What Is Stimming?

Stimming is a repetitive body movement, such as hand flapping. The term is shorthand for self-stimulation. Repetitive movement, or stereotypy, is often referred to as stimming under the hypothesis that it has a function related to sensory input. Stimming is commonly found in Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder, but also found in other developmental disabilities. This behavior may involve any or all of the senses in various degrees in different individuals.


dangling strings
shaking toys
wiggling fingers--in front of or to the side of face---most often in exactly the
same spot
lining up toys
repeatedly stacking toys and knocking them down --excessively
spinning wheels on toy cars/trucks
pushing toy trucks and cars while tilting head to watch wheels
watching out the window at cars driving by
staring out window
watching dust specks in the air
watching ceiling fans
staring at dining room lights
looking sideways and/or upside down at TV
nose on TV
flipping pages without looking at pictures
flipping toys
wall walking
opening/shutting drawers and doors
spinning bowls
spinning toys
walking in patterns
watching water
running sand/beans etc. through hands while watching
spinning coins
looking at maps with nose about 1" away
following roads on map with nose
box hopping or lining up chairs, laundry baskets, boxes and storage
containers in a path and stepping from one to another
from foot to foot
back and forth while sitting
side to side while sitting
throwing or dropping toys over and over
throwing toys over shoulder
picking fuzz
shredding paper
looking out car window with peripheral vision (while giggling)
walking down hall with head to one side
standing on head on furniture
running in circles
rewind video while watching it rewind
excessive drawing
rubbing pencils together
watching own reflection in doorknobs, toasters, windows at night, oven door,
shiny faucets, tv screen when off, clean cars, blank computer screens and
holding up small toys (usually characters) in front of TV while video is going
perseverating on Thomas the Tank or other train stuff
turning head in light patterns made by blinds
obsessively pouring a "slinky" from hand to hand
watching a yoyo with peripheral vision over and over
multiple cartwheels frequently and excessively
head shaking
spinning own body or twirling around
twirling self under own arm which is against a wall
dangling pieces of grass or twigs
twirling long hair or braids (girls) in peripheral vision 






chewing on insides of cheeks
rubbing clothing between fingers
biting fingernails
chewing fingernails
scratching obsessively/to bleeding
head banging
teeth grinding
grabbing someone's arm with both hands and squeezing with head against
rubbing face/hands



blurting out loud and/or high pitched noises
Repetition of odd noises/sounds
talking to self-- excessive and nondirective
echolalia of phrases, movies, songs........
nose humming
banging on everything
throat sound--compulsive
pounding toys or books
excessive giggling
excessive pretend play
electronic games that repeat
inappropriate giggling (often a sign that they are stimming)
repeating a video scene over and over
telling the same story over and over
constantly singing
reciting alphabet over and over




smelling objects

sniffing people




licking objects

placing objects in mouth



excessive pretending
acting out a movie scene repeatedly
sharpening and sharpening and sharpening pencils
writing numbers or days of the week over and over