autism · journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

World Autism Awareness Week [2017]

The 27th March to the 2nd April 2017 is World Autism Awareness Week.

The term ‘autism’ is used here to describe all diagnostic profiles, including Asperger syndrome and Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA).Without understanding, autistic people and their families are at risk of being isolated and developing mental health problems.

Autism is much more common than many people think. There are around 700,000 people on the autism spectrum in the UK – that’s more than 1 in 100. If you include their families, autism is a part of daily life for 2.8 million people.

Autism doesn’t just affect children. Autistic children grow up to be autistic adults. Autism is a hidden disability – you can’t always tell if someone is autistic. While autism is incurable, the right support at the right time can make an enormous difference to people’s lives.

70% of autistic adults say that they are not getting the help they need from social services. 70% of autistic adults also told us that with more support they would feel less isolated. At least one in three autistic adults are experiencing severe mental health difficulties due to a lack of support. Only 16% of autistic adults in the UK are in full-time paid employment, and only 32% are in some kind of paid work.

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What is Autism?

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others.

Autistic people see, hear and feel the world differently to other people. If you are autistic, you are autistic for life; autism is not an illness or disease and cannot be ‘cured’. Often people feel being autistic is a fundamental aspect of their identity.

Autism is a spectrum condition. All autistic people share certain difficulties, but being autistic will affect them in different ways. Some autistic people also have learning disabilities, mental health issues or other conditions, meaning people need different levels of support. All people on the autism spectrum learn and develop. With the right sort of support, all can be helped to live a more fulfilling life of their own choosing.

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How can you help?

You can help autistic people and their families by:

  • spreading understanding about autism – sign up to support the National Autistic Society’s Too Much Information campaign
  • donating to the National Autistic Society so they can continue to give millions of people information and advice about support
  • Talking about autism on social media and to friends and family
  • Sharing this blog post

 

journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Explaining my Stimming…

Stimming. Where do I start with stimming? Maybe I should give you guys an overview on stimming before I go into talking about it and my experience. It’s not really something everyone knows much about.

Stimming is basically short for self-stimulatory behaviours. This means, technically, that somebody is doing something to give themselves sensory input – but what does that mean? Think of it this way: when most people say something, it’s usually to communicate; when they do something, it’s usually to have an effect on the world or themselves; when they look at something, it’s usually because they’re getting information from it. You do something because you want to achieve a consequence. When someone is stimming, they’re speaking, moving or gazing purely to enjoy the sensation it creates, and the state of mind that sensation produces.

Common areas of stimming include:

Visual. Staring at lights; doing things to make the vision flicker such as repetitive blinking or shaking fingers in front of the eyes; staring at spinning objects.
Auditory. Listening to the same song or noise, for instance rewinding to hear the same few notes over and over. Making vocal sounds, tapping ears, snapping fingers etc.
Tactile. Rubbing the skin with hands or with another object, scratching, unusual hand movements and flapping, hands near or in mouth, hand clapping.
Taste/smell. Sniffing objects or people; licking or chewing on things, often things that aren’t edible. Pica can overlap with stimming.
Verbal. Echolalia, basically: repeating sounds, words or phrases without any obvious regard for their meaning.
Proprioception. Rocking side to side or back and forth, swinging, jumping, pacing, running, tiptoeing or spinning , walking in circles.

There’s no one reason why someone stims. It can be a way of shaking up ‘hypo sensitive’ senses – that is, senses that need stronger input to feel things. We all need a certain amount of sensory stimulation to feel comfortable, and if it doesn’t happen in the ordinary run of things, stimming can be a way to get it. It’s also, according to the people who do it, just a nice experience, something that you do because it feels good, calming you down and helping you relax. During stress and anxiety or emotional trauma, a person also reverts to stimming in order to shut things out or self-soothe. Tiredness can also trigger stimming behaviours. Stimming behaviours are likely to occur in those with autism, sensory processing disorders, mental health problems, and someone experiencing current trauma or distress.

[Information provided by ambitious about autism]

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In terms of stimming in relation to me; I didn’t really notice it until about a year and a half ago. I remember rocking in one of my college classes because I felt extremely uncomfortable and distressed in the environment. I’m not sure how long I’d been doing it before then, but it only became prevalent and part of everyday life about a year ago. I am usually oblivious and unaware of my stimming behaviour unless somebody points it out. Sometimes, I am able to notice the stimming and stop it or at least slow it down.

When I first started stimming, I would only tactile stim. I would often rub my hands together or wring my hands. I would sometimes scratch at my skin absentmindedly. I would also do what is known as ‘teepee hands’ which basically means interlocking the fingers into a stiff position. These stims were noticeable to me years before I even realised what stimming was. If someone noticed these behaviours, I was able to stop them. Hand scratching was the most prevalent – occurring when I had panic attacks.

Over time, I’ve developed more stims, targeting more sensory areas in order to fulfil my sensory processing needs. These stims were not noticeable to me until people began pointing them out. One of the biggest stims that people usually notice about me is rocking. I’m not sure when or why I started ‘rocking’ but when people told me I was doing it, I would stop. Eventually rocking became a ‘natural’ stim. I rock about 60-80% of the day where as I used to rock about 10% of the week. From what people have told me; I rock most of the time, more so when sitting. When standing I either bounce from one foot to the other, walk in circles or resort to other stims.

I have noticed recently that I involuntary clap my hands when severely anxious or tired. I clap twice and then stop. It’s almost like an involuntary muscle reaction that my body does when stressed. I also tap my fingers together rapidly, shake my hands, put my hands near my chin or in my mouth, or less frequently; flap.

I fiddle almost all the time, mostly with my tangle but other objects include pens, sleeves of a hoodie, and small stationary equipment.

I find it extremely difficult to open up about this behaviour on my blog because I struggle to tell people about it. I already have enough reasons why people would not consider me ‘normal’ and to stim at this age just looks ‘weird’ and frankly ‘crazy’. After deep thought I realised that I NEEDED to write this blog post because people don’t understand stimming or even realise the reasons why a person does it. Stimming is a self-soothing mechanism that a person does when clearly distressed, tired, emotional, going through trauma or struggling. It’s the body’s natural instinct; after all your mother rocked you as a baby so you could fall asleep.

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From a young age, I have been hypersensitive and ‘fussy’ with the senses. People with sensory processing disorder are oversensitive to things in their environment. Those with SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) and sensory issues often struggle with people touching them, hate mess and having stuff on their hands, fidget often, are bothered by changes (especially those involved with senses), are over sensitive to certain noises, are fussy with food textures and are easily anxious. They also take part in stimming and repetitive behaviours.


If you’ve read until here; thank you. Thank you for trying to understand stimming.

To the person in class who saw me rocking last Monday and then went on to mimic my behaviour to your friends to laugh at me; please understand the reasons why a person stims in the first place. It’s not for fun. It’s not because you’re bored. It’s the body’s natural reaction to trauma, stress, severe anxieties, mental illnesses, processing disorders and various other conditions.

Be mindful.

journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

What is Stimming behaviour?

Self-stimulatory behaviour, also known as stimming and self-stimulation, is the repetition of physical movements, sounds, or repetitive movement of objects common in individuals with developmental disabilities, but most prevalent in people with autistic spectrum disorders. Stimming behaviours have also been noticed in those with mental health problems or those who have been through some type of trauma.

Stimming is considered a behaviour that provides calmness and stimulation. It is also noted to be self-soothing during anxieties, psychosis, unsettled environments and trauma.

Common stimming behaviours, called stims, include:

  • hand flapping
  • rocking
  • head banging
  • repeating noises or words
  • snapping or tapping fingers
  • clapping of the hands
  • spinning objects

Stimming is usually related to the senses.

  • Visual: Staring at lights or ceiling fans; repetitive blinking; moving fingers in front of the eyes; hand-flapping, gazing at nothing in particular; tracking eyes; peering out of the corners of eyes; lining up objects; turning on and off light switches.
  • Auditory: Vocalizing in the form of humming, grunting, or high-pitched shrieking; tapping ears or objects; covering and uncovering ears; snapping fingers; making vocal sounds; repeating vocal sequences; repeating portions of videos, books or songs at inappropriate times.
  • Tactile: Scratching or rubbing the skin with one’s hands or with another object; opening and closing fists; tapping surfaces with fingers and the hand.
  • Vestibular: Rocking front to back; rocking side-to-side; spinning; jumping; pacing.
  • Taste: Placing body parts or objects in one’s mouth; licking objects.
  • Smell: Sniffing or smelling people or objects.

While the underlying cause for stimming is not clear, repetitive movements are associated with a number of medical and/or psychiatric conditions:

  • Sensory deprivation (blindness or deafness)
  • Seizures or brain infection
  • Intellectual disability
  • Drug use
  • Psychiatric disorders like autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, psychosis and anxiety
  • Undiagnosed pain
  • Trauma
  • Pervasive developmental disorders (PDD)

For more information on stimming, visit autism.wikia or speak to a professional. If you would like to talk please email:

savannahaliciax@gmail.com

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mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory Processing Disorder is a neurological disorder that prevents the brain’s ability to integrate information received from the body’s sensory system. Sensory Processing Disorder is often seen in people on the autistic spectrum as well as people with mental illness. People with the disorder tend to react more extreme than normal. The disorder ranges from barely noticeable to having an impaired effect on daily functioning.

There are so many symptoms for Sensory Processing Disorder so I’ve decided to list a few of the common symptoms in late teenage years and adulthood:

  • Atypical eating and sleeping habits
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Very high or very low energy levels throughout the day but more active at night
  • Very resistant to change in life and surrounding environments
  • heightened senses (sensitive to sounds, touch, taste, sight and smell)
  • very high or very low energy levels
  • Lethargic or severely tired most of the day
  • Motor skill problems – unexplained injuries and bruises with no recollection of how or when they occurred
  • Difficulty concentrating and staying focused – often in ‘own world’ or ‘glazed off’
  • Constant use of neurotic behaviours – swinging, rocking, bouncing, rubbing skin
  • repetitive and stimulating behaviours
  • Can appear self destructive (such as head banging, pinching, biting)
  • doesn’t notice dangers (such as walking in the road) or recognize pain
  • easily overwhelmed, frustrated, emotional and very tearful
  • clenching of extremities (hands and feet)
  • Sensitive to certain fabrics or textures

facts:

  • Sensory Processing Disorder is a complex disorder of the brain that affects developing children and adults.
  • At least one in twenty people in the general population may be affected by SPD.
  • In children who are gifted and those with ADHD, Autism, and mental health problems, the prevalence of SPD is much higher than in the general population.
  • Studies have found a significant difference between the physiology of children with SPD and children who are typically developing.
  • Sensory Processing Disorder has unique sensory symptoms that are not explained by other known disorders.
  • Heredity may be one cause of the disorder.
  • Laboratory studies suggest that the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are not functioning typically in children with SPD.

To find out more about Sensory Processing Disorder feel free to follow the link below:

http://www.spdfoundation.net/

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