Autistic kids self stimulate for two reasons. One, they are sensory deprived because so may things are irritating or annoying to them. They can’t stand sounds, tastes, sights, or sensations on their skin. They might avoid smells too, but a lot of children with autism will sniff and smell just about anything even if it smells awful. Ergo, they self stimulate to replace this void of sensory input they have personally created around themselves.
Two, they enjoy every sensory experience they can. This secondary group self stimulates not because they don’t have enough sensory input, but because they have too much or can’t get enough no matter how much they already get. They are extremely sensitive to every sensation and are ultimately fascinated with every sound, every taste, every sensation. This can and does create more problems because these children will put everything in their mouths, including rocks and dirt. Their noses and ears receive additional attention than other children’s because they will put rocks, marbles, seeds and anything else that fits into those cavities just to see how it feels or to block out sound. Many weary parents of children with autism will find themselves in the pediatrician’s office getting the objects flushed out of their children’s facial cavities.
In either situation, it’s best to find other stimulatory objects that the children are distracted and amused by, but can also learn from. Allowing the hand flapping, the swaying, the rocking, and the dancing is perfectly normal because they are at least not doing anything else to cause themselves or others harm. Swings and balance toys are excellent for both stimulation and physical therapy. To calm them back down, parents can build little quiet corners where their children can hide and cocoon. They need a balance of stimulation and relaxation to feel secure.
Parents can check with school therapists and special needs teachers to see which toys and equipment work best for their children. Often the child with autism will gravitate towards one or two special pieces of equipment all of the time. If parents have the same equipment at home, the child with autism will be very content to use it as an alternative to self stimulation.
More concerning queries:
1). Why do autistic kids like Thomas the Train or any other train characters/toys?
2). Why do autistic children spin? How can you teach them not to spin and flap their hands?
3). Why do autistic children avoid eye contact?