What is stimming?

Understanding stimming in Autism: A path to engagement and support

Rose Mabiza • 5 mins read

08 May 2024

What is stimming in London? - Rose Mabiza - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

Stimming, or self-stimulatory behaviour, is a term that frequently surfaces in discussions about autism. It refers to repetitive movements or noises that individuals might use to regulate sensory input and emotions. Despite its prevalence among autistic individuals, stimming is often misunderstood. In this blog, Rose aims to demystify stimming, highlighting its importance in the autistic community and suggesting how it can be a gateway to better engagement in educational settings. Additionally, we will point you towards organisations that provide invaluable support and resources, including The Mandatory Training Group, a leading UK provider of Autism-related educational content.

Unlocking understanding: Exploring autism and neurodiversity in Greater Manchester - Rose Mabiza - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

Understanding stimming

Stimming encompasses a range of behaviours like hand-flapping, rocking, spinning, or the repetition of sounds and words. While often associated with autism, stimming is not exclusive to autistic individuals; many people might engage in mild stimming activities like tapping pencils or bouncing knees under stress.

Navigating stimming A guide to sensory regulation in autism in Birmingham - Rose Mabiza - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

Why is stimming important?

  • Sensory and emotional regulation - For autistic individuals, stimming helps manage sensory overload and intense emotions, providing a necessary means of self-regulation and comfort.
  • Enhancing focus - Repetitive behaviours can aid concentration, especially in learning environments where focus is required over extended periods.
  • Expression and communication - Stimming can also serve as a form of non-verbal communication, offering insights into an individual's feelings and needs.
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Stimming in educational settings

In educational contexts, understanding and accommodating stimming behaviours can significantly enhance learning experiences for autistic students. Recognising when a student is stimming to concentrate or self-soothe allows educators to provide a supportive environment that respects the student’s needs and harnesses their potential.

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How can we support stimming?

  • Creating inclusive environments - Schools and educational institutions can adopt sensory-friendly zones or allow for breaks where students can engage in stimming without disruption or judgement.
  • Educational adaptations - Tailoring learning methods and assessments to accommodate the unique needs of autistic students can lead to more meaningful engagement and success.
  • Fostering understanding among peers - Educating non-autistic peers about stimming reduces stigma and builds a more inclusive community.
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Understanding stimming is crucial for supporting the autistic community effectively. Recognising the value and functions of stimming not only enhances the quality of life for autistic individuals but also enriches our community with deeper empathy and comprehension. We encourage educators, parents, and community members to learn more about stimming and autism from the organisations listed above. Let's take steps towards creating environments where everyone can thrive.

Learn more about how you can contribute to autism awareness and understanding.

Stimming in focus Exploring repetitive behaviours in autism in Coventry - Rose Mabiza - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

About the author

Rose Mabiza

Rose has dedicated over 15 years to improving health and social care quality through practice, targeted education and training. Her extensive experience includes working with older adults, individuals with mental health conditions, and people with autism and learning disabilities.

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