For the Wednesday Feature, I have dawdled throughout the day on what exactly to write about. I have settled on Verbal and Vocal Stimming. Similar to Echolalia, these aforementioned two is where phrases or tones are sounded from an autistic person in continuum as a stimulation mechanism just like the common stims such as hand flapping and other external gestures. However, these two involve the autistics voice and at times can be quite noticeable if one gets their voice high.
This in fact is a way to relieve stress and I have found out it can be very helpful. I have always known growing up that I hummed certain rhythms from excerpts of songs that I would enjoy. This would change over the decades from Oldies to Pop Hits, to the Adult Contemporary to Rock and later Metal and NuMental, and now in my mid-30’s a combination of the three. Nonetheless, although had been know as the customary traits over the decades of humming and other tunes that what I thought weren’t noticeable to others
However, in 2018 I noticed that I was quire loud when doing what I thought I was humming. Although because I was filming things, I would notice sounds such as the rhythms and such but louder than a hum and this I would learn about myself would be my way of stimming, along with others. For the longest time it bothered me because it interfered most times with my passion of filming events. Now you would think that I would want to halt this activity that some caregivers and those close to autistics would consider boisterous or annoying. However, within time I learned that this was a quite normal feature with the diagnosis on the autism spectrum.
Many persons associated with the autist are many times bothered by these actions because they are not “normal” nor are they traditional societal norms that are to be follows. Speaking of that in the famed film of “Forrest Gump”, of which Forrest is to have autistic features, his mother states to the school principal “What is normal anyway? In the next scene while she is being what I call a Special Education pioneer, Forrest is outside in the rocking chair performing this vocal simulation. Also, in the film he is imitated having a scene with Elvis and the actor portrays this well. When I was first diagnosed, I would be referred to watch this film to reference Asperger’s when it was coming out. It helped me at a younger age but when I was an adult, I understood the adult context more, which I am grateful for.
Sometimes I associate vocal cords that I stim on with roads, companies, or local utilities. One thing I do on my hobby YouTube Channel is try to associate songs with roads I film with the dash cam. I do enjoy music gratefully for that reason and sometimes by me watching those videos makes me stim and get my expressions out. Sometimes it may not be in tune with a song that one feels is appropriate for the occasion, like a Alternative song when driving through a Christmas Light Display, but it is what helps me soothe and be a calmer individual and if no one is getting hurt, what does it matter anyway. Autistic pride (among others) is something I take near and dear to me and it just hurts me when any individual in any community sect is not free to express how they feel. I may not have to agree with it, but I am able to mutually relate on so many levels to practice societal norms and refrain from expressing myself in this manner. I remember when what is now my favorite Linkin Park album came out and there is this one song that I verbally stimulated in the store. My father was with me and as an adult would get so irritated because I was stimming in public. However, in reality, it was helping me cope with the environment around me so I wouldn’t get to the point of having a meltdown. It made me so mad and still does for almost over three decades that I had to follow societal norms. You can’t change the past and I know that.
My closing advice to anyone supporting individuals on the spectrum experiencing this issue is simply this. If this or any stim is NOT inappropriate or hurtful, then allow it. You are only compromising the individual’s ability to cope with all the norms out there that may be overwhelming to them. I personally get inappropriate stims, in fact I do them, but in the privacy of the bedroom, because that is where you do them, they are private, simply that. But to have an autist bottle up what they need to express is confounding the situation and when they get in their safe space they are going to explode with a worsened effect.
Anyway, Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!