Monday, October 10, 2016

Tics, Stimming and Autism

Welcome to AuSumness.

Like many of our other entries, I've gathered a wealth of helpful information and rounded it all up into one easy to read and hopefully, helpful blog.  It is rare to find useful information that we can apply to our daily struggles with Autism and that's why we started this blog.

Today, we're looking at tics and stimming.  We'll learn the difference between the two, why they occur and give a few solutions as well as put your mind at ease.  Yes!  I really think we can do that, too.

Stimming is a self stimulatory behaviour.  Some examples of stimming are flapping of the hands and or arms, rocking back and forth, spinning and using words repetitiously.

Tics are semi-voluntary.  They are a voluntary response to an involuntary sensation.  More than 20% of those diagnosed with Autism have motor and vocal tics.  These are not the same as compulsions, habits or stereotypics.  A tic disorder is typically genetic and neurodevelopmental.  They are often tied more to males than females.  It could be linked to a chemical imbalance in the brain and from what we have observed, it certainly is tied to anxiety and overstimulation as is stimming.

We deal with both stimming and tics periodically with our two Autistic children.  My youngest is a flapper, clapper and a jumper.  While my oldest has tics.  He plays repeatedly with his hair, flairs his nostrils, repeatedly smells his fingers, shrugs his shoulders and moves his head from chest to back.  Sometimes he does all of these at one time and to the point of physical exhaustion. Both stimming and tics in our case stems from anxiety, overstimulation and stress.  It often comes in phases.  We've learned how to deal with both, so we don't get stressed when tics and stimming come into play.

In the article I was reading the information given from Dr. Zimmer,  it was explained simply as, URGE-TIC-RELIEF and was recommended to wax and wane, which totally worked for us.  In most cases people do not even realise they are doing these things.  Our child was oblivious to the fact, until we kept pointing it out. 

Knowing that stimming and tics is a form of release from mental stress, we often let it go, unsaid, but just how far should you let it go?  When it becomes uncontrollable, excessive or painful, inappropriate or socially unacceptable, the behaviour needs to stop.

Some tips to stop or prevent tics and stimming:

fiddle toys (see another blog entry about these)
subtle reminders
physical assistance
joining in
stress relief
exercise and meditation

Fiddle toys work great in class.  If tests stress your kids or students, fiddle toys are quiet and won't disturb others.  Fiddle toys are a physical way to help relieve metal stress and anxiety.  They often can help with focus as well.

Our subtle reminders to our oldest about his repetitive tics was often enough to make him stop. Of course, we had to also observe when he was doing this and diagnose the problem.  During school, endlessly and right when he got home is when the tics were at their worst.  (A new school, changed all that.  We have not seen tics in months.  Yay!)  It was obvious, that school was giving him stress and anxiety.

My youngest's stimming doesn't bother us at all.  However, when in public it may attract quite some unfavourable attention.  We could care less for the most part.  (See our previous entry on humility and how it can change everything.)  There are occasions when stimming is not appropriate and then we simply place a hand on his shoulder or drawn him in to sit on our lap or give a hug and it typically stops.

Often, we join in on stimming because it draws the action to the behaviour making our son aware that he's doing it, without having to say anything and then he stops without further thought.  He often enjoys this as well.  Have you ever flapped and jumped or sometimes screamed along with your children?  It feels great and really is a form of release.  Unless it is excessive, inappropriate, physically harmful, dangerous or socially unacceptable, I'd let them have at it.  Hehehe...

Find out why this behaviour is occurring and take action.

Consider exercise and meditation as another means to help alleviate anxiety and stress.

We're not medical professionals.  Take all of this with a grain of salt. Our mission is to help and inform.  Use what information you can and the best of luck.

Thanks so much for checking us out.

(I did find some helpful information at

1 comment:

  1. This a well rounded and helpful post, thank you!
    I will check out those links.