According to the Autism Research Institute, self-stimulatory behavior or “stimming” refers to repetitive body movements or repetitive movement of objects. Some examples of stimming are hand flapping, staring at blinking lights, rocking back and forth, making sounds, and even sniffing objects. Stimming is common in individuals with an array of developmental disabilities and is especially prevalent in those with autism. However, everyone stims – if you’ve ever tapped your foot, twirled your hair, or bitten your nails, you were probably stimming.
While researchers have many theories as to why stimming occurs, adults with autism often report that these behaviors serve a self-soothing or communicative purpose and can even help with emotional regulation. The types of stims and reasons for stimming vary by individual. For example, in an Autism Asperger’s Digest article, Dr. Temple Grandin says, “When I did stims, such as dribbling sand through my fingers, it calmed me down. When I stimmed, sounds that hurt my ears stopped.” Popular autistic blogger, Musings Of An Aspie, says, “… Stimming improves my concentration. It’s a release, like sneezing or scratching an itch.”
Largely, stimming serves a positive function and is even referred to by some as a biological imperative. It is important to note that too much stimming might negatively impact an individual’s attention and learning, and inappropriate stims, such as making loud noises that distract others, can lead to social ostracism. While this may be the case, it is important to never shame an individual for stimming. Stimming is a natural part of living as an adult on the autism spectrum and unless the behavior is causing harm to one’s self or others, is typically harmless.
Sensory videos with engaging visuals and music are becoming increasingly popular with adults with autism on social media. The following is a list of videos that that may help you or someone you know relax or self-regulate today. We hope you enjoy them!
1. Oddly Satisfying Visuals Compilation
This video was recommended by an adult on the autism spectrum. If you like watching how products are made and the flawless execution of machinery, we think you might enjoy this.
2. Particle Orchestra
This video is for music-lovers. Colorful particles bounce around in synchrony with beautiful piano music. (Note: The music is a bit thunderous towards the beginning, so if you are sensitive to louder sounds, you may want to turn your volume down.)
3. Liquid Chaser:
Vibrantly colored liquids melt together to soft, mysterious music.
This video is 2 full hours of peaceful melodies paired with the graceful, flowing movements of sea life.
5. This Too Shall Pass by OK Go
OK Go is a band that is known for their visually pleasing music videos and quirky music. Created in partnership with Synn Labs, this video features a four-minute, one shot sequence of the song “This Too Shall Pass” being played in tandem with the actions of a giant Rube Goldberg machine built in a two-story warehouse from over 700 household objects (learn more). It is quite the spectacle!
6. Perfectly Peeled
Recommended by an adult on the spectrum, these machines are not only captivating to watch, but may be useful for people with physical disabilities.
7. The Ridiculously Long Lego Track!
Prepare to be wow-ed by this soothing video of a super long model train track made of Legos.