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Last updateMon, 28 Jan 2013 9pm

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DANGEROUS STIMMING - self destruct

Let’s get into these stims in a bit more depth and try to separate the innocent ones from the self-destructive ones. It’s IMPERATIVE that you let your jellybeans STIM, its as essential for us as it is for a diabetic to avoid sugary foods. Stimming is the release valve, and jellybeans must be allowed to depressurise otherwise it could explode, and before you know what, stimming increases and you notice extras like the knee bobbing up or down, fingers going into the mouth etc etc, you may just have had your first severe weather warning, as you can be sure that a behaviour that you probably won’t like is fast approaching. Maybe even a Tsunami. But some stims aren’t SAFE. And jellybeans don’t always realise this because all stims produce the same comforting hormones if they’re performed repeatedly.

There's something really important you should realise about the curious and complicated little jellybean - a jellybean can sometimes treat their body as if it's just an interesting object, and not really in a way part of them at all. Jellybeans fragment things into their parts. They're interested in just a part of something, and looking how it works, tasting it to see how it feels in their mouth, smelling it, making it perform tricks. And they can do this with their bodies. They can bite their nails and suck the bit slowly to see how the nail changes in consistency and mouth-feel as they suck it into disintegration. They can suck scabs in the same way. They can cut their skin to watch what happens and can get excited by this, so "cutting can turn into a stim. They can bite themselves as deeply and viciously as they bite objects. They can bang their heads against walls and the floor, very hard. They can stim by pulling at their hair, rhythmically, and then find that it's far more exciting to pull it out in clumps.

Yes, of course self-harm is a kind of scared self-loathing and self-criticism in a way, but it's also done because they've separated the SELF in their jellybean heads from their jellybean skins! How strange is that, and how do we know? Believe me, you'll know it when you see it, and you, like me, could know it only too well, because if you're a jellybean, you may be able to do this, too. If you're a jellybean, please try to remember that your body isn't a toy! Sometimes your SELF may feel SAFE, but your body is suffering.

Its difficult to know what to suggest except for one sure-fire way DISTRACTION. If like me your hands are giving you the most cause for concern, give them something else to do. Find yourself a hobby, a challenge to achieve. There is always another way.

Because I'm a jellybean I'm extreme, so to help keep focused, I decided to make my Mum a patchwork quilt, king size. I'm no good at sewing by the way, and always been told I'd never finish, I'm good at giving up. One year later and thousands of laborious hours sewing by hand into the night, I finally presented it to her, just to prove a point. My nails are long now! 52yrs of biting them furiously and now I chew the nail varnish off instead. Sadly I still am fighting my scab-picking stim but it's getting easier.

You can't remove stimming, but you really need to change a self-harm stim for something SAFE. There's always a choice. My younger son, always bangs his fist against his head and when thats sore, he will knock it against the wall. A friends son ripped sheets of skin of his lips and constantly uses a chapstick, I think he's addicted to them. These are all harmful, destructive and negative. Please take particular attention of these. DISTRACT your jellybean - without (and this is very important) drawing too too much attention to the self-harm behaviour. Your jellybean won't really understand until he's into his teens that he's self-harming, and maybe not even then. But if you or your child are presenting with an abusive stim and it's affecting your life it must be sorted. Always seek professional advice. Sometimes just a simple tip from an Occupational Therapist can reduce harmful stims in a heartbeat.