What is verbal/auditory stimming and how can we stop it?
First, What is Stimming?
Stimming is short for "stimulation." According to Neurodevelopmentalists Marilee Nicoll Coots, B.A. and Cyndi Ringoen, B.S., B.A. in their article, "Sensory Play":
...It is repetitive, often appears compulsive and can occur using any of the senses. Parents usually describe it as something that doesn’t seem quite right...
Sensory play is a learned behavior that an individual develops for several reasons. Primarily, it feels good so the behavior is repeated.
You may have heard some say that sensory play is beneficial, calming, a communication attempt or even a type of psychological mechanism. It is possible that on an unconscious level some children use stimming to control their environment or to avoid the things they wish not to do. For example, if a child stims, he may be able to avoid uncomfortable social situations. It is important to consider that many adults engage in various behaviors for the same reasons -- including: smoking, drinking, taking drugs, overworking etc. Just because a behavior has a purpose does not mean the behavior is healthy or developmentally helpful.
There is often a metabolic component to stimming. When children are out of balance metabolically, their stimming is increased. Appropriate metabolic intervention can often reduce stimming and occasionally halt it.
Repetitive sensory play creates endorphins, “happy,” “feel good” chemicals in the brain, much the same as the “runner’s high.” These chemicals become addictive, causing the individual to repeat the activity in order to renew the good feeling. Thus, the child becomes trapped in a compulsive behavior. Development stops progressing, becoming more and more delayed...
We seek to stop sensory play, not as an end in itself, but as part of an overall treatment plan, which includes addressing the underlying neurodevelopmental causes of the behavior...
The most frequent verbal stimm that I've heard is a constant "Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh....." But that might just be because it's hard to ignore in public. Jett's verbal stimm when he was little was to talk non stop. At his worst, he'd repeat every single word that he heard. Everything. Any conversation, anything on TV, etc. It was maddening!!
Examples of Verbal Stimming from "Sensory Play":
- blurting out loud and/or high pitched noises
- Repetition of odd noises/sounds
- talking to self-- excessive and nondirective
- echolalia of phrases, movies, songs........
- nose humming
- banging on everything
- throat sound--compulsive (Andi's Note: this can also be from a mycoplasma infection. Read the book America is Infected.)
- pounding toys or books
- excessive giggling (Andi's Note: this can also be from yeast overgrowth.)
- electronic games that repeat sounds
- inappropriate giggling (often a sign that they are stimming)
- repeating a video scene over and over
- telling the same story over and over
- constantly singing
- reciting alphabet over and over
What Stopped Jett's Verbal Stimming?
|Jett quietly standing still.
BME is an Ayurvedic medicinal herb traditionally used for enhancing cognitive functioning. I discovered this cure by accident. I was trying to stop Jett from running around in circles... which led me to why animals in cages do it... which is because of stress... which led me to trying to regulate his stress levels... leading me to bacopa monera. After about 2 weeks upon giving Jett BME, not only did it stop the running in circles, but it also stopped the verbal stimming! Score!
Jett started it when he was a year or so old. And it has never come back -- unless I run out of BME. Then it reappears about two to three days upon stopping it. I also saw that Jett was more affectionate.
Benefits of Bacopa
- Memory Enhancer. Human studies conducted on 76 adults, between the ages of 40 and 65, showed significant improvements in memory retention of learning new information.
- Neuro Protection. Acting as a powerful neuron antioxidant, BME was shown to provide significant protection against free radical induced toxicity of the neurons as well as a protector of DNA against damage. Further protection was demonstrated for aluminum induced oxidative stress, and against excitotoxcity elicited in epileptic rats.
- Anti-Depressant. BME was found to provide important antidepressant activity in animal studies.
- Reduction in beta-amyloid deposits in the brain (as is characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease), in animal research. The authors suggest that such mechanisms of action may have application in Alzheimer’s.
- Enhance learning and academic performance and improve mental alertness.
- Enhances mental focus in stressful situations and improves mental clarity and mood.
- Helps regulate cortisol levels.
- Thyroid-stimulating. An animal study investigating the effects of botanicals on the thyroid found Bacopa increased T4 (Thyroid Hormone) levels by 41 percent. (If you do give this to your child, be sure to watch for signs of hyperthyroidism although many of our children can't convert T4 to T3 anyway!)