Loving my child’s isms or stims

There is something I want to get off my chest. It’s swelling and threatening to overflow ❤️ I LOVE MY CHILD’S ISMS!!! 

Whew 😊 When I think of Little Star and the isms that she does – currently they are tapping books, holding play food one by one in front of the mirror, making her little dolls hold hands and all sorts of funny gestures, tapping different sections of a hula hoop – my heart seriously swells with love. 

Isms are,  in Son-rise language, repetitious exclusive behaviour that the child does on her own. In ABA language, they are called stims. Both therapies deal will them in profoundly different ways. 

Have you head of the phrase,  “Quiet hands”, “Sit nice” etc.? This is how ABA deals with isms. This is how Little Star’s special school deals with them through ABA. Let me say first that these are my personal observation based on our experience of both ABA and Son-rise. In ABA, a child’s stims are disruptive to learning, planned activities,  schedules and routines. The less they stim, the more time they can focus on other activities. When a child begins swimming, the teacher will count to 3 or 5  then firmly make them stop, either by holding down the hands, or repositioning the child’s body. 

I know.  It does not sound very nice. The child cried in the begining,  but gets used to it eventually. I don’t think it makes it less pleasant, but the child is just forced to change to the idea that during school or the ABA study session,  she can’t do whatever she wants. 

In fact, letting the child do whatever she wants is the opposite of ABA. Actually that is not quite accurate. It’s more – great if you enjoy the activities we have planned, but is you don’t like it, we still have to do it anyway! As the teacher explained to me,  the child must get used to the idea that in the “real world”, she can’t always do what she wants. 

As you know, I am a Son-rise parent, and don’t really agree with this notion. Unfortunately, most special schools practice ABA. My only consolation is they do ABA for only the first 40-45 mins of the 2hr session (twice a week). The rest are regular school activities like gross motor,  music and movement, art and craft so on. 

Going back to the concept of “real world” adaptation, this is at the very core of ABA and drives all their interventions. What do neurotypical people do and how can I get the autistic child to behave more like that?  Behavior modification is their driving principle. 

Son-rise is the opposite of that. The Son-rise Program prioritises building a trusting and powerfully loving and accepting relationship with the child above all else. They never use the term “real world” except in this context: “My child has autism and is not yet ready for the real world.  How can I change and adapt myself to suit her world? How can I show her I love her for who she is and what she does,  so that we can have a wonderful connection?” 

The social relationship with the child is the Son-rise driving principle. And love is a powerful force that builds that social relationship. So when my child isms,  I don’t stop my child. The isms are part of my child for now,   and right now,  I love my child, therefore I LOVE HER ISMS. 

It’s really simple,  and the more I learn about Son-rise,  the more I want this, for both me and my child. Loving it when she taps her books is easy when I look at isms this way. 


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