Autisitic vs Non-autistic Motor Stereotypies



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29 Apr 2012, 9:45 am

I've been researching Motor Stereotypy Disorder on the internet, because I have one (like a lot of people here on WP). They always distinguish between "autistic" and "non-autistic" motor stereotypies. Does anyone know what the difference is between the two? I mean, is a motor stereotypy carried out by an autistic person automatically an autistic motor stereotypy and a motor stereotypy carried out by a non-autistic person automatically non-autistic, by definition, just because the person is non-autistic or is there supposed to be some sort of qualitative difference between the two? The non-autistic stereotypies in videos on the net don't look like what I would call stereotypies at all, more like people shaking their arms around a bit because they're excited about something. If there is a qualitative difference then an autistic person could in theory have a non-autistic stereotypy and a non-autistic person an autistic one. Sorry if this sounds hair-splitting and confused but I'm trying to get to the bottom of this because the experts don't seem to know anything about anything very much and so I have to do it myself.



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29 Apr 2012, 9:48 am

If you'd like to really complicate things, look up "blindisms."

I suspect that at least some autistic stereotypies (stimming) are sensory in nature, as blindisms apparently are.



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29 Apr 2012, 9:58 am

Yeah, I'm pretty sure you can have dyspraxia without having autism. I don't know if that's what you meant. I think when people have autism and dyspraxia most people automatically assumes it comes with the autism which is probably true in most circumstances.



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29 Apr 2012, 10:42 am

I've heard of blindisms and dyspraxia but don't know what either of them is exactly. I'll look them up.

(Verdandi,
I remember exchanging posts with you in September, just as I joined WP. Since then, after seven months of obsessing about AS, reading a pile of books, discussing things on WP, getting an informal positive diagnosis, seeing a completely ignorant neurologist/psychiatrist and an equally ignorant if pleasant therapist I am no wiser about whether I am really on the spectrum or not. At the moment I am working on the hypothesis Motor Stereotypy Disorder+ Schizoid Personality+ Obsessive Interests+ Social Ineptitude to add up to mimic ASD. I'm working on explaining away my "disorder" in this way as a mixture of different things one of which would include motor stereotypy disorder. Hence this post. I think I need psychotherapy just to stop obsessing about this issue :roll: )



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29 Apr 2012, 10:58 am

I've looked up blindisms and dyspraxia. I don't really think either of those could be mistaken for autistic stereotypies. Or at least they seem to me to be something completely different.



Verdandi
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29 Apr 2012, 11:02 am

Halligeninseln wrote:
I've looked up blindisms and dyspraxia. I don't really think either of those could be mistaken for autistic stereotypies. Or at least they seem to me to be something completely different.


Huh, really? From what I've read they have a lot in common with autistic stimming.

This page kind of talks about it: http://everything2.com/title/stim



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29 Apr 2012, 11:26 am

Verdandi wrote:
Halligeninseln wrote:
I've looked up blindisms and dyspraxia. I don't really think either of those could be mistaken for autistic stereotypies. Or at least they seem to me to be something completely different.


Huh, really? From what I've read they have a lot in common with autistic stimming.

This page kind of talks about it: http://everything2.com/title/stim


Interesting page. Thanks for the link :) . It seems to say that a stim is not a stereotypy because a stim is voluntary and a stereotypy is not. I wonder what a blind person's stimming is and what it does for them. As regards voluntary and involuntary a number of parents on a blog I read about "typically-developing children" who hand-flap said that they allow their children to hand-flap at certain times or in certain places (ie at home or in the bedroom) but that the children can't stop it, ie it can be controlled but isn't voluntary as such. That's what happened to me as a child too, before my hand-flapping morphed into more exotic phenomena.

I can relate to what it says about tension building up if you can't stim, until you absolutely have to. I think it's also right about the close relationship between stimming and obsessive interests. For me personally my obsessive interests were always a variation on/form of stimming. In recent months I've gone back to classic stimming a lot, with a corresponding drop in interest in my usual obsession, as if the same source of energy was going into both, so that the more that goes into the one the less there is for the other.



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29 Apr 2012, 12:35 pm

Very few things annoy me more than when people say, "Everybody stims!" or claim that stimming is exactly the same thing as tapping your pencil on a desk or bouncing your leg.

"Stimming" is what happens when your repetitive movements exceed what is considered "normal" for your developmental level and the culture in which you live.

I have extensive repetitive movements, and they're not "voluntary." At times, they're downright annoying.

As for the difference between Stereotypic Movement Disorder and autism, one has autism and one does not. It's like how you can have Sensory Processing Disorder without having autism.


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29 Apr 2012, 1:16 pm

XFilesGeek wrote:
Very few things annoy me more than when people say, "Everybody stims!" or claim that stimming is exactly the same thing as tapping your pencil on a desk or bouncing your leg.

"Stimming" is what happens when your repetitive movements exceed what is considered "normal" for your developmental level and the culture in which you live.

I have extensive repetitive movements, and they're not "voluntary." At times, they're downright annoying.

As for the difference between Stereotypic Movement Disorder and autism, one has autism and one does not. It's like how you can have Sensory Processing Disorder without having autism.


My repetitive movements exceed what is considered normal for my developmental level and the culture in which I live. I don't think it's normal as a teenager, adult or mature adult to just sit there for hours waving objects in front of your eyes to stimulate your visual sense and go into your own world, or to spend hours playing with water as an adult. I think most people would be freaked out by it, which is the reason I only talk about it here on WP. My movements are not like sneezing, so in that sense they are voluntary, but if I don't do them I get more and more stressed out until I do do them. When I have been around people for a while I need to withdraw to perform one of these "behaviours" in order to release the pressure on my brain, but it isn't literally involuntary because I can just stay in a stressed out, irritable state instead. You distinguish between Stereotypic Movement Disorder and autism. I genuinely do not know if what I have just described is just Stereotypic Movement Disorder. I thought it was.



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29 Apr 2012, 2:00 pm

XFilesGeek wrote:
"Stimming" is what happens when your repetitive movements exceed what is considered "normal" for your developmental level and the culture in which you live.


Question: it's also stimming if the movements don't exceed the average amount of repetitive movements of normal people but are highly abnormal for the general level of development of a person and the circumstances in which they're displayed, isn't it? Meaning, spinning in circles, clapping hands, flapping hands, twirling fingers or toes when occurring in an adult or flapping hands in a situation in which other people would, if unable to contain them, (in-)voluntarily display their state of mind in a different way such as by sudden facial expressions or by starting talking to someone.


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29 Apr 2012, 2:02 pm

I watched videos of non-autistic complex motor stereotypies. The children were watching TV and started and stopped with the movements eberry few seconds. On, Off, On, Off, On, Off. That is not how autistic stimming works for me. My stimming is much more rhythmic and constant. I rock back and forth slowly while feeling calm and happy for hours without starting and stopping at intervals. Starting and stopping would defeat the purpose of stimming, feel bad, and drive me crazy.



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29 Apr 2012, 3:01 pm

btbnnyr wrote:
I watched videos of non-autistic complex motor stereotypies. The children were watching TV and started and stopped with the movements eberry few seconds. On, Off, On, Off, On, Off. That is not how autistic stimming works for me. My stimming is much more rhythmic and constant. I rock back and forth slowly while feeling calm and happy for hours without starting and stopping at intervals. Starting and stopping would defeat the purpose of stimming, feel bad, and drive me crazy.


The non-autistic motor stereotypies I have seen on YouTube didn't look even remotely autistic to me either. In fact if that is all they are doing I don't see why it would be much of a disorder. However a lot of non-autistic people do hand-flap even as adults and see it as a problem. What I do is completely bizarre by normal standards and I know from other threads on WP that a lot of posters on here do the same sort of thing. Maybe non-autistic people wave objects for hours in front of their eyes to go into their own private world but if it is non-autistic then I wonder what makes it autistic when it is autistic? I suppose that is my question.



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29 Apr 2012, 3:11 pm

That is interesting. My stereotypies are the opposite and must look like an on-off effect thingy.

Get excited - twirling fingers in-between whatever else I am doing. Read an interesting text - rocking back until after perhaps half a minute I'm too drawn in to "remember" how to move. Explain something while sitting - toes (alternatively the entire feet) move back and forth when I talk. Write this post - get up, sit down, sway from side to side for half a minute or so, flash hand in front of eyes for hardly a second or two, alternatively move in front of the eyes, twirl fingers several times for perhaps a second (I'll cut the list here to stop it from growing). Listen - trying not to hum in-between by pinching myself or so.

I think there's a distinct pattern and that every time that I am truly occupied, I halt all stereotypies as I am suddenly unable to stim until I am distracted in my activity or until I am distracted because something (exciting, for example) in what I did (such as an awesome moment in a book) triggers a repetitive movement or sounds/speech.

If the movements were going on smoothly for some time while I am occupied with something else also, I imagine that I'd tire out and feel distressed but not calm. If I am occupied with something, it is difficult to move or do something else at the same time, such as reading seriously and rocking at the same time.

For me, stims/repetitive movements occur when I am not occupied enough or when they serve as a sudden "expressions" (sort of) of excitement, distress, so on such as other people's sudden and semi-involuntary facial expressions.

Edit: I forgot to mention that I also have many and frequently occurring repetitive movements that seem to serve no purpose such as that when I pick up something sometimes, there's a short and non-functional repetitive movement before or right after. I just remember about this because I picked up the lid of a box of sweets next to me, waved it forth and back for a split moment and only then put it on.

I am fairly sure that it is not compulsive (because the compulsive stuff feels and looks different) and rather suspect that it serves as a "tool" to grant me more time (before I have to perform the next action) and/or to stimulate me into being able to perform the next action.

A few of these repetitive movements might have been functional only when I was younger (with fewer resources than today) and I could, perhaps, do without them today which I assume would make these "habits" now.


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29 Apr 2012, 3:36 pm

I stim by default just to maintain the state of feeling OK and being able to breathe normally, but I stop stimming completely when I am fully engaged in doing something. I feel really stiff afterwards, like I haven't moved for hours, which was what happened. When I am engaged, I don't need to stim, because there are little sensory stimuli coming in to my conscious awareness, and I don't need motor stereotypies to deal with them. Somehow, the motor stuff seems to be tied to the sensory stuff for me. Most of my stimming is like this slow steady regulatory metronome, and the small minority of my stimming has emotional triggers, like bouncing my leg really fast when I am anxious, or flapping my hands as an immediate reaction to eggsitement. Emotion-triggered stimming seems to be common in non-autistic people with no motor disorders.

I also didn't find that motor stereotypy in videos to be disordered, and it didn't look like autistic stimming to me either. Autistic stimming of a kid rocking or swaying or spinning looks pleasant to me. The on-off motor stereotypies did not. I think that these could be problematic if the kid is banging his head frequently, but I don't know what is causing the stimming in motor stereotypy disorder. I don't know if non-autistic people wave things in front of their eyes for hours because they love doing it and it makes them feel great. My guess is that they don't.



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29 Apr 2012, 3:47 pm

That is why we have specialists, they know what to separate and what causes what. I am not sure if things I do is actually autistic stimming or if it's just OCD or anxiety or ADD or actually normal.

I pace, drives people crazy. I rock back and forth and my body movements drives my husband crazy. But I can control it but when I am at home or by myself, I choose not to control it. Pacing has been hard for me to control because I be doing it again and not even realize it.

I know everyone paces but when I do it, it drives people crazy. Most people click pens or tab pencils but when autistics do it, it's a problem somehow.

As a child I would wring my wrists and it was noted as it being autism. I still do it apparently because my husband has pointed it out to me. That was the only thing my mother told me in 6th grade I did as a child but I have seen it in the home movies my dad took and it seemed normal so why the fuss about it? I did it in crowded and noisy places. Mom told me it was something I did to keep calm. I also recall I would be looking around as if I like to explore and see everything. But really how does wringing you wrists an impairment? It doesn't hurt you or effect anyone else. I can see how pacing and rocking be an impairment because it can be loud and distracts people. I also don't see how hand flapping is an impairment either and how does it effect people or themselves? They make it an impairment because it's nor normal just like wringing wrists isn't normal. Anything in the minority is a condition. But yet this was also called an OCD thing in autism by one of my therapists. She said it was a obsessive compulsive thing people on the autism spectrum do. I suspect my psychiatrist said the same thing.

I stim when bored or anxious or nervous or excited or stressed out and sometimes I do it for no reason. I know lot of people stim when they are nervous or anxious. That be doodling or tapping their fingers or pens or constantly checking their watches or phones. But yet I have noticed when autistic people do normal stims, It's still a problem so I wonder if it has to do with how it's being done. Just like an aspie can be obsessed with something that is a normal interest but yet people are still bothered by it from them because of how they do it. Just like how people didn't like my Titanic interest in middle school despite the fact that tons of teen girls were obsessed with it then and crazy over the movie. One of my aspie friends got flak in school for his obsession with Star Trek and sports despite the fact those were also popular and still is.

I tend to hide my stims when I am around people because I get too embarrassed so I have to hold it in. Yet another reason why I don't think I'd meet the ASD criteria because if I can control it, I won't meet that part then. If I just try hard enough, I can do it. But stress will make it harder.

But yet when you have an ASD diagnoses and you are stimming, doctors will just automatically assume it's due to your autism. That goes for with normal people too who know you and your diagnoses.

My ex who was aspie, the "stims" he did I suspect were actually normal. I mean lot of people do things with their phones or keys or anything when upset or bored or when waiting, etc and if what the autistic person is doing isn't an impairment with their stims because it doesn't cause a problem for others, they don't have that autistic trait. In fact my ex hated my body movements like when I jump up and down or when I rock or pace. Ironic isn't it? He even said people look at me funny. I dunno if he was making that up to make me feel bad but I didn't care what people thought.

I don't recall my aspie mate stimming either. He did pace but he also had ADHD and had a hard time sitting still. Not all autistic people have this characteristic. But yet he met everything in the criteria according to his mother. Maybe he just happened to not be doing them when I was around and I don't see many stimming going on at my autism groups. Things they do there seem normal to me.



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