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To Sam

Family not understanding new stim

To the wonderful Sam, I am 12. I have aspergers. I have never really stimmed before. Stimming is something an autistic person does of there is too mich sensory input and it helps calm them down. Such as hand flapping ect. I have never stimmed before but recently i've been like making weird movements with my hands. Half shaking but like ill make a fist and its confusing but it helps. Its fine at school because i mainly do it in PE and my PE teacher is rlly nice. But my sister has been asking me about it all the time. I did it once and she said "what was that you did this" and then she copied me. I cant help it yet i cant explain it because ill be accused of "acting autistic" my mum is more understanding and hasnt said anything but then again she might not have noticed. Please help, how to i stop my stims? :((((((((( ​ From, a fellow human being 😔

Ask Sam


Hi there,

Sometimes people who have autistic spectrum disorders like Asperger's might do something called "stimming". A stim is some kind of movement or action that's done repeatedly, sometimes in response to being over stimulated, anxious or scared. Not every autistic person has a stim and they may change from time to time, but it's not something that's wrong or even something that can be easy to control.

​One reason some people with autism stim is to reduce stress when they’re feeling anxious. Some do it because they enjoy doing it and it makes them feel better. Whatever the reason for your stims, it's okay for you to do them.

Some people's reactions to you having a stim might be to try and get you to stop doing it, but that's not always the right thing to do. If your stimming is hurting you (for example if you bang your head) then this might be a reason to try and control or change your stim - or if it makes you feel upset or distressed. But if stimming helps you to cope with anxiety and makes you feel better then there is no reason to stop doing it.

It's difficult for other people to understand what's happening and why you stim. It might be that you need to explain it in your own words but if you can't then perhaps you could show your mum the page about stims on the National Autistic Society's website. This way you don't have to explain and she can get some understanding about what they are  and she can then explain that to your sister.

In the meantime if you feel stressed or want to talk about how your stims make you feel you're welcome to talk to one of our counsellors - you can also find other young people with autism on our message boards and share with them what it's like.

I hope this has helped, thanks for your letter.

Take care.


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