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.
Some things that work for some people who sometimes have trouble making words:
- Sometimes text-based communication works better
- Sometimes using email or instant messaging or text messaging will make you able to use words when you couldn’t do so with your voice
- When that doesn’t work, sometimes typing random nonsense or quotes or something can get you into a mode in which you have more words to use
- Sometimes if you can say any word or phrase, it makes other words start working
- For instance, saying lines from a book or TV
- Or, frustratingly, sometimes explaining inability to speak makes it easier to speak
- If it’s a particular word you can’t find, describing the thing can work
- Sometimes making sounds that aren’t words works as expressive communication
- Sometimes making sounds can make words come after
- Sometimes waving hands can help make words come out
- Or making gestures of other sorts, like pointing at things