View Full Version : Self-stimulatory behaviour


MikhailTal
05-07-14, 04:19 PM
Hello there, I'm diagnosed with ADD-I, but some of my 'quirks' are still not explained. A year or two ago, I found out I've performed self-stimulatory behavior all my life, behavior that is seen often in people with some form of autism, as you probably know. Before that behavior had a name, I already knew that it wasn't normal, and I wouldn't perform my quirky behavior when people were around.

I'll give some examples, some are perhaps recognizable. As a child I liked to pace around thinking or fantasizing, twisting a chord between my fingers (vestibular stimulation), and I still like to do when I have to think something over; I like to smell my fingers, I like to touch my nose (stimulation of smell and touch). When I'm very excited or happy, I feel the need to walk around fast, sometimes I'll jump around in my room (of course, when you hear that you've won a million dollar in the lottery this is normal, but not when something a bit less special occurs), and flap my hands.

So I was wondering; is this already enough to consider myself autistic to some degree, or does sensory integration disorder (I've read that self-stimulatory behavior in autism is caused by this comorbid condition) exist outside autism?

However, some other common autistic traits are absent in me; although I'm not a social butterfly, I'm able to stand routine changes (I don't have many routines to begin with), I have no trouble with recognizing face expressions or body language, I understand and use irony and metaphors all the time, I have no obsessions with patterns or numbers... I do know two persons who exhibit the same self-stimulatory behavior; my brother and mother, who both do have trouble with routine, understanding irony and so on, so I consider them to be autistic to some degree (perhaps not enough to be diagnozed though). Since they are my relatives, I'm starting to doubt myself; could my ADD-I be ASD (I'm aware that they can be comorbid)?

I'm just curious about myself, and I don't feel the need to see a doctor to get myself tested, perhaps somebody here can give some insight...

dvdnvwls
05-07-14, 05:14 PM
The responsible answer: It isn't known how this works or how these things fit together.

My answer: What you're saying sounds reasonable and plausible. I think, because it's clear that the behaviours you describe are not having a bad effect on your life, that maybe it's better to keep the questions as questions, and not be too quick to nail down answers to them.

I have a friend with very similar characteristics to yours. She's in her 40s and things are just fine for her.

Lunacie
05-07-14, 05:59 PM
Stimming can be part of any developmental disorder, it's just more common in autism.
For me, it seems to be related to GAD (general anxiety disorder).

Flia
05-08-14, 04:38 AM
Could be tics maybe.
Tics is a mild form of Tourettes (also a part of NeuroPsychiatric Disorders).

Or it could be OCD maybe.

TygerSan
05-08-14, 06:04 AM
:goodpost:

I wonder about this, too. As an adult I notice more tic-like and stimming behavior in myself. Dunno if it's because I'm more aware, more anxious or what.

If I'm thinking about something embarrassing or distressful I sometimes find myself saying certain phrases. Like, "I'm done", "I'm tired", "I want to go home". Usually I can swallow them if I'm with people but I say them loud and clear when alone.

I also sometimes rub my hands together when excited or obsessing over something but again I can suppress easily enough if I'm with people.

I also self injure (rarely now but more commonly when I was a kid) in a way that is very tic-like with build up and release. I could never relate to the self injury stories where people recounted being almost addicted to it and seeking it out. For me it's all about impulse and loss of control.

For what it's worth, I am not diagnosed as autistic/aspie (though sometimes I wonder).

someothertime
05-08-14, 08:57 AM
The way I see this... is that it ties very tightly in with our chaos propensity.

i.e. there is something about multisensual inputs that is either soothing or "pacemaking"... it may be neurally tied in ways to the aut. though I don't feel it's indicative of much more in that direction.

Tapping therapy... some of Kunga's recent posts on drumming... and tics are all potentially linkable...

It is polar to mindfullness or perhaps, out->in rather than in->out so to speak... I believe the stimuli provides "distraction" or "blinkers" for our emotional drivers somewhat... and most likely... it's bi-directional... in that hightened emotional states can initiate the self initiated "soothing"...

Stevuke79
05-08-14, 09:26 AM
I'm a little in shock. I've done these things all my life; I've recently mostly stopped just because going on Adderall made me self conscious about myself. But as a kid. and to an extent now, I would always :


pace around thinking or fantasizing, (this is still a favorite hobby of mine)
twisting a chord between my fingers (vestibular stimulation),
I like to smell my fingers,
When I'm very excited or happy, I feel the need to walk around fast, sometimes I'll jump around in my room


I'm definitely not classic "Hollywood" autistic. My only diagnosis is ADHD (I'm not sure if ADHD or Tourette's is official). I can converse with people when I need to.. Interact.. Socialized, .. I hate it but I can do it. (Hanging with friends is NOT socializing - I like that.)

I can also read people well, but the most recent thinking suggests that many autistics are extremely good at reading people... but they can't react well "in the moment".. I can't either. I'm not diagnosed with aspergers, but I feel I have it, or at least understanding aspergers and seeing family with aspergers helps me understand what's going on with me.

I don't know if that's what you're looking for; maybe I'm way off.

Fuzzy12
05-08-14, 11:04 AM
Hm...couldn't these be ADHD traits as well, in particular pacing around and twisting things in your hand (like fidgeting??)?? :scratch:

Makennan
05-09-14, 02:29 AM
I exhibit many of the same behaviors and after my diagnosis I assumed they were a result of either the adhd or anxiety. Like not knowing what to do with energy or emotions and needing a physical outlet??

Flia
05-09-14, 03:27 AM
Nothing in ADHD diagnose manual says anything about fidgeting.

Anxiety though (whatever the reason) can trigger OCD and stimming.

Fuzzy12
05-09-14, 04:16 AM
Nothing in ADHD diagnose manual says anything about fidgeting.

Anxiety though (whatever the reason) can trigger OCD and stimming.

Fidgeting is one of the diagnostic criteria in DSM V:

Diagnostic Criteria for the three subtypes of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder according to DSM-IV:

A. “Persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that is more frequently displayed and is more severe than is typically observed in individuals at comparable level of development.” Individual must meet criteria for either (1) or (2):

(1) Six (or more) of the following symptoms of inattention have persisted for at least six months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level:

Inattention
(a) often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work or other activities
(b) often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activity
(c) often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
(d) often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions)
(e) often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
(f) often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork or homework)
(g) often looses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., toys, school assignments, pencils, books or tools)
(h) is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
(i) is often forgetful in daily activities

(2) Six (or more) of the following symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity have persisted for at least six months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level:

Hyperactivity
(a) often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat
(b) often leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected
(c) often runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate (in adolescents or adults, may be limited to subjective feelings of restlessness)
(d) often has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly
(e) is often “on the go” or often acts as if “driven by a motor”
(f) often talks excessively

Impulsivity
(g) often blurts out answers before questions have been completed
(h) often has difficulty awaiting turn
(i) often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)

TygerSan
05-09-14, 06:35 AM
I think there's a fine line between fidgeting and self-stim anyways. Somehow, bouncing one's leg or clicking a pen are socially acceptable (if not annoying) ways to blow off extra energy. Rocking and/or hand-flapping are simply seen as weird.

As an aside, I know a couple of people who literally rock almost every time they sit down. Neither has been diagnosed with anything on spectrum, as far as I know, but both would be considered incredibly high-functioning in any case (even though neither one is particularly a social butterfly. One of whom is a definite jerk who has no idea how to treat other people as more than objects personality-wise)

Fuzzy12
05-09-14, 08:33 AM
I think there's a fine line between fidgeting and self-stim anyways. Somehow, bouncing one's leg or clicking a pen are socially acceptable (if not annoying) ways to blow off extra energy. Rocking and/or hand-flapping are simply seen as weird.

As an aside, I know a couple of people who literally rock almost every time they sit down. Neither has been diagnosed with anything on spectrum, as far as I know, but both would be considered incredibly high-functioning in any case (even though neither one is particularly a social butterfly. One of whom is a definite jerk who has no idea how to treat other people as more than objects personality-wise)

Is the difference between fidgeting and stimming that fidgeting is just a way to release energy and the purpose of stimming is to calm and soothe yourself?

fracturedstory
05-09-14, 08:41 AM
Is the difference between fidgeting and stimming that fidgeting is just a way to release energy and the purpose of stimming is to calm and soothe yourself?
Stimming isn't always about calming yourself. You do it when you're excited, to help balance yourself (physically) and to actually feel where your body is in the world. That last one is a bit hard to understand but when I stim the most I feel pretty numb in my arms and legs. So I start punching them.

There's no way hand flapping is a fidget or something done when normally anxious or a part of OCD. They are wide elaborate movements. It's like a head banging swan.

fracturedstory
05-09-14, 08:45 AM
I'm a little in shock. I've done these things all my life; I've recently mostly stopped just because going on Adderall made me self conscious about myself. But as a kid. and to an extent now, I would always :



I'm definitely not classic "Hollywood" autistic. My only diagnosis is ADHD (I'm not sure if ADHD or Tourette's is official). I can converse with people when I need to.. Interact.. Socialized, .. I hate it but I can do it. (Hanging with friends is NOT socializing - I like that.)

I can also read people well, but the most recent thinking suggests that many autistics are extremely good at reading people... but they can't react well "in the moment".. I can't either. I'm not diagnosed with aspergers, but I feel I have it, or at least understanding aspergers and seeing family with aspergers helps me understand what's going on with me.

I don't know if that's what you're looking for; maybe I'm way off.

Hollywood autistic? Really? Because Hollywood get autism so right.

Hanging out with friends is socializing.

It's not as simple as autistic people being better at reading people. They read people differently. There's still a major impairment in reading body language normally and this second sense is only developed through training oneself to read people better. You pick up when people are being dishonest and hiding it. It's just pattern recognition.

/honestly blunt reply.

Stevuke79
05-09-14, 08:53 AM
Hollywood autistic? Really? Because Hollywood get autism so right.

That was clearly a very poor choice of words. I was saying I've not been diagnosed and I wouldn't strike most people as autistic.

It's not as simple as autistic people being better at reading people. They read people differently. There's still a major impairment in reading body language normally and this second sense is only developed through training oneself to read people better. You pick up when people are being dishonest and hiding it. It's just pattern recognition. /honestly blunt reply.

Yup. Good elaboration.

Flia
05-09-14, 04:00 PM
Fidgeting is one of the diagnostic criteria in DSM V:

Ah.... that meaning of "fidgeting" isn't quite what I thought was meant.
The DSMV meaning (as I see it) is about restlessly moving your hands because you're having trouble sitting still.

I thought fidgeting here was more of the OCD type.

MikhailTal
05-09-14, 07:19 PM
:goodpost:

...

If I'm thinking about something embarrassing or distressful I sometimes find myself saying certain phrases. Like, "I'm done", "I'm tired", "I want to go home". Usually I can swallow them if I'm with people but I say them loud and clear when alone.

I also sometimes rub my hands together when excited or obsessing over something but again I can suppress easily enough if I'm with people.

I also self injure (rarely now but more commonly when I was a kid) in a way that is very tic-like with build up and release. I could never relate to the self injury stories where people recounted being almost addicted to it and seeking it out. For me it's all about impulse and loss of control.

For what it's worth, I am not diagnosed as autistic/aspie (though sometimes I wonder).

That's very recognisable... when I have painful or distressful thoughts, I sometimes swear out loud (of course, not around people); I rarely swear in conversations, and of course this isn't gilles de la tourette, since it's somewhat deliberately, to get rid of the painful thoughts. Very rarely I'll hit myself on the forehead when having a painful thought.

I always regarded that particular behavior as having its cause in anxiety or a mild case of OCD, but perhaps it's related to the stimming.

I'd like to thank everybody for taking the time to reply.

PolaBear
05-11-14, 08:02 PM
You are right about reading people differently, have always been good in some ways in seeing what people mean, don't mean are saying and are not. The difference though is it seems to be in more of a "director" kind of way, growing up I was very shy and withdrawn in some situations, but with people that I knew I could I would be loud and make fun easy, probably as a defender to how weak I felt inside. If I was controlling the situation I could handle it, but the anxiety and pressure in doing that was crazy. Id watch films and TV intently picking up on all the aspects of a situation and putting this into my "social interaction". Not really sure that going into a retail job with a mindset based on Tony soprano or axl foley really worked.

And yet before reading into this I actually saw it as a skill, but one thing iv picked up on here is a feeling that going in with what are "nt people" is like looking to be a goldfish when ur a polar bear, it's just different. I thought everyone just had a better handle on things, and couldn't understand why. Couldn't understand why creativity and smarts weren't working for me. And yet in a lot of ways there are basic things I'm actually lacking in.

With what you are saying about energy and jumping around, from a really young age until now iv used music and anything associated with it to "perform alone", putting on music and escaping, dancing around and play acting is a massive thing for me, it's as if it's something that takes up all of the need for stimulation I need in the moment. Whoever came up with shuffling songs on your iPod was thinking of me for sure. Am a lot more in the omens with it now, and can even see how nt people must view songs as a thing compartment wise but to me it's a thing to be engrossed in and create ideas from, the comedown from it used to be massive, but I'm better now at it being part of my world.

PolaBear
05-11-14, 08:12 PM
And yet the weird thing is as much as I had this creativity and urge to express, I couldn't or found it hard to see structure. A person with this musical drive may think to use it dance wise or form a band etc, and have the knowledge and faith that using this ability to nuance would help. All I saw was self doubt. Creativity just came to me, why would I try and force it? How would "starting at the bottom" help me? Wouldn't breaking things down kill the spontaneity?

And in a way I think from reading on here that this is the hard thing with all of this. The want is to be in a situation that is comfortable. metaphorically the search is for a situation where the tour dates, stage, promotion and costumes are set up already, and the only think to do is go on stage and do your thing. Then if things need changing or adapting it can be done. Hope that makes sense.

Sillyparty1976
05-18-14, 02:21 AM
I've thought recently about leg shaking, and I used to assume it was the "hyper active" component of ADHD, but lately I've paid attention to when I do it, and it's clearly that I'm self soothing. Even if I'm bored sitting somewhere, it's not that I want to get up and run around, I'm anxious because I'm bored, and the leg shaking is balancing for me.

My nephew flaps his hands, although recently, he seems to do it less. But I always thought he was just over stimulated and trying to balance himself, like another poster mentioned.

This might interest you guys, I haven't read the whole thing, but here's the gist: Results show that the frequency of Asperger-Syndrome seems to be substantially increased in adult ADHD (versus the prevalence of 0.06% in the general population), indicating that investigators of adult ADHD should also be attentive to autism-spectrum disorders. Especially the AQ seems to be a potential screening instrument for Asperger-Syndrome in adult ADHD-patients.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23793277

TygerSan
05-20-14, 01:50 PM
The thing is, I think I actually err on the side of being *too* able to empathize/ take the perspective of another person, especially when it comes to the negative emotions. Yeah, I'm selfish, and possibly self-absorbed, but I *get* other people also. So, in that way, I'm not the typical systematizing Aspie (I also have a lot of trouble visualizing, and seeing large-scale patters, because my visual working memory is pretty much nil).

As for hand flapping, not something I remember doing as kid, but I've felt the urge sometimes as an adult, it's like a release of pent up energy. Pretty much like the self-injury (build up of frustration, anger, self-hatred, and then release and shame after the fact).

I keep wondering how much weirdness I was able to just stuff inside. . . like I remember getting upset at an athletic event and having my parents tell me to stop acting weird (tensing fists, pacing, etc.).

OCD, Aspie? I'm not sure what, but I've always liked watching data accrue, watching processes that nobody else finds fascinating (I once accidentally admitted to someone that I sometimes watched popcorn pop in the microwave after she said her brother did the same . . .except that I forgot that he was severely autistic :doh: ). I also play video games long past frustration point, not because they are fun, but because I need to complete them. I will perseverate and play over and over again until I am literally yelling and cursing at the screen . . . and yet I persist.

I don't quite meet criteria for ADHD, either, so, maybe I'm just weird in my own way. :scratch:

Flia
05-20-14, 04:37 PM
The thing is, I think I actually err on the side of being *too* able to empathize/ take the perspective of another person, especially when it comes to the negative emotions. Yeah, I'm selfish, and possibly self-absorbed, but I *get* other people also. So, in that way, I'm not the typical systematizing Aspie (I also have a lot of trouble visualizing, and seeing large-scale patters, because my visual working memory is pretty much nil).


HSP (Hyper Sensitive Personality) is actually a diagnostic criteria in DSM5. The phrase is "over or under sensitive.
This can mean over empathizing, feeling others moods. Dr Tony Attwood has spoken about this trait, especiallly in female aspies.

Don't look at the typicals, almost none of us are :lol:

Drogheda
05-21-14, 08:45 PM
:goodpost:



I also sometimes rub my hands together when excited or obsessing over something but again I can suppress easily enough if I'm with people.

.

from what I understand, it's the ability to not stim that separates regular behavioral stimming from autistic.

sometimes when I'm on a roll and certain favores dictate it I sort of do a drum-role with my hands, whenever I do it it's always to punctuate a point, sort of like hand gestures. but I'm always in control of when I do it. also rolling my hands when explaining a piffy point, usually with a dash of anxiety behind it, again always in control. just a way of putting emphasis on certain points when it is needed.

and I think everyone with some anxiety, when alone, let loose to an extent.

fracturedstory
05-26-14, 01:56 AM
HSP (Hyper Sensitive Personality) is actually a diagnostic criteria in DSM5. The phrase is "over or under sensitive.
This can mean over empathizing, feeling others moods. Dr Tony Attwood has spoken about this trait, especiallly in female aspies.

Don't look at the typicals, almost none of us are :lol:

It's strange that Hyper Sensitive Personality is in the DSM 5 and Sensory Processing Disorder isn't. That's where under and over sensitive senses can lead to real impairments, for example I have severe sound, touch, and and even visual sensitivity. It also exists within other neurological conditions.

What benefit would a HSP diagnosis have over SPD? People with SPD need the treatment more.

Flia
05-26-14, 05:51 AM
It's strange that Hyper Sensitive Personality is in the DSM 5 and Sensory Processing Disorder isn't. That's where under and over sensitive senses can lead to real impairments, for example I have severe sound, touch, and and even visual sensitivity. It also exists within other neurological conditions.

What benefit would a HSP diagnosis have over SPD? People with SPD need the treatment more.

Well, it the criteria in DSM5 doesn't actually mention HSP.
They've acnowledged that a lot of aspies have HSP, by setting the criteria "over or under sensitive".
This means that you can be sensitive to anything, in any way or form.

And why wouldn't HSP be an impairment? Is it a competition?
You have no idea how disabling it is for me, or anyone you don't know.
Sensory processing is (as I interpret it) included in this criteria.

It's how you process the input that regulates how sensitive you are.