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The Play Forum is a collection of voices from parents and people in the toy and children’s entertainment industries. Read what’s on their minds, and join the conversation.

Stimming on Spinning!

My autistic son loves anything and everything that spins. Helicopters, cars, fans, pinwheels, you name it! If it spins, he loves it. A lot of kids on the spectrum “stim” on spinning.

Stimming is short for self-stimulatory behavior. Almost all autistic kids do it in one form or another. It could be the sterotypical hand flapping, or something more discreet like twirling his or her hair. People with autism may stim to help themselves handle overwhelming sensory input such as too much noise or light. Some do it to calm themselves or when they are nervous or anxious. Others just do it, just to do it!

No matter the reason for it, there needs to be better acceptance in society for kids who have an obvious stim, like the handflapping. It doesn’t make the kids “weird” or different. Think back to the last time you had to really concentrate on something. Did you tap your feet on the ground or perhaps your pen on the desk? That’s stimming. Something to calm yourself or something you might not have even realized you were doing.

Back to the spinning… These next three toys are my son’s favorite to stim about spinning.

Remember I mentioned helicopters? Well the Matchbox Big Boots Dino Chopper is his favorite! These Big Boots characters are a lot of fun. Launch them from the chopper and watch them land on their feet! The rotor spins nicely and this toy is durable! It can be thrown down a set of stairs and still work like the day it was bought. Not that I know that from experience. Well, actually, I do, but I’m a big fan of “real world” testing.

Beyblade seems like it was designed just for my child. While he’s too young to be able to pull the ripcords and make them spin, his older brothers can and it’s a great bonding toy. They spin and bump and spin and fall and spin and spin… My boys just love them. We were teaching colors with them as well as there are a wide variety of tops to collect. I’m always happy when I can put some learning into the play.

Cars and trucks. We own so many, especially the Hasbro Chuck & Friends die cast trucks. Brady loves them because the wheels are larger than other die cast cars and they are easy to spin. We have a handful of these in my purse, in the car, in his backpack, just ready to go at a moment’s notice. They keep him entertained while we are out and about running errands, eating at restaurants or at a friend’s house. These I call my lifesavers because they can engage, distract and entertain easily and quickly.. You can never have too many cars and trucks!

These are just a few of the toys that spin that Brady loves. Does your child have a stim that is expressed in playing with toys? Share in our comments!

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