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Synchronized Stimming

Posted Jul 05 2009 12:00am
For those of you who don't know, two of my daughters who have autism are twins. More than that they are identical twins with all that brings with it.

Physically that are as close to being the same as you can get. They look very much alike, although it is possible to tell them apart if you know them. Their height and weight have stayed remarkably in line with there being at most a quarter inch difference in weight and few ounces in weight. Their teeth all came in at the same time and in the same order.

Mentally the story is the same - they have basically the same skill sets and abilities. While one twin might do something slightly before the other it is almost a sure bet that the other will be soon to follow.

However, their personalities are very different. Twin A is a free spirit while twin B is more refined and lady-like (and bloody stubborn too). They have different likes and dislikes as well as different ways of interacting with other people.

Unfortunately they are among the 80 to 90 percent of identical twins that share their autism. Interestingly enough, while the core communication deficits are the same, the outwards symptoms of autism and how they are expressed is very different. But this is a topic for another day.

They also had the beginnings of the bond that identical twins share, at least until they were a year old. Then autism came for a visit and disrupted the normal course of their development and the budding twin bond seemed to disappear.

To be honest we haven't been sure if it isn't still there in some form or another. They don't acknowledge or actively seek out each other as they did once upon a time but there have been little hints here and there that the bond might still exist.

Well, now we know that the bond still exists. How do we know? Simple, they are engaging in what can best be described as synchronized stimming.

Synchronized stimming, like synchronized swimming, is when they both do the same stim at the same time in perfect unison. So far we have seen spinning in a circle and intricate hand movements, all in perfect lock step. It isn't like they are able to talk about what they are going to do first or that one starts the stim and the other picks it up - they both start the same motion at the same time and do the same set of movements.

The only explanation that we have been able to come up with is that this is their twin bond trying to reassert itself in spite of their autism. While this isn't what we expected their bond to be like, we will take it.

It is nice to know that the bonds between twins can be stronger than autism.
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