Does your autistic child rock back and forth? Read on to learn about autistic rocking.
What is autistic rocking?
Autistic rocking is a vestibular stim, like autism spinning. Autistic kids who rock back and forth may also sway from side to side.
Autistics may do this when they’re sitting or standing, and some can even do it when they’re lying in bed (looks more like rolling). It is a soothing, satisfactory way to calm oneself. Most often, the autistic person doesn’t even know that they’re doing it until someone calls them out for it.
This is one of my everyday stems, meaning I will do it everyday, all day and I never get tired. Not only does it help me to regulate my body temperature and conserve energy, but it also helps me cope with stress.
The more stressed and autistic person is, the more they will engage in the stim that comforts them the most.
Autistic rocking in babies and toddlers
Infants and toddlers on the autism spectrum might not enjoy being rocked while held because they will not be going at their preferred pace. However, if you can match their pace, the children who might not usually be affectionate may sit with you and let you rock them, even if they don’t fall asleep.
When it is a self-stimulatory behavior, rocking is not about falling asleep. Sometimes, there is no reason at all why an autistic person is stimming other than the fact that it feels great. Kids grow up so fast, so definitely cherish this moment if they let you be a part of it.
How to stop autistic people from rocking
There is no reason to stop an autistic child from rocking back and forth unless they are harming other people or themselves. Rocking is not a dangerous stim; therefore, it should be embraced.
Autistic people need to stim in order to self-regulate. If you take a healthy, safe stim away, the child is not going to be “cured” of it — they will only learn that you love and accept them when they hide intricate parts of themselves.
Accept stims like rocking
Stimming isn’t bad behavior that needs to be stopped. It’s good behavior — your child is meeting their needs — that needs to be embraced.
Autistic people should not be forced to stop stimming just because it makes non-autistic people uncomfortable. Most often, autistic people are stimming in the first place because of not autistic people and environments.
At the end of the day, autistic people deserve to be accepted as they are, even if they do appear weird. If someone is staring at your child because they are rocking or swaying, or even flapping their hands, it is not up to you to placate that person who is staring. Manage your own anxiety and insecurities, instead of imposing it onto your child.
It is possible for an autistic child to grow up without trauma, in a loving home where their family accepts them as they are and embraces their autism. It’s not too late to work towards that now.
Remember: Struggling means you’re trying.
Does your autistic child rock back and forth? Tell us about it in the comments below.
My son rocks back and forth when he’s screaming and when he goes to sleep and when hes asleep he hits his head during the night but doesn’t wale him self up which I find very strange anyone no any advice on what it could be.
Jane E. Lively says
Without more information of the situation, it might just be accidental if he’s sleeping. People do lots of things in their sleep unintentionally/that they don’t do during the day.
Rocking whilst screaming sounds like self-soothing behavior (stimming).
Bobbie smith says
He could be having headaches from grinding his teeth or just having migraine headaches
I rock still and I’m 35, it’s very relaxing for me, I’ve never been diagnosed with autism but I flutter my hands when excited and have rocked since I was born.
Jane E. Lively says
Ah, I also flutter! 💖 It is cathartic. 😅 And then at night, when I’m trying to sleep but am overstimulated or overwhelmed, I raise my arm in the air. 😂🤌
I was about to get big mad at the “how to stop rocking” until I actually read it.
Thank you for promoting acceptance
Same haha, then I read it and almost cried because it was so nice :”)