Many people, both with and without autism, find certain types of sensory stimulation have a calming effect and help them cope with the stresses of everyday life. To fulfill these sensory cravings, some people participating in self-stimulatory or “stimming” behaviors. There is a wide range of these “stims,” from hand-flapping to headbanging and more.
Each type of stim serves a different purpose, stimulating one or more of the senses, including touch. And one form of touch-related self-stimulation is putting pressure on the body, also known as deep-touch pressure. In the same way that a hug or a shower with good water pressure can be comforting, so other forms of pressure can offer a relaxing sensation or another type of sensation.
Because certain stims can be dangerous behavior—such as banging one’s head against a hard object or biting oneself—it’s important to have plenty of sensory-friendly tools in your arsenal so you can choose safer stims for yourself or encourage safer stims in your child or someone else in your care.
In that spirit, we’ve compiled a list of safe stims that involve putting deep-touch pressure on different areas of the body. Some of these activities require the use of certain objects, while others can be done no matter where you are. You’re sure to find one among this list that fulfills the unique needs of your situation.