Just Stimming…

A land we can share (a place I can map)

Quiet Hands

with 390 comments

TW: Ableism, abuse

Explaining my reaction to this:

means I need to explain my history with this:

quiet hands

quiet hands


When I was a little girl, they held my hands down in tacky glue while I cried.


I’m a lot bigger than them now. Walking down a hall to a meeting, my hand flies out to feel the texture on the wall as I pass by.

“Quiet hands,” I whisper.

My hand falls to my side.


When I was six years old, people who were much bigger than me with loud echoing voices held my hands down in textures that hurt worse than my broken wrist while I cried and begged and pleaded and screamed.


In a classroom of language-impaired kids, the most common phrase is a metaphor.

“Quiet hands!”

A student pushes at a piece of paper, flaps their hands, stacks their fingers against their palm, pokes at a pencil, rubs their palms through their hair. It’s silent, until:

“Quiet hands!”

I’ve yet to meet a student who didn’t instinctively know to pull back and put their hands in their lap at this order. Thanks to applied behavioral analysis, each student learned this phrase in preschool at the latest, hands slapped down and held to a table or at their sides for a count of three until they learned to restrain themselves at the words.

The literal meaning of the words is irrelevant when you’re being abused.


When I was a little girl, I was autistic. And when you’re autistic, it’s not abuse. It’s therapy.


Hands are by definition quiet, they can’t talk, and neither can half of these students…

(Behavior is communication.)

(Not being able to talk is not the same as not having anything to say.)

Things, slowly, start to make a lot more sense.


Roger needs a modified chair to help him sit. It came to the classroom fully equipped with straps to tie his hands down.

We threw the straps away. His old school district used them.

He was seven.


Terra can read my flapping better than my face. “You’ve got one for everything,” she says, and I wish everyone could look at my hands and see I need you to slow down or this is the best thing ever or can I please touch or I am so hungry I think my brain is trying to eat itself.

But if they see my hands, I’m not safe.

“They watch your hands,” my sister says, “and you might as well be flipping them off when all you’re saying is this menu feels nice.”


When we were in high school, my occasional, accidental flap gave my other autistic friend panic attacks.


I’ve been told I have a manual fixation. My hands are one of the few places on my body that I usually recognize as my own, can feel, and can occasionally control. I am fascinated by them. I could study them for hours. They’re beautiful in a way that makes me understand what beautiful means.

My hands know things the rest of me doesn’t. They type words, sentences, stories, worlds that I didn’t know I thought. They remember passwords and sequences I don’t even remember needing. They tell me what I think, what I know, what I remember. They don’t even always need a keyboard for that.

My hands are an automatic feedback loop, touching and feeling simultaneously. I think I understand the whole world when I rub my fingertips together.

When I’m brought to a new place, my fingers tap out the walls and tables and chairs and counters. They skim over the paper and make me laugh, they press against each other and remind me that I am real, they drum and produce sound to remind me of cause-and-effect. My fingers map out a world and then they make it real.

My hands are more me than I am.


But I’m to have quiet hands.


I know. I know.

Someone who doesn’t talk doesn’t need to be listened to.

I know.

Behavior isn’t communication. It’s something to be controlled.

I know.

Flapping your hands doesn’t do anything for you, so it does nothing for me.

I know.

I can control it.

I know.

If I could just suppress it, you wouldn’t have to do this.

I know.

They actually teach, in applied behavioral analysis, in special education teacher training, that the most important, the most basic, the most foundational thing is behavioral control. A kid’s education can’t begin until they’re “table ready.”

I know.

I need to silence my most reliable way of gathering, processing, and expressing information, I need to put more effort into controlling and deadening and reducing and removing myself second-by-second than you could ever even conceive, I need to have quiet hands, because until I move 97% of the way in your direction you can’t even see that’s there’s a 3% for you to move towards me.

I know.

I need to have quiet hands.

I know. I know.


There’s a boy in the supermarket, rocking back on his heels and flapping excitedly at a display. His mom hisses “quiet hands!” and looks around, embarrassed.

I catch his eye, and I can’t do it for myself, but my hands flutter at my sides when he’s looking.

(Flapping is the new terrorist-fist-bump.)


Let me be extremely fucking clear: if you grab my hands, if you grab the hands of a developmentally disabled person, if you teach quiet hands, if you work on eliminating “autistic symptoms” and “self-stimulatory behaviors,” if you take away our voice, if you…

if you…

if you…


Then I…



Written by Julia

October 5, 2011 at 2:36 am

Posted in ableism, autism, glee, personal

390 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I love this. thank you for sharing.

    outrunning the storm

    October 5, 2011 at 9:17 am

  2. I love this post. It’s why I’ve never tried to control how my son moves his body, expresses himself through his movements. It’s why I’ve never learned the phrase ‘quiet hands’ and have never told my son to stop flapping, jumping, hopping, dancing, or talking. It’s why I’d rather homeschool him than get him ‘table ready.’ Just because it looks different doesn’t make it wrong. Thank you for sharing this story. It should be passed around to everyone.

    Mama Be Good (@mamabegood)

    October 5, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    • Your methods are a beacon for special education everywhere. My step-mom was an early-childhood special ed teacher, and she did the exact same thing as you do. Instead of curbing the tendencies of autistic children, she would try to use their behaviors to teach them.

      Eliana Berkoff

      February 4, 2012 at 4:17 pm

  3. In my school it was “sit on your hands”.


    October 5, 2011 at 4:21 pm

  4. After reading this I find myself so very VERY happy that I have never asked my son to be silent. His motions, though few, help him understand the world don’t they? Thank you for sharing this!

  5. It’s stuff like this that actually makes me thankful occasionally that I wasn’t diagnosed as a child.


    October 6, 2011 at 9:45 am

    • Wow, wonderful!

      The last thing that we would want is someone communicating by hand movements, cough deaf cough, or experiencing the world with touch, cough blind cough, or …

      Paraphrasing: there’s no one so blind as that what won’t see…

      As I have come to learn more about my own Aspergers and other Neurodiverse aspects, I’ve come to see that the problem isn’t primarily with us as it is with the Neurotypicals….

      Word Hunter

      May 22, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    • I feel the same. I’m realizing in my 60’s that I’m on the spectrum, just as two of my kids, in their 30’s are. It was after they were out of grade school that the push to identify Aspies began, and there wasn’t so much available at the high school level.

      But they are both married to wonderful people, have good, productive jobs, and use their high intelligence and high empathy for good. Awkward? Yup. Pedantic? Yup. Me, too.

      There is a world of difference between understanding a developmental disability, and attempting to shame the person who uses his/her body differently from the other 95%.

      This post made me cry. Both for the kids who dealt and are dealing with ABA, and for myself and my offspring, that even with the pain we had d/t not understanding that our understanding was different, but in relief that we weren’t subjected to constantly being told that who we were was bad.

      Michele Dukinfield

      July 7, 2017 at 9:00 pm

  6. This post gives me chills, I never knew such “treatment” was the standard. I might actually be better off not having been treated as a youngster, if that’s what’s done. Most of the pain in my life has come from trying not to display symptoms of autism in public.

    Scott Beam

    October 8, 2011 at 8:28 pm

  7. Even not having been diagnosed as a child, many autistic behaviors were trained or traumatized out of me by social stigma and castigation from individuals close to me. The levels of self-monitoring I have adopted directly impacts my emotional and physical health. Re-adopting “Stimming” type behaviors which come naturally to me has been arduous, but helpful to mitigating my near-disastrous stress levels.


    October 9, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    • i hear you…


      November 14, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    • Me too! I also wasn’t diagnosed but people would tell me to stop stimming so instead I started biting my lip and scratching my head until it bled. I lose out on a lot of productivity since I can’t think when I don’t stim. It drives my stress levels through the roof.

      Twitchy Woman

      November 14, 2011 at 3:19 pm

  8. […] a violence I still can’t talk about, in the […]

  9. Thought of you the other day…I was in a crowded GAP store and saw a little girl flapping her heart out. And no one telling her not to.


    October 18, 2011 at 11:29 pm

  10. Mmmm hmmmmmmmm!!!!!!!!!

    Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone

    October 20, 2011 at 6:15 pm

  11. […] Quiet Hands appears here by permission. […]

  12. Wow….as a special education teacher, I have certainly used ‘quiet hands/mouth/feet’ before with kiddos. Our intentions are obviously meant to help not to hurt, but this sounds like learning to be table ready and have quiet hands was torture for you. I would love to know if you have suggestions for teachers, perhaps an alternative way to know the kiddo is dialed in and learning without having to stop the stimming. Sometimes the lack of knowledge, even in the community of special education is alarming. I co-teach kindergarten, and while watching the children play, I noticed one child stimming with a car in front of his eyes, and pointed it out to the other teacher as it was the first time I had seen this behavior, and she looked at me confused…and asked, in all honesty, “what’s stimming?” I was shocked…here was a supposed educator of a class of 11, with 8 having a diagnosis of PDD/autism and she didn’t know what that was…needless to say I will not be teaching with her next year. Any advice on ‘quiet hands’ alternitives would be greatly appreciaated!

    Kursten Payne

    November 11, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    • I understand that since stimmy behavior in neurotypical kids generally means they’re goofing off or not paying attention, it’s tempting to interpret it the same way in autistic kids. But that’s not the case, and often stimming is even a sign that they’re paying attention and processing information. I actually can’t think without stimming, so inhibiting stims will actually make me less able to “dial in” and process information, not more.

      It helps to get to know what each kid’s stims mean. For me, stims that are really complex and absorbing can divert my attention away from other things, but stims that are just interesting enough to occupy my hands will help me concentrate. When I’m trying to concentrate on a lecture or something, I like to play with putty, squishy balls, string, etc. I have a bit of a U-shaped curve where I stim a lot when bored, not so much when I’m mildly interested, and then start stimming more again when I’m really thinking hard. Each person is different though.

      For a more comprehensive view I’d search online for tips that autistic individuals give each other. People with ADHD, trichotillomania, and tics also can have tips on finding good “fidgets” that translate pretty well to autistic kids, since all of these seem to be in part driven by a need for sensory input.

      Twitchy Woman

      November 14, 2011 at 3:38 pm

      • While I am not on the Spectrum myself. I would have to agree. My boys stim when necessary. I think (Also, curious for feedback on whether or not I might be correct). It usually mean that they are paying attention, not the other way around. How many of us “NT” people bite our nails while listening to someone speak or while reading etc. It’s just another stim. I suspect (and here is where I need input) that it gives my boys something concrete and in their control to focus on, which allows them to dull the background static, thus allowing them to hear my words more effectively. Also? It just makes them feel good! I would never take that away from them. It is also when they are excited. It is the most AMAZING expression of pure unadulterated joy. I love every flap. Until I am holding him and get one to the face 🙂 LOL


        December 20, 2011 at 10:06 am

    • I raised 2 kids with ADHD. My daughter’s 1st grade teacher was concerned because she was always moving – under the desk, on top of the desk, inside her shirt, twisting, wiggling, putting math manipulatives in her mouth (“something a 3 year old would do!”), etc. But after the 1st grading period, the teacher said, “I’m amazed at how much she’s learned, considering her behavior.” She was on grade level. Even as a college student, she has to get a certain adrenaline rush going (usually brought on by procrastination) in order to complete big assignments, just like her dear old mom! 😉


      May 21, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    • I was raised without knowing I was autistic, or what stimming was. I just had MANY well meaning friends and relatives tell me not to do it. I had to find some alternatives, like long necklaces with multi-textured pendants, or a pencil or beanie baby to fidget with. Being able to understand some general stims, and getting to know the kids well enough that you can give them a possible alternative stim if absolutely necessary (if it’s seriously scaring the other kids and they can do an alternative) is what’s worked for me.

      Alyssa Amott (@LyssyGrace)

      September 9, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    • Why don’t you, with all your expertise, teach your co-worker instead of abandoning her to her ignorance.

      Carla Crider

      March 8, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    • Make use of it, teach them to type! And teach them American sign language! They will learn it so fast it will knock your socks off!!

      Jim Plummer

      February 11, 2019 at 4:53 pm

    • It is not at all “obvious” that that is any of your intention.


      August 22, 2020 at 9:57 pm

  13. Wow. I had no idea. I am sorry. Thank you for educating me. My son doesn’t get ABA, but his behaviorist (who was ABA trained) uses that phrase. But, he doesn’t use it when my son is stimming: he uses it when my son is using his hands to be aggressive. I don’t like the phrase though because I think it’s imprecise. I use “gentle hands” instead. My son doesn’t flap a lot, just when he’s super excited, so it makes me happy to see because I know when he’s doing it, he’s happy.

    Maya (@MarfMom)

    November 14, 2011 at 11:55 am

    • Wow… do you think you could convince the behaviorist to adopt your language? Because I’d hate for your son to encounter anti-stimming quiet hands and have that categorized in the same group as violent behavior…

      Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone

      November 14, 2011 at 12:14 pm

  14. Just because a person is not looking at you and/or sitting still does NOT mean they are not paying attention.

    Jocelyn (@HDCautism)

    November 14, 2011 at 11:59 am

  15. Thank you so much for your honesty and courage. You write beautifully, every word carries your sincerity, your kindness, your anger, and your strength.

    kathleen duey (@kdueykduey)

    November 14, 2011 at 12:19 pm

  16. Well SAID.

    Cynthia Gregory

    November 14, 2011 at 12:39 pm

  17. Well, obviously it was you who lacked empathy. Don’t you know how it made the teacher ~feel~ when you, as a child, didn’t ~look~ normal in her classroom? Or something like that…ask Dr. Cohen, the expert.

    Thank God for people like you who can speak the damage done to children.


    November 14, 2011 at 12:53 pm

  18. maybe if we all flap hard enough we can get a wind started…


    November 14, 2011 at 1:09 pm

  19. Love this post! I can’t imagine being treated that way that young 😦 Sorry you had to go through that. It drives me absolutely crazy the way some people treat autistic kids :/

    I do think that little animated image is a different situation, though, looks like the lady is upset and the guy is trying to comfort her.


    November 14, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    • Just FYI, the woman in the image is diagnosed OCD and, if memory serves, she’s going into a hand-rubbing/praying ritual after an extremely stressful event that her boyfriend (the man in the picture) caused. He’s trying to stop her from rubbing.

      M Dubz

      January 17, 2012 at 12:41 pm

      • I’m aware. I’m a big Glee fan, as you can see from my blog, and wrote this as a response to that scene. This is exactly what I’m talking about.


        January 17, 2012 at 12:43 pm

      • That’s still not an OK thing to do to someone with OCD unless they have asked you to explicitly beforehand.


        September 1, 2014 at 11:07 pm

  20. Wow. This really hit a chord with me. I have 2 sons on the severe end of the autism spectrum and one of them is a very prolific hand flapper. You have completely opened my eyes…Thank you for that!

  21. I’m flapping with you! My son has Autism and I NEVER, EVER stop him from ‘stimming’, in fact I join in! There are no quiet hands in my house 🙂 xxxxxxxx

    • Bless you 🙂 – Diagnosed w/ Asperger’s, thank God I haven’t been to ABA…

      Dafydd Furnham

      February 16, 2017 at 10:40 am

  22. My hands are more me than I am. My hands are more me than I am. My hands are more me than I am. My hands are more me than I am. Oh yeah. I am a musician, an organist, a pianist, a recorder player, used to be a guitar player, I am an artist, I am a writer/typer. My hands are more me than I am. Quiet hands? NO. This is how I communicate. Everything.

    Paula C. Durbin-Westby

    November 14, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    • Paula – I LOVE your comment because that’s almost exactly what i thought when I read that. I am a writer, a claysmith, an artist, a painter, a cook, a friend…my hands are more me than I am….absolutely.

      This story is incredibly powerful and I plan to pass it along to all of my friends and volunteers 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing with us.


      November 30, 2011 at 2:55 pm

  23. That video makes me feel anxious, like I can’t breathe.

    Paula C. Durbin-Westby

    November 14, 2011 at 5:36 pm

  24. Wow. Wow. Wow. I can’t think of anything to say except Wow.

    My son is a flapper, also a jumper. To be honest I’ve never even heard of “quiet hands” before I read this. I would never think of asking him to stop (except for when he accidentally hits me or his brother in the face) but having this insight is SO incredible.

    Wow. Thank you.

    Jill (@jillsmo)

    November 14, 2011 at 5:57 pm

  25. I have a non-neurotypical child who flaps. She isn’t autistic. She’s ADD plus some other stuff, but still, I confess to asking her not to flap her hands when talking to me. I *can’t* talk to her when she’s distracting me, any more than I can hear her when there’s a radio or TV going in the room. Maybe I’m not “neurotypical” either. She wants me to hear her. She wants me to be able to focus on her. I’ve asked her to please clasp her hands in front of her instead so people can focus on her face. She does, but she hunches up like she’s cold – or beaten down. I wish I could tune out the flapping and focus on her. I can’t. I turn off the TV and radio so I can hear her. She has to turn off the hands so I can see her.

    Angela Beegle (@chotiari)

    November 14, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    • She might not be able to talk to you at all if she “turns off the hands.”


      November 14, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    • Sounds like a competing set of access needs- she needs to stim, and for you her type of stimming is an attention grabber- have you done the adult ADD checklist? because that’s what your description of how flapping and TV and radio and so on sounds like to me… Like an adult who adapted and self accommodated for ADD! And for bonus points, since you already know a little about some of the tips and tricks about ADD you ccan start applying some of them to your own life… if you haven’t already that is. (If you are finding yourself having other attention issues to the point of interfering with your life, you may wish to ask your doctor for a referral to a psych who specializes in adult ADD….)

      My mother also has ADD (and Narcolepsy) and sometimes our access needs clash too. It’s less of an issue now that I am out of her house (half the week anyhow- until I find a place for my housing voucher, I’m spending half the week with her and half with my sister…) but her difficulties with time management clash with my need for a fixed schedule when we are doing things together. I have time management issues of my own, too… which is why the around about x time thing doesn’t work! I have to use an external measure for time, and when that doesn’t meet up with what she says it is melt down inducing! But it is not something she can help too much- she tries really hard, so I struggle to be sure to apologize if I say mean things afterwards, since I know it is an access issue.

      Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone

      November 14, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    • How about asking her to find an alternate stim that is not as distracting or to flap down by her sides? Fidget toys are god for this. Or, as a more dramatic measure, not looking at her when she talks? I understand that most non-autistic people find it hard to interact with people author looking at them, but it is a possible option to meet her halfway.

      Twitchy Woman

      November 14, 2011 at 10:48 pm

      • Amen. The fidget toys and modeling clay and squishy balls are fabulous. So are the Brain Gym exercises.


        December 1, 2011 at 9:17 pm

        • To ask an autistic of any age to CHANGE something is very difficult. Change is not something most of them tolerate and to change their patterns would be very upseting to their world. Yes, there are many things out there that can help them to modify thier movements, but, can someone who only speaks French, change and talk only in German? In time, and with age, many learn how to manage their stims. Most of the time, we really don’t know why they do certain things, but it is part of them and should not be stopped or changed. Those are my thoughts, and others may not agree. Each child is different. We just love them and accept them for who they are.

          Marla Wise Miller

          December 2, 2011 at 7:11 am

          • But it’s important to realize that it’s not that we can’t or won’t ever change anything…just that we probably can’t do it on demand, or immediately, just because someone else wants it. It’s not that you can’t ever ask an autistic person to change something about the way they do things, but realize that there is a good reason for the way we do things for ourselves, so there needs to be a good reason that a different way is better for us, that it’s going to take time, that it can’t be demanded, that it’s going to cost us both physical and mental energy (that we may or may not judge to be worth it), etc. We can often make changes, but they need to be worked toward, and in our own best interests, and not simply imposed or demanded.


            December 2, 2011 at 12:41 pm

        • For me, asking me to flap my hands down near my sides when I typically do it about halfway up my body (which is more ergonomically correct) is about the same as asking you to brush your teeth with the opposite hand, or only smile half a smile when you are really happy, or any other thing where you have to do something really awkward with your body.

          Paula C. Durbin-Westby

          December 2, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    • Angela: have you considered holding up a notebook or book to block the view of your daughter’s flapping while you look at her face when she is talking? Then you can both do what you need to in order to communicate. My son has Tourette’s and autism, and I have some symptoms of autism (notably oversensitivity to noise), and he sometimes has a teeth-snapping tic that hurts my head, so I wear ear plugs when he has that tic, and it works out.


      November 15, 2011 at 4:09 pm

  26. Wow. Wow. Wow. I cannot even begin to explain how much reading this means to me! I have a non-verbal son on the “severe” end of the spectrum and he’s got a gold medal in stimming. In all seriousness, it’s just something he does. Unless he’s being violent or destructive, I just let it go. It’s a part of him. I’ve never been a quiet hands sort of person myself. And besides, he uses his hands to communicate – he uses some signs.

    His old school was a quiet hands sort of place. His new school is not. I love his new school. Because they are letting him be himself while learning to express himself. They take the time to “listen” to him. I love them for that.

    Thank you for writing this. It is brave and informative. It gives me a teensy glimpse inside my son for the first time ever. And that’

    The Domestic Goddess

    November 14, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    • Thank you so, so, so much for withdrawing them for their old school. Stim happy, stim freely ~Dafydd, Asperger’s, diagnosed 2013, anti Autism Speaks, anti ABA.

      Dafydd Furnham

      February 16, 2017 at 10:44 am

  27. […] read this post Quiet Hands today.   Our ABA therapists don’t use those terms.   But it made me think that I need to […]

  28. Phenomenal post. Wow.

    I am so, so glad I was not diagnosed as a child. Oh, dear God, so glad. I used to run my hands along the walls of my school, and play with my fingers, and suck on my shirt sleeve, and play with my hair, and no one gave me a hard time, because they just figured I was different, not sick.

    Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg

    November 14, 2011 at 8:51 pm

  29. Just a note to thank you for teaching me about my own sons. What a gift you have written for all those living with ASD (especially the young and non-verbal) and their parents. I can’t imagine how many lives this is changing right now as we speak. It’s very powerful advocating, and I am grateful for your hands which typed this out, and your heart for sharing it.

    Heather Clark

    November 15, 2011 at 6:13 am

  30. Thank you for sharing this. Behavior IS communication.

    Applied Behavioral Strategies

    November 15, 2011 at 9:07 am

  31. ‘EnjoyHi5Autism’ is sharing with Developmental Disabilities, Special Needs Parents, Self-Advocates, Educators, and Families on our social networks and micro-blogs at https://www.facebook.com/EnjoyHi5Autism ; http://enjoyinghi5autism.blogspot.com ; https://twitter.com/#!/EnjoyHi5Autism

    KBJCosse' (@EnjoyHi5Autism)

    November 15, 2011 at 11:15 am

  32. That post is beautifully written, and really brings home the trauma of what you went through. What you experienced sounds undoubtedly like bad practice; of course all behaviour can be communication. In particular “stimming” is hugely important in emotional regulation and communication of emotions; and all good clinicians and educators should be aware of this. I am so sorry that you had this awful experience; I would love to be able to say that this kind of treatment no longer happens, but unfortunately there are far too many so-called ABA “practitioners” out there without the qualifications, the experience and most importantly the grounding in the scientific principles to be able to tailor strategies appropriately to individual needs. Thank you for sharing your story. From a fellow flapper, and Behaviour Analyst.


    November 15, 2011 at 12:35 pm

  33. Someone asked if an alternate stim could be found. Sometimes an “alternate stim” is not going to work. Sometimes stims are just not interchangeable. I had someone tell me that my swaying from side to side made them feel seasick. Although I think that what that particular person was trying to say was that they did not want me to stim at all, I said I would try to transfer it to some other body part, so started wiggling my feet. But, sometimes I can’t transfer a stim, because it serves a function. In my family, sometimes our various stims get on each other’s nerves. We do not assume that one person’s needs take precedence over another’s. and, luckily, we can work it out a bit. Sometimes I will tell my son to stop doing something because it is interfering with my own needs, and then I think about it and decide that it won’t bother me if, for example, I put on my headphones. Or if, instead of waving something in my face, he waves it a bit further back so that I don’t feel I am being attacked! For the person whose child flapping is distracting them, maybe you could turn away a bit or even close your eyes for a minute, if that would cut out the flapping motion a bit. It should not always be up to the person with the stim to accommodate the person who is being annoyed. Since we all have various stims in my family, I am really aware of this.

    Paula C. Durbin-Westby

    November 15, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    • I think you may be talking about my comment, in which case thanks for adding this. I didn’t want to imply that “alternate stims” were always a possibility, but sometimes they are. I think alternate stims are a great thing to think about when it’s not actually hard to find one, or when the stim is actually self-injurious in some way (as many of mine have been). But it’s not always possible or worth it, so sometimes you have to have the other person make the accommodation (like by just dealing with it, maintaining distance, looking away, etc.).

      Also, in the case of the woman who couldn’t deal with her daughter’s stims, I am assuming she’s telling the truth that she actually can’t hear what her kid is saying when distracted by stims, which to me goes beyond annoyance… it’s not in the kid’s interest not to be heard.

      Twitchy Woman

      November 15, 2011 at 3:26 pm

  34. I wrote something on my Facebook page today, in response to an article about a symphony conductor who stopped a concert to ask a person with a disability to leave: “This is what I do not like about the whole “classical music” kind of atmosphere. One is supposed to sit still like a statue using only one’s ears to hear the music. If one is a performer, one is supposed to only move those body parts that do the actual noise-making. 😉 I had all “extraneous” body motions (aka “stimming”?) trained out of me by various music teachers and sarcastic commenters. It has taken me decades to get back to anywhere near being able to feel the music and my body and I am not there completely yet. Maybe when I am 72. I was thinking about the whole music-playing and concert going thing after reading Julia Bascom’s excellent post on “Quiet Hands” last night.” It is extremely difficult for me to let my body move in the way that it really needs to, even though I am a proponent of neurodiversity, an “out Autistic,” a disability rights activist. All that early “training” has not “helped” me, although I am sure it makes others feel more comfortable with themselves.

    Paula C. Durbin-Westby

    November 15, 2011 at 1:25 pm

  35. Excellent post. My son doesn’t flap, but if he did, I would have let him.


    November 15, 2011 at 1:35 pm

  36. What a powerful post.


    November 15, 2011 at 5:10 pm

  37. As tears well up in my eyes and I realize my son just spoke to me through your hands, I feel shame for quieting his voice.
    Thank you for opening my eyes to your world and having the courage to share it.


    November 15, 2011 at 8:08 pm

  38. Why is the guy in the movie DOING that? I am curious, and it still makes me feel ill to look at it, so I am trying to avoid it, but I want to read the responses here as this is an important topic to me.

    Paula C. Durbin-Westby

    November 15, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    • It’s a seen from “Asian F,” the third episode of the third season of Glee. The guy is restraining the hands of the woman because she is wringing her hands in a manifestation of her OCD. He does this almost immediately after learning that her parents tied her hands together as a child for the same action.

      This piece was written as my response to that moment.


      November 15, 2011 at 10:04 pm

      • If that girl were me, this clip would be immediately followed by a lot of screaming.

        Nevertheless, it does seem to be a common response. I think that they feel comforted when someone does that with them in response to typical nervous fidgeting, which is not as upsetting to stop. They think that people with Autism/OCD/Tourette’s/whatever will also feel comforted. Which, of course, is why it’s really important to raise awareness that this response is not necessarily going to be perceived as comforting and could instead really hurt the other person.

        Twitchy Woman

        November 16, 2011 at 2:04 am

        • Thank you for this very insightful comment. I believe that if we are going to change the way neurotypicals react to those of us who aren’t, we need to remember that sometimes even the kindest impulses may lead others to do completely the wrong thing in a genuine attempt to help.

          I am neither autistic nor neurotypical. I often do feel comforted when someone holds my hands, when I am moving them out of anxiety. However, I am also incapable of listening unless my hands are occupied with a task. I was fortunate that I only ever had one teacher who insisted that I sit “perfectly still” in class, and that class alone was traumatic for me. For most school, however, it sufficed for me that many activities could be done with my hands under the desk where others could not see, and that doodling looks a lot like taking notes. I am aware, though, that not everyone’s needs are so simply accommodated.

          The “quiet hands” program mentioned in this article sounds like a horribly misguided (and yes, even abusive) attempt to “normalize” behavior, and I (currently a Psychology student) had no idea that this sort of thing was done, or how damaging it could be. OP: Thank you so much for your honesty and bravery in sharing your story. Your words are powerful and eloquent, and I am very glad that the people who brutalized you didn’t manage to steal your voice away entirely. I will share this far and wide.


          November 25, 2011 at 11:55 pm

        • These comments are very helpful to me, in understanding this post. As a neurotypical person who has not seen Glee (so I didn’t have the context of the story of her OCD and her parent’s treatment), when I saw that GIF, I unconsciously read it as a sweet and romantic gesture; comforting. It looked (unconsciously) to me like she was in distress, and he was comforting her. So, until I read more, this post was a little confusing to me, because I saw the GIF as a positive thing.

          I’ve learned more since then! Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts, everyone.

          Long live the Internet, for giving us all more opportunities to learn things outside of our experience…


          December 23, 2011 at 2:52 pm

  39. My husband needs a bouncy ball with him all the time, to fidget with, in order to feel OK in the universe. One of his grade school teachers gave him the first one when he observed the little boy he was back then relentlessly picking at his fingers until they bled; that must have been 25+ years ago. Recently at the zoo they told us he would have to surrender his ball; we don’t know why. He politely requested, and was given, a pen to fidget with instead as we wandered the zoo.

    Our 6-year-old daughter stims in various ways, including excited hand flapping. We take it as a sign of extreme pleasure and excitement. It is part of who she is and we love her for who she is.

    Thank you for sharing your story… it’s terrible what’s done to us by people who love us, sometimes.


    November 15, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    • Our zoo has the same requirements – I wasn’t allowed to take my son’s bouncy ball in, and they said it was in case he dropped it. If it happened to roll into an animal’s pen and they swallowed it, they could choke and die. I substituted one of his beanie babies instead, and he was fine. 🙂

      Elizabeth Tufts Adair

      September 10, 2014 at 9:36 pm

  40. This is fucking perfect. Thank you *so* much for writing and sharing. I work with children with autism, and we join them with delight in their stims.

    Benjamin Ady

    November 16, 2011 at 12:20 am

  41. beautifully said! thank you!

    Lauri Hunt (@ollibean)

    November 16, 2011 at 12:57 am

  42. I hope this goes viral. I hope the world sees this. This post has the power to change an entire failed system.

    Jennifer Janson Medordi

    November 16, 2011 at 9:10 am

  43. u are amazing


    November 16, 2011 at 12:25 pm

  44. I have no words to explain the pain I feel in my heart after reading this. Thank you


    November 16, 2011 at 5:11 pm

  45. Most of the srudents I have spent time with were not able to demonstrate a traditional awareness of cause and effect. I was never fooled by societies interpretation of such qualities. We have to listen to hear. Nice posting. thanks for sharing.
    Here’s one to watch, listen to, and hear what’s being said:


    November 16, 2011 at 5:16 pm

  46. I loved reading your story. I’ve been working young students with autosm for four years in a therapeutic sub-sparate classroom. It’s an ABA based program. I’ve used the “quiet hands/body” phrase thinking it was helpful. I NEVER meant to hurt them. As a special educator, I’ll find strategy to best serve my students and meet their needs.
    Also, I’ll give my students reasons to move, rock, flap, jump, sing, or whatever they need to learn and thrive. I love my students with autism. I always thought autism is seeing the world from a different angle. Thank you for sharing!


    November 16, 2011 at 9:54 pm

  47. As a father of a boy who stimms quite a bit, I found this post VERY helpful. We do Son Rise at our house and we love him as he is. Most of the time, training against stimming is not for the child’s benefit, but for the parents to be more comfortable in public. It’s quite silly.

    Ryan Peck

    November 17, 2011 at 10:09 am

  48. Thank you so, so much for writing this. My four-year-old boy has autism and is constantly feeling or bending things. He also flaps his arms when he’s excited, which gets us some looks but doesn’t bother me one bit. I love that he has a way to tell us he likes something!

    I’m so sorry about the way people treated your stimming when you were a child. I can’t imagine how hard it was, but I hope you keep writing and sharing more insight like this. It is especially helpful for people like me whose child is nonverbal. Thanks again.

    Christy (@bothsidesofcoin)

    November 17, 2011 at 1:37 pm

  49. […] the blog, Just Stimming (October 14, 2011), a heartwrenching […]

    Quiet Hands | 8 Second Rule

    November 18, 2011 at 8:16 pm

  50. […] that these basic steps of self care- and that often is what it ends up being in a way- are wrong. Quiet Hands and You look like /are acting like a R[-word] and people will think you are crazy and […]

  51. This was really, really, really hard to read. I was diagnosed late, so I was never subjected to ABA, but I’m almost nauseated at the thought of being held down or forced to touch textures. I wish I could say something to make it better. I wish this wasn’t acceptable. I wish everyone who subjects children to ABA would read this and realize how horrible it is so no one else has to go through it. But I know that’s part of what I’m working towards, a future where autistic people are safe, and this reminds me how unsafe we are right now.

    Kathryn Bjørnstad

    November 20, 2011 at 12:06 pm

  52. A famous philosopher once said, “If someone wants to help you, run!” Most people who work with individuals who have disabilities do so to make a living. If you are too normal, it is more difficult for them to get someone to pay for their services. The more they can make you seem disabled and not normal, the easier it is for them to get a job working with you. You are just fine the way you are, let the world get over it if they are uncomfortable around you. Try and understand yourself and you will be your own best guide. I have seen ABA at work in schools and think it is antiintellectual at best, cruelty in practice. Peace and good luck to you.


    November 20, 2011 at 5:32 pm

  53. We use ‘hands down’ with my granddaughter only when she gets to close to people or things that could either harm her or them. At school they do try to ‘control’ the movements of the kids more than I think they should. Their reasoning is fear of injury, accidental or on purpose. I have said it is like telling a deaf person to not use their hand to talk. Society tries to hard to make them ‘fit in’ instead of learning how to communicate and teach on the level they can understand. Why don’t we make orchestra conductors learn to direct without their hands? To me, it is the same ending, silence.

    Marla Wise Miller

    November 26, 2011 at 9:27 am

  54. Thank you for posting this. I have shared this with as many educators and therapists as I can. : )


    November 27, 2011 at 10:27 am

  55. When i first read this, I had just spent hours reviewing records for a child the school district wanted to move to a segregated school. Hours of “poking” and “hitting” and “screaming” and, at fourteen a new behavior plan for “table top activities.” it was two in the morning and a woman I have never met in person, but with whom I am engaged in battle with to end the use of “aversive interventions” sent it during her own late night. The next day the parents showed me a video, and low and behold, the child quite literally needs you to look at her hands, because she signs. And in a tantrum, they stopped interpreting for her. Her only option was to poke and hit and scream in an effort to get someone, anyone, to look at her hands. Thank you so very much, we are still in pitched battle, but because of your words here, I think I can get the powers that be to understand what has happened here. Because i can see it, and now, speak it in their language. And maybe a hearing officers order can get them to turn things around.


    November 28, 2011 at 1:12 pm

  56. […] basic steps of self care — and that often is what it ends up being in a way — are wrong. Quiet Hands and You look like/are acting like a R[-word] and people will think you are crazy and countless […]

  57. Thanks for sharing this. Been trying to advocate in favour of letting children with developmental delays let off steam as they see fit. They NEED it. Who does it hurt that they flap their hands or mumble or even squeal? Relax people! I will be sharing this post. Thanks again.

    Kim Patrick Pomares

    November 29, 2011 at 4:49 pm

  58. […] This is a response post to this blog here: https://juststimming.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/quiet-hands/ […]

    Secret Stims « Textual Fury

    November 30, 2011 at 1:35 am

  59. This was beautiful and sad and eye opening. My daughter hand flaps and stims and I adore it. I do it with her. She expresses her joy, her surprise, her excitement in her stimming and the thought of anyone trying to stop that angers me. We have an IEP meeting coming up and while I hadn’t even thought of it before that they may have “issue” with it, I will now be asking them about it and how they handle it. She stims usually for seconds, certainly not long enough to be disruptive to her or anyone else. She would be done before they even finished the sentence to stop.
    If I EVER find out that someone has physically stopped my daughter from her hand flapping, omg.
    I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this post. For helping me see there could be an issue with how others “deal” with my daughter’s stimming because it’s never BEEN anything other than a part of her to us.

    Lainna (@LainneB)

    November 30, 2011 at 3:59 pm

  60. Oh my God. You have touched me in a way that I was not expecting. As a mother of a son with autism, I love his hand flapping and do not allow his intervention program to silence them. But I use “quiet hands” liberally; when he’s drumming on the couch at midnight. When he’s stimming so hard the room begins to spin even for me. When he looks like he might fly away.

    Thank you so much for reminding me that this is HIM. And I need to treasure whatever it is that makes him who he is.

    Quiet hands no more.

    Jo Ashline

    December 1, 2011 at 9:41 pm

  61. […] Quiet Hands by Julia Bascom […]

  62. Thank you for this. My son does not have autism, he has Down syndrome. Some of his stimming is abusive (head banging and slapping himself) so we are working on alternatives for that (I give deep pressure scalp and jaw massages.) Others (like rocking on his back and playing in my hair) are fine. He is a toddler (looks younger) and therefore most of his “quirky” behaviors are still cute to outsiders. I admit that recently, I had begin to worry about how he will be perceived by the public when he doing those behaviors. I thought about beginning to correct him. Because of you, I won’t. I will continue to rejoice in his wide open joy, the way he gets so excited and sways his head and body with his eyes focused upward, the way he IS. Thank you.

    Holly Guillory Fedele

    December 2, 2011 at 9:02 pm

  63. I felt injured, bruised, devastated by this.

    When I took my 6yo ASD son to dinner last night, and he was “writing” in the air and on the table and on the walls, and clapping merrily, I asked him, “Has anyone ever told you “Quiet Hands?” He didn’t answer. I told him, “If anyone tells you “Quiet Hands,” you tell them to they have to talk to your mama.”


    December 8, 2011 at 9:31 am

  64. […] little more than a month after I wrote Quiet Hands, I woke up and found that the number of hits on this site had erupted. Quiet Hands had gone viral, […]

    Response « Just Stimming…

    December 13, 2011 at 3:57 pm

  65. […] little more than a month after I wrote Quiet Hands, I woke up and found that the number of hits on this site [i.e. Just Stimming — ed.] had erupted. […]

    Response | Neurodiversity

    December 14, 2011 at 1:02 am

  66. I am a special needs teacher and have never prevented a student from flapping or finger twitching movements but I do have a student now who claps incessantly. It is extremely loud and disturbing to the rest of the class. What suggestions do you have to come to a compromise in this situation which is beneficial to all? Thanks!

    Karen Cardoza

    December 15, 2011 at 7:25 am

  67. This question came to mind as I read:

    Why do lovers hold hands?


    December 16, 2011 at 10:03 am

  68. beautifully stated, very moving and so important! I have a year old grandlittle who is blind, not autistic, but have already started hearing that there are some self soothing, or self stimulating behaviors ( head slapping, eye poking, arm waving, hand flapping, rocking) that might become “issues” and to be on the lookout to be correcting or redirecting her. I think maybe we will just prevent the eye poking, and head hitting! I hope you gain what comfort there is in hearing that you may be changing the minds, hearts and knowing of many. You are making a difference! Thank you.

    Jean Fultz

    December 17, 2011 at 11:57 pm

  69. Thank you for writing this. My daughter doesn’t flap often, but she does have many verbal stims (now that she’s verbal) and touches absolutely EVERYTHING. I’ve never told her quiet hands, but I have told her to stop touching. Don’t put your hands in that stranger’s purse, don’t handle all the produce at the grocery store, don’t touch the fragile things at Grandma’s house. I had no idea, absolutely no idea, what I was really telling her with my words. Clearly I need to rethink my approach, because like you, I think touch is how she makes sense of her world. I need to find a better way to balance her needs with those of the NTs.

    But what I was struck by as I read your post was remembering all the times the aides in preschool did hand-over-hand with my daughter and how, even at 2, prior to her diagnosis, she fought it. I figured out pretty quickly that if you sat next to her and showed her what you wanted, she would copy. But I had to beg the aides to stop with the hand-over-hand. And even now, 5 years later, I still need to tell new therapists not to do hand-over-hand. And the response is, more often than not, but that’s how we’re supposed to do it. Some listen to me and some insist on doing it anyway. My daughter now responds so aggressively to their attempts that they stop trying pretty quickly. But it makes me sad that she has to do that.

    Thank you for helping to explain my daughter to me. Hopefully one day she will be able to do it as eloquently as you.


    December 18, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    • We found with my granddaughter that using the word don’t in a sentence was useless. In ‘don’t touch that’ all she seemed to hear or catch was ‘touch that’. We changed it to ‘that is only for blank to touch’ and she would pick up on the first part more than. Trying to put things into a positive verbage made things a little bit easier on all.

      Marla Wise Miller

      December 18, 2011 at 7:58 pm

  70. I don’t think it’s by accident that I’m a knitter and crocheter. Busy hands are happy hands.


    December 19, 2011 at 4:27 am

  71. I’d never heard of this “Quiet Hands” thing as an institutionalized way of quelling children until I read this blog. It’s appalling. Good God! They’re fucking with people’s lives! It breaks my heart that kids have been subjected to this in our schools. I wonder about my youngest nephew, the so-called “monster” in my family (i.e. he’s an emotionally sensitive boy who is prone to “tantrums” even at the age of 12 and he doesn’t conform to preconceived expectations of prodigy-level awesomeness).

    I grew up in a time before kids were being regularly diagnosed with Aspergers or autism. I have no idea whether I would have been identified on the spectrum. But for God’s sake, it couldn’t have been more obvious to any of my teachers that I was being sexually abused when I was in the second grade, or the third grade, or the fourth grade, or the fifth grade, and yet no one at home or at school lifted a finger to protect me.

    there was more that I was going to say but I got way off topic. sorry.


    December 19, 2011 at 5:06 am

  72. […] Quiet Hands […]

  73. As the mom of an autistic child, I was more embarrassed about his behavior when I was ignorant of what autism was… btw, I’m still ignorant about a lot of things. Now that I’m understanding more, I’m not embarrassed so much about his behavior. I do, however, try to teach him, as I would any child, when his behavior is inappropriate, such as in church in consideration of other people. During this time, there’s an escalation of noise and movement, so I do try to redirect his attention, by say maybe rubbing his arm, so he’s not so bored and he gets sensory stimulation, and I talk to him a lot to explain things. I never did learn that “quiet hands” thing… and not sure it would even work. It saddens me that children are “trained” to obey cues much like animals. It’s given a name, a label, but really, the kids are being treated, the expectations are as if they’re animals… I don’t like that.


    December 19, 2011 at 8:28 am

  74. I love this My David (6 yrs old.) has developed more stims over the last year such as chewing on shirts and tapping me when he is snuggling I have had people in my family get annoyed or grossed out by these new stims but now I have a great way to explain to them why he does these things. I have needed to stim since before I can remember I used to bite my nails until they bled my parents would slap my hand or put nasty stuff on my nails I couldn’t explain to them then that it was something I had to do. It developed to doodling or playing with my hair and I too had teachers that were offended that I was learning while doing these things. I am so glad he has a wonderful school that doesn’t try to stop him from moving and even has ball chairs or rocking chairs for the kids that need them. I believe that the gentle approach he had starting in middle school is what has helped him to become so verbal and intelligent. Thank you so much for this.


    December 19, 2011 at 7:37 pm

  75. I just shared a link to this article with my classmates in an online ABA training program. Someone asked a question about teaching replacement behaviors for stereotypy, and I was so thankful to be able to share this as a counterpoint and resource.

    How different it would have been if the guy in the clip had tried manipulating his own hands the same was she was, just to see how it felt, to at least see about gaining some insight. Or if he’d held his own hands out to hers and waited to see if she felt like touching him.

    Kelly Priest

    December 21, 2011 at 1:49 pm

  76. initially i just loved this scene because to me it felt like will was just willing to…be with her and stop trying to turn her into Super Emma. And then I saw loud hands and it all clicked in a big way i’m lucky enuogh to never have been actively tied down butmost of my stims have been taught out of me.
    when i hand/arm flap, someone usually puts their hand on mine, though.


    December 30, 2011 at 12:45 pm

  77. […] for example, the post entitled Quiet Hands by Julia Bascom. Julia has autism, although I suspect most people reading her work would never […]

  78. […] think a lot of the people who read my blog are also people who have read Quiet Hands by Julia Bascom. (I actually already linked to it in my own Rocking (and Flapping) at a 1000 […]

  79. […] else’s blog post, well actually it started with the practices described in it.  The post is Quiet Hands; and you should read it because its really good.  It made me angry.  I didn’t have those […]

  80. […] in October, Julia Bascom of JustStimming wrote a post reacting to a moment on Glee called “Quiet Hands”, In it, she showed beautifully the struggle that thousands (millions?) of Autistic kids and adults […]

  81. […] read an incredibly moving and revealing post by Julia Bascom at Just Stimming. The post was called Quiet Hands. Reading that post was a revelation to me and it caused quite a stir in the autism community as it […]

  82. It’s why I stopped the fix-it therapy and started to love noisy talking expressive precious gently loving perfect hands that didn’t need fixing.


    March 17, 2012 at 6:37 am

  83. Excellent post! I was directed here by lovemanytrustfew, who is one of my favorite bloggers.

    I was struck by your words, “And when you’re autistic, it’s not abuse. It’s therapy.” I understand some of what you feel, as I’ve said simliar things before in response to things folks have suggested or done regarding my son, Sam, who is a 19-year-old with autism.


    March 18, 2012 at 12:14 pm

  84. […] I think this post may have reached iconic status by now but in case you haven’t read it:  Quiet Hands and Dear “Autism […]

  85. Lovely. And a good reminder for all of us parents.

    Lana Rush (@lanalrush)

    April 3, 2012 at 11:59 am

  86. […] without creating a burst of noise, and also of destigmatizing behavior for which they were punished and bullied as kids. Returning to the neurotypical world after a few days at Autreat was like landing in Times […]

  87. […] modification’ for people with intellectual disabilities, I was trained to teach ‘QUIET HANDS’. …  and ‘age-appropriate’ behavior…. to facilitate ‘fitting […]

  88. […] Stimming – Julia Bascom is autistic and her writing is powerful. Her blog post Quiet Hands is one of the most powerful things I’ve read and lead to the Loud Hands […]

  89. […] “Stille Hände” als Tortur [Englisch] […]

  90. This is an old post…I don’t know how I landed here but I have two comments: 1) Beautiful. The words written here are hauntingly beautiful. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into you… 2) I actually have general anxiety disorder to a fairly high level. Though I am doing a hundred times better thanks to psychiatric counselling and medication, I have crazy busy hands when I have an anxious moment/episode. For me, allowing my hands (or my feet) to tap, bounce, move around, pick, etc actually increases the strength of my anxiety exponentially. Reducing the movement of my hands or feet is paramount for me to come out of anxiety without having a full blown panic attack. It never even occurred to me that the effect could be opposite with someone who has autism or is otherwise developmentally challenged. Thank you for educating me.

  91. I never heard of quiet hands. This is a good thing. No therapist, no teacher, no para, no aide, no worker, no anybody has tried that with my son.


    May 2, 2012 at 9:44 pm

  92. Thank you for this. Sometimes I want to beat people over the head with this message. I have four children, three are old enough to talk but don’t. They stayed “pre-verbal” until at least three years of age. Pre-verbal doesn’t mean they aren’t communicating. My oldest talked exclusively in signs until she almost six. Not all of it was ASL, but she got her point across. We left at least three speech therapists because they couldn’t understand her.

    Thank you for speaking for those who have no voice.

  93. This came very close to making me cry. I remember how exasperated I used to be that my stepdaughter was always poking at things with her toes; when she watched videos, she would grasp and let go the flap of the cardboard box the videos were kept in, flap flap, pretty much the whole time, and I would ask her again and again please not to. She’s 25 now, diagnosed bipolar, and told me recently that she thinks she was self-stimulating that way as a child. *shakes head at self* Thank you for sharing this.

    Mam Adar

    May 3, 2012 at 9:41 am

  94. I love hands. They are beautiful and they make beautiful things, and they are so expressive. I can spend ages looking at people’s hands.
    Thank you for explaining other ways in which people use them.

    Morag Lewis

    May 4, 2012 at 3:04 pm

  95. I’ve read this over and over again, and I cry every time. I send this to everyone. Thank you so much for sharing.

  96. […] read this with sympathy. It’s a deeply personal criticism by autistic writer Julia Bascom of therapy […]

  97. I liked the article I’m a 15 year old girl i like to atom it calms me Down I don’t have autism or asbergers. Only when I was little I had sensory processing disorder well grew out of that? It seems to me like stimming isn’t acceptable especially in public or even in my home so I do it in my room? Is stimming for me okay?


    June 30, 2012 at 3:08 am

  98. Pianist28
    My feeling is, if stimming helps you calm down or otherwise feels good, and it doesn’t hurt you or anyone else, then why stop? It is true that some people seem to react poorly when they see others stim in certain ways, but I see that as their problem… it’s not right for them to make it yours. If you feel too scared of how others will react to stim in front of others, then do whatever makes you feel safe and okay. Otherwise, I would say, go ahead, I think stimming for you is okay for as long as you want or need to.

    I am not autistic and do not have Aspergers, and every once in a while I catch myself stimming a little too. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

    Really, all people do stim, it’s just that some stims are more “socially accepted” probably just because they are more common. For example, plenty of non-autistic people without sensory processing disorders tap their feet or their fingers a little, or twist their hair around their fingers etc. Other kinds of stims are not as well accepted, not because they’re really any different but just because they are not seen as often.

    Andrea Shettle, MSW

    June 30, 2012 at 1:14 pm

  99. […] I read this blog post and I thought about violence. But about how many people will think I’m silly for thinking it’s violence. (I don’t have defenses for that, either, so we’re just going to assume we all are on the same ground – tying your students down to stop them soothing themselves with movement is violence.) […]

  100. Reblogged this on The Creative Crip.


    August 23, 2012 at 11:20 am

  101. Wow, what a powerful post. I needed to read this. My daughter is a teen now and I struggle with what behaviors I should help her manage and what she needs to do as an outlet for her own stressors or as communication. Thank you.

    Jessica (@jessbwatson)

    August 24, 2012 at 9:51 am

  102. […] Just Stimming – Julia, the mind behind “Just Stimming”, is the person who brought the Quiet Hands essay to the world. But that’s not the only thing of value on her blog – nearly every one of her […]

  103. This is the most powerful, beautiful piece of writing about autism I have read. I couldn’t have read it at a more significant time either. My son has recently been diagnosed with ASD. This evening as he was practicing piano pieces he asked me to explain a scale to him. He was continually touching the keys as I was speaking to him. I moved his hands away, more than once and he said “ok, I’ll just sit on them for a while.” I’ve never known him to do this before. I know I won’t stop him stimming in future when he asks me for help with schoolwork. I’ll also be keeping a look out for him sitting on his hands. My real concern is that it’s coming from school, with a new term and a new teacher along with it. Thank you.


    September 13, 2012 at 12:19 am

  104. Reblogged this on jboylie and commented:
    Wow …


    September 13, 2012 at 12:21 am

  105. Thank you for a much needed wake up call. I hear you, loud and clear.

    Amy Sorensen Wheaton

    September 19, 2012 at 10:58 am

  106. Beautifully written. I’m undiagnosed but extremely likely Aspies (I’ll spare you the list of reasons), and just a few days ago I was reading through lessons for the Education for Ministry class for Episcopalians, having just started the class. Most of the material is excellent, but inside the “core” material is a section about how to communicate within class that seemed to be…well. The point seemed to be to instill unspoken but very definite *shame* around a whole range of behaviors that are instinctive to me. Not just interrupting (I’ve trained myself not to do that in settings where it’s not accepted, largely by curtailing my level of engagement), but also eye contact (life has given me a complex about that: I have intense eyes, so when I do look, I’m “staring”) and body language and fidgeting. (How can I sit comfortably without my steady, almost-invisible back and forth rock? How can I listen without playing out complex rhythms with my fingertips until they come out even?)

    Just reading it made me anxious. I made a point from childhood of making my tics small, to the point where some people will think I’m lying when I first say I have them. But the ones I have, I NEED, and reading a lesson designed to show the people around me that my best listening behavior is disrespectful made my chest close up. And then I thought I might write to them about it…and then I thought there was no point making an issue of it when maybe we’d never even come around to that part. But now I think again that maybe I will. They can’t know who they’re hurting if no one tells them. Thank you.

    Julie McCord

    September 19, 2012 at 11:11 pm

  107. This is hard to say because I can see that your experience was very hurtful…

    But I loved this scene in Glee because I viewed Emma as someone with a lot of anxiety… and having experienced anxiety as well I know how nice it can feel for someone to hold you. Not to restrain you, not to hold you down, not because there is something wrong with you, but to support you and say “I’m here for you.” I know how it feels for my anxiety to slow with someone holding my hand or holding me, when my anxiety just gets overwhelming.

    And I hope I don’t appear insensitive, it just might be another side, I really want to hear how you feel about this.

    I was also restrained quite a bit in my childhood. I had tantrums and was diagnosed with ADHD. The feelings I remember is first being overwhelmed, throwing a tantrum, and then being terrified when I was held down. To tell you the truth I think what I really have is Asperger’s.

    As someone who is on the spectrum like you, hearing about your experience hurts me, too. It makes me deeply angry at the injustices done against you and others.

    Please keep writing! You are a wonderful writer.

    Virginia Whitney

    September 20, 2012 at 10:16 am

  108. […] Julia Bascom from her blog Just Stimming, her post Quiet Hands: […]

  109. […] Quiet Hands […]

  110. “Behaviour isn’t communication.” WOW! The *ding ding ding* win-bell just went off in my head. I’m not exceptionally good at reading people (in the normal sense), but special-needs children make as much sense to me as anybody else does, because behaviour is the only communication that tells me anything about people!

    Talking is for abstract ideas – moving and reacting and *patterns* of speech are for expressing how the brain works and what people are trying to get/be/do. Ya know?

    I love your blog. I came through the Music/Math post, and although I have little skill in math, I totally feel the play and joy of it, and wish SO BADLY that they had taught it in a sensible way in school, so I could have got into it before it was basically too late. (Immediately after, I read the post previous to the Math one, and screamed/wept “Ahhh Community!!” at the first paragraph.)

    You are cool. That is all.


    November 21, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    • Also, how stupid is sheet music? You are so right – I hate its arbitrariness. If you write a mathematical notation system for music, I will totally buy it, and start doing music again. 🙂


      November 21, 2012 at 1:57 pm

  111. […] 3) The Use of “Quiet Hands” […]

  112. […] voice. Things started to come together in the fall of 2011, and they got a jumpstart when my essay "Quiet Hands" — about the abuse and silencing of autistic people — went viral. A project centered around […]

  113. […] behavior is bad and must be stopped/controlled. Just don’t; you’ll end up with this: https://juststimming.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/quiet-hands/ BETTER […]

  114. Beautifully written. I left the ss industry when I wasn’t able to convince co-workers that “behaviours” that were not dangerous don’t need to be stopped/adjusted/trained. Everyone has their own tics, but for those where they aren’t noticable, no one ever says anything. I have a compulsive need to walk stairs with my left foot being the last step. Sometimes I switch when the number of stairs is uneven. I don’t notice it, and when other people do and don’t understand it, I can’t begin to comprehend the extended level of this behaviour for someone on the spectrum.

    Just because it doesn’t seem right to a non-spectrum person, doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it. Teachers should be there to teach, not to train. SS workers should be there to support, not to train.

    Thank you for writing this.

    Lindsay Leggett

    February 8, 2013 at 1:34 pm

  115. […] I will never understand how people can justify the use of “quiet hands”. If you are unaware of what this phrase means, or of the implications for autistic people, you need to read Quiet Hands by Julia Bascom. […]

  116. Reblogged this on Appalachian aspie..


    February 24, 2013 at 3:27 am

  117. […] Other essays were heartbreaking, particularly “Quiet Hands” by Julia Bascom (which you can read here) and “Killing Words” by Zoe Gross (here), which explored the treatment that autistic children […]

  118. […] that tries to turn them neurotypical instead of a neurodivergent person who can cope. (See also: quiet hands.) But that’s a sign of the mental health system […]

  119. Thank you.

    Now I have a paraphrase from “Finding Nemo” in my head…. “Just keep stimming… just keep stimming…”

    Katherine Rushworth

    April 7, 2013 at 7:47 am

  120. “. . . Not being able to talk is not the same as not having anything to say.”

    Yes. This.

    And I felt every single bit of this post deep inside my heart. Well done.


    April 9, 2013 at 2:08 pm

  121. My teacher used to say “good hands Alex” I never understood why I had to stop, flapping felt great to me! I do try to control it in a public place. Because I might be bullied or something. http://www.alexlowery.co.uk

  122. I have a question – what do you do if the stim in question is something socially “icky” but not necessarily injurious? My 8 year old has a tendency to try out new behaviors, and if it works for him, it stays – the one he’s been doing the last 2 months is picking/rubbing the side of his nostril. Most of the time I try to ignore it, but he really shouldn’t touch others after poking around in there, plus he’s worn a red/raw spot on the side of his nose. He’s super high-functioning, but half the time I don’t think he’s even aware that he’s rubbing at his nose. It doesn’t seem to bug his friends, but it really bothers his sisters.

  123. […] Quiet Hands – by Julia Bascom […]

  124. […] in your direction you can’t even see that’s there’s a 3% for you to move towards me” (https://juststimming.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/quiet-hands/). I wrote this article to remind neurotypicals to make that effort to move 3% of the way towards […]

  125. […] her post, “Quiet Hands,” Julia Bascom shares moments from her past when those in power demanded that she stop […]

  126. […] children should be forced to endure things they find traumatic for the sake of looking normal (https://juststimming.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/quiet-hands/), or that the caregiver is always right […]

  127. […] autistic people, and for good reasons (many of which are nicely explained in the blog post “Quiet Hands” — and a more academic review of why it may be a really bad idea is: […]

  128. […] Quiet Hands […]

  129. […] and I have entered new territory as parents. There are different views on the subject of swimming. Quiet hands is a phrase that is common in the autism community. I love the view the linked blog post gives on […]

  130. Reblogged this on My Brain Hates Me and commented:
    I flap, and wring my hands, and rub my thighs. I wore long sleeves and balled my hands up in them and wore little holes in the cuff where my thumb pressed against the fabric.

    P. Amazing

    June 18, 2013 at 9:09 pm

  131. Thank you so much for posting this. I am a behavioural aide who works with special needs children, most of whom are also on the autism spectrum, and I’m glad to say I’ve never been trained to use “quiet hands.”

    I only just recently was introduced to this concept, and I couldn’t find words to convey just why I felt it was wrong to tell a child not to stim — as long as he was paying attention to what I needed him to attend to, the stimming isn’t a factor whatsoever. Especially things like hand flapping or fidgeting, which I consider typical behaviour for any person.

    Now that I’ve read this, I feel like I should be sharing this with other professionals in my field. I don’t want to be inadvertently harming the people we’re trying to help, and this seems like a really big deal. So, thank you again.


    June 18, 2013 at 9:42 pm

  132. While I’m grateful to not have grown up with “quiet hands”, I still did (and continue to do) many things on that list. They told me not to do it, grabbed at my hands, etc. One time I plucked a leaf off a tree while coming back from the park at summer camp, and the counselor reprimanded me and I had to hold her hand until we returned to the building. I wish I could send this to those people who told me not to do those things when I was a kid

  133. […] Quiet Hands by Julia Bascom from Just Stimming […]

  134. […] i just read the quiet hands […]

  135. […] for english speakers : a great blog that i just discovered via this post called "Quiet Hands". how can i not love her ?  – the way she talks about maths, seriously ! […]

  136. I am a riding instructor, and I say “quiet hands” all the time – to NT folks. It’s important not to move your hands more than necessary when riding because you are communicating with the horse through its mouth, and s/he will not know what you mean if they aren’t motions the horse knows already (a pull to the right means turn right, a pull back means stop, etc.). Should I ever have an autistic student who needs to flap/stim with their hands, is there anything you can recommend? I know all people are individuals and what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another, but I have found ways to deal with common riding difficulties based on common experiences (my students who took a lot of ballet have more problems with keeping their heels down and frequently benefit from the same instructions on how to change this). I just don’t know what one would be in this case, besides a very gentle horse.

    Kellyanne Donnelly

    August 11, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    • I’ve ridden for a while, and I know shortening and lengthening the reins, while signaling the horse to ‘stretch out’ and then collect slightly, gives a good bit of tactile stimulation while being something the horse understands if it’s trained to adjust its head based on the rein length. That might work, or starting on the lunge so the kid can put down the reins and stim, then playing a game to see how many circles they can hold the reins between stim-breaks? If there’s a horse that can work with a kid holding its mane and the reins loosely, having the kid hold the reins with some slack and then pinch the mane between various fingers, or ‘climb’ hands up the mane (into jumping position) and back down (to normal seat) could also work. Or breaks for stretches, like around the world, leaning back, tail-and-ear-touches, etc., could help too. Just some thoughts ^-^

      Victoria Sheffield

      December 31, 2014 at 12:36 am

  137. […] But instinctively I know I can’t, and should not do that to J. The quiet game, as it is called, would be a torture to him. I really kind of mean torture. To get a better sense of the meaning I want to impart, please read this: Quiet Hands. […]

  138. […] despite not being intrinsically motivated, usually because we got punished for getting it wrong. Like keeping our hands still. Or forgetting to put on deodorant (I still don’t think body odour, mine or other […]

  139. […] Quiet Hands by Julia Bascom […]

  140. This makes me cry… IMO, stimming, as long as the person is not hurting anyone, or anything, is perfectly acceptable, and I don’t stop my son from doing his stims.

    If someone is embarrassed, or bothered, by a person with autism stimming, then they need to grow up, and get over themself.

    Anne Gagnon Shaffer

    September 9, 2013 at 6:42 am

  141. I haven’t read this until now. My son is six and just started first grade. This ‘quiet hands/body’ isn’t anything I had ever heard before and I was assuming when they used it that it was a reminder for him to listen to the instructions being given, not to tell him not to stim! If I had known that, and now that I do, I will make sure nobody uses this with him again. If they have been doing this the past week and two days since school resumed, that would explain why he’s been having episodes of screaming, kicking and banging his head on the wall at school, something which is totally and completely out of character for him when he’s with me. OMG! There is going to be some throw down at his school soon. They are not the experts, and certainly NOT on my son. I know more about autism then they do or they would know, you don’t push and push and push for compliance until a screaming, punching, kicking head banging fit ensues. Yeah, someone is going to get a stern talking to in the next few days. I just need to gather my wits and make sure I don’t go in fueled by emotion or I will be ineffective in helping my son. Thank you for making this available, I’m just sorry that I didn’t know about it until today.

    Lara Lohne

    September 10, 2013 at 7:15 pm

  142. This is a fantastic post. Thank you. I do not have autism, but I work with several children who do. I want to help them, and am always interested in new/different/natural perspectives. I tried to find a way to e-mail you, but didn’t see a way to send a private message– I’d love to ask you more questions so that I’m able to get a better understanding of HOW to truly help without ever hurting. I can be reached at kellylynnet22@gmail.com if you’re open to sharing more of your insight with me. Thank you again!

    Kelly Tousley

    September 11, 2013 at 4:40 am

  143. […] friend recently shared this blog posting with me by a blogger/writer with autism, Julia Bascom. While watching television […]

  144. […] Julia Bascom on Quiet Hands […]

  145. I’ve never encountered this type of treatment of kids in ABA before. The only time I’ve seen them try to stop a behavior is when it is harmful to themselves or others – like biting themselves or slapping themselves. If someone is out there teaching these things under the guise of ABA, they should be ashamed! We’ve never tried to stop my son’s stimming (he rocks, paces & twists his hair). We are fortunate that he is verbal and was able to tell us that these things make him feel good. He has adapted using them in the situations he needs them in. It is 9 pm in my house when my 14 yr old puts on his headphones, finds his place on the sofa and rocks until his heart’s content – or until it’s 9:30, which is bedtime. 🙂 It’s a nightly routine that I imagine helps him wind down from the day.

    Lela Ellis Robichaux

    September 24, 2013 at 2:47 pm

  146. […] this term makes me tear up. I can’t explain it any better than these bloggers, so please read this, and this, and this. And let your child […]

  147. Thank you for this post. When I worked with children with autism, I was always insistant to co-workers that if a stimming behavior was unacceptable that they help the child come up with a replacement behavior. “Quiet hands” equals a very frustrated individual and will most likely result in a meltdown, or if they have overcome meltdowns, quiet inner torture.

    Laura Gilmour

    October 22, 2013 at 6:33 am

  148. […] of autistic people. Therapies supported by AS seek to force developmentally disabled individuals to act as if they do not have a disability. This is equivalent to demanding that all Deaf people communicate exclusively by talking and […]

  149. […] appear normal, they lock her up. They bind her hands (where her powers come from) with gloves – quiet hands – and they force her to conform or be locked away. This is what happens to autistic kids. We are […]

  150. […] Quiet Hands […]

  151. […] – try to make the unique go away, because it won’t. Trying to make the unique disappear only makes the heart and soul of the PERSON disappear. Looking at the unique without fear, getting […]

  152. […] • Julia Bascom, “Quiet Hands,” (her blog, Just Stimming) […]

  153. […] These articles could have included an explanation about how self-stimulatory behavior, like yelling, helps people, and not just autistic people, deal with the sensory overload they can experience in public.  How about an interview or link to an autistic person’s account, like this post, Quiet Hands? […]

  154. […] call for “quiet hands,” preventing autistic children from communicating and denying them the attention they need […]

  155. Brilliant post. I hate the whole concept of quiet hands the more I hear about it and that image of the mom in the supermarket… it makes me kind of bitterly glad that due to not really stimming with my hands and being diagnosed late I was never subjected to it. But, nobody should be subjected to that.


    March 23, 2014 at 4:43 pm

  156. […] was doing the best she could.I have PTSD.(So common as to be almost routine in autistic adults.)(When you’re autistic, it’s not abuse, it’s therapy.)More than 90%, it is estimated, of people with developmental disabilities will experience sexual […]

  157. […] the key idea of each link I post, but they are all worth reading.] One of the first was “Quiet Hands.”  As I read this post, my heart sank.  How many times have I, following the leads of the […]

  158. […] told them why demanding “Quiet hands” is never okay. And then I told them about Brooke’s hands. I told them that, as I’ve […]

  159. […] adults, and many have been harmed by hand-over-hand teaching. Here’s an example from Julia at juststimming.com. Jess who writes Diary of a Mom also wrote about “quiet hands” […]

  160. Reblogged this on Melissa Fields, Autist and commented:
    Telling me to have “quiet hands” is censorship to me. By telling me i am to have “quiet hands”, you are censoring ME.

  161. […] anyone, and there is no good reason to force a person to not do that anymore. Trying to make “quiet hands” is just a way to make us look normal, and I am offended by that. Focusing on real issues, on […]

  162. […] never overtly punished, for which I’m truly fortunate–too many Autistics have to suffer “quiet hands” reminders–but it was very clearly not […]

  163. […] Quiet Hands | Just Stimming… […]

  164. Wow. Now I understand why some kids with autism have so many meltdowns. How can you not have a meltdown when someone is telling you to silence everything naturally within you? It’d be like telling someone to keep their eyes closed. It’s basically impossible.
    I know the post is a few years old, but thanks for the post. 🙂


    June 21, 2014 at 1:25 am

  165. Reblogged this on deecanttype.

    deirdre sullivan

    June 22, 2014 at 12:10 pm

  166. […] they are punished for it.  Sometimes, the person gets their hands held down in tacky glue for flapping their hands.    If an autistic person doesn’t make eye contact, a teacher grabs their chin and makes […]

  167. […] to the concept of “quiet hands” was Julia Bascom’s outstanding essay (https://juststimming.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/quiet-hands/), which pulls no punches in explaining why “quiet hands” is abuse, plain and […]

  168. I see that you wrote this long ago, but this is my first read, and the insight you’ve given me here is profound. Before today, I had heard “quiet hands.” I’ve used the expression with my daughter as a discreet way to ask her to stop touching her private parts in public. I never thought about where I heard the phrase or that it might be used as a command to stop a stim. Perhaps this is because my daughter does not stim with her hands but with her feet (her favorite stim being to run back and forth across a room). We’ve been fortunate to have teachers and therapists who work with rather than against my daughter’s sensory preferences. Now, though, I will ask more and better questions (and level-set expectations) of all those who work with her about how/why/when that phrase is used.

    I also appreciate the insight gained from the comments about the practicality of “alternate” stims. Admittedly, I have assumed that stims are “transferable” – fingering a blanket is the same as tapping a pencil is the same as twirling hair, etc. I have a much improved understanding of how this is not necessarily the case.


    August 8, 2014 at 12:14 am

  169. I came across your article by accident and I am glad I did! I immediately followed you as I am the mother of a 23 yr old autistic daughter and you give me a glimpse into how my daughter may feel when she has a sensory issue. She too has difficulties with certain textures and sounds and although she has adapted to things alot better than she used to, she still has them. I want to thank you for recognizing that these issues are blog worthy and important to discuss. I wish my daughter could be as descriptive as you can. So many people don’t believe autistic people, especially low functioning autistic people can understand things. Sure, not everything but don’t treat them as if they don’t. You sound like you are high functioning if you even give yourself a title. Everybody deserves respect and your blog gives people that proof. Thanks again


    September 28, 2014 at 6:53 pm

  170. This is so beautiful. My autistic son does the flapping and spinning. I let him but picking his lips is where I draw the line. He is 5. And is going to have another round of behavioral therapy. Now I’m thinking of Viking out because of this. I’m already going to homeschool him. I get a lot of crap from family though. They will say now your going to take behavioral therapy away then get won’t have any therapies. No speech or occupational just himself and his interests and not forcing him to fit in. Letting him move at his own pace in life and being given love and acceptance.That doesn’t seem bad? I need proof though or family will see me as crazy. Besides this article what other proof can I get that therapies are maybe not the best way to understand or “help” autistic individuals through out life?

    Chloe Soto

    October 2, 2014 at 2:34 am

  171. *backing out. Typo

    Chloe Soto

    October 2, 2014 at 2:35 am

  172. […] Julia Bascom on Quiet Hands […]

  173. […] Quiet Hands | Just Stimming… – Oct 05, 2011 · Wow….as a special education teacher, I have certainly used ‘quiet hands/mouth/feet’ before with kiddos. Our intentions are obviously meant to help …… […]

  174. […] work to get ABA covered by insurers, among other things. ABA is somewhat controversial, both among autistic adults and among some parents of autistic children. I’ll note that their focus here was not […]

  175. […] somewhere in there, well-meant intervention becomes abuse. It becomes “Quiet Hands” and pathologized childhoods. It gives the messages, however unintentionally, […]

  176. […] Quiet Hands – an article by Judy Bascom about how flapping is a form of communication, and “quiet hands” shuts that communication down. […]

  177. In my secondary school there’s this things called ‘Quality Audience’ where you have to have “empty hands, open minds”. It always felt weird and a bit wrong when I was expected to put my pen down when the teacher was speaking so I never did- I would roll it around in my fingers and doodle in my page. If my PE teacher was speaking to us and I was fiddling with a PE ball or grass or something and looking away she’d ask me to repeat what she said-which I always did. I never knew I was stimming until I found out I have Asperger’s and found this post (and looked it up). I’m so glad I was never statemented as a kid ‘cos that’d mean I may of been made to do this in primary.

    gingerbookworm blah

    November 19, 2014 at 12:42 pm

  178. […] – “I need to silence my most reliable way of gathering, processing, and expressing information, I need to put more effort into controlling and deadening and reducing and removing myself second-by-second than you could ever even conceive, I need to have quiet hands, because until I move 97% of the way in your direction you can’t even see that’s there’s a 3% for you to move towards me.” Quoted many times before. https://juststimming.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/quiet-hands/ […]

  179. I am entirely anti- quiet hands. I have autism, so do both my children. My son is an avid hand flapper and I will never, never tell him to stop. I am facing a problem though; he is flapping against his other hand and against hard object to the extend that he is rupturing his skin, bleeding, and leaving open wounds. He won’t wear a bandaid to protect the wound and liquid bandaid rubs off fast with flapping. Can anyone think of a way I can help protect his fingers from harm/infection that does not restrict his right to free movement? I have tried gloves but he (like me) can’t stand the feel of them and pulls them off (we’ve tried several fabric types.) Mittens seem to protect him but they severely limit him being able to do anything fine motor; I don’t want that and I am sure he does not either.
    Please say someone has an idea on how I can keep his fingers from harm! I refuse to do quiet hands. I’m also just so scared about the bleeding and opportunity for infection.

    Thank you in advance for any ideas.

    Kim Bewick

    November 23, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    • Is there a way you could tape a gauze pad over the sores? If he isn’t allergic to the tape adhesive (I am and I can tell within a few minutes because it’s unpleasantly itchy, so he would know very quickly and probably be able to communicate it to you), you could tape completely over the gauze and around his finger, putting enough pressure so he feels it but not so much to cut off circulation. There are ways of folding over one end of the tape so that you can easily peel it off again. There are gauze pads of various thickness and they can be cut down to size; I like them more than bandaids for larger wounds because I can tape the edges down flat and then, unlike a bandaid, moving against it doesn’t pull at the unsecured part. Using thinner gauze pads (only a few layers) once they’ve healed could help prevent new sores as well. However, if he’s against having things on his fingers at all, gauze pads might not help. He may be sensory-seeking in a way that he enjoys the slight pain of impact with his hand or a hard object; if that’s the case, you might be able to suggest possible replacements. Suggest them when he isn’t stimming so that he doesn’t feel like you’re trying to stop him, just offer him alternates and let him play. I know the feeling of having a hardcover book, small enough to hold between both hands comfortably, and slamming the covers together against the center pages of the book (making a ‘clapping’ motion, sort of) makes a decent impact that he might enjoy but isn’t as painful or likely to cause sores.

      Victoria Sheffield

      December 31, 2014 at 12:45 am

  180. […] Quiet Hands | Just Stimming… – Oct 05, 2011 · Wow….as a special education teacher, I have certainly used ‘quiet hands/mouth/feet’ before with kiddos. Our intentions are obviously meant to help …… […]

  181. […] tool for justice. It certainly has occasionally–but we behavior analysts have a pretty rough history [[gay just stimming misbehavior]]. Further, all sorts of approaches get called “ABA,” […]

  182. […] not seen as having an “inside”, we’re seen as things to be dealt with. “Quiet Hands”. I’ve even heard of clicker training – yes, as in clicker training for dogs – […]

  183. […] not to be strange, and in part because a large amount of the mental health system is devoted to making us normal [cw: descriptions of psychiatric abuse of a child]. It’s big for trans and LGBT people. But […]

  184. Thank you for helping me understand your perspective.

    Pirate Nurr

    March 26, 2015 at 3:59 pm

  185. […] I was around 19, I realized what being autistic meant. It all started with a blog post about Glee. I read that post and couldn’t stop thinking to myself: “That’s me. That’s […]

  186. […] promote ABA therapy, which causes seriouspsychological harm to the children that they use it on(https://juststimming.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/quiet-hands/ https://unstrangemind.wordpress.com/2013/01/27/no-you-dont/). They areconstantly looking for a […]

  187. Reblogged this on Left of Wonderland and commented:
    This makes me cry, because I want to find you, OP, and ask you if I can draw your hands (your voice); I want to find all the greatest textured things for you, things you like, and let you flap to your hearts content. The greatest compliment I have ever received was a quiet, “Youareverysymmetrical” from a boy at my high school who fought his way through the chaos in his mind just to tell me that. I sat down on the steps and cried because I know that must have been so hard for him. I do not cry easily. Please, have loud hands.


    April 5, 2015 at 2:08 am

  188. […] Quiet Hands […]

  189. Hello, thank for giving this insight. It is 4am and my son won’t stop clapping. I have not been able to sleep BC he is so loud. What can I do, please advise.
    Thank you!


    April 15, 2015 at 4:38 am

  190. Hi, I totally respect and get where you are coming from nothing that I write is meant any other way. I thank you for sharing your experiences. I am just trying to make the best decisions in raising my girl and sometimes i get torn on what to do and appreciate others experiences/feelings. My daughter stims/flaps but at times I find myself telling her to use quiet hands in certain situations 1) swimming – she LOVES water but during her lessons she is sooo excited she can’t control herself her whole body shakes so I gently say/ask her to try to quiet her hands or quiet her body. In doing so I am hoping she will at least learn to float as this could help save her life some day. 2) she plays with her spit something fierce to the point she is covered or things around her are. When I see her I gently say/ask of her to swallow her spit and quiet her hands. In doing so I am hoping to discourage illness ( her and others) and bullying. 3) Touching others because of her lack of social communication and sensory issues she pokes/touches others (or in the case of her baby brother head locks and choke holds) and I ask her to use quiet hands. In doing so I am hoping she doesn’t get hurt physically because someone else doesn’t understand why she is touching them like she is (and so her brother can breathe lol) Other then that I do not discourage her flapping or sensory Imput or get embarrassed in public because this is her communication this is her – sometimes I think she’s going to take flight 🙂 but at some point as I mentioned above I feel the phrase can be applied.


    May 6, 2015 at 12:36 am

    • I would dispute the relevance of this essay to at least points 2 and 3 of your comment. Playing with spit is a health and sanitary issue; that’s not about other people just not liking how you move. Touching other people in a way that’s unwelcome or dangerous or violating of their boundaries is something that she does not have a right to do with *other poeple’s bodies.*

      I think the difference between these things and what’s being discussed in this essay is pretty clear.


      May 6, 2015 at 10:42 am

      • Well, huh, my point was there is a time to use the term quiet hands and it does apply. For someone new to this “term” or experience you could read into that in general (such as point 14) this term is bad. Reading comprehension is at all levels. All I was doing was hoping to relate to other’s who experience the need to use this term and can empathize. Maybe I misunderstood what comments are about. Thank you.


        May 6, 2015 at 6:29 pm

  191. […] could be physically painful for them. Julia Bascom writes about how horrible that experience is here. Eye contact is similar; many Autistic people have also talked about direct eye contact as being a […]

  192. […] dem Tisch zu halten, umfasst – kann physisch schmerzhaft für es sein. Julia Bascom schreibt hier darüber wie grauenhaft diese Erfahrung ist. Beim Augenkontakt ist es ähnlich, viele Autisten […]

  193. Reblogged this on for Elysium and commented:
    This blog post was a huge HUGE eye-opener for me. Please take a moment to read it. Now to reconsider everything I have been pushing for lately…

    Katie J.

    May 29, 2015 at 12:49 am

  194. You have written poetry. Thank you so much for sharing your voice. I am flapping my hands to you!!


    May 29, 2015 at 10:08 am

  195. […] Read the whole post here:  https://juststimming.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/quiet-hands/ […]

  196. […] Quiet Hands isn’t harmless. It teaches us that we are mistakes. It silences a big part of our voice. It […]

  197. […] Quiet Hands (an autistic person’s description of an incredibly common violation in ABA therapy, as she has experienced and observed being done to others) […]

  198. […] I found the blog post I later reblogged, called “Quiet Hands” by Julia Bascom. It’s beautiful and thought-provoking. After I read that, I messaged […]

  199. […] society where someone flapping their hands will be stared at and pitied, or told “quiet hands!” rather than be seen for the joy they’re […]

  200. […] “Quiet Hands”, Julia Bascom uses the phrase “And when you’re autistic, it’s not abuse. It’s […]

  201. […] “I would never stop kids from stimming!” […]

  202. #10 hits it hard home for me. It’s a thing I definitely need and do. And blog posts like this one make me sad and feel hurt and angry at all the people who enforce terrible things like that. Especially since communication is NOT just verbal. I’m very sorry you had to go through that. *sends internet hugs IF you want them if not then I’m not sending them* And I hope that one day you can eventually break out of the forced behaviours and communicate in ways that you need to.

    Blow Pop

    June 27, 2015 at 5:23 am

  203. […] “I would never stop kids from stimming!” […]

  204. This is essential. Thank you.


    August 1, 2015 at 9:42 pm

  205. Amazing, thank you for posting this.

    Kelly Day

    September 6, 2015 at 3:09 am

  206. […] Table ready, I think. […]

  207. Reblogged this on Must Read Articles and commented:
    So sad… but true.


    October 12, 2015 at 8:30 pm

  208. […] of “quiet hands”. If you are unfamiliar with this you can read more about it over at Just Stimming’s Quiet Hands post. As I read this remarkable post and thought about it and the whole idea of quiet hands in […]

  209. […] The following is a discussion of by of Julia Bascom’s powerful narrative Quiet Hands. The full text can be found at : https://juststimming.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/quiet-hands/ […]

  210. Thank you for this extraordinary post.


    November 4, 2015 at 9:19 am

  211. Thank you for sharing, I was not aware of such programs and you are correct that is abuse! My husband is Autistic and at night when we lay in bed and talk before sleep he likes to hold my hands. When I say hold it is more like a wonderful hand massage filled with glorious meaning just for me. A dancing sign language of trust, love, companionship, joy, sadness, fear, hope etc. A language we now share…

    Lee Hiller

    November 27, 2015 at 11:06 am

  212. Reblogged this on //Taffy// and commented:
    hand flapping, head banging, rocking, spinning object, repeating noises, are their special way to showing something. Belajar memahami cara mereka untuk berkomunikasi


    November 29, 2015 at 9:25 pm

  213. […] publicado originalmente no dia 05/10/2011 aqui […]

  214. […] world. Some of these accounts are troubling, like Julia’s beautiful and poetic piece “Quiet Hands” or Marie King’s piece on food, and make me so grateful that I can carve out our own […]

  215. […] Zudem berichteten manche erwachsene Autisten von ihren traumatischen Kindheitserfahrungen, die zu lebenslangen Angsterkrankungen beigetragen haben (z.B. Julia Bascom in  “Quiet Hands”: […]

  216. I linked to this in this post
    Thanks for sharing your experience…

    Garrett Winters Âû

    January 18, 2016 at 6:32 pm

  217. […] say, an autism diagnosis and I was displaying the same behaviors I’ve mentioned. People would hold my hands down. I would become even more scared, even more frustrated with myself. I would probably lash out, at a […]

  218. […] of “quiet hands”. If you are unfamiliar with this you can read more about it over at Just Stimming’s Quiet Hands post. As I read this remarkable post and thought about it and the whole idea of quiet hands in […]

  219. […] I found the blog post I later reblogged, called “Quiet Hands” by Julia Bascom. It’s beautiful and thought-provoking. After I read that, I messaged […]

  220. […] Source: Quiet Hands | Just Stimming… […]

  221. This was so heart-wrenching and your expression of it was so beautiful. I never knew about this. I’m so sorry. Thank you for the insight; I will keep this in mind. I will try hard to notice and to understand.


    April 2, 2016 at 2:02 am

  222. […] safe and comfortable. Discuss ways to adapt to your child’s sensitivities, like movement breaks, respecting their need for stimming and not forcing eye contact when they feel overstimulated. Then put it in the […]

  223. I hope the next person, no, DEMON who says “Quiet Hands” to ANYONE burns in hell-fire.
    This crap ain’t therapy.
    It’s a horror story come true.

    Spring Freddy

    April 17, 2016 at 2:48 am

  224. […] as is my own, but when there are a lot of people who think that our neurology needs to be cured by torture or poison, to be safe we separate ourselves somewhat…it’s in addition to the fact that […]

  225. […] either by putting their children through vile “therapies” like ABA (Julia Bascom wrote this personal experience of this therapy, with the haunting quote “when you’re autistic, it’s […]

  226. […] One of the most important pieces on the subject was written by Julia Bascom, an Autistic writer called “Quiet Hands”: https://juststimming.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/quiet-hands/ […]

  227. […] this for many years, from “Jim Sicnlair’s Don’t Mourn For Us” to Julia Bascom’s “Quiet Hands” to the millions of Autistic self-advocates every day who speak their truth online and […]

  228. […] One of the most important pieces on the subject was written by Julia Bascom, an Autistic writer called “Quiet Hands”: https://juststimming.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/quiet-hands/ […]

  229. Reblogged this on Rambling Justice.

    Andrea Shettle, MSW

    October 15, 2016 at 8:40 am

  230. “safe hands” is what I hear most often. It’s so ingrained in my students that one of them told me “safe hands” when I was scratching myself.

    Rosella Altman

    October 17, 2016 at 9:30 pm

  231. […] society where someone flapping their hands will be stared at and pitied, or told “quiet hands!” rather than be seen for the joy they’re […]

  232. […] to avoid things that cause us pain or discomfort, communication that should be heard…again, forcing us not to stim or forcing eye contact to make us more like you is wrong, you’re breaking us, not fixing […]

  233. […] Selbststimmulierendes Verhalten, wie z.B. Händeflattern (nur am Rande erwähnt) wird als nicht zu verstärkendes Verhalten genannt. Hierzu empfehle ich die Lektüre von „Quiet Hands„. […]

  234. […] when and where will you help make it end? *** Articles on ABA ·         Quiet Hands: https://juststimming.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/quiet-hands/ ·         Have Some ABA, or Else: http://autismwomensnetwork.org/have-some-aba-or-else/ […]

  235. […] hands,” “hands down”) and physical prompts to prevent children from stimming (again, see this post by Julia Bascom).-Using functioning labels to define a child’s abilities (see this post at […]

  236. […] hands of someone who wants to do them harm. A lot of us live these nightmares in seclusion rooms. We get punished for flapping or making a noise or dropping a pencil or moving in the wrong way or if we argue with someone we […]

  237. […] of abuse done to us through electric shock and aversive therapies and forced normalization and telling people they can’t move their hands and they cut our vocal cords because we scream too […]

  238. […] Источник: Just Stimming Перевод: Проект Про аутизм […]

  239. […] to avoid things that cause us pain or discomfort, communication that should be heard…again, forcing us not to stim or forcing eye contact to make us more like you is wrong, you’re breaking us, not fixing us) […]

  240. […] akzeptiert? Warum ich ABA verlassen habe (eine Übersetzung) ABA – Bericht eines „Klienten“ Quiet Hands My Thoughts on ABA und und und […]

  241. […] the repetitive behaviors of catching sun sparkles and world tails it would likely be referred to as stimming and adults around me might try to stop the behavior. If that had happened I may never have sorted […]

  242. Reblogged this on Living In Limbo.


    February 8, 2017 at 9:58 am

  243. Thank you so much. I have autism as well, and few things compare to the pain of my world being compressed. I lace my fingers together and flutter them when they’re apart, and it’s part of how I express myself. I tap my feet in rhythm with any music that I’m hearing, even if it’s just a song stuck in my head. I’m so thankful for family members that understand that this is how I interact with the world. Thank you.


    February 28, 2017 at 12:57 pm

  244. […] Источник: Just Stimming… Перевод: Про аутизм […]

  245. […] to force us into becoming Indistinguishable From Peers (ABA, read stories of the horror from both someone who suffered through it and who once did it, and about its lifelong […]

  246. […] stimming is actually an effective means of self-regulating, and that it improves their performance. Some adults report that their ABA therapists’ efforts to reduce hand-flapping and other “stereotypy” […]

  247. […] Quiet Hands – This powerful first person narrative about what it feels like to told to quiet one’s “stimming” or “flapping” hand behavior has helped change my perspective on the ethics of a purely behavioral approach to extinguishing these behaviors, when they might serve a purpose to the child and therefore be extremly painful for the child to stop doing. […]

  248. […] Manos Tranquilas – Esta poderosa narración de primera persona acerca de lo que se siente al decirle a callar su “estimulación” o “aletear” el comportamiento de la mano ha ayudado a cambiar mi perspectiva sobre la ética de un enfoque puramente conductual a extinguir estos comportamientos, cuando podrían servir a un Propósito para el niño y por lo tanto ser extremadamente doloroso para que el niño deje de hacer. […]

  249. […] Quiet Hands […]

  250. […] shouldn’t stop it because, well, it’s a person calming themselves or expressing themselves. (Go read this now. And be prepared to […]

  251. Your piece resonates with me from a perspective that is slightly different but very similar to my own. I have Aspergers and, if you’ll pardon the plug, you might relate to and identity with my experience…



    May 26, 2017 at 6:36 am

  252. […] body language, eye contact and speech patterns, does not come intuitively to everyone. Things like flapping your hands or not making normative amounts of eye contact aren’t hurting anyone and should be an accepted […]

  253. […] Bascom’s ‘Quiet Hands’, about the mistreatment of autistic people who want to use their hands instead of their voice to […]

  254. […] forever as the weirdest girl in school; held down by doctors; and punished via hand-slapping, hand-holding, finger-bending and/or having to sit on my hands until I could be […]

  255. […] You do not have to tell them to stop. Do not let someone else tell you it needs to stop. Read this. Share it. It’s […]

  256. Traiteur Rabat Regal; Traiteur de ronome au Maroc

    This is my expert

    traiteur rabat

    August 28, 2017 at 5:32 pm

  257. Thank you, thank you for this post. I’ve linked it, with credit, on my blog in the following post:



    August 29, 2017 at 4:16 pm

  258. I was forced to sit on my hands a lot as a kid. So did the other kids who had autism or ADHD.

    dino saur

    August 30, 2017 at 3:49 pm

  259. […] Source: Quiet Hands […]

  260. […] This heartbreaking post from JustStimming talks about her experience with ABA therapy as an abusive, controlling form of torture. […]

  261. […] behaviors that are coping mechanisms. Julia Bascom wrote her perspective from going through it in Quiet Hands (with the haunting line “And when you’re autistic, it’s not abuse. It’s therapy) and […]

  262. […] which mandates physical restraint to force a patient to sit still, describe their experiences as incredibly traumatic. A therapy with such capacity for damage, intended to be performed on patients less able or unable […]

  263. Thank you so much for sharing this! My parents never realized I was actually autistic, but they “trained” me not to stim anyway. I would jump and flap my hands and rub my face, but my parents would beat me whenever I did it, so I eventually forced myself to suppress it. Now that I know more about myself I’m trying to return to stimming, but after 20+ years I find it incredibly difficult – the resistance is so strong. It’s like there’s so much energy gathered in me that I absolutely must let it out, but when I as much as wave my hand, my body locks up immediately. I get overloaded a lot because of it, and I sometimes end up biting and scratching myself in my sleep until I bleed. It’s terrible. Stories like yours are helping me, though – it helps so much to know that others went through it too, and that it’s worth trying to reconnect with myself… that it’s the right thing to do.

    Emilia Tołkaczew

    December 13, 2017 at 6:14 am

  264. […] i just read the quiet hands […]

  265. […] es un fragmento de “Quiet Hands” del blog Just Stimming por Julia una joven escritora con […]

  266. […] people who are now adults who were subjected to it as children.  Some accounts of this are here, here, here and […]

  267. […] people who are now adults who were subjected to it as children.  Some accounts of this are here, here, here and […]

  268. […] Autistic self-advocates are very concerned about behaviorism and deficit ideology, particularly ABA. “My experience with special education and ABA demonstrates how the dichotomy of interventions that are designed to optimize the quality of life for individuals on the spectrum can also adversely impact their mental health, and also their self-acceptance of an autistic identity. This is why so many autistic self-advocates are concerned about behavioral modification programs: because of the long-term effects they can have on autistic people’s mental health. This is why we need to preach autism acceptance, and center self advocates in developing appropriate supports for autistic people. That means we need to take autistic people’s insights, feelings, and desires into account, instead of dismissing them.””The literal meaning of the words is irrelevant when you’re being abused. When I was a little girl,…“ […]

  269. […] of making autistic people behave as non-autistically as possible and which is still decried by both autistic people and by former therapists for being emotionally and psychologically damaging to the person receiving […]

  270. […] publicado originalmente no dia 05/10/2011 aqui […]

  271. Reblogged this on My 'Morning' Coffee and commented:
    Very painful to read – and so true – just don’t do this to us!

    Henric C. Jensen

    March 30, 2018 at 6:24 am

  272. […] “epidemic” (there’s not), and whether or not Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is abusive (it is). Instead of focusing on us—actually autistic people—this month is about those around us. Our […]

  273. […] Hur kan jag inte vara personlig? Hur ska jag annars få någon att förstå? Det finns oändliga mängder punkt-listor där ute, som beskriver autism för allister, men detta verkar inte fungera. Det finns fortfarande skit som ”To Siri With Love” och personer som anser att ABA är det enda alternativet, ignoranta mot hur det skadar autister. […]

  274. […] not everyone has always seen stimming as natural or necessary. Here’s powerful piece from an autistic blogger on why ‘quiet hands’ – a phra….  And here’s another one dismantling the concept of ‘socially appropriate’ as […]

  275. […] “epidemic” (there’s not), and whether or not Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is abusive (it is). Instead of focusing on us—actually autistic people—this month is about those around us. Our […]

  276. […] autistic individual may have for exhibit common behaviors. Liu notes poet Julia Bascomb’s poem “Quiet Hands,” in which she explains what her motor stereotypy means to […]

  277. […] individual may have for exhibiting common behaviors. Liu notes poet Julia Bascomb’s poem ‘Quiet Hands‘, in which she explains what her motor stereotypy means to […]

  278. […] why stimming is a good thing) http://bjforshaw.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/i-stim-therefore-i-am/ Quiet Hands Grabbers The Obsessive Joy Of Autism […]

  279. […] Just Stimming – Quiet Hands […]

  280. […] individer i ögonen samt alltid ha full verbal möjlighet, bland mycket annat. Det handlar om att hålla händer och kroppsdelar stilla – att sitta stilla – att se rakt fram – att fokusera och tänka linjärt. Att bli […]

  281. Your post brought me to tears.

    I was diagnosed later in life, so I never got driven through ABA. I had one behaviorist teacher in fifth grade; even then I found her token economy to be shallow and dehumanizing- and I only had to endure that for school hours, not the extended assault that is ABA.

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m a grad student in counseling; I will remember this whenever a colleague or parent suggests ABA.


    September 3, 2018 at 1:16 am

  282. […] of looking like autistics. Therapy is in quotes because it’s abuse, as these accounts from someone who went through it and someone who used to do it should make clear. This idea of autism being a disease needing a cure […]

  283. […] Quiet Hands – This powerful first person narrative about what it feels like to told to quiet one’s “stimming” or “flapping” hand behavior has helped change my perspective on the ethics of a purely behavioral approach to extinguishing these behaviors, when they might serve a purpose to the child and therefore be extremly painful for the child to stop doing. […]

  284. […] hours of look at me/quiet hands? No more fluttering your hands in a language only you know, no more flapping your hands watching […]

  285. […] hours of look at me/quiet hands? No more fluttering your hands in a language only you know, no more flapping your hands watching […]


    September 23, 2018 at 11:19 am

  286. […] Never demand quiet hands. (This is part of what messed me up.) Suppressing stims, echolalia and interests is abusive. If you […]

  287. […] feelings, and desires into account, instead of dismissing them.” With behaviorism, “the literal meaning of the words is irrelevant when you’re being abused. When I was a little g…” “The abuse of autistic children is so expected, so normalised, so glorified that many […]

  288. […] Les témoignages d’autistes qui ont subi la thérapie ACA sont aussi nombreux que désolants. Nous les autistes utilisons parfois des comportements d’auto-stimulation pour s’exprimer ou pour se calmer quand nous sommes sur-stimulés par notre environnement. Par exemple, on peut agiter nos mains. Julia Bascom, l’actuelle directrice exécutive de l’Autistic Self Advocacy Network, parle éloquemment de la maltraitance qu’elle a subi de la part de non-autistes qui voulaient l’enseigner à avoir des « mains calmes » (en anglais, « quiet hands »). […]

  289. […] if you’re autistic, excess energy is a pathology. Cue “quiet hands” and cue being held down, lectured, denied breaks, slapped, and possibly shocked with electricity for doing something that comes as naturally and as necessary […]

  290. […] small, repetitive behaviors like, oh I don’t know, spinning something) have endured decades of “Quiet Hands” protocols, of being sent to the principal’s office for fidgeting, of being told “put that […]

  291. OMG! I had no idea they had this treatment. I am so glad they didn’t try this on me.


    December 26, 2018 at 1:07 pm

  292. […] 2. Julia Bascom: Quiet Hands […]

  293. […] NOTE FROM ME: If you want to know more about stimming and the abuse of being kept from doing it, from an autistic perspective, read Julia Bascom’s essay Quiet Hands.  […]

  294. […] texte Quiet Hands de Julia Bascom a été publié pour la première fois en 2011 sur son blog. Il figure aussi dans […]

  295. […] insights, feelings, and desires into account, instead of dismissing them.” With behaviorism, “the literal meaning of the words is irrelevant when you’re being abused. When I was a little girl,…” “The abuse of autistic children is so expected, so normalised, so glorified that many symptoms […]

  296. […] “When I was a little girl, I was autistic. And when you’re autistic, it’s not abuse. It&#….” […]

  297. […] subió una madre un vídeo de la terapia ABA que recibía su hija en la que le decían “quiet hands” varias veces en los 30 segundos de […]

  298. Reblogged this on Cosmic Anthropologist.

    Max W.

    May 5, 2019 at 2:29 pm

  299. […] unable to communicate it. Julia Bascom, executive director of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, writes movingly of the fear and pain of being forced as a child to stop flapping her hands: “Not […]


    June 14, 2019 at 3:53 pm

  300. […] Julia Bascom: Quiet Hands (trigger warning for abuse and quiet […]

  301. […] Meanwhile, for over 50 years, therapists who practice something called “applied behavioral analysis” (ABA), an approach that has generated a massively well-funded industry, have tried to eradicate these types of behaviors in autistic children. In the past, therapists used cattle prods or other methods of causing pain in order to coerce compliance. Some schools still use electric shocks, but, today, most ABA therapists have switched to withholding rewards in order to eliminate stimming and other behaviors deemed barriers to inclusion. An autistic child, such therapists say, must have quiet hands and be “table ready.” […]

  302. […] The video was so horrendous that it sparked protests by the autism community, eventually leading to Autism Speaks’ taking it down. Regardless, their view of autism as an evil adversary remains crystal clear. For instance, Autism Speaks’ primary therapy recommendation is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), a form of “normalization” training with the end goal of making individuals with autism indistinguishable from their neurotypical peers. These methods are considered a form of abuse by many people on the spectrum, and it relies on practices like “quiet hands,” which physically forces people with autism to stop “stimming,” effectively suppressing a unique way they interact with the world around them. […]

  303. […] participate with the rest of the class in something. It might be a demand to stop a behavior, like Quiet hands! It might be a demand to relinquish control, like imposing hand-over-hand “assistance” on a […]

  304. […] autistic adults express feelings of trauma from receiving ABA as a child. Some examples are here, here, and here. There is also a study about ABA and PTSD […]

  305. […] mother uploaded a video of the ABA therapy her daughter was receiving in which she was told “quiet hands” several times in the 30-second […]

  306. […] Quiet Hands […]

  307. […] Julia Bascom “Quiet Hands” […]

  308. Hey, i know this post is really old now and you probably wont see this, but i just wanted to say thank you for writing this. I havent been diagnosed officially yet, but it’s highly likely im on the spectrum. Im 15 so its not a super late diagnosis, but it is compared to most autistic people, so i never really knew a lot about autism. And i can say that reading this made me cry for like 30 minutes, in fact im still crying as i write this. This post really made me look back on things that happened when i was young and kind of connect the dots a bit (like how i cant have people holding my face bc dad used to to make me look at him while i was upset, or have people grab my hands unexpectedly). Like damn, i still sit on my hands sometimes if i feel the urge to stim, or apologise to people when im hand flapping. I never understood this stuff and again, i just really want to say thank you. thank you so much. As someone dealing with the shock of learning something new about yourself that was apparently super obvious to everyone around me, stuff like this really has been helping me process and accept whats probably happening in my brain. Also the part about hands? was absolutely gorgeous and made me feel so understood in a way thats never happened before, even though i dont know you and you dont know me. There needs to be more people like you in the world. Have a nice day! ❤

    Katie Taylor

    March 18, 2020 at 7:44 am

  309. I have a question. You wrote ” I think I understand the whole world when I rub my fingertips together.” But since NT-s clearly don’t understand the whole world, are you saying you have a special talent in this direction. So, if you were allowed to flap your hands, would you have been able to predict historical events or make breakthrough discovery in science? Please let me know.

    Roman Sverdlov

    April 8, 2020 at 11:10 am

  310. […] 2011, and I was new to the disabled Internet, having just seen Julia Bascom’s seminal essay Quiet Hands and since embarked on a reverse-bibliographic adventure through a massive network of autistic and […]

  311. […] The right SLP will not enforce “whole body listening,” write eye-contact goals, or insist upon quiet hands. They will not force-feed. They will not suppress harmless stimming and they will look for the […]

  312. […] Julia Bascom’s “Quiet Hands” (CW: abuse, forced compliance) […]

  313. […] children’s development of social skills — this is in sharp contrast to the highly structured (often abusive) behaviorist approaches most often used to teach social skills to Autistic children. We learn […]

  314. […] durant son enfance et son adolescence, à travers son témoignage sobrement intitulé « Quiet Hands » (traduction française disponible sur le blog de dcaius) […]

  315. […] Just Stimming – Quiet Hands […]

  316. Hi, I’m conducting research into autistic people’s experiences of ABA (Please see twitter account: https://twitter.com/AbAresearch).

    Research Questions are:

    • How do autistic people feel about ABA interventions they have experienced? How do they describe their experiences?

    • What factors influenced how they feel? – What specifically was it that made it a positive/negative experience.

    • How do they feel autism interventions/therapies should be conducted? Or should they exist at all?

    The study has ethical approval from Manchester Metropolitan University (ETHOS number 26575)

    I’m looking for participants aged 18 and over who identify as autistic and have received some form of ABA intervention in the past. There are multiple options for how you can participate (e.g. Skype chat or video call, Twitter message exchange via direct messages) – whatever you feel comfortable with!

    If interested, please email holly.brumby@stu.mmu.ac.uk or contact @ABAresearch on twitter.

    ABAresearch (@AbAresearch)

    December 11, 2020 at 9:23 am

  317. Reblogged this on Autism Candles.

    Autism Candles

    January 10, 2021 at 12:34 pm

  318. […] and analysis of ABA and its lifelong effect, I recommend everyone read Julia Bascoms essay “Quiet Hands”. In it, she writes:“When I was a little girl, I was autistic. And when you’re autistic, […]

  319. […] Quiet Hands […]

  320. […] TW: Ableism, abuse — Read on juststimming.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/quiet-hands/ […]

  321. […] Quiet Hands (an autistic person’s description of an incredibly common violation in ABA therapy, as she has experienced and observed being done to others) […]

  322. I just accepted that I am HFA with no diagnosis, at age 30, while reading I Overcame My Autism – by Sarah Kurchak. I’m doing reading, an article linked here.
    While reading, you reminded me that I used to love.. just LOVE to run my hands over walls, over all materials. That I needed to know what they felt like.
    I must have ‘masked’ myself. I literally had no memory of it, and now all I want to do is run my sweet, sensitive hands over every surface near to me this moment. I want to cry.


    July 4, 2021 at 5:40 pm

  323. […] behaviors that are coping mechanisms. Julia Bascom wrote her perspective from going through it in Quiet Hands (with the haunting line “And when you’re autistic, it’s not abuse. It’s therapy) and my […]

  324. […] am reminded of autistic self-advocate Julia Bascom’s words, “[U]ntil I move 97% of the way in your direction you can’t even see that’s there’s a […]

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: