Leone Centre Glossary

Stimming in Neurodiversity-affirmative Therapy


Stimming, short for self-stimulatory behaviour, is a repetitive action seen in individuals with neurodivergent conditions. Stimming includes a variety of repetitive actions, sounds, phrases, or movements. These behaviours provide sensory input and can help individuals manage their emotions and maintain focus. Recognizing and supporting stimming behaviours within therapy can further contribute to a neurodiversity-affirmative approach, validating these actions as valuable coping mechanisms rather than viewing them as behaviours that need to be eliminated.

Therapeutic misconceptions

There are misunderstandings around the need to suppress or eliminate stimming behaviours in therapy. It is essential to understand that these behaviours serve an important function for many neurodivergent individuals, helping them regulate sensory input and emotions. Efforts to suppress stimming can not only be detrimental to the individual’s well-being but also undermine the core principles of neurodiversity-affirmative therapy. Instead, therapists should seek to understand the role of stimming in each individual’s life and work towards creating an environment that supports these behaviours as part of their unique self-expression.

Therapeutic approach

Neurodiversity-affirmative therapy respects and values stimming, recognising it as an important aspect of the individual’s experience rather than a behaviour to be eradicated.

Therapeutic importance

In neurodiversity-affirmative therapy, stimming is viewed as a natural and valid behaviour. Instead of attempting to eliminate stimming, therapists work to understand the reasons behind these behaviours and support individuals in finding ways to integrate them into their lives in an affirming manner.

How therapy works

Neurodiversity-affirmative therapy involves creating a supportive environment where stimming is accepted and understood. Therapists may help individuals explore different stimming practices that fulfil their sensory needs while also promoting overall well-being and self-acceptance.


What is stimming?
Stimming, or self-stimulatory behaviour, refers to repetitive actions or movements that provide sensory input and can help regulate emotions and focus.
Why is stimming important in therapy?
Stimming is important in therapy because it is a natural behaviour for many neurodivergent individuals. Recognising and accepting stimming can help create a more supportive and understanding therapeutic environment.
How does neurodiversity-affirmative therapy address stimming?
Neurodiversity-affirmative therapy respects and values stimming, integrating it into therapeutic practices rather than attempting to suppress it. This approach supports individuals in embracing their behaviours as part of their unique neurodivergent experience.


  1. Healthline – Stimming: Why It Happens and How to Manage
  2. NeuroClastic – Neurodiversity-Affirmative Therapy
  3. Verywell Health – What is Stimming?
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This glossary provides definitions of various counselling terms and approaches for informational purposes only, without implying endorsement or service provision