Visual Stimming: What is it?

Visual Stimming: What is it?

The more I start to understand my autistic brain, the more I learn about what I need to keep myself on an even keel.

You’ve maybe heard of something called ‘stimming’. It means ‘self-stimulating behaviour’ which is required to keep autistic people feeling regulated. Up until fairly recently, I had very little knowledge of it other than the stereotypical rocking back and forth or flapping of hands, and while some people will do this, others will do different things. I must point out however, that some stims can be harmful – when I’m feeling really overwhelmed, I feel the need to bang my head against the wall, and that’s obviously not a good thing.

While we stim to help ourselves feel better, we also sometimes stim when we feel joyful as a way of releasing that excited energy.

For me, one of the main ways that I stim is visually. It basically means that I enjoy looking at things that I find interesting, for example colours, patterns and shapes. It makes me feel grounded and calm.

It can look like being out for a walk and looking for the small colourful details that would be easy to miss, and taking photos of them. I share lots of these photos on this blog and on my @actuallybeingemma Instagram account.

It can mean enjoying being in a colourful, visually stimulating space, whether it’s a modern art gallery, somewhere full of street art or a theme park. God's Own Junkyard is next level!

It can look like having a house with lots of pops of colour and a healthy dose of bold pattern to keep me visually interested. It took me a long time to figure out what my decorating style was, and it’s strange to think that I worked it out before I realised that I was autistic and that it was all to do with stimming!

And it can also look like me sitting playing with my hands, making interesting, often symmetrical, shapes and lines with my fingers interlocked together.

Visual stimming isn’t just something that I like to do, it’s something that I need to do. Can you think of any other ways I could visually stim?


Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.