AJ's User Manual

Neurodivergent Sensory, Stims, & Supports

Rocking, magnets, and squeeks*! Oh my! In this episode, we get into the nitty gritty of the senses, all eight of them. You heard that right—EIGHT, not the five you were taught in elementary school! Then things get stimmy when Molly shares how multiple ND people in one home can be tricky and Angela adds that knowing your own sensory profile as well as those in your space allows for more time with the parasympathetic nervous system activated—hint, this is what regulation looks like! Point being, wherever you are in your ND journey—psst, self-diagnosis is valid—you deserve support and that support helps you do the things that you want to do for yourself and others.

Your Kindergarten teacher lied to you.

Granted, it wasn’t on purpose, they just didn’t know. And they still don’t! Neither do a lot of doctors, therapists, physical therapists, “neurodiversity experts,” “executive function” coaches, and others who you might ask for support. But this is important and will help you identify and advocate for your needs, including choosing support people who have the necessary qualifications to provide the support you need.

“It’s difficult to practice mindfulness or be in the present when you feel like your body isn’t all there. So when you can identify where your body is in space and feel that it is all together. That’s proprioception” (Angela, 14:29). They talk about differences in their own vestibular sense, too. Angela loves to spin and swing, Molly not as much. She says, “It’s instant anger town if my child, like, rotates my chair just slightly” (11:31).

And then there is interoception. It’s not more important than the others, but believe us, this is a big one! “If you’re that person who can work for 12 hours, sitting in your chair, not noticing that your back is hurting and that you have to pee and that you haven’t had anything to eat or drink all day. That’s an interoception thing” (Angela, 17:01). PS, it includes your feelings, too!

What do chicken wings and (para)sympathetic parenting have in common?

“Chicken Wing, Chicken Wing. Hotdog and Bologna. Chicken and Macaron-ay. Chillin’ with my Hom-ay.” That’s Molly’s kiddos favorite song. They sing it over and over and over again. Loudly. Point being? Neurospicy families are hard sometimes. Having multiple ND folks in one space is a beautiful thing and can be exceptionally challenging as well. 

One person’s regulation may be dysregulating to another so working together is essential. “Fight, Flight mode activated! Sym-pa-the-tiiiiic Nervous System” (Angela, 36:40). Molly describes how being dysregulated increases tics. “…It’s like the only thing that will ‘fix’ it.” During this part, Molly actually tics, audibly squeeking, and describes the physical action that accompanies the squeek, “that was me having two fists on either side of my head, T-Rex arms, and shaking” (38:16).  

“Sympathetic being fight, flight. Parasympathetic being rest and digest. So stimming allows us to regulate by engaging the parasympathetic nervous system in times when the sympathetic nervous system has taken control or is getting close to being activated” (Angela, 40:53). Being a parent means that we are able to navigate our own neurodivergent needs, help others learn to navigate theirs, and for all of us to ask for support—and access it—when we need it.

Stuffies, Stimagz, and Support

“Foxy makes a presence frequently…all of these things we are talking about today are…to give…some introductory into finding some regulation…and just better understanding what’s happening in your body” (Molly, 5:17). Foxy is Angela’s favorite stuffie and she’s not ashamed of it. They add that this episode is “permission to let go of all of the shame” because it’s ok to have “things that help you feel good so you can do what you want to do” (5:40).  

Angela shares multiple examples of their stimming. Recently, she has found a stim tool that is just amazing. She says that Stimagz* are “these 12 little magnets covered in this perfect texture wonderousness…when they try to push apart…I really like the feeling of that…and when they are sticking together, how they move up and align, and I can put them back and do this very repetitive order which I do” (26:29) The devastation experienced when they were “misplaced” is real. And you won’t believe what happened when new ones were shipped.

Molly asks herself, “How can I prevent my body from getting to a point of overload?” and the answer is “I hop in the shower or take a bath because that super hot feeling where I get the goosebumps all over my arms helps me feel grounded. And I can start to process whatever I needed to process” (23:37). Sometimes she needs some support to remember that this helps. This is where knowing your profile, needs, and supports comes in. Angela and Sabra, our lovely ND friend, social media superstar, and essential piece of Molly’s team, “are really good about noticing things that I don’t notice about myself” and tell her to stop and go take a bath! 

Remember, self-care has its place, but community care is where the magic is! 

*Squeek – we recognize that this is not the correct spelling for this word; however, Molly’s experience is “ee” and this is how they prefer to spell it in honor of the full experience.

*Stimagz – this is a referral link. Angela will receive 300 reward points whenever someone uses it. The user will also receive 300 reward points for using the link if they choose to create a user account.