Minion Monday – Embrace the Bananas, I mean Stim!
One of the first signs my son showed of autism was his need to line things up.
I would leave him to play and find lines of everything, chairs, toys, he even lined up french fries!
Something was always lined up.
At first it was curious, why would he do this?
After a while it was frustrating.
I was constantly putting things back where they belonged.
He would line things up.
I would put them back.
Rinse and repeat.
All. Day. Long.
Then one day I realized he was calmer when I let him keep the lines.
He was more relaxed, and had less meltdowns.
I eventually realized what he was calming himself.
He was turning his small part of the world into something he could control.
Making some order in his life when the whole world was filled with chaos.
The lines helped.
I, like most moms, didn’t understand at first.
I wanted him to stop this strange behavior.
To be “normal”.
The harder I fought the more stressed we both got.
I know now he was normal all along.
I realize now normal isn’t something that can be defined but the mass population.
Normal is relative (and no I don’t mean how your relatives act ;P )
He just has his own version of normal.
After I learned more about autism I realized lines were one of his stims.
Stimming is a self-stimulating behavior usually in the form of a repetitious action, noise or words.
It is one of the many common things in autism.
It is also, often one of the easiest signs to see.
Unless a stim is causing pain or harm, it is not only okay to let them stim, it is a darn good idea.
These stims let autistic people calm down, think of it as an autistic form of meditation.
So when I stopped messing up his lines and started looking for what was causing him stress, the lines slowly became less and less frequent.
Now he makes them maybe once a week.
Lines are not his only stims, sometimes he hums, sometimes he piles blankets on himself, sometimes he just needs to be held.
Sometimes it’s repeating a word, phrase, or even an entire video.
Each stim has a reason, even if I don’t always get it.
Every time a new stim pops up, I watch and learn.
For example, for a while we were spending way too much time in the car, between therapy and doctors appointments, time with friends and family, shopping.
He started to draw roads, dividers, signs and all.
Even on the walls.
I hid the markers and crayons.
He found the chalk.
Just so you know, chalk does not wash off the walls, especially on very old wallpaper.
We drove less and the roads went away.
I now realize not all his stims are caused by stress, sometimes they are simply to entertain himself.
He loves hum the same songs over and over; usually from videos he loves; while he plays games or builds things.
I have learned to embrace the stim. They have become a form of communication between us that allows me into his world.
It is beautiful by the way, simply beautiful.