How to Manage Stimming 

May 5, 2023

Stimming, short for self-stimulatory behavior, is a common trait in kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It refers to repetitive movements or sounds that individuals with ASD engage in as a way to self-regulate or manage their sensory experiences. Examples of stimming in kids with ASD includes behaviors such as hand-flapping, rocking back and forth, spinning, or repeating certain words or phrases.

While stimming is a common occurrence in kids with autism, there is not one reason why stimming may occur. There are a variety of reasons why kids with ASD turn to stimming to soothe themselves, such as:  

  • To self-regulate and cope with sensory overload or understimulation. 
  • To express emotion, communicate needs or desires, or alleviate anxiety. 
  • To seek comfort, providing predictability and routine. 

While it is important to remember that stimming is a natural and normal occurrence in kids with Autism, certain distracting, or poor stimming behaviors, especially those that are harmful to kids with ASD or others, can be regulated through ABA therapy. 

Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA therapy, is a treatment approach used to support individuals with developmental and behavioral disorders, including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It involves using principles of behavior and learning to teach new skills and improve certain targeted behaviors, like stimming. 

To ensure the optimal results of ABA therapy, this successful therapy modality is facilitated by BCBAs, or Board Certified Behavior Analysts. Behavioral analysts are responsible for designing and implementing behavior intervention programs to help individuals achieve their goals. 

When addressing stimming behaviors, ABA therapy behavioral analysts implement a structured process to improve positive therapy outcomes. This process includes: 

  • Understanding the Root of Stimming

Before behavioral analysts can even begin to address stimming they must first understand why stimming occurs in the first place. Once the reasoning is identified then ABA therapy plans can be crafted to address stimming behaviors. 

  • Reinforcing Positive Behaviors 

ABA therapists can help to reduce stimming by reinforcing positive behaviors with rewards, and redirecting certain interfering stimming behaviors to safe or healthy stimming. 

  • Setting Healthy Boundaries 

Some kids with autism may never completely stop stimming. However, through ABA therapy BCBAs can set healthy boundaries that outline when stimming is appropriate and when it is not. 

If your child with autism is struggling with disruptive or interfering stimming behaviors, then our Board Certified Behavior Analysts are here to help! 

At Step Forward ABA we are the preferred choice for ABA therapy in New Mexico and Florida. Working one-on-one with kids with ASD, we craft personalized ABA therapy plans that arm your child with the tools, skills, and strategies needed to bloom where they are planted. Click here to learn more about our custom ABA therapy services and see if we offer ABA therapy in your area! 

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