Hi guys! Neurodivergent Rebel here, and I am an autistic adult. I was diagnosed late, before I turned 30, so I went a long portion of my life not knowing that I was autistic.
And one thing that a lot of late diagnosed autistic people have in common is something that I guess I’m going to call right now “stim suppression” where, and I don’t think I’m making this term up – I’m sure this probably exists somewhere – that’s just what’s in my head.
And so, this would be where a lot of autistic people, we naturally – well, autistic people naturally move to regulate ourselves. It’s just how we regulate our energy. Our energy goes up, there’s a burst of intense energy in the body, be it joy or anxiety or anything, and we regulate that out through movement.
So, if I’m really happy all of a sudden, my hands kind of just start going. It’s something that I can control if I think really hard about it, but that takes up mental energy. So, it’s just easier to let my body do what it does.
But like I said, I can “control it” if I use mental energy. When I’m relaxed, my body is just very moving and I’m always in motion. But there’s certain situations, sometimes … often, generally it’s the professional environment where being in a constant state of motion isn’t considered appropriate. As an adult, people tend to say, “You should be still – you’re an adult” and they assume you need to be still all the time.
So sometimes, you just have to be still, and I still have to move, even when I have to be still. So, like in school, I learned you have to do little things that were discreet with my hands that were quiet, or I would do things with my toes inside my shoes or I would bounce my toe almost silently on the floor.
But when I can’t move at all, I start to get this really heavy tension in my body. I get tension in my shoulders. I get tension in my jaw. I get tension in my neck and my legs. I hold my body hard and tight and stiff just to keep myself from moving, and it feels horrible. And then at the end, I almost feel like I have to get up and jump up and just shake it all out because I’ve been containing myself for too long.
So that’s what it’s like holding in stims. Alrighty guys. Let me know if you do this sometimes or if you’ve done this. I don’t think it’s healthy. It’s not good for me. Alrighty guys, I’ll talk to you next week. Bye!
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2 thoughts on “An Autistic Perspective – Stim Suppression”
I really enjoy your blog. It seems relevant to mine in many ways and I hope you’re ok with me sharing your posts periodically. 🙂
With this particular post, I was diagnosed at 23 with ADHD and I am the same way. My meds help with it but I still get that way when I’m very happy or anxious or similar myself. I would wiggle quietly in various places or go to the bathroom to blow off energy or even draw in my notebook which would help at times too.