From the time the boy who loves balloons was a baby , he loved to spin things . He would even try to spin things that wouldn’t spin. He would do this by continuously tapping on the thing until he could make it spin . This became particularly frustrating when he was going through his obsession with bendy buses . For some reason he would attempt to spin the bendy section in the middle of the bus by continuously tapping on it .
This wasn’t really a problem until we went out anywhere . As parents of ASD kids ,we often find , it’s the judgements of other people that can be the most challenging. Sitting in Costa or walking around the supermarket with my son loudly tapping his bus had become a normality for me. It was our normal. It was my ‘white noise’. My ears had become accustomed to it. But to onlookers this behaviour must have appeared quite strange . I can only see that now as at the time I was oblivious to it actually .
When he was a baby he was happy to sit for hours either spinning the wheel on his toy steering wheel , spinning the wheels on cars or sitting and watching the washing machine go round . We still have that toy steering wheel as it is of great sentimental value to me , well apart from the time I had nodded off briefly on the sofa and he decided to crack me across the head with it . I’m not too sure what prompted him to do this , maybe I’ll ask him. It bloody hurt I know that. Hang on…
Me: “Darling? ”
My Son: “Huh, sorry? Hey back off man, this is Dave Seville.”(He’s watching chipmunks, for the 4th time today, and mimicking the dialogue)
Me: “Do you remember that toy you had as a baby that spun around , the car steering wheel ?”
My Son: “Yes, was I in your belly? ”
Me: “No it was after you were born”
My Son: “Yes , I was little then, I’m big now”
Me: “Yes , can you remember why you hit me with that toy? ”
My Son: “What like this? ” (Hits my legs) ,” because I was little. I’m big now so I’ll protect you. Look mummy, Dave’s just farted”.
There is the reason.
Whenever we were out somewhere and he saw anything spin round , he would flap his hands frantically in excitement . It was actually quite adorable . I’m glad my hands don’t flap when I’m excited. Although I did meet Jude Law one day at work at the airport and my voice decided to go several decibels higher and actually I do remember flapping my arms around , and my bum seemed to adopt a funny little wiggle come to mention it , as I tried to tell everyone that Jude Law was in the building . Sorry .. the holiday is one of my all time favourites . I think I was hoping I could be his holiday romance . Even if it was just for the ten minutes he had while passing through the airport . Well you have to grab it while you can . Only kidding. I’m way out of his league.
Anyway back to stimming . As I look back over the years I realise that the stimming has presented in various forms, whether it be visual or vocal, there has always been some form of stimming. In his book “The reason I jump” Naoki Higashida, a young boy on the spectrum, describes the reason for his jumping and arm flapping as a way to ground himself in times of anxiety and bring him back to the moment. So the flapping or any stimming of any form is often used as a way of self soothing in times of stress or high emotion. The world around can be a confusing and unpredictable place for an autistic person and stimming provides a level of comfort. Not only that ,some autistic people, such as my son, are sensory seekers and the feeling that comes with stimming, could also be a sensory stimulation. Stimming is not limited to physical movement however, it can also be vocal.
My son went through a phase of kind of groaning while listening to something on his tablet or listening to a story I was reading . He would sit and just keep making a funny noise over and over again while concentrating on something. I tried to explain it to people but I just sounded like I was making orgasm noises and got funny looks , so I gave up.
One thing that makes my son flap his hands , is water. He loves the water. Nearly as much as he loves balloons. When he sees it , he flaps so much. Its the cutest thing. I love to see him so happy. When he sees water his clothes are off and he’s in. Even if the weather is cold , he will still jump in. Mind you , he likes to take his clothes generally. He went through another phase of getting naked and weeing in the front garden , when he needed. Can you imagine if I did that? Oh and then there’s the Poo song ! I have to sometimes sing, but I’ll save that for another post.