In the Son-Rise program, our children’s exclusive, repetitive behaviors (such as exclusively waving their hand in front of their face, saying the same word or sentence, spinning, running back and forth, etc.) are labeled isms. Traditionally across all other modalities, these are called stims.
I have written in the past (Previous post entitled “They show us the way in, and then we show them the way out….Joining is that way!” ) what an important piece joining these isms is to the Son-Rise Program and why I believe so much of our success has been built from doing this with Lucas.
So many people ask me to explain why it is called an ism. Raun Kaufman, CEO of the autism treatment center (Son-Rise) and the original, recovered severely autistic child that the Son-Rise program was founded on in the seventies, wrote a wonderful explanation of this:
“OUR CHILDREN’S REPETITIVE BEHAVIORS: “STIM” OR “ISM”?
by Raun K. Kaufman
In The Son-Rise Program®, we call our children’s repetitive, often-solitary behaviors “isms” rather than “stims.” Why?
The word “stim” comes from “self-stimulating behaviors,” and often, over the years, has been used in a pejorative way to denote behaviors that people don’t like and want to stamp out.
The word “ism” has no such connotation or historical baggage. This is crucial because we know that children with autism do their isms for important reasons, and we want to always approach every ism with a sense of non-judgmental acceptance and curiosity – which is why we join in with them!
Also, every child doesn’t do every ism for the same reason. While it is possible that some children may ism to “self-stimulate,” many others may ism to self-calm, focus, adjust their senses, or simply because they’ve found something they really enjoy!
This is not about making people use certain words. Rather, it’s important because the perspective around the word “ism” is one that inspires us to seek to understand rather than force change upon our children. To join in with isms rather than stopping them. To love, respect, honor, and embrace our children’s interests and behaviors rather than trying to stamp them out.”
I am including a video this week of one of our volunteers using her 3 E’s (Energy, Excitement, Enthusiasm) to passionately join Lucas during his isms and he rewards her with some building opportunities for interactions and ultimately a hug, the best reward of them all!