Dear entire neuropsychiatric profession,

Why can you never give me a straight answer on anything? I wanted to know exactly what constitutes "stimming". As far as I can tell, you think it is "a thing autistic people do". Then you include "engages in stereotypies, also known as stimming" as one of the diagnostic signs of autism. Do you not see the problem here? The only reason you have not won an award for Least Helpful Help Ever Invented is because I once played Final Fantasy Tactics, and the tutorial for that game includes the sentence, "An item is an item tat is used in battle."

PSX-era Squaresoft translation work sets a low bar, neuropsychiatric profession. A very low bar. I don't know if anyone's told you, but this is not a limbo contest.

I also cannot get you to tell me the specific dividing line between stimming and other forms of stress-relieving behavior. As near as I can make out, the difference comes down to whether the doctor doing the evaluation thinks you're autistic or allistic. If the doctor says you're autistic, then it's stimming; otherwise, it's self-harm or self-soothing, depending on whether you're damaging yourself or not. I consider this to be circular and stupid, but as my invitation to consult on the contents of the upcoming DSM-V seems to have gotten lost in the mail, I suppose we're stuck with this for the foreseeable foture.

On the bright side, I feel slightly better about the way none of you fuckers ever seemed to listen when I try to explain what's in my head. I can resolve not to take it personally now that I know you're not listening to anyone else without a PhD either. I'm sure there's someone out there in your ranks who actually gives a damn, but considering how you all seem to be so stuck on Simon Baron-Cohen, they're probably keeping very quiet so you don't tar and feather them for kicks.

No love,


  1. Hum. I would call self-soothing behavior stimming (as well as much of self-harm behavior). I think what characterizes stimming vs. other self-soothing is the repetitiveness of the action. For example, most people who play with their hair when they get nervous might play with one hand, then the other; they might twirl some hair and then scratch/fluff it; they might put their hair up and then take it down again. For folks with autism, you would see the same hair being twisted, in the same fashion, time after time. That's what they mean by "stereotyped," which is a term that I hate.

    But I call the non-autistic folks in my department out on stimming all the time (including myself, to the distress of some of my colleagues). I'm fine with using the term "stimming," but in order to use it, I think we have to see it as a behavior we see in everyone - just more so in the autistic community (or perhaps more "stereotyped"). I don't really care what terms we use. I just hate it when folks describe the same behavior by two different names, depending on who's doing it (which, I think, is exactly what you're complaining about).

    As for Baron-Cohen, you have no idea my disillusionment over the last decade with his work. But that sentence made me laugh.


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