There are 2 kinds of stimming. Physical stimming and verbal stimming. Both are best explained by Amythest Schaber from the “ask an autistic”- series.
Both are awesome videos that explain a lot of stims and that helped me realize that I did it too. My stims are even masked, which is why I myself didn’t even notice them at first.
I have the tapping leg stim, which I had most of my life. I can’t sit still! (it’s fun to be ADHD!), I also have vocal stims, especially when I’m gaming. I do voices, I try to beatbox (I try. I can’t, but I try.) I can do the sound-effects from old Kung Fu movies, which I often do (especially when I am playing a fighting game).
The stim I didn’t notice at first, is mine with a deck of cards. I am a magician, so me having a deck of cards in my hands, is not unusual. I noticed this when I was in the psychiatric ward for my suicide attempt. I noticed on days that I had a relapse of suicidal thoughts, I needed my deck in my hands. I couldn’t walk around without that deck (I mostly do one-handed-cuts, do some repetitive sleights or shuffle it in different manners, some even one-handed).
it brought me a kind of focus. The same with fidget spinners. Mine broke (I dropped it to much), but it gave me something to focus on. It helps me to feel focused.
When I had my 2 days of bowel attacks in 2008, I had anxiety attacks when I left the house (still do… some days are worse than others. I have a form of agoraphobia). I couldn’t leave the house and had to relearn to take the bus without having anxiety attacks. I developed my own system, which I am going to write down here, because it might help other people.
First trips, I put in an ipod and took a book (so I couldn’t see or hear where I was) I developed a habit of stopping to read and looking around, so I could guestimate where I was, so I could calculate in my head how look it would take. The ipod and book gave me enough distraction so I couldn’t hear where I was and could only focus on staying in that moment. The music was more a distraction than really for listening. The book was to keep my mind occupied (I have adhd so this is a big task). I still have a habit of taking my phone or tablet with me, with my complete Kindle library.
Later trips, when I felt more confident, I only used the book. On even later trips, I could put the book down and “enjoy” the trip on the bus. I also noticed, that when I had a bowel attack on the bus (which does happen) I could calculate (because I have a visual memory and can visualize the whole trip), that if I can hold it for long enough that I will always find a stop where I can go to the toilet. These points became my focus points and my deliberate points where I would stay longer in case of doubt.
Usually when I went out, it was all or nothing. When I doubted at the first stop, I wouldn’t go any further. But in later trips I decided to take the bus and if my anxiety level rose up to a point that I couldn’t take it anymore, I would get off at a point that I felt more comfortable.
I don’t stim on the bus, but I use books as a way to calm me and keep my mind occupied. Music helps too, if I don’t know anybody on the bus. Sometimes (although rare) I will take with fellow passengers that seem interesting, or have an interesting feature that I can comment on and in this way strike up a conversation. This has helped me to get to know a lot of interesting single serving friends (term from fight club that is appropriate here).
Stimming is mostly something I do at home. I do rock when I am in the supermarket, but this is when I reach my level of comfort on the brink of becoming uncomfortable. This is also a time when my speech becomes less sophisticated and I might begin to grunt instead of using words.
I have explained the stims. The feeling it gives me, is one of focus. I mostly stim to help my thoughts. I usually also, when I am really, really overwhelmed, on nightly walks (less people and can speak to myself on those (out loud)). This helps me to straighten my thoughts out and I will become more clearheaded. Baths help with this too (but we have a shower). Stimming is not something I do deliberately. It happens. It’s not something that I conciously control. Sometimes I notice after I have started stimming that I am stimming.
To be honest, I have masked for so long, that I am now discovering stimming and the ways that are great for stimming. I might make a post in the future of new stims I have discovered in the mean time, but now you know why and how I stim, at this moment.