Tuesday, January 29, 2013

To stim or not to stim?

Stimming is any repetitive movement that is believed to stimulate one or more of the senses. 

I have read a lot of research regarding this very question.  To stim or not to stim? Most BCBAs (board certified behavior analyst) would say not to let a child stim because there is no purpose and it may interfere with everyday functioning.  Grown adults can't stop in the middle of their job for a sensory scratch or to run in circles around the office.  Occupational therapists and other teachers and caregivers of children with autism often allow some sensory input or stimming for a brief time so the child can organize their feelings.  After all, we, as "typical adults, have sensory issues that we address.  When I am cold and tired I love to take a hot bath before bed.  Its very hard for me to go to sleep without one.  BCBA's and some neurodevelopmentalists agree that if you interrupt or don't allow the stimming it will eventually stop all together and the child won't desire it anymore either.  I often wonder if there is any research merging ABA with some sensory input.  What if the child was able to learn more or pay attention more if they had brief sensory input sessions or time to stim a little to organize their feelings?  Anyways, these are my ongoing questions regarding Jacob's stimming.

Update on Jacob's health and development:

Lately, Jacob has developed an obsession with doorknobs.  He loves them.  He grabs them and wiggles his fingers all around them, he smiles at them, he looks into them and slowly walks backwards away from them all while making sounds.  I wonder what in the world he is thinking.  I thought he was acting like that because he saw his image in them, but he does this even with the ones that aren't shiny.  Maybe since he sees his reflection in some of the knobs he feels like a little person lives in all of them.  I don't know, but he is absolutely infatuated with them. The kid loves doorknobs.  He is still playing with his shadow all of the time.  He holds his shadow's hand and runs all around the house.  Its pretty cute.  Recently, he also started screaming and slapping his stomach when he is upset or told no.  He has not yet addressed Cret and I as mommy and daddy, but can distinguish our individual pictures from other family members in therapy when asked to pick which one is mommy or daddy.  He is fully requesting objects with his pecs in therapy and is about to start learning verb pictures. He hasn't generalized the PECS system to the outside world yet, but it will happen soon.  He still sometimes plays with the PECS instead of using them solely for communication. Jacob is now requesting that his sister chase him and then scream "BOO" in his face.  He requests it by dragging her around the room and sitting down in front of her.  He loves to play chase with Tyler and Jordan.  He gets very engaged and looks directly at them.  Although he is not pointing for things yet, he does drag us over to whatever he wants, whether it is the fridge or the Ipad.  He loves books that make noises and loves driving cars around.  He still puts everything in his mouth.  I feel like that is why he is always so sick.  I can't wait for him to be out of the chewing on everything stage.  He still runs in patterns and circles and is still having the strange jerky head movements.  His ABA therapist believes it is visual stimming because when she has observed these movements it was always after looking at light out of the side of his eyes. He won't take a nap or go to sleep without his heavy blanket.  We often have to hide it from him because he wants to roll around on it all the time.  He is still very tiny.  He is now 31 months and can easily fit in 12-18 month clothes.  We have inquired about his size often at the doctor and they have said that he may just be a very small guy.  I feel like there is something more to it, but only time will tell I suppose.  He is singing more and more songs.  Some of the words sound very similar to the actual words and some sound more like beeps, but he is trying so much more.  His newest song is Twinkle Twinkle Little Star which sounds like kweekul kweekul eeeeee uuuuu awe.  Its pretty darn cute.  So thankful for this little guy and the progress he is making.  He will occasionally answer with "yesh" when I ask him if he wants certain foods that I know he loves and then say, "Tell me yes, Jacob".  Its amazing to hear him say that, however, I think he would mimic any sound I told him to say in order to get the food he wants.  HAHA he is a good eater.  What that does mean is that the therapist has taught him that when we say,"Tell me....." it means to repeat what he said.  That is good news.  It may take him a while to catch on to what yes means, but I have faith that he will.

Anyways, I just wanted to post an update about his behavior and progress.  Feeling blessed that he is still so lovable and sweet and happy.

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