May 15, 2024 | Neurodiversity

Stimming Acceptance in the Workplace


Self-stimulating behaviours are certain behaviours developed to help regulate emotions. Some are less obvious, while others may be more noticeable and distracting. Stimming is commonly (but not always) related to Autism. In the workplace, it is vital to accommodate individuals who stim, and provide a safe and productive environment for them to thrive. In today’s blog, we want to talk more about what stimming means, offer examples, and ways to provide acceptance to neurodiverse employees. 

What is stimming? 

“Stimming, which is clinically referred to as ‘self-stimulatory behaviors,’ is identified by its repetitive movements and/or vocalizations…It’s often (though not always) associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other neurodevelopmental conditions.” – Cleveland Clinic 

Some examples of stimming behaviour include: 

  • biting fingernails 
  • twirling hair around fingers 
  • cracking knuckles or other joints 
  • drumming fingers 
  • tapping pencils or clicking pens 
  • fidgeting like foot jiggling or hand flapping 
  • whistling 

Some common stims individuals with Autism include: 

  • rocking 
  • flapping hands or flicking or snapping fingers 
  • bouncing, jumping, or twirling 
  • pacing or walking on tiptoes 
  • pulling hair 
  • repeating words or phrases 
  • rubbing the skin or scratching 
  • repetitive blinking 
  • staring at lights or rotating objects such as ceiling fans 
  • licking, rubbing, or stroking specific objects 
  • sniffing at people or objects 
  • rearranging or organizing objects 

Stimming behaviours look different for everyone. Some might regularly bite their nails, crack their knuckles or twirl their hair, but can recognize the behaviour and stop before it is compulsive. Individuals with Autism might engage in a stim for hours and find it challenging to stop.  

How can your workplace foster an accepting environment? 

Stims are varied and accommodating each person requires a unique and personalized approach. Speak to your employees and provide opportunities to express their needs. Every individual deserves a workplace that allows them to flourish. When you set your employees up for success, your business, in turn, will thrive.  

Create flexible workplaces 

Work-from-home employees have the advantage of being in the comfort of their own space. For in-office workers, it is important to create spaces for them to comfortably engage in stimming without feeling self-conscious. Provide reasonable accommodations, such as noise-canceling headphones, fidget tools, adjustable lighting, or ergonomic seating to create a sensory-friendly work environment. 

It is also important that employees know that stimming, such as using a fidget toy or standing up instead of sitting during a meeting for example, is acceptable. 

Encourage communication 

Encourage open and honest communication among all your employees regarding their unique needs. If an individual feels comfortable speaking about their stimming, they are much more likely to seek the accommodations they require to be successful in their role. 

Foster a workplace where people can speak up about what they need, without fear of judgment, ridicule, embarrassment, or anger. 

Prioritize education and awareness 

Create a workplace that is accepting by educating your employees about stimming behaviours and its importance to employees with neurodiverse conditions such as autism, ADHD, or anxiety disorders. Decrease judgement, reduce stigma and stereotypes, and encourage a diverse environment that embraces inclusivity. 

Incorporating workshops or sessions geared towards neurodiversity training is an excellent way to further educate your employees on the importance of diversity in the workplace. Giving your workplace the tools to better understand certain behaviours increases empathy, which creates a safe and tolerant environment for everyone.  

Candor Diversity Group recognizes that there is a significant knowledge gap in neurodiversity awareness and accommodation training within the workforce. Neurodiverse individuals rarely feel safe discussing the challenges they face. Due to constant masking, they can experience serious health consequences, which in turn can be felt by the company.

We have developed a fully customized system to enrich the lives of neurodivergent individuals in the workforce, while also understanding that businesses require an overall financial return. Creating and implementing strategies into the workplace to help people better understand stimming and fostering an environment conducive to those who do stim, will lead to a business that truly embraces diversity. 

If you would like to learn more, please reach out to us! We would love to help. 

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