys that usually work for you, it might be a good idea to bring them
  • If you’re worried about stigma, it might work better to use different things
  • (That said, if a room is crowded and noisy and overloading, it’s very likely that no one is actually looking at you)
  • If you wear rings or bracelets, you can play with them
  • You can also play with the silverware if the seder isn’t extremely formal. You probably won’t be the only one.
  • You can also stim with the haggadah. (by holding it in your hands, flipping the pages, looking through it, or even reading it.)
  • If you have a water bottle with a stem you can chew the stem
  • (You can also eat stuff as a way of getting to chew to reduce overload. If you do that with stuff like celery rather than stuff like chicken it’s less likely to make you uncomfortably full)
  • You might be able to bring seder-themed stim toys to use, particularly if you bring enough to share. (For instance, if you bring out plastic frogs for the ten plagues, probably no one will think twice about you continuing to play with them)

Participating actively also might help to handle overload:

  • Sometimes it can be less overloading to participate in something than to be passively present while something is happening
  • This isn’t true for everyone, but it’s true for a lot of people
  • For instance, if people are singing loud songs and it’s overloading, you might be more physically comfortable if you sing the songs too
  • (This doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for some people)
  • If it’s a big seder and people are going on and on and you’re overloaded, ignoring what’s going on and reading the haggadah might work. (In that setting, you’re probably not going to be the only one doing that.)
  • Asking questions and arguing might be less overloading than being in the room while other people are doing that

Talking to people might also be an option:

tl;dr Passover seders can be really overloading. Scroll up for some ideas about how to deal with that.

Tip for stimming - dollar stores usually sell packages of small rubber frogs. My aunt used to scatter them on the table when we arrived for the Seder, and everyone would play with them throughout the evening - kids and adults alike!

Another tip for integrating stimming into the Seder is plague bags. I’ve been doing these for the past two years with my Hebrew school students, and are a great way to get kids involved in the Seder while sneaking in some stimming material for yourself. In this year’s plague bag, I used sunglasses to be darkness, which might help with bright lights, and squares of bubble wrap to represent boils (who can resist popping bubble wrap?). Last year’s bag had little flea and grasshopper finger puppets, which also make for good stimming. And both bags have said rubber frogs, and one has spiders made of the same material.

on stimming in class

thatwriterchickyouknow:

autisticprivilege:



realsocialskills:

alwaysatrombonist said to realsocialskills:

Do you know of any quiet or discrete fidget/stim toys? I find that I need to fidget in my school discussion group to keep from getting super anxious, but if I play with a hairband under the table or doodle then people notice. Most of the fidget toys I find online are colourful, which I don’t want because people will see. I will try a stress ball, but I think that my fingers need to be doing things. Thank you :)

realsocialskills said:

A couple of thoughts:

There probably aren’t many ways to stim that are completely undetectable. Some things I can think of that might be harder to detect than some others:

  • Rocking back and forth subtly
  • Chewing gum
  • Using typing as a stim (eg: typing out scripts or words you like over and over)
  • Using a spinner ring or a gear ring if you’re in a context in which wearing rings is socially acceptable

Also, knitting and crocheting are not discreet at all, but they are often socially accepted in classes or group conversations. Depending on your particular group, that might be an option.

Another thought: maybe it’s ok if people notice:

  • Stimming isn’t necessarily as dangerous as it feels
  • Sometimes it’s okay to stim openly. Sometimes nothing awful happens
  • And sometimes people react badly, but in ways that are easier to put up with than the stress of suppressing stims
  • Stimming openly and conspicuously is not the right choice for everyone
  • But it’s probably the right choice for more people than realize it
  • So it might be worth reconsidering whether hiding your stims is the right choice
  • Or it might not be. You’re the best judge of this, and you have no obligation to stim visibly. 

Does anyone else want to weigh in? What are some ways you stim discreetly? What are some considerations about when to stim discreetly and when to stim openly?

autisticprivilege said:
bookoftextures is good

thatwriterchickyouknow said:

I personally find a stylus makes a pretty discreet stim toy. I spin one around in my fingers CONSTANTLY when I tutor or am in meetings so I can concentrate. Pens and pencils you can’t click also work if you want to stay quiet and discreet.

Also, any sort of putty or clay is great, since it’s silent and can be pretty discreetly played with in one hand. You may want to make sure you keep it in a plastic bag or something though so it doesn’t dry out!

Remembering that disabled people have perspectives

xmaymaychan33x said, in response to the post about noticing when repetition is communication:

Yes good. But also, sometimes when people with autism begin repeating phrases, it can just be a calming thing for them. They may like the way the words sound or they may like hearing your answer, and that makes them feel good and you should never ever judge someone for doing something that makes them happy.

(Also a little side note that I picked up from my special education class: it’s not very nice to refer to persons with disabilities as person, and better to say “person with _” because the first way emphasizes the disability while the second emphasizes that you are speaking about a person. An actual person who is no less valid than anyone else.)

realsocialskills said:

I’m autistic. I wrote that post a couple of years ago. I’d just realized that I’d been routinely disregarding another autistic person’s attempts to communicate with me. As soon as I noticed that I was ignoring her, I started listening. And I was kind of kicking myself for not figuring it out sooner, because I’ve been on both sides of that kind of conversation.

There is a strong cultural assumption that anything repetitive an autistic person does is either meaningless or sensory-seeking. I thought I was above making that kind of mistake. I wasn’t. I’m not. I don’t think anyone is. I think we all need to be reminded to take the possibility of communication seriously, every time.

I think that it’s connected to ways in which disabled people are often not included in conversations about disability. The assumption behind that is that we have nothing to say worth hearing, and that other people should speak for us.

Whenever that post gets popular again, special educators and special education students correct me and say that I shouldn’t call “them” autistic, I should call “them” people with autism. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that I might be autistic myself, and that what I’m saying might be an autistic perspective on autism.

I think that disability is an important enough part of who I am to be worthy of an adjective. I don’t need to distance myself from autism to know that I’m a person. Here’s a post from a physically disabled disability expert who also feels that way.

Preferring “autistic” to “person with autism” is a really, really common preference among autistic adults. Partly, this is because person first language is associated with horrible organizations like Autism Speaks. Here’s a post about some of the history and politics of autism language preferences.

There is a long history of disability rights advocacy on the part of disabled adults. Special educators should know about these things. They largely don’t. It should be taught in special education training programs and degrees. It largely isn’t. Special educators who understand the importance of adult disability perspectives largely have to seek them out on their own. One good book to start with is Too Late To Die Young by Harriet McBryde Johnson.

From an autism-specific perspective, The History of ANI, Help, I seem to be getting more autistic, Navigating College and Inertia: From Theory to Praxis are good things to read. And the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, AutCom, and Autism Women’s Network are good organizations to know about.

It’s important to seek out perspectives of adults similar to your students. It’s also important to listen to your students themselves.

Getting back more directly to your reply to my post:

It’s definitely the case that autistic people repeat stuff for a number of reasons. Some autistic people sometimes repeat things for calming, or for sensory pleasure, or for aesthetic reasons. Those are all real things, and they’re all worthwhile things that need to be respected.

The problem is that people routinely interpret autistic communication as sensory seeking or similar. Then they completely ignore what the autistic person is actually saying. This is often taken to extreme lengths. There are a lot of autistic people in the world who are assumed to have no communication, and who are never listened to about anything, ever.

Far too many people who should know better, including professionals, treat autistics as though they have nothing to say worth hearing, and ignore all of their attempt to communicate. Sometimes this is expressed in negative, stigmatizing terms. For instance, a behaviorist might create a behavior program to stop someone from repeating the echolalic phrases they use to communicate. Sometimes it’s expressed in positive, embracing terms. For instance, a Floortime-DIR practitioner might interpret their repetitive communication as an unmet sensory need and put them on a swing in a sensory gym. The stigmatizing approach is more obviously brutal, but the net effect is the same.

Having your communication ignored in a room full of toys by people who think they’re respecting you is still being silenced. And it’s very, very important to keep that in mind. Because it does the same damage regardless of your intent. None of us are above making that mistake, and people who are ignored get hurt even if you didn’t understand that you were ignoring them.

I think that it’s always important to consider the questions:

  • “Are they trying to tell me something?”, and:
  • “Do they know I’m listening?”
  • “How can I verify that I understand what is being communicated?”

It’s also important to consider what would support their communication more effectively:

And above all, it’s important to remember that the person you’re interacting with is thinking, and that their thoughts matter. Whether or not you can tell what they’re thinking, their thoughts exist and you can’t speak for them. Their perspective will not always match yours, or their therapist’s, or their parents’, or what you were told in education classes.

Reading the work of adult autistics and other disabled adults who have a variety of perspectives might make it easier to keep this in mind. It might also help you to make better guesses.

It’s also important to remember that listening to us is not a substitute for listening to your students. They have a perspective of their own, and no one can speak for them. It is absolutely vital to find effective ways of listening to them.

tl;dr A lot of autistic communication gets disregarded as stimming. A lot of autistic people whose communication is atypical get ignored all the time, about everything. It’s important to remember that autistic people have perspectives, and to find ways to listen to them.

Stimming to get back control over your body

Some autistic people (and some others) have trouble with voluntary control over their bodies. This can involve having trouble initiating movement, or having a lot of uncontrolled movement, or a combination of both.

This often gets called stimming, but it’s different from some of the other concepts stimming is used to mean. It’s not the same as flapping your hands because you’re excited, or rocking back and forth, or squeezing a stress ball because it feels nice or helps with focus.

This is one thing it can look like:

  • Wanting to read a book
  • Having developed the motor skills necessary to hold books and turn pages
  • Not currently being able to read the book because, right now, your arms won’t stop thrashing around and it’s hard to make contact with the book and when you do, your fingers won’t go where you want them and turn the pages
  • And maybe you end up throwing the book if you keep trying really hard to read it

For some people who get out of control like that, doing any sort of purposeful motion can help to regain control faster.

Some examples:

  • wadding up paper into a ball
  • drawing circles
  • typing scripted phrases or random nonsense
  • lining up objects
  • repeating a word over and over
  • or any number of other things
  • doing something familiar and purposeful can often help a lot

This isn’t universal among autistic people, and it’s not universal among people with movement disorders. It’s something that some people experience.

On stimming in class

alwaysatrombonist said to realsocialskills:

Do you know of any quiet or discrete fidget/stim toys? I find that I need to fidget in my school discussion group to keep from getting super anxious, but if I play with a hairband under the table or doodle then people notice. Most of the fidget toys I find online are colourful, which I don’t want because people will see. I will try a stress ball, but I think that my fingers need to be doing things. Thank you :)

realsocialskills said:

A couple of thoughts:

There probably aren’t many ways to stim that are completely undetectable. Some things I can think of that might be harder to detect than some others:

  • Rocking back and forth subtly
  • Chewing gum
  • Using typing as a stim (eg: typing out scripts or words you like over and over)
  • Using a spinner ring or a gear ring if you’re in a context in which wearing rings is socially acceptable

Also, knitting and crocheting are not discreet at all, but they are often socially accepted in classes or group conversations. Depending on your particular group, that might be an option.

Another thought: maybe it’s ok if people notice:

  • Stimming isn’t necessarily as dangerous as it feels
  • Sometimes it’s okay to stim openly. Sometimes nothing awful happens
  • And sometimes people react badly, but in ways that are easier to put up with than the stress of suppressing stims
  • Stimming openly and conspicuously is not the right choice for everyone
  • But it’s probably the right choice for more people than realize it
  • So it might be worth reconsidering whether hiding your stims is the right choice
  • Or it might not be. You’re the best judge of this, and you have no obligation to stim visibly. 

Does anyone else want to weigh in? What are some ways you stim discreetly? What are some considerations about when to stim discreetly and when to stim openly?

chibifukurou:

on stimming in class

bessibel:

realsocialskills:

realsocialskills:

Do you know of any quiet or discrete fidget/stim toys? I find that I need to fidget in my school discussion group to keep from getting super anxious, but if I play with a hairband under the table or…

chibifukurou said:

I’m going to second the doodling thing. It’s not the most effective fidget I use, but it is pretty much accepted as par for the course since a lot of people do it.

If you are allowed to keep personalized things with you in the classroom it sometimes helps to pick a theme. For instance one of my coworkers is a hello kitty fan. So nobody is going to think twice if they see her playing with a Hello Kitty koosh ball or fuzzy pen topper.

It doesn’t read as unusual to people because the read it as hobby related like knitting or drawing.

The other thing is ‘cool factor’. IE if what you are playing with looks cool people think 'I want to play’. Kinetic sand and perpetual motion/magnetic toys are good for making everybody want to play with them. So nobody will think it is odd for you to play with them.

Stimming is not just a coping mechanism

I see this defense of stimming a lot:

  • It’s wrong to train autistic people not to stim
  • They use it to compensate for overload
  • Or to focus
  • Or to compensate for other problems
  • Or to express distress

All of this is true. But it also misses the point. Stimming isn’t just a coping mechanism. It’s much more than that. Stimming is a positive part of autistic experience, not an unfortunate-but-functionally-important thing we have to do.

Imagine if facial expressions and tones of voice were considered wrong, and someone defended them this way:

  • It is wrong to teach children to adopt a flat affect
  • Children need to be able to frown
  • Children need to be able to indicate through the tone of their voice that something is wrong
  • Children need to be able to cry. That’s a way of coping with pain and overload

All of those things are true. But if that’s all defenders of tone and facial expression said, it would be horribly misleading. Body language and tones are more than that, and they are good.

Stimming is like that too.

  • Stimming is not just necessary. It is also natural, and good
  • Flapping in response to a nice texture is not fundamentally different from smiling in response to the smell of a flower
  • Rocking in response to someone saying something offensive is not fundamentally different from frowning in response to a slur
  • It is ok for autistic people to have autistic body language

i know it’s not exactly your thing but i don’t know where else to ask: do you know any good stim toy recommendation/review blogs? particularly discreet/adult-friendly stim toys…
realsocialskills said:
I don’t know of any active stim toy review blogs for adults.
Sensory Squids is a blog that used to do that, though, and they have a lot of good reviews from when they were active. 
Fuck Yeah, Stimming! isn’t a review blog, but it might be helpful anyway. They do talk about specific products sometimes, and they also talk about a lot of difference stims, some of which are discreet.
Do any of y'all know of good stim toy review sites?

When parents ask invasive questions

Hi. My parents are always asking me why I do things like rock back and forth or become unable to talk. When I say “I don’t know” they press me until I throw wordsoup at them. If I answer “I was overloaded” or whatever “Why were you overloaded?” “The lights.” “Why did the lights bug you today and not yesterday?” “I didn’t sleep well.” “Why didn’t you sleep well?” They go farther and farther until I say I don’t know, then press me until I make up reasons. I hate it. Help?
realsocialskills said:
That’s hard. There are no universal strategies that work for everyone in this case, and you might not be able to get them to stop, particularly if you are still living with them. That said, here are some possibilities:
Depending on your relationship with them, it might help to talk to them about it when you’re all calm. If they care about how you feel, it might help to tell them that it’s hurting you, possibly along the lines of:
  • Mom, when I am rocking back and forth or unable to speak, the last thing I want to do is talk about it. It really hurts my feelings when you press me for answers. There’s always a reason, but I don’t always know it, and it’s not something I want to talk about when I’m in that state of mind. When I’m rocking or unable to speak, I’d prefer that you leave me be.
  • or:
  • Dad, I get the sense that when I rock or can’t speak, it makes you very worried and you want to find out exactly what’s going on. I know you mean well, but that doesn’t help. Rocking and losing speech sometimes is actually fairly normal for autistic people, and it hurts my feelings when you act like it’s a problem to be solved. When I rock or can’t talk, that’s ok, and I’d prefer that you let me be and stop trying to investigate.
  • This only works if your parents care about your feelings and are likely to believe you. I don’t know you or your family, so I can’t tell you whether or not you have that kind of relationship.

Also depending on your relationship with them, you might be able to unilaterally refuse to talk about these things. This depends on how much power you have and how they are likely to react, but it’s a possibility worth considering:

  • If you refuse explicitly and say “I do not want to talk about that”, they will probably get angry
  • But it’s hard for them to argue with, particularly if you adopt a broken record approach and don’t answer questions like “why not?”, or answer them in closed ways like “That’s private.”
  • Whether this is a good idea depends on what your parents are likely to do if they get angry, and whether you consider that consequence bearable.
  • If all they’re likely to do is get angry or yell at you, it’s probably in your interest to develop a tolerance for yelling and anger
  • This is a good post by Dave Hingsburger about a man with a developmental disability learning to tolerate parental anger

Another possible broken-record approach:

  • When they’re asking, it might help to say “because I’m autistic”, and “because that’s what autistic people do” in response to all of their questions
  • Or something lighter like shrugging and saying “My brain works in mysterious ways”, if you can pull off a light tone with that.
  • This might work better than outright refusing or saying “I don’t know”, since it’s an answer, but it doesn’t get into details

Another possibility: infodump and bore them:

  • If they want to ask you about rocking or losing speech, you might try telling them every single thing you can think of about rocking and losing speech, in as verbose a manner as you can manage
  • And answer every followup question with another longwinded monologue
  • Infodumping can be a superpower of self defense. As Laura Hershey put it about wheelchair users blocking inaccessible doors, such power should not be wasted
  • If you’re infodumping and answering the question you want to answer rather than the one they want you to answer, that gives you power

Another possibility: lie

  • It might help to make up something that sounds plausible and just answer that every time they ask
  • Lying can be easier than trying to tell the truth
  • Particularly if you practice the lie and refine it to become an answer they find satisfying
  • “Why were you rocking?” “Because I was overloaded.” “Why?” “Because of the lights.” “Why did the lights bother you today and not yesterday?” “Today the lights were different. I think the bulbs are burning out.”
  • It is ok to lie when people are harassing you about things that are none of their business, even if they love you, even if they are your parents

Another possibility: Aggressively change the subject when they ask questions you don’t want to answer;

  • This is particularly effective if they have things they are particularly interested in
  • Eg “Why were you rocking?” “So, are you looking forward to the big game tonight?”
  • This doesn’t work on everyone, but it can be very effective with some people

Another possibility: Talk about the things they’re objecting to in positive terms:

  • “Why were you rocking?” “Because rocking is awesome!”
  • “Why weren’t you talking?” “Because words are overrated and the space outside of words is beautiful”
  • This can be disarming, in part because it’s rude to argue with people about things they like
  • They might follow up with: “But other people think it looks weird”, which you can answer “That’s their problem.” or “That’s ok.”
  • They might also say “That’s inappropriate”. I don’t know a great rhetorical response to that one, but people who say that are in fact wrong.

Another possibility: Turn the questions back on them:

  • “Why were you rocking?” “Why do you ask?”
  • This can be surprisingly effective with a lot of people, particularly if you can manage to sound curious or therapeutic.
  • Having a snarky/offended tone isn’t quite as effective, but it can sometimes work too, because it implies “that was not an appropriate question”. That tone will get some people to back off; it will cause others to argue

These are some of the strategies I know. Captain Awkward also talks about parents and boundaries a lot. You might want to take a look through her archives. (That said, take her advice about therapy with a grain of salt. What she says is true for a lot of people, but it isn’t necessarily going to be good advice for people with disabilities, particularly teenagers).

Beyond that, in any case, I think it’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t your fault, and that your parents should not be doing this. They may not intend any harm, they may well think they’re helping you, but they’re being mean. The problem is not caused by autism. The problem is caused by them being wrong about how to treat you.

These three posts about dealing with people being mean to you might help: “You’re ok, they’re mean.”, Learning self respect, and When people you love are mean.

I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. It’s an awful situation to be in. I hope that some of this helped.

Tangle Toy Review

autisticadvocacy:

askanautistic:

I recently bought two tangle toys over the internet to trial as stim toys. This is my first experience of using tangle toys so I ordered two types.

Tangle Therapy:

image

This arrived first. The colours are reasonably bright and links are covered in a gel-like outer layer with tactile bumps. I appreciated the texture of the bumps when rubbing my fingers over them and that the covering made it good to squeeze, however I found the whole thing really bulky. Not great if you want something more discreet to stim in public or in lectures (as in my case) or a toy that fits well in a pocket.

Tangle Jr White:

image

Sold as ‘tangle jr’ but theres a small chance is could be a ‘tangle classic’. This toy was much smaller, had less links (but enough) and they were considerable less bulky, probably 50% less. I found that I liked it a whole lot more, much easier and more stimulating to twist and use and much easier to fit in a pocket. Lacks the tactile bumps which is a shame but overall I prefer it. With this colouring (also comes in plain black and a multitude of brighter colours) and it’s size, this tangle is much less conspicuous, however, its hard plastic make-up means it does produce noise unlike the rubbery covering of the tangle therapy.

For Quiet, bulky, squeezable, bumpy/tactile stimming: Tangle Therapy
For more discreet, smaller, twistyier but clicky stimming: Tangle Jr

autisticadvocacy said:

[Images are of two different tangle stim toys as described in the paragraphs below the images. The first is in green pink and light blue in addition to the texture described, and the second is smooth and white in addition to what is in the description.]

Some things you can do alone

Sometimes people don’t want to interact. In those times, it’s important to have stuff you can be ok doing by yourself. This can also be important if you’re waiting for something and stressed about it.

For some people, that can be very difficult.

Here are things that work for some people:

  • Carrying a drawing pad for doodling.
  • Playing iPhone games
  • writing things (stories, blog posts, thoughts about how you’re feeling)
  • Making lists (eg: of your favorite ball players, of all the country songs involving watermelon you can think of, things you’re anxious about, things you might like to eat)
  • reading a book
  • building things with legos or neoballs

What are some other things?

maaoh:

the-real-seebs:

realsocialskills:

Is it wrong for me, as a neurotypical person (AFAIK, there have been hints that I might have something undiagnosed), to use terminology coigned by atypical people? The way f’example stimming and overloading have been explained to me describe things that I do and the reasons behind them really well, but I don’t know if it’s appropriate for me to call them that.
Most people who stim a lot and get overloaded a lot are autistic. Most. Not all. Some people with ADHD also experiencing stimming and overload. So do some neurotypical blind people. So do other folks.
Overload and stimming are words that describe particular experiences, not a particular diagnosis. If you have those experiences, it’s ok to use the words.

Or if you are referring to them in other people who have them. I really don’t want people thinking that they can’t refer to me as overloaded just because they don’t experience overload. Or that they can’t refer to “stimming”. Basically, they’re words. The words exist to refer to things. They aren’t “slurs”. It isn’t “reclamatory usage” which has to be under special restrictions to keep bigots from using the words too.

Note, BTW, that there’s a lot of overlap between “some autistic people…” and ADHD, and “some ADHD people…” and autism, possibly because they have high comorbidity and people don’t always get diagnosed with everything they might possibly have.

I am 90% sure it’s also possible to induce sensory overload on neurotypical people, it’s just NT people have a higher threshold. I don’t remember where I heard it from but I could have sworn there was some scientific experiment where they were testing the senses and ended up overloading the NT people involved and it was a universally awful experience.

My guess (correct me if I’m wrong on this) is that nearly everyone stims to some degree (it’s just called “fidgeting” at low-key levels) and could experience overload at the right conditions. Just with some differently wired brains stimming is more frequent and intense, and the threshold for sensory overload is lower. Which would explain why there are people like me and presumably op who have a number of “autistic traits” but do not fit the ASD diagnosis. 

All of this. 

Is it wrong for me, as a neurotypical person (AFAIK, there have been hints that I might have something undiagnosed), to use terminology coigned by atypical people? The way f'example stimming and overloading have been explained to me describe things that I do and the reasons behind them really well, but I don’t know if it’s appropriate for me to call them that.
realsocialskills answered:
Most people who stim a lot and get overloaded a lot are autistic. Most. Not all. Some people with ADHD also experiencing stimming and overload. So do some neurotypical blind people. So do other folks.
Overload and stimming are words that describe particular experiences, not a particular diagnosis.
If you have those experiences, it’s ok to use the words.

(TW: possible ableism(?)) This may be a bit of a strange question, but I am an older non-neurotypical person who has a hard time being taken seriously or seen as the adult that I am, and it makes me very insecure and upset when I am talked to, by my coworkers, in a patronizing manner or as if I am a child when I have shown myself to be their equal when it comes to the work we do. Would you happen to have any tips, if it’s not too much of a bother?

This might be something readers have more insight about than I do.

It’s also a bit abstract for me, because there are a number of ways that people fail to treat others like adults. I’m not sure which form it is.

From the way you’ve asked your question, it kind of sounds to me like maybe you feel like you have to prove that you deserve to be treated like an adult. I think it helps to realize that this is not actually something you have to prove. People who treat you like a child are doing something wrong.

And it would be wrong even if you weren’t good at your job. Your adulthood should not be on trial here.

Keeping this in mind makes it harder for people to mess with you.

As far as changing what they actually do, here are some thoughts:

  • You probably can’t convince them that they’re doing something wrong, and explaining it to them is unlikely to help
  • Because they’re likely to make it into a conversation about your feelings, and explain to you in patronizing tones why you’re imagining it and being too sensitive.
  • There might be things you can do unilaterally that help. For instance, it’s ok to interrupt them when they’re speaking to you in a patronizing tone
  • For instance, if you ask them where a file is, and they launch into a patronizing explanation of the filing system, it’s ok to say, “Yes, I know that. But I’m not sure which category this particular file goes into because [reason], do you know?”

Also, changing the way you dress might help:

  • If you’re dressing less formally than most people in your field, wearing more formal clothing might be helpful
  • If you are a man, Men’s Warehouse can explain the default rules of professional attire and help you find something to wear that’s considered appropriate to your body type.
  • I’m not sure how to do this if you’re a woman, though. The rules of female attire are really complicated
  • If you’re in a field in which formal attire isn’t expected, changing some things about your clothing still might help
  • For instance, if everyone wears t-shirts, it might help to avoid t-shirts that have pictures of things associated with childhood (eg: Care Bears, pictures of cartoon characters (including things like Adventure Time or My Little Pony that are also popular among some adults).
  • This is not guaranteed to work, and might make matters worse if it means you feel like you’re stuck trying to prove your adulthood
  • In any case, it’s not a moral obligation and not a precondition for being an adult. It’s something that may or may not be advisable in certain contexts, and it’s a personal choice

If you use stim toys, it might help to change the ones you use:

  • Toys that are also used by children are more likely to be perceived as childish
  • Eg: silly putty, beanie babies, legos, beads, marbles
  • Neoballs (little neodium magnet spheres you can build things with) are specifically not for children. The silver, gold, or nickel balls are more likely to be accepted than the brightly colored ones.
  • Tangle Toys can look professional in some contexts
  • This is not guaranteed to work, and might make matters worse if it means you feel like you’re stuck trying to prove your adulthood
  • In any case, it’s not a moral obligation and not a precondition for being an adult. It’s something that may or may not be advisable in certain contexts, and it’s a personal choice

It also might be time to look for another job with people who treat you better. Not all jobs are created equal. Not all working environments have the same culture. There might be other people who would respect you and your professional accomplishments more.

Do any of y'all have further suggestions? (Or think I’m wrong about any of this?)

Stimming for non-autistics?

Anonymous asked realsocialskills:
can non autistics stim too or is that a term/thing reserved for autistics?

realsocialskills said:

Yes, it’s common for other kinds of people too.

It’s not only autistic people who do it. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a nonautistic person moving in ways that are common for autistic people.

It’s just that stimming tends to be really important to autistic people (and folks with some other disabilities), in a way that it usually isn’t for people without disabilities.

And here’s a thing about that:

  • A lot of neurotypical people like to rock or play with toys or whatever
  • Most NT people can sit still in a socially acceptable way without harming themselves
  • In particular, most NT people don’t need to stim in order to understand what’s going on around them, communicate, or prevent themselves from getting really overloaded

It’s important to keep this in mind, and to understand that stimming is really, really important for some people.

If you’re not disabled, and these kinds of motions aren’t particularly important for you, it’s probably better to call them fidgeting.

Anonymous asked realsocialskills:

I have ADHD and I need to rock and twitch my hands to concentrate. Is it appropriate to call it stimming?  

I think that’s perfectly fine. That’s a really common reason autistic people stim, too. There’s a lot of overlap between ADHD traits and autistic traits.

I think that it’s actually good if we use the same words to describe things that are the same or similar. A lot of groups cross-disability have far more in common than we realize, and I think we could all benefit a lot from sharing concepts and coping mechanisms.

That said, calling it stimming might lead to some awkward situations. It’s a term mostly used by autistic folks. Sometimes when you (in my view accurately) refer to it as stimming, that might cause people to think you’re autistic. That’s something you should be prepared for if you want to start using words that are mostly used to describe autism.

horussebooks asked:

what is stimming
Stimming is doing repetitive things that give you sensory input. For instance:
  • Rocking
  • Waving your hands
  • Rolling a marble
  • Playing with a tangle toy
  • Repeating words over and over
  • Ripping paper

Stimming can be really important for autistic people for several reasons. Some are:

  • Stimming can make it easier to think and understand what’s going on
  • Stimming can prevent overload or help to pull someone out of overload
  • Stimming can be expressive body language. 
  • It can happen kind of automatically. For people who automatically stim, refraining from doing so can be a drain on cognitive resources and make it impossible or difficult to do anything else

About rocking

Among other things: Rocking is body language. Rocking is emotions. 

There is a slow happy!rock. And an anxiety!rock. And anger. And affection. And any number of others. And they are not the same.

And it is possible to look and understand. It is possible to learn how to read rocking, to know what it’s showing.

This is body language. Meaning shown on a body.

They tell us that we do not have body language, that we have a flat affect. And then they try to make this true; they try to flatten us and stop us from moving and showing emotional body language.

But we aren’t flat. We have body language. And rocking is part of it. (And any number of other movements. Not just rocking. But rocking is on my mind.)

I can’t tell you how to read it. Not much. Not yet. I’m trying to figure out some of the words for that. It is hard to describe body language in words, even body language that is socially valued enough that a lot of people have tried. All the more so this.

What I can tell you is that autistic movement is meaningful. Not mysterious. Not ethereal. Not in-another-world. Meaningful, present, and possible to understand.

(Not simple. Communication between people is never simple, and never formulaic. Meaningful. Complicated.)

Keep that in mind. The first step to understanding is knowing that there is something to understand.

forgottenstardust:

realsocialskills:

musingsofspring:

Pervocracy’s Personal Tumblr: Meeting sensory needs without violating boundaries

realsocialskills:

Sometimes people feel a strong need for a certain kind of sensory input, and then use other people’s bodies to meet that need even over their objections.

It’s not ok to do that. Not for sex, not for comfort, not for any other reason. People’s bodies are their own.

But…

Fidget toys are awesome, but I’ve never really found that stuffed toys can replicate the feeling of another person. Respecting boundaries is something I need to work on more though.

Yes; not all of these things work for everyone. (And, in any case, whether these things work or not, it’s important to respect boundaries).

That said, Squishables are different from other stuffed animals, and they’re dramatically better for hugging than any other type I’ve seen. So it might still be worth a try.

There are also hug chairs:


image

Where does that one come from? The closest thing I see is at http://autismfurniture.com/, which is a bit different.