Not a stimmer ?

Hi. I've just joined. I'm male mid fifties & have finally concluded I'm most likely ASD1 / aspie. One thing remains puzzling me & that is I don't seem to be a stimmer. I may of course have been masking things for so long I don't remember. What I'd like to try & find out is how common it is for an assessed ASD 1 to not stim. I've found plenty of info here & elsewhere on stimming but nothing on not stimming. Love to find out more. (sorry for putting this in the intro forum but I thought I'd get a better response here.)

  • When you get to our age to self-identify, I reckon it is almost inevitable that we may not fully register the full significance of a few of our own ways. (But you could also just be different, in a group of people who are all different.)

    I went around for a long time after my self-ID, believing I wasn't really a stimmer; even though a whole load of people obviously found some of my habits somewhat unsavory. Nail biting, skin-picking and touching the face; all things that are somewhat frowned upon in COVID times. (Lock-down seems to be a good opportunity to me to do something constructive about it.)

    There have always have been numerous ways in which people decide that they would rather not 'work' with you. I vividly remember a teacher who would often bark at me,"Stop that fiddling, boy!". It was a kind of scholastic terrorism, really! ;-) That  haunted me for decades, and then one day recently I realised what was annoying him ( and others). OK, it doesn't automatically seem dramatic enough behaviour to warrant giving it a neologism. But not all stims appear to be that eccentric; especially if we are quite accomplished at masking. I actually revel in my typicality most of the time.

    But I also rediscovered a photo from about 5 years earlier that showed me engaging in some behaviour which was just a bit more overt. And it helps that I can still remember quite a lot of my own thoughts at that time. I can remember basically thinking,"Why am I acting like this?" I was obviously conscious that my actions at that time might have been 'fun', but they were hardly likely to endear me to either the other in-laws present or to anyone subsequently browsing the photo album. I stiil find that photo hugely embarrassing; even though I wasn't doing anything remotely anti-social. So I suppose that was the point at which I started to suppress my stims; or at least hide them under somewhat more conventional nervous habits. And if I look at more recent photos (or a mirror), there is still something in my face that I still associate with the stim photo, and brings it all back. It seems almost like a mild chronic form of PTSD. ;-)

  • I thought I wasn't a stimmer until I realised I 'rhythmically' move my fingers, thumbs, feet, neck, etc almost constantly, with the major stim being the counting of breathes. These are all hidden or outwardly attributed to regular NEAT movements that I only recently realised I stopped doing when deep in concentration or listening to music, and that despite thinking I was in control I very quickly reverted to one of my other involuntary movements if I tried to stop the initial stim. You may be surprised once you really think about it.

  • Hey, please don't worry if you don't stim. Maybe you are masking it because you have been doing it for so long. 

  • In short, EVERYBODY stims in some way. All stimming is is "self-stimulating behaviour" I.e. wobbling your leg, rubbing your face, tapping things constantly, flapping hands etc.

    Difference is autistics can sometimes have atypical stimming behaviours or need to stim to much different scenarios than neurotypicals.

    A neurotypical might stim in a state of large stress or sadness for example, an autistic might need to stim when they get overwhelmed with excitement, anxiety, stress, sensory overload in a much smaller situation to other people.

    But everyone stims, autistics can just do it differently, or even much more often and commonly as a coping mechanism.

    I personally never actually recognised/noticed my stimming until EVERYONE pointed it out to me.

  • I have many stims. Some I'm more conscious of as I know they would be difficult to conduct in public, and happen in private such as rubbing my feet, torso. I manage to restrain, and probably replace with a neck scratch or a hair ruffle.

    However, as some happen so regularly, and without thinking, I wouldn't necessarily recognise them as stims if I didn't know I was autistic. It was only after I was diagnosed that I realised that the rows and rows of ampersands and letters and numbers that I drew was a stim, or the descending steps I draw over and over in my mind whilst I watch TV, or the phrase from the programme I repeat to my wife over and over again, or the stairs I count each time I climb them.

    I guess what I'm saying is you may well be stimming, but not realise that what you do are stims; written, verbal, thinking, body movements.....

    Hope that helps.

  • Thank you all for replying. Having thought about what you have said, & caught myself fidgeting with the buttons my shirt & zip toggels on my trouser pockets while doing so, I realise I stim quite a bit. What I don't know is if I do this more so than would an NT. I don't have obviously unusual stims that I'm aware of , nor can I recall ever having had such with the possible exception of touching hair/fur when very little, 2-3yrs old. My Grandma had a mink fur broach that I constantly stoked whenever I could get at it, so my parents made sure she didn't ware it when we visited. I realised this was odd so I stopped doing it. I still like certain textures including running hair between my fingers & can vividly remember the (very pleasurable) feeling of that fur broach. Unfortunately my late wife hated having her hair touched. I also recall having had trouble with nail biting as a child & my parents trying various methods make me stop. I did but can't recall if it was through their intervention. Hair twirling & nail biting aren't unusual though & I don't know enough about normal peoples habits to be sure if mine would have be considered excessive or abnormally compulsive. Nor if what I do now qualifies as such. What you have made me notice is that I do do a wide variety of very discrete stimming but this hasn't ever been mentioned to me by anyone. Maybe I should start a list :)

    Some of your comments have also jogged my memory about my late wife's habits. She compulsively counted things, stair steps in particular as she used them. She also habitually made & liked lists. kept utility bills, bank statements & kept detailed household accounts. The more I think about it the more I think she too may have had ASD1, which could well explain why we got on so well.

    Thanks again.