I’ve been researching autistic “self-stimulatory” behaviors, aka stimming. I began my foray to understand my most salient stim, noisemaking. I “sing” nonsense songs. I don’t mean your garden variety singing-to yourself sort of singing. I mean hour long sessions of repeating “Blue-dude-blue-dude-blue dude” in a cartoony-resonating voice.
I know my blue-duding is strange. It’s an odd reverberating sound that could never be mistaken for real singing or even speaking. I don’t blue-dude in public, around friends or houseguests. I keep it private.
During a session, I “blue-dude” one of three songs interminably: Phantom of the Opera, The Imperial March, or the theme song from whatever cartoon my son is obsessing over. The songs may change, but the blue-dudes never do. I have been blue-duding for over 35 years.
To understand myself better, I kept a blue-dude journal. I blue-dude when I wake up, feel happy or return from a stimulating outing. Blue-duding is a natural expression of joy and relief. The mouthfeel and resonance is like an everlasting lollipop for my brain. And I never blue-dude when I am sad.
My songs are a consequence of a positive, excitable mood. This emotion creates acute tension—like a breath held too long. The exhalation of noise is vital to my physical state. Only blue-duding can dissipate internal pressure and return me to equilibrium.
Some psychologists believe “stimming” is a replacement for socializing and other “normal” behavior. For example, while a typical person might receive stimulation from interacting with others, my brain prefers the self- stimulation of blue-duding.
I don’t think so. I am a boiling kettle blowing off steam. Other people do not boil as quickly as me. Nor do they boil with such vigor. My space on the autism spectrum is a variation of intensity. If everyone bubbled so effusively, we would jiggle the planet with our song.
Self-stimulatory behaviors are self-soothing behaviors. These behaviors are important tools for the intense and overloaded to regulate themselves. As an autistic adult who can control her public bliss, I hope others learn to tolerate and accept self-soothing in others. If another person rocks, spins, or flaps– embrace that novelty as an unexpressed variation of yourself.