On Twitter, someone made a comment that many autists don’t think they stim. You can read the thread here.
When I look up definitions of stimming, it talks about making sounds or repetitive actions. So many of those habits I had as a child, were things I was made to stop (I used to blow on my fingers & was made to stop doing that).
One person in the thread commented suggesting that compulsive reading was a form of stimming, describing it as a way to shut out external distraction and provides emotional comfort. That made a lot of sense to me, and it wasn’t something I had ever thought about.
When I was in high school, I always had a book with me. I would read on the crowded school bus, catching an earlier bus so I could get a seat. I would finish my work in class and pick up my book to read to pass the time and close out distractions of the noisy classroom. I would take books wherever I could. This includes large family gatherings where everyone is so noisy, I would retreat into a book when I’d had enough.
Reading, and being a bookworm, was considered an acceptable past time. Much more acceptable than blowing on my fingers or doing anything else. I could read whatever books I chose as a way to escape and feel good.
Even now, I’m surrounded by books. I’m not always reading, there are times when I have multiple books on the go. It’s just something I do.
Until that Twitter thread, I had never thought of it as part of autism, as a way to help me cope with the world around me. It was just something I did. Knowing it’s actually helping my brain in more ways than one is actually quite comforting and helping me enjoy something I love even more.