Self-stimulation behaviours simply means any repetitive body or object movement. Often these present as staring at lights, moving fingers in front of the eyes, hand-flapping, rocking, and jumping. It is generally believed that the behaviours are repeated because they offer the child a gratifying sensory input, either to alert or calm the child’s sensory system. Although the self-stimulation behaviours help with their sensory system, they can often interfere with attending within the classroom. However, because these behaviours serve a purpose for the child in helping to regulate their bodies and minds, it is very difficult to simply stop the behaviour. Instead, their parents and teachers could work with an occupational therapist to help create a sensory diet for better sensory regulation throughout the day as well as work towards replacing the behaviours with more socially appropriate form of sensory feedback.

Some common socially appropriate forms of sensory feedback or environmental supports, which can serve as replacements for the stimming behaviours include:

  • Wobble cushions or t-stools (movement and balance input)
  • Sitting on hands or squeezing them together (deep pressure and touch input)
  • Hand massages (deep pressure and touch input)
  • Hand fidget objects (touch input)
  • Frequent movement breaks throughout the day


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