I have one last cheque in the mail from a disability organization I work for; when I receive the money, I plan on squirreling most of it away for Victoria, but there’s $15 of it that’s going towards two very important investments. What, pray tell, are these items? A bouncy yoga exercise ball, and a new pair of headphones. To anyone else, these might seem like ordinary items, or luxuries even, and chide me for wasting money on them when I don’t have a job right now.
But they fail to realize what an important part they play in my daily stimming. In fact, they even fail to realize just how important stimming in general is for my health and mental well-being. I use yoga balls (or people’s couches, which is less convenient for all because that wears away the material very quickly) to bounce and move my body, and I use headphones so that I can move to the sound of the music. I’ve written before on just how important music is to me, and using it in conjunction with stimming provides unique and incomparable catharsis, as well as giving me exercise and giving me rushes of endorphins and dopamine which are part of maintaining a healthy mind and body.
Setting aside the benefits to my physical health, there’s something else that stimming plays a part in: It helps me harness the creative part of my brain, and post-stimming, the heightening of my sensory and intellectual awareness makes me feel the urge to create: After stimming, I will often reach for my notebook, my drawing pad, my clay (when I’m not unemployed, unfortunately sculptey III, my preferred brand, is very expensive) and try to capture what it is I experienced during my stimming. The curious serenity my brain undergoes during the stimming means that it’s a perfect time to come up with stories, or see pictures in my brain, or cobble together poetry.
I don’t consider my artistic output to be a hobby. Without my art, I would not be able to do other things which are praised as my work, such as my speaking engagements, my homework, and my essays. It is for this reason I believe that stimming is greatly undervalued in our society, and I wish that more was done to ensure that stimming was seen as an essential part of an autistic’s day, and not seen as frivolous or counter-productive to promoting normality. I really don’t see why bouncing on an exercise ball to enjoy the sensory experiences bouncing brings you is considered less worthy than bouncing on an exercise ball for slimmer thighs, or why it’s considered “weird” to do it in order to relax and unwind, but using an after-work drink of alcohol to do the same is an accepted ritual for the same purpose.