Skip to content

Stimming Away!

A significant number of primary caregivers and professionals continue to be uncomfortable with autistic stimming. The uneasiness is greater when an AAC user stims with their communication device. It is important for us to understand that apart from self regulation, stimming may also serve as a learning mechanism. You can read more about it here.

Aditi explores these aspects in this short story. Replete with perceptive observations, this story will convince you about the importance of stimming in an autistic individual’s life.

This is an Avaz Megaphone feature.

hand holding up a large megaphone to denote voice

A Bumpy Decade

Roopa watched her son, Mohit, with a deep sense of despair. The pit in the stomach had become the default feeling that she woke up to. Barring a few exceptions in the past decade, she went to bed feeling pretty much the same way every single day of her life.

Mohit was all of two when he was diagnosed with autism. The years that followed were filled with a mad rush to get Mohit to skill up – yet success was a mirage. Or maybe success needed to be defined differently! 10 years of hard work had ensured that Mohit could eat food of different tastes and textures, much like his neurotypical peers. He could get his hair and nails cut without much fuss. He traveled in a plane with ease and even attended the occasional social gathering.

But speech? Now that was a completely different story altogether! At twelve, Mohit could speak about twelve words. The years of speech therapy, Roopa decided, had been an exercise in futility.

A Turning Point?

Six months ago Anusha, the Director of Chatty Cathy Speech Therapy, had advised that Mohit needed an alternative mode of communication. She felt that Avaz, a text-to-speech app on the iPad would be a good option. Was she trying to hint that Mohit would never talk?

As usual, Roopa’s husband Ravi had been the voice of reason. “We have nothing to lose by trying”, he said. “It will be great if it works out – Mohit will finally be able to express himself. If not, it will surely cause no harm.”

Thus began the family’s journey to help Mohit find his voice. Roopa, ever meticulous, did her google aided research about autistics who used text to communicate – and the results were heartening. She read about a person pursuing his Ph.D. There was a class valedictorian too! And closer home, she read about an award-winning writer of fiction. All these stories filled her with optimism. Maybe this was the turning point they had been hoping for.

Stymied by the Stimming

Six months on, Roopa was not so sure anymore. The reason – Mohit’s habit of stimming with Avaz! It seemed as if Mohit had developed a fancy for the predictive text appearing above the keypad. He would string a whole bunch of random words appearing on the suggestion together, like he was doing now, and would hear it speak. ‘So much for meaningful communication’, Roopa grumbled to herself.

The therapist had mentioned to her that like everything else, learning to communicate effectively using Avaz would take time and practice. She had also mentioned that stimming was not so bad since it was a way for them to process the app. The key was to help Mohit understand that he should not stim while engaging in a conversation. Easier said than done!

Roopa did not believe that there existed a conversation. Every time she asked Mohit something and got a meaningful response, she was still in doubt. For she could not figure out if Mohit was stimming or not!

Clearly, the Ph.D., Valedictorian, and Writer were not for everyone. Such was her fate!

Roopa left Mohit to his devices and retired to bed.

Mohit’s New World

Meanwhile, Mohit was stringing a series of words on Avaz and hearing it speak. It sounded so good! It was like he was speaking! And those words… The words and their meanings swam in his head – what a wonderful feeling 🙂

Then there were those spellings!  He now knew the spelling of emancipation. He had heard it fifteen times in the last twenty minutes !!

Six Months Later…

Mohit was out with his parents in a fancy electronics store that sold the latest phones, tabs, and laptops. With Deepavali around the corner, this was the best time to buy the smart TV that they were planning on for a while.

The showroom had a wide variety of smart TVs on display and each one looked better than the previous one. They were spoilt for choice and were having a difficult time deciding what to buy. Mohit went and stood in front of a model that was on display. It was a 52-inch ultra high-definition model and a wildlife program was playing on it. The display was so mesmerizing – Mohit felt like cheetah on screen would leap at him any moment! He began flapping his hands in joy 🙂

Mohit Stands Up for Himself

Ravi walked up to Mohit, handed him his iPad and asked, “Do you like this TV?”

Mohit, busy flapping his hands and humming to himself, stopped for a bit to take the iPad. Filled with curiosity, Roopa watched from a slight distance.

Mohit gathered his breath and began to type. He may not have expressed much before, but it was time to speak up 

“I think we should buy this TV”, he typed.

Ravi could not believe his ears! Nor could he stop beaming as we watched his son respond.

“I know you are loving the cheetah”, Roopa declared in a know-it-all tone. “See that model over there? We should be buying that,” she annonced.

Time to Change!

Mohit felt hurt at being dismissed in such a manner. But it was nothing new. His mother never took him seriously, all because he couldn’t match up to her lofty expectations. But for how long? It was time to change a few things!

“The models are not the same”, typed Mohit. “This one has a better star rating and will consume less power.”

Roopa and Ravi were flabbergasted! How did their son, who could spoke all of twelve words and stimmed with his iPad, know so much?!

As Ravi was recovering from the shock, he exclaimed “Did he just type that?”

“Yesss!!”, replied an excited Roopa, even as she remembered a conversation with Mohit’s therapist about his stimming.

Maybe it was not such a bad thing after all!

Avaz Megaphone is a platform for neurodivergent individuals to express themselves through the written word. We accept opinion pieces, short stories and poetry. Authors of accepted works will receive an honorarium. To make a submission please email us on: 

Avaz Megaphone is a platform for neurodivergent individuals to express themselves through the written word. We accept opinion pieces, short stories and poetry. Authors of accepted works will receive an honorarium. To make a submission please email us on: 


Aditi Sowmyanarayan

Student & Writer

Aditi Sowmyanarayan is an eighteen year old who uses Avaz, a text to speech app, to communicate. She goes to Ishanya India Foundation, a special school in Bengaluru. Aditi is an avid blogger and an aspiring writer. She blogs on

She can be reached on Instagram at writeaditi and on her Facebook page : small step big thought

Sign up for our newsletter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.