Describing yourself accurately isn’t appropriation

A reader asked:

I have ADHD and I need to rock and twitch my hands to concentrate. Is it appropriate to call it stimming?

I think that’s perfectly fine. That’s a really common reason autistic people stim, too. There’s a lot of overlap between ADHD traits and autistic traits.

I think that it’s actually good if we use the same words to describe things that are the same or similar. A lot of groups cross-disability have far more in common than we realize, and I think we could all benefit a lot from sharing concepts and coping mechanisms.

That said, calling it stimming might lead to some awkward situations. It’s a term mostly used by autistic folks. Sometimes when you (in my view accurately) refer to it as stimming, that might cause people to think you’re autistic. That’s something you should be prepared for if you want to start using words that are mostly used to describe autism.

Stimming for non-autistics?

A reader asked:

Can non autistics stim too or is that a term/thing reserved for autistics?

Yes, it’s common for other kinds of people too.

It’s not only autistic people who do it. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a nonautistic person moving in ways that are common for autistic people.

It’s just that stimming tends to be really important to autistic people (and folks with some other disabilities), in a way that it usually isn’t for people without disabilities.

And here’s a thing about that:

  • A lot of neurotypical people like to rock or play with toys or whatever
  • Most NT people can sit still in a socially acceptable way without harming themselves
  • In particular, most NT people don’t need to stim in order to understand what’s going on around them, communicate, or prevent themselves from getting really overloaded

It’s important to keep this in mind, and to understand that stimming is really, really important for some people.

If you’re not disabled, and these kinds of motions aren’t particularly important for you, it’s probably better to call them fidgeting.

A point of clarification

I’m not opposed to forgiveness.

Or to salvaging relationships in which someone hurt you.

Both can be good in a lot of circumstances. People hurt each other, and often it’s something that people can get past and fix.

It’s just that: people put a lot of pressure on people who have been hurt to forgive and/or patch things up. Even to the point of telling them that they’ll never be happy until they do.

And sometimes, forgiving is a bad idea. Sometimes attempting to patch things up would make things a lot worse.

This is a decision someone should be making for themself, and it’s important to be aware that both options exist.