Last updateMon, 28 Jan 2013 9pm

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Stimming - WHAT IS IT?

 Stimming is what jellybeans do when they're anxious, frightened, irritable, stressed, panicky, upset, bewildered and frustrated. They even do it when they're excited. It's the sudden adrenaline rush playing havoc with your jellybean fingers, toes, hands and feet.

If you've heard of stimming before then give yourself a pat on the back, especially if you understand it. It's just another word for self-stimulation, fidgeting in other words, and fidgeting in ways that are repetitive, often involuntary, and habitual. Often they're quite noticeable.Everyone stims, both jellybeans and marshmallows. Some people used to call these fidgety movements "nervous habits". But jellybeans do them far more often and clearly and obsessionally than marshmallows.

Sometimes, of course, these stims, which are essentially comforting, can be tics and could be an expression of Tourette's, so bear that in mind. Let's look at some different stims under different headings, it may make it easier and show you what to look for.


    Hold on to your hankies, because this is a big one.

  • a. Finger picking, finger drumming
  • b. Nail biting/Thumb sucking
  • c. Hand to face contact constantly/stroking/scratching
  • d. Scab and skin picking
  • e. Smoothing hair and hair tugging
  • f. Pulling at clothes, murdering a cotton hankie or tissue
  • g. Playing with a pencil, constantly, or any other object

Okay so just about everything to do with the hands, even smelling fingers. ANYTHING REPEATED REGULARLY is a stim.


  • a. Gritting or grinding of teeth
  • b. Clenched jaw
  • c. Sucking anything!
  • d. Lip biting
  • e. Pouting constantly and obviously
  • f. Chewing
  • g. Sticking tongue out
  • h. Puckering the mouth up, maybe to one side


  • a. Arm flapping from the wrist or elbow
  • b. Leg waggling
  • c. Foot Tapping
  • d. Over excited rapid, pronounced clapping and jumping up and down
  • e. Leg jerking
  • f. Body scratching
  • g. Eye blinking or flicking the eyes to make them "dance"
  • h. Head-banging, with their hand or against the wall or floor


  • a. Swearing
  • b. Non-swearing repeated words sometimes said or sung loudly
  • c. Humming and throat clearing
  • d. Sniffing through the nose, noisily
  • e. Involuntary child-like noises - squealing


Repetitive and apparently unnecessary behaviour. Observe your jellybeans, there are so many behaviours that are stims and they are so personal to the owner that you may have to look carefully. Here are just a few to give you an idea of what I mean and what we do.

  • a. Rocking in bed
  • b. Eating the bed (my eldest son ate his wooden bunk bed over the course of a year!)
  • c. Whizzing around in a circle (spinning)
  • d. Jumping on the spot
  • e. Rocking backwards and forwards
  • f. Obsessive repetitive behaviour - computer games and Playstations, mobile phones, doodling etc.
  • g. Eating and drinking
  • h. Staring at something for hours

As I've said, there, stims may be different from tics, and in the next section I'll go into more detail.