“An autistic or neurodivergent “stim” is short for “self-stimulation,” and is defined as repetitive motor movements, use of objects, or speech. People with autism might rock for a few reasons, including overstimulation, under-stimulation, pain reduction, management of emotions, and self-soothing.”
Also included are stims like nail biting, skin picking, hair plucking etc.
For me one of my biggest and long running stims (yes they can change as you age or not) is nail biting.
Note…not everyone on the spectrum does the same or all. It’s called a spectrum for a reason.
11 yrs ago I was introduced to acrylic nails. It was a big deal for me because with acrylic nails I couldn’t bite my finger nails to the point of bleeding sometimes AND I wouldn’t accidentally do it while working in my studio because there were many moments when I didn’t even realize I was doing it and I guess you can imagine how bad idea this is while working with glass, adhesives and grout.
I literally get acrylic nails put on (when I can justify the expense) as a way to protect myself. Bonus has always been they are great little tools while working with glass..but that’s beside the point.
On too many occasions to count I was made to feel bad about this with some fellow artists. “How can you have such great looking nails as an artist!?” I was made to feel I wasn’t Artist enough (wut) because I didn’t have roughed up “hard working nails” like they had. Somehow my nice looking fake nails was taboo (of course!) and something to point out and scorn.
It wasn’t okay. But how was I going to explain something I sorta didn’t know how to really explain? And really my “things” were not something I cared to talk about. You don’t explain yourself. You take it, you absorb what they are assuming about you and crack jokes.
Jokes have always been my go to. Or snark. It’s a great blocker of snark too. And as someone who always seems to be the kid doing things differently..you learn to be very good at it…to survive.
I just wish people could simply shut up about differences. I don’t understand the point of pointing out differences in others in a way that makes someone feel less than. I really don’t. I find differences interesting. My go to is never to make someone feel wrong about a difference. My go to is to say “wow that’s really interesting!” or “wow I learned something today!” In my mind..it’s just so petty to make someone feel wrong about being themselves. It says more about you and your own insecurities than it will ever say about the person you decide to point something out to. It’s pointless and can be deeply cruel in moments. Just don’t.
Appreciate and celebrate differences and know..there might be a deeply personal reason for something that is different from how you do.