Self Regulatory Stimulation

“Why do you always have a Sharpie in your pocket” – Literally everyone, any time I go anywhere. Well guys, it’s what it takes to get me through your daily insistence on being obnoxiously normal.

Self Regulatory Stimulation is more commonly known as ‘stimming’ or ‘stims’, and actually the origin of my blog name. Stimming is the root of quite a common autistic stereotype: hand flapping. While it’s not technically wrong, and a lot of us are guilty of it, this is one of those things that has become very damaging to us as a society.

Autism and ADHD share a lot of similarities, particularly the need to have a constant level of sensory input. My previous post discussed what can happen if there is too much of this information, but there are equal instances of there being too little as well. Stimming, in whatever form, is an unconscious mechanism employed to regulate our ‘mental energies’. It’s a way of releasing energy in the case of overload, or a way of increasing the input in the form of tactile feedback. In most cases; when it isn’t actively suppressed, stimming can become a reflex to us. Almost a comfort blanket to protect us from the ever confusing world of neurotypicals.

Staving off a shutdown? Whack in some headphones, choose a solid drum beat (anything other than Bring Me The Horizon – Shadow Moses is utterly unnaceptable) and just finger tap your way to neutrality.

Some of us chew, some of us fidget, some of us flap. All are valid forms of stimming, as is anything that isn’t incredibly damaging (such as headbutting walls). Personally, I fiddle with or twirl a pen. Specifically a Sharpie, since carrying one seemed to be a pre-requisite of being a lighting technician. I’ve been through several ‘fidget cubes’ and other such stim toys, but ultimately they’re far too bulky to carry everywhere and I always end up back at my trusty Sharpie.

A few weeks ago someone posted this in an Autism Facebook group:

This lead to several requests and comments of parodies to certain songs, replacing particular words with flappy. Hence, a blog is born. Go have a listen to Pharrell Williams – Happy, but replace happy with flappy, and clap with flap. I promise you’ll have a way better day, and you’ll never hear the song the same again.

I’m aware I have a slightly distorted morale compass when it comes to Autism jokes and memes, however there is a general rules of thumb. The above image fits into these constraints, and for anyone wishing to learn more see my blog post “Meme Culture”.

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