I have a 18 months toddler who has been put at risk of ASD. He has certain stimming behaviors and I am looking for distracting activities that can help him outgrow these.

I read that stimming happens due to some sensory overload or underload and appropriate activities for a given type of stimming can help control it (at least to some extent). We are about to start therapies but looking for some suggestions so that we cam engage with him in the right way.

His stimming behaviors are following:

  1. Opening and closing doors
  2. Spinning
  3. Stamping right foot hard on floor
  4. Flapping fingers near eyes/nose
  5. Staring at spinning things (table fan/spinnig toys)
  6. Switch on off
  7. Turning pages of books back and forth
  8. Making noises like Papapapa, etc.

Please share about what activities can be done against each of such behaviors (about whichever you know).

  • 1
    What's your motivation for this question? Does his behavior scare/worry/annoy you? Other? It's very likely you have stimming behavior without realizing it, and might feel personally rejected if you were "corrected" each time you engaged in them. A toddler can't verbalize, "Your numerous corrections make me feel I'm unacceptable,"; that doesn't mean they don't feel that way. (May I suggest that, while waiting for an answer, you do a google search for behavioral interventions for "stimming" behaviors toddlers ASD?) Commented Sep 24, 2020 at 15:40
  • I am voting to close this question as "needs more focus" only because you're asking for specifics about too many behaviors (i.e. focus on the worst first)? It's not because it's a bad question; your question is fine. Many parents have experienced this and helpful suggestions would be great! Commented Sep 24, 2020 at 15:51
  • 1
    @Dayne Please understand the comments here are meant to help you get a useful answer, not to attack you. However, this question is too broad right now - questions here are meant to be reasonably limited in scope, in order to get a good answer that fits in the relatively small space allotted. I think what you're eliding over here from Anongoodnurse's comments is that stimming is natural and harmless for the most part: it's not something to 'do' anything about. Anongoodnurse's final comment was focused on that: stimming is something everyone does, on the spectrum or not.
    – Joe
    Commented Sep 24, 2020 at 18:44
  • 1
    The question we have for you is: are there things he's doing that are problematic, as in, dangerous, so extreme that they're causing discomfort in others, etc.; or are they just things that help him cope. If there are behaviors that are causing problems, then focus on those - and probably on just one of those, because the answer will be different for each to some extent, unless they're very similar actions.
    – Joe
    Commented Sep 24, 2020 at 18:46
  • 1
    The other possible framing of the question that might be appropriate would be, should I distract him from stimming - in which case I suspect you would get good answers (but, different from what you've asked). If you can focus on one of those two alternatives - either focus on a single activity and explain why it's a problem, or ask whether it's appropriate to distract him from these actions generally - I think you'll get some great answers.
    – Joe
    Commented Sep 24, 2020 at 18:47

1 Answer 1


Firstly, no "distracting" activities will help him "outgrow" what is potentially ASD. If your son has ASD, he will not outgrow it. You need to know that no matter what you do it is not your fault or under your control whether your child is on the spectrum, but as a parent you can help accommodate your child to help him navigate the world. (Like all parents)

Rather than discourage you child from participating in stimming, focus on two things:

  1. Appropriate stimming: If it is bothersome and disruptive for you son to open/close doors constantly, try giving him Play-Doh, a toy push button, a fidget-spinner, or some other toy that offer repetitive behavior without being as interruptive. Experiment with different types of toys to find which ones work best for you son. Consider that behavior like turning pages of books doesn't bother anyone, and is not destructive or distracting. Consider this type of stimming "acceptable"

  2. Positive reinforcement: Encourage your child positively to participate in appropriate stimming. Rather than punish your child for stimming, reward your child with praise when he participates in positive stimming.

In my experience this is what has worked best from me. Your son is still young, and I hope you get your official diagnosis soon so you can move forward with him!

  • Thanks for your answer. We did try some toys and they did help. Will try play-doh also as you suggested. I know he may not outgrow them but since his pediatrician suggested we have been trying to distract and engage him. Thanks again
    – user39619
    Commented Sep 25, 2020 at 2:07

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