I stim. I can’t remember when I started to stim, I must have been doing it even before I had control of my body movements, or maybe around then. Stimming comes naturally to me. I usually pretend to be NT around others (a waste of time, I know), that is, I’ve settled with standing out in a positive way.
I have no idea of when I stopped stimming in public. As we were moving, mum found some old recordings of my brother and me from preschool. I stim. A lot. I jump up and down and excitedly flap my hands as I direct all my attention to the camera. I do all of this happily. Watching this made me happy. But at one point I stopped flapping my hands in public. Instead I obsessively picked my skin, wounds and body hair in public. My parents kept telling me to stop, but I couldn’t. I did it when I was nervous, when I was concentrating, without even noticing.
At some point in my life I noticed that when I was alone, my body language would become very different from how I acted around people. I also did what I now know is echolalia. This type of body language came naturally to me and felt really good. I did this for years without knowing I was autistic. Leave me alone and I’ll start flapping my hands, do raptor hands, anything really. When I have to be around people for several hours / days, I’ll act as NT as I can and then get my much needed hand flapping done when I’m alone in the bathroom.
Stimming also allows my facial expressions to become more animated. I can’t fully use my face to express my emotions if I have to mind my body language. If my body has to shut down, so does my face and my emotions become dulled as well. In the NT world I always have a small smile plastered on my face. My big smiles are usually slow and fake. But if I flap my hands, my entire face will be lit up and I really mean it.
I have always stimmed. But finding out that I’m autistic and what stimming actually is I’m now able to regulate my well-being on a whole new level, and it feels great.