Hi everyone! I have just tumbled in with a few hours to spare in order to keep up my goal of posting every single day in November! Today I have a very cool review for you.
As you've probably noticed, sometimes companies offer to send me free things, in exchange for an honest review on my blog. I only accept things that I think I'll enjoy using and that I think you'll be interested in. But that also made me think, maybe I could review some things that I really want to try, and that would be really relevant to people with autism, ADHD, and other neuroligically diverse friends!
So I approached Cynthia Kim, founder of the website Stimtastic. Stimtastic is an online store that sells nothing but stim toys. That is, things that people can use to stimulate one or more of their senses and help them to feel calmer and more "at home" in their bodies and the world. While there are many people who think that stimming should be discouraged, and others who think that stimming should only be done in private at a scheduled time, Cynthia thinks it should be encouraged and celebrated. Personally, I agree with this. I just think that it is part of our neurological makeup, and that we do it for a reason... to calm ourselves down, to regulate ourselves, to help us feel more anchored in our bodies, to help us deal with the overwhelming things attacking our other senses, and to help us focus. I know that when I am writing in this blog, I often need to get up and pace around and fidget with something. And when I am out, I often need to have something in my pocket to fidget with, or else I'll just end up rubbing my fingers against each other until they are raw. I have calluses on the sides of several fingers because of this. Other things I sometimes do when I am trying not to visibly stim is digging my fingernails into the palms of my hands, licking my lips, rubbing my palms against my blue jeans, etc. I think it is much healthier to have a stim toy available, and be allowed to stim, rather than try to suppress it and end up injuring myself! Unless a stim is dangerous, such as banging your head against the wall or stabbing yourself with a fork, in which case you can try to find something safer to replace that behavior with.
Anyways, Cynthia sent me a few stim toys to test out.
My very favorite was the Snake Twist necklace. I am very upset about this because I ended up losing it somewhere out in the woods. See, I didn't actually realize it was supposed to be a necklace. Let me try to describe it... it looks sort of like a circular cable. You can twist it and bend it any way you want, and it holds its shape. You can wear it as a necklace or a bracelet, and play with it while you're wearing it. But I preferred to just keep it with me in my hands. I was constantly playing with it when I was thinking. I liked to sort of twist the whole thing up so it looked like a braid, or wind it into a coil or a spring, or wad it into a ball. When I went out, I usually had it in my jacket pocket. Anyways, one day I was hiking with the dogs, and somewhere on the trail it must have fallen out of my pocket. I remember fidgeting with it in my pocket as we walked, but when I got home, it was no longer in my pocket. I'm pretty used to this because I lose things a lot, but I was bummed because I really liked it, and also because I was supposed to review it! I even went back to the woods to search for it, but it wasn't there. So you will have to settle for a picture from the website, and just take my word for it that this one was my favorite!
Another one of my favorites is the Infinity Spinner Ring. This is basically a ring inside another ring, and while you are wearing it you can make the outer ring spin around. If you go to the Gallery on the Stimtastic website, someone has made a little gif of the ring spinning around. I was actually wearing my spinner ring in the part of my Youtube video where my aunt interviewed me. This is particularly helpful for if you do want a stim toy that is more subtle. I liked it because, since I often rub my fingers together until they're raw, spinning the ring was a good replacement for that. The site has spinner rings in several other designs: stars, moons and planets; dinosaurs; squids; and waves.
Next is the Tangle Jr. This is another circular shape object that you can twist around, although it isn't as flexible as the Snake Twist. My favorite thing about it is that it makes a satisfying clacking sound as you bend it and twist it and move it around... but it is quiet enough that it won't cause a huge disruption if you are playing with it in someplace like the library!
She also sent me this rubber bracelet that says, "Keep Calm And Stim On." I couldn't find it anywhere on the website, so I am not sure that it is actually available for sale, but I do like the message!
There are many other great things on the Stimtastic website.
The products are divided into Stim Toys and Stim Jewelry. The Jewelry is divided up into Chewy Jewelry and Fidget Jewelry. My spinner ring and my long-lost snake twist are examples of fidget jewelry... basically, things that function as jewelry but also have some sort of moving part on them that you can play with. The Chewy Jewelry is jewelry that you can, well, stick in your mouth and chew on. The chewable parts are made from tasteless, odorless, non-toxic, food grade silicone. I have never been much of a chewer (I am actually really weird about putting anything in my mouth) but there are many people who find themselves chewing on their sleeves, their hair, or their pencils, who could make good use of chewable jewelry!
The toys, similarly, are divided into Chewable, Desk Toys, and Fidgets. The Chewable toys are made from the same material as the Chewable Jewelry, but are just not attached to a bracelet or necklace. The Desk Toys are, self-explanatorily, toys that you can keep on your desk and fidget with them while you work. My favorite category, the Fidgets, are basically all sorts of little toys and knick-knacks that you can play with.
I should point out that this store was made with teens and adults in mind. (Which is AWESOME, because when do you ever see an online store for autistic ADULTS??? Never, that's when!) Many of the stim toys would also work well for children, but they can be choking hazards. If you have an older child that likes to chew on things, that is probably fine. But if you have a child under the age of three, or a child who likes to actually stuff objects into his mouth and possibly swallow them, many of these items would not be a good idea.
I will definitely be revisiting Stimtastic in the future (including to get a new Snake Twist as soon as I have some money to spare!) I hope you visit too and find something you love! In the mean time, like my bracelet says, Keep Calm And Stim On!