There are two words that are used a lot in the autism community:
Hyposensitivity: The senses don’t seem to be working at all. There is a lower than normal sensitivity to external stimuli.
Stimming: Short for self stimulatory behavior, behavior that is calming for the individual.
Brandon exhibits both of these. He jumps. A lot. And there are different types of jumping that we have identified over the years.
There is happy jumping. When Brandon happy jumps, he is usually excited about something. It could be the prospect of going to Cabelas. It could be that he is excited to go to Taco Bell. When he is happy jumping, he smiles and he laughs.
There is nervous jumping. We usually see this when we are in a place that is uncomfortable for him. Brandon nervous jumps at the grocery store. He likes going to the grocery store, but it is loud and it is bright. There are people he doesn’t know. And sometimes, those people get closer to him than he would like as the aisles are not twenty feet wide. So, occasionally, he needs to jump to feel more comfy with his surroundings.
The happy jumping and the nervous jumping are self stimulatory behavior. And they are calming for Brandon. So…jump away!
And then there is the full body, slamming his feet onto the concrete patio in our backyard, with no shoes on. This is part of the hyposensitivity. Brandon likes feet squeezes. I can squeeze his size 13 feet as hard as I can, and sometimes it just isn’t enough. When that happens, he will go outside and jump on the patio. He does this a few times, comes back in and is happy as a clam.
I have done this with him before, because I wanted to see what it feels like. For me, it really hurts the bottom of my feet. But for him, it is really, really calming. Again…jump away!
When Brandon was little, we bought him a mini trampoline. Actually, we have purchased several of these. And they have all broken within three months of the purchase. We got the trampoline pictured below two years ago. It is sturdy, it is a bit heavier, and it has withstood a lot of jumping. It was a bit more expensive, but in the long run, we saved money because it has lasted.
Now, on to the angry jumping. Full body jumping that knocks things off the walls and shelves. This jumping is completely behavioral and designed to let us know that he is quite unhappy with us.
Brandon’s angry jumping has broken many things in our house. He has broken more than one television. He has broken computer monitors. The angry jumping has broken furniture. And the drywall on the ceiling of our basement. Ugh. It is a bit exhausting, but I am thankful I have a husband and family who help us fix these things.
It took us awhile to identify these different types of jumping and the purpose each one serves. Having figured that out makes each one a bit easier to handle.