Thursday, March 28, 2013


One thing that I should probably touch on in my presentations that I don't is self-stimming behavior. I'm more than willing to touch on it if someone asks the question, but to fit it into the flow of my presentation as it is right now tends to be difficult. A couple days though a parent going through TouchPoint's ADAPT Parent Training program asked that and I gave my best description yet.

In my answer I referenced my personal behavior which I once referred to on my blog as "The Dance of the Fingers." Each time I answer a question like this I do mention that, 40 years ago, the mentality of experts was that any sort of behavior like that is "wrong" and must be "stopped." Over time, however, it was learned that those behaviors are our ways of managing our emotions; take it away and you may get a more serious behavior down the road.

As I was answering this I quickly had a side thought about the races I'm going to be working soon so my analogies quickly turned car talk, but it is so apt! First, real quickly, I do my finger dance when I get highly excited or happy. If I don't my emotions escalate, accelerate, and amplify to a highly uncomfortable level. This is where the car talk comes in; think of it this way, if I don't purge my emotions with my fingers I keep going faster and if I were a car, think of it sort of like having the accelerator stuck. What that means is, you may want to slow down but the accelerator is stuck to the floor 100%. And, if you're approaching a red light, slowing down is rather important.

That's what, for me, the self-stimming behavior is; it's my brake. It's the element I have in life that slows my bodies racing emotions down. Emotions so easily for me get hung wide open and with each passing quarter-second it grows bigger and bigger until it feels as if I'm going to explode.

Each person can have his or her own "dance of the fingers" and when answering this parent I mentioned that mine, over time, has changed. When I get nervous I twirl my belt loops but it started out as twisting my shoelaces. That always got an odd look as I was standing in place with one foot up twisting shoelaces. At that time in my life I couldn't describe why I did that, but I also knew that I didn't like the odd looks so I discovered belt loops and that is much easier to fly under the radar with. I answered this because, sometimes, these self-stimming behaviors can be distracting for those around us and might bring an unwanted level of attention our way so, over time, it might be a good thing to try and find something else that can act the part of the brake. At the same time though, just saying, "STOP THAT!" and demanding a complete halt might not be the best approach because, again, that behavior may be acting like our brake of our ever accelerating car towards a busy intersection.

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