An Autistic Perspective – Stimming & Masking

Back from summer break!!!


Hi everyone.  NeuroRebel here, and I was diagnosed autistic before turning 30.  That means I went almost 30 years of my life not knowing I was autistic, and one of the big “a-ha” moments for me when I discovered I was autistic was learning about stimming.

For those of you who are new to my channel, stimming is just one of the ways that autistic people express and regulate energy and emotions.

For example, when I experience a very intense emotion, maybe extreme joy or startle or fear, those emotions are often seen in my hands as movement.  Happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy.

Or I naturally, like right now as I’m thinking, I’m rocking back and forth, and I’m moving.  And when I allow myself to go with the natural ebb and flow of my energy, I am always in motion and talking with my hands, and many other things.  So that is one thing that stimming is.

Also, stimming can be certain types of behaviors that we engage in intentionally to soothe the senses and to regulate energy.

For example, I have these wonderful scented pens, and I like to smell them.  They smell really good, and sniffing something yummy is a stim.  Drawing and coloring, for me, is a stim.  I would say enjoying fun visual … things that are visually pleasurable is a stim.  (This is stuck because it’s been sitting still.)

But there are many other things that can be stims for when you’re intentionally stimming, because a lot of autistic people have realized that stimming is really great, and now even non-autistic people are starting to realize that stimming is really great.  But, autistic people, we need to stim.  And we really, naturally, engage in stimming behaviors.

And so, the other part of stimming that doesn’t get enough discussion is masking.

And because autistic people are often constantly told “Sit still, be still, quit fidgeting,” some of our stims are more obvious sometimes, or are considered “obnoxious” by other people, or noisy or disruptive, may be put away in favor of stims that are less disruptive to the people around you.

So, like, squeezing my fingers, or I might clench my jaws.  Typically, when I do things that are less obnoxious to other people, it might be like scratching at myself or holding myself tightly, or holding myself tense, or biting the inside of my mouth.

Those stims that I do when I’m trying to be quiet and still, and not disruptive, tend to actually be stims that aren’t very good for me, like ripping off my fingernails, and things that hurt.  So, it’s much better to let my body just stim naturally.

So, let me know.  I talked a little bit about stim suppression last week, and tell me about your stims this week.  Alright guys, thank you so much.  I’ll talk to you later.  Bye!

Published by Christa Holmans - Neurodivergent Rebel

Christa Holmans, an autistic self-advocate from Texas, runs the the internationally recognized neurodiversity lifestyle blog Neurodivergent Rebel. Neurodivergent Rebel opened her blog in 2016 as a way to introduce people unfamiliar with autism to neurodiversity. Her blog, which is sometimes released in written format and also via YouTube video, explores the ideology of neurodiversity and the creative expressions of autistic people. Holmans’ blog pushes for acceptance of neurological differences and respect for the autonomy of neurodivergent people. Holmans is also known as the pioneer of the #askingautistics hashtag, which is often accompanied by a short question about everyday autistic experiences. This simple hashtag connects neurodivergent people who would not otherwise have a reason to engage with each other to foster understanding of the autistic experience.

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