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'People should be allowed to do what they like': Autistic adults' views and experiences of stimming

Kapp, SK; Steward, R; Crane, LM; Elliott, D; Elphick, C; Pellicano, E; Russell, G; (2019) 'People should be allowed to do what they like': Autistic adults' views and experiences of stimming. Autism 10.1177/1362361319829628. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

‘Stereotyped or repetitive motor movements’ are characterised as core features in the diagnosis of autism, yet many autistic adults (and the neurodiversity movement) have reclaimed them as ‘stimming’. Supported by a growing body of scientific research, autistic adults argue that these behaviours may serve as useful coping mechanisms, yet little research has examined stimming from the perspective of autistic adults. Through interviews and focus groups, we asked 32 autistic adults to share their perceptions and experiences of stimming, including the reasons they stim, any value doing so may hold for them and their perceptions of others’ reactions to stimming. Using thematic analysis, we identified two themes: stimming as (1) a self-regulatory mechanism and (2) lacking in social acceptance, but can become accepted through understanding. Autistic adults highlighted the importance of stimming as an adaptive mechanism that helps them to soothe or communicate intense emotions or thoughts and thus objected to treatment that aims to eliminate the behaviour.

Type: Article
Title: 'People should be allowed to do what they like': Autistic adults' views and experiences of stimming
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/1362361319829628
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177/1362361319829628
Language: English
Additional information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).
Keywords: adults, autism, neurodiversity, repetitive behaviour, repetitive movements, self-stimulatory behaviour, stereotypies, stimming
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Psychology and Human Development
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10066002
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