Stimming at school

Stimming, or self-stimulatory behaviour, is often misunderstood by education professionals. The current thought is that classrooms should be quiet with children sitting in their chair as still as possible. This is not helpful for those with autism and ADHD who will need freedom to move in order to regulate and focus on their learning.

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Stimming in the classroom

Some stimming behaviours are easier than others to do in a classroom setting without disruption so it is important to let the school know what common patterns of stimming are for your child. For example if a child would receive regulation by flapping their hands under their desk then that is something that could be done in a classroom without causing distractions to other pupils or drawing attention to what the child is doing. However, if they need to verbalise or move around a lot during their stimming then they may need to leave the classroom.

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How do people stim?

Individuals will tend to have a preferred stim, or stims, and it is worth informing the school that these are to ensure that your child is able to self regulate during class and stay focused on learning. Of course the stim should not distract other children as far as possible, but ensure that your child will be given adequate opportunity to stim and that they are never reprimanded for doing so.

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Stimming and anxiety

Many children will stim more frequently or intensely if they are experiencing heightened anxiety. This may mean that the behaviours often occur during events such as school assemblies or in the dining hall. It is important that you make sure that this taken into account by the school so that all staff are aware of the needs of your child. Depending on the age of your child it might be worth asking their teacher to explain to the class about stimming. Children are very accepting if they understand something and by explaining these behaviours your child is less likely to experience bullying/teasing from their peers.