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Autism Treatment

The secret to autism treatment is to look at the self stimulatory behaviors (stimming or stereotypy) of the autistic person, from a detachment and neurological viewpoint. Are self stimulatory behaviors occurring when the person is stressed or appears bored? The self stimulation is not the enemy, as many believe. It is the clue to discovering what the brain is seeking to normalize itself.

For example, if a person is spinning one should first determine whether the person appears to be attempting to escape an overwhelming stress or just the reverse, spinning to increase their vestibular sensory input.

If they are under-stimulated they will spin to increase the level of input to their vestibular/balance receptors.

If they are stressed they may spin to relieve tension or escape into an easier tolerated sensory experience that is totally within their own control.

So rather than focus on spinning, it appears to correlate with stress, one should begin to remove other sensory inputs one at a time until the spinning is reduced or stopped. On the other hand, if it appears that the spinning increases when the person is under-stimulated or bored, then the spinning should be replaced with more controlled spinning. When the person with stimming behaviors needs to spin, we suggest replacing that stimulus with one that an outsider can participate in, such as swinging in a tire swing. This way the spinning may be shared with the autistic person and the caregiver or assistant.

For more information about autism, please visit Autism Speaks (external link).