Saturday, October 03, 2009

Caught on Tape

I have said many times that I wanted to show you what stimming looks like for Kyan. It's hard to get it on video because seeing me tape him sort of breaks his concentration and causes him to stop. Kyan does mostly visual stimming. You will see in a couple of these videos that he has his eyes turned sharply to the side and he is walking very close to objects at eye level. I don't know how to describe it. You just have to watch. The behavior itself is innocent enough, and some therapists argue that it is necessary for kids with autism to stim, just as it is necessary for humans to breathe oxygen. Other schools of thought suggest that because this is not 'typical' behavior, we should discourage it and redirect Kyan. That is easier said than done. Kyan is almost in a trance-like state. In one of the videos below, Braylen tries to help him with a puzzle. Braylen just wants to play with Kyan and Kyan gets very angry because Braylen is unknowingly disrupting Kyan's ritual. Many kids with Autism have very ritualistic behaviors and habits. Kynsie does some, but hers are more vocal. Kyan does a lot of visual stimming. Check out the videos below.

Stimming around the trampoline.

A ritualistic 'play' (I use that term VERY loosely as this is not appropriate play at all) with floor puzzle pieces. Kyan did this last night for 45 minutes non-stop before bath and then SCREAMED violently when I said 'bath time'. After bath he insisted that he had to go downstairs and get his train puzzle. He walked down, got the puzzle and carried upstairs and began this behavior all over again until we put them in bed for the night.

Stimming along the side of the house using the lines of the siding for his stim. Even hurting his shoulder doesn't discourage him. He has walked into tables and corners and walls doing this, but it doesn't deter him at all. The other day he walked into a display and it poked his eyelid leaving a mark. He cried hard for a few minutes and then started stimming all over again. It is just an itch that he can't help but scratch.

This is a video of Kynsie stimming. It is short and hard to notice, but she does this exact behavior repetitively and often, so I recognize it. When she is spelling her words and asking me 'what's that spells mommy?" Notice that she kind of rolls her eyes and head back and then drops head and eyes really close to her book. She does this every time she asks about a word, and she goes through that specific book 20 or 30 times a day. It's not just a favorite book. It's a ritual.

Braylen LOVES that book and for a couple of days wanted to ask what each word spelled, but it wasn't the same. He wasn't ritualistic about it and he moved on. Kynsie's 'repeat' button is stuck. That's the best way I know to describe it. She and Kyan (Kyan more so than Sis) tend to become fixated on items, games, sentences, songs--you name it, and can't seem to move on to other activities. Case in point--Kyan still asks for a book at he checked out from the library at school last spring. He still throws fits about it and talks about it over and over again. OCD--Obsession--Compulsion--Fixation--whatever you call it, it's maddening.

So there you have it. A little glimpse into our world of stimming. I should point out that these are super mild stims compared to what is out there. Some kids beat their heads against walls or twitch, or rock or flap arms, or twirl in circles constantly. Again, an itch they have to scratch. We don't want to teach them not to scratch it. We want to make the itch go away.

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