What is stimming? Self-stimulating behavior a common symptom of autism

Posted at 3:07 PM, Sep 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-20 17:31:48-04

A Buckeye police officer mistook a boy with autism for a drug user when he detained him in July, but the teen's aunt says 14-year-old Connor Leibel was simply "stimming".

"Stimming" is repetitive body movement that self-stimulates one or more senses. In those with autism, the behaviors can help soothe during times of amplified anxiety.

According to the Autism Research Institute, examples of self-stimulatory behavior include repetitive blinking, snapping fingers, rubbing one's skin and other objects, or rocking back and forth.

In this case, Connor told the officer he was stimming with a string, when the officer took him to the ground and detained him.

The behavior is common in individuals with developmental disabilities, but the Autism Research Institute says it appears to be more common in autism.