Since JD was less than a year old, I can remember him laying on the floor and running objects (mostly cars or trains) past his face or putting his eyes right at the level of a table and running the objects as close to his eyes as he could get them. He also likes to look at things out of the corners of his eyes or "fly" objects past his face really fast. When he was little I had no idea what it was, or even that he was doing anything other than playing. Now I know it's called visual stimming. I often sit and watch him do this, usually after unsucessfully trying to lure him away from the table and play with me. I wonder what makes it so interesting to him? What does it feel like and why does he do it? Well today I looked up some info on other sites that I thought were interesting so I am posting them on mine...
(Written by a therapist)
I have found that visual "stim" behaviors serve one of several purposes. First, they are often very calming and organizing when children are overstimulated, second they may be a means of stimulation when a child is underaroused, or they may be a means of visual input when a child has poor oculo motor contol and does not get meaningful information from their environment.
(Written by a teenager with autism)
When I do that it's because I like the way it looks or because it reminds me of something I've seen that I want to see again. It's either a stress reliever or it answers some sort of environmental question that I'm hung up on. Or it satisfies an obsession that I'm unable to act on for whatever reason.
(Written by a mom)
Ages 2 - 3, my son used to lay his head down on the coffee table to look at items on the table from that angle. He would also hold toys up to his eyes and look at them through peripheral vision. He used to lay his head next to the train tracks so he could see Thomas coming right by his face. He loved to stare at fans and bright lights. By age 4, all of these behaviors went away. He had speech and OT since age 2. It's hard to tell whether the OT really helped this or whether he just grew out of it.
I thought that was really interesting. From what I've learned, stimming itself is not a problem - we all actually "stim" by zoning out watching a tv show, chewing our nails, etc. - but it's the fact that kids with autism have a harder time focusing on another activity without trying to stim. Today we ran into that problem when we did speech therapy. JD just wanted to stim with his trains the entire time. We just try to enter into his world and play with the trains with him.
I hope he'll outgrow it someday, but it's just a little quirk that makes him JD :)