I know that habits and Jude’s stimming are both something I’ve mentioned before – remember Jude’s lining up?
Well, this last week I’ve noticed a new habit forming and it’s made me wonder what other joyful habits your children display. You know how they love to copy one another until they find that one reaction they’ve been looking for? Well, Jude has definitely been working up the Maslow’s hierarchy of horror habits over the years.
Some habits have been funny. There was a time when I’d come downstairs each morning to every shoe in the vicinity carefully balancing on a door handle. It was hilarious! Like a scene from Poltergeist. He’d place the shoe carefully along the handle and then watch it wobble until it settles.
Another habit, that frankly still lingers around a bit, was with doors being open or closed. Certain doors had to be open and others closed. Some were allowed to be slightly ajar but only to Jude’s exact requirements. Elsa soon learnt that she could wind Jude up by messing with the order. She’d call to him, “Juuuuude, I’m touching the living room door!” and he’d soon come running.
Next on the list was when Jude loved to push buggies and cars around (this lasted for a loooong time). In fact, it is still something he loves to do if given the chance. He’d pile up loads of stuff onto an old buggy we left at my parents house and spend hours marching around the garden, wobbling the buggy for added movement. He’d watch the buggy move with a slight tilt to his head, as if he was completely in a trance.
Jude then went through the infamous lining up phase. This also still rears up every so often. A few weeks ago, Jude lined up all the chairs in my parents garden exactly as he used to do.
His favourite flicky paper habit still lives on strong. Jude is very light and visually sensitive so I think he loves to motion of the paper flying past his line of vision. Same reason he crouches in front of the tv to watch the colours and shapes flickering at the top of his eye line.
Jude uses these habits to calm his mind. It’s called Stimming (self-stimulatory behaviour) and is defined as the repetition of physical movements, sounds or repetitive movement of objects which is most prevalent in people with autism.
I remember a doctor telling us to try and stop Jude from stimming. The reason being that they didn’t feel he would move on developmentally. This doctor considered him “stuck” on a level. To stop Jude from going through his habits and rituals was awful. I could entertain him for a certain amount of time but he’d naturally gravitate to pushing his buggy or lining stuff up. I always saw it as just a way of him calming his mind and processing everything he’d done that day but assumed the doctor knew better. Of course, any attempt to stop him were futile and as he wasn’t doing any damage, I just left him be. Thankfully, nowadays, I think the advice is to not stop your child from stimming unless it’s harming them or anyone around them. Obviously. I don’t even know how we would go about stopping him from doing these things, do you?
I read this week (but it may be wrong!) that stimming comes from the central nervous system and is activated an as motion when the individual feels overloaded and needs to calm down. Similarly, it occurs when they feel tired and want to start winding down. This is most definitely true with Jude. He’ll retreat to his room at bedtime and chill on his bed with his paper. You can almost see his mind visibly relaxing in preparation for sleep, it’s amazing.
Still so much learn as Jude’s mum. I feel a bit silly at times because he’s 12 and I still haven’t got a clue what’s right and wrong. But then again, I don’t know what’s right with parenting in general. Winging it is my method.
Do your children have any unique habits?