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Stimming Acceptance

Pink heart no thanksNormalize. Praise. Elevate. Wow. Now, we know stimming can provide comfort and context to our children. At the same time, not sure how celebrating this aspect of autism is needed. Acceptance? Yes. Explaining to others? Yes. Shame? NO.  Management for times when it simply is not appropriate? Yes, that too.  We do a disservice to our children when we do not help them to fit in, manage behaviors and travel in the NT world. This doesn't mean we don't ADORE them as they are. We celebrate our kids every day.

By Anne Dachel

On March 18th
WBUR, Boston had a news segment entitled, New children’s book ‘Flap Your Hands’ celebrates stimming as expression.

The story promoted a new book by an autistic adult who seeks to normalize a feature of autism.

People with autism often face a stigma for stimming — a repetitive behavior to regulate emotions that can sometimes look like someone flapping their hands or wiggling their fingers.

The children’s book "Flap Your Hands: A Celebration of Stimmingpresents an opposing narrative; stimming is natural and wonderful, taking families through a colorful journey of acceptance and joy.

Here & Now’s Deepa Fernandes speaks with author and illustrator Steve Asbell.

WBUR’s host, Fernandesit, interviewed author Steve Asbell.  Asbell was diagnosed as an adult.


About his diagnosis:

It helped me not only accept who I am, but honestly celebrate who I  am and practice self-care better. . . .

Like a lot of other late diagnosed autistics, I learned to mask behaviors that would be considered not normal, whether due to stigma or internalized pressures where you just pretty much teach yourself not to do the thing that’s going to get you made fun of. . . .

. . .Even if it’s more discrete, there are ways that pretty much anybody can self-regulate in a way that helps them get through the day, helps them deal with emotions, sensory issues. . . .

A lot of kids are taught from early on to, sadly, not stim.

It’s a very personal decision with parents. They’re trying to help their kids adapt to the world and be seen in a way that’s helpful to them, but flapping, rocking, things like that, they actually do serve a function. . . .

What I want to do is show kids not only is it okay to do these things, okay to be the way they are.

It should be celebrated because honestly, I look at stimming as just a beautiful dance between the person and the world at large.  . . .


I feel like you’ve just described your book, which was to me a very beautiful  and joyful, very happy way of allowing kids to be themselves.

I myself have a neurodiverse child, and you want them to be able to be themselves . . .

Asbell also illustrated his book.

Asbell is obviously an accomplished adult with autism. He’s independent and quite competent.

Fernandesit herself is the parent of “neurodiverse child,” although she wasn’t specific about the type of disotder.

I’m sure this was well-intended and an education for some people on the signs of autism in a child, but it was also a way to promote autism as a normal and acceptable condition.

 If all parents of an affected child could have them grow up to have the skills of Asbell, this would be a valid interview. The problem is many, many children and young adults with autism who exhibit stimming are also nonverbal, prone to seizures and gut issues. They need care 24/7, and parents are not inclined to celebrate any aspect of a disorder claiming more and more of our children.

Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.



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Will; Not just accept it, but celebrate it.
Normal people stim?
I don't think so.
Normal people notice and think how odd. They always have and always will, until every one had had brain swelling from the vaccines that results in some kind of brain injury.



Is this where you get your information?

Pharma's Big Book of lies for Trolls
Simone and Schiester New Jersey, 2020.

It seems to be a popular read.


"Stimming" is found in other conditions not just autism, these include ADHD, OCD et I have seen. Normal children hand flap. Normal adults head bang while listening to Metalica. Why is this article important? Just allow the darn "stimming" and move on world. People with developmental disabilities need protection have discrimination and violent persecution not vague statements about "acceptance".


Both sides now....

Anne, you highlight the duality of the effects of brain injury- so called Autism.

From the parent's side, it is obvious injury and is often overwhelming financially, emotionally and physically. Parents have a "norm" to compare to. They strive to help their child to achieve this healthy norm any way they can.

From the child's side, brain injury from infancy is all they know. It is their only world. They can never experience a non injured brain. Because the injury occurs while the brain is still "wiring" itself, various early interventions may have more impact than later ones. Depending on what part of the brain is injured, the child may display a host of different effects including hand flapping. As the child matures, the individual has normalized this behavior (like a habit) because he has no choice. Trying to control it takes great stress and effort and always will. Some never learn to control it.

Asbel's writing skills give us a peek into his unique thought process. This is something those without speech cannot do. Celebrating his "flapping" is a stress relief. Unfortunately, It may have the opposite effect for the Other Side. Lack of self control can be off putting and dangerous to those not in this individual's world. Trying to "help" them can be perceived as rejecting them. They have to live in a world they did not voluntarily enter, and they can never know the world of the "Other Side.". There's the rub.

On the one hand, parents must love and encourage this injured child (who does not know he is injured) and yet still strive to improve his situation. We must call out the injury and its origin or the numbers will continue to grow exponentially. We must be Warrior Parents. Yet, we must empathize and live in the world of the injured as well. What is the solution? How should we live?

I highly recommend reading Steve Asbell's comic page. Brilliant!

Judy Collins - Both Sides Now

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