You β€œStim” me right round , baby, right round !

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.

multicolored ferris wheel
Photo by Tiago Lino on Pexels.com

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.

🎈🎈

Rituals and rigid behaviour.

This is perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of my sons condition, for me. The need to perform certain rituals before a number of tasks are carried out. This could be a consequence of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder which sometimes goes hand in hand with autism. Autism Spectrum Disorder is an umbrella term used to encompass a wide range of conditions with various symptoms. One symptom is OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). This condition alone presents many challenges for the individual. Some may be aware of their condition and others may not, however I think its important for us as neuro typical people to understand that this need for rituals is very real for the individual, and they simply must perform them in order to self soothe and cope.

The rituals my son performs have tended to remain the same for quite some time now. Every night before he goes to sleep I read him a book that he has chosen. We love reading together but he has now decided that he must sniff each page before I turn to the next one. This is probably not much of an issue in itself except he keeps head butting my finger nails and now has a scratch mark on his cheek as a result. I understand him, the pages of books do smell lovely!

Before he goes to sleep he will ask me the same questions and I have to answer them, before he will sleep. Sometimes I only need to say the answers in succession and this is enough for him. The questions are usually will he see me and his dad in his dream, am I going to cuddle and kiss him and will that be today. Once I have answered yes to these questions he will settle to sleep, after telling me he loves me numerous times. Its actually quite beautiful.

When he has finished brushing his teeth, I have to smell his breath three times and tell him its beautiful and then he is happy. I also understand this as we all like to know we have acceptable smelling breath before we leave the house , right ? When travelling by car he tells me when his seat belt is fastened and I must say well done and look at him when I say it, and at the moment, we must play the same song in the car when we travel, currently a song by Adele. He is actually very musical and knows a lot of lyrics to a lot of songs. His memory is amazing and I remember when he was very young, he would struggle to ask for anything he wanted however he knew every single word to “zoom, zoom , zoom, we’re going to the moon”.

” Reality to an autistic person is a confusing, interacting mass of events, people, places, sounds and sights…set routines, times, particular routes and rituals all help to get order into an unbearably chaotic life. Trying to keep everything the same reduces some of the terrible fear”