spinner publication

isn’t it neat how the kids who actually need the fidget spinners or any other stim toy try to conceal it but the kids who don’t need it at all are gladly out in the open about it and are really annoying about it too? hahahah

I’m tired of jokes about fidget spinners. I’m tired of them being a meme.

I’m tired of finding things that help me focus, or deal with anxiety, or give me something to do with my hands that isn’t super disruptive, only for them to become a joke.

I’m tired of using my spinner in public and getting dirty looks or mocking laughter. I’m tired of it being a Thing, where people either give me shit or treat it as an invitation to talk about What A Good Ally They Are.

I’m tired of accessibility and accommodation being treated like a gag.

I’m tired of autistic people being a punchline.

Stimming, Access and Consent

This is something I’ve mentioned a lot at various times, but it’s popped up this week through conversations with my doctor, researching migraine triggers, yesterday’s post on the Version 2 Fidget Cube knock-off and this post on clashing access needs in which @stimful-gifts mentioned this blog.

Since I’ve been wanting to write a proper post on this for a very long time now, I’m taking this as a sign from the universe to let the inbox wait a while longer.

My thesis is this: stim toys change our immediate environment. To direct our movement, provide distraction or enable focus, they offer up something we can touch, feel, smell, move, taste, chew, manipulate, watch or hear, often in varying combinations. Some toys only impact our immediate environment; some toys impact a much larger space, including the space occupied by other people.

Stim toys wouldn’t work if they didn’t change our environment in some way.

Abled, neurotypical culture works on the idea that certain types of environmental change are acceptable, based on ableist assumptions of what humans can tolerate. Playing pop music, for example, is generally assumed acceptable in supermarkets and shopping centres. Perfume is also considered acceptable when one is out in public.

We have this idea that if something fits that unquestioned category of acceptable environmental change, we don’t need to ask permission to make that change in a shared space. The problem comes when people have needs that don’t match that category of “acceptable” - both the environmental access needs of ND and disabled people but also the needs of people who just don’t want to hear pop music while buying a loaf of bread. Even for able-bodied NTs, this system of assumption over seeking consent is unfair and needs to be dismantled.

It is natural to not question the changes stim toys make on the environment around us. Even we, folks who most often have significant environmental access needs (including the need to stim), are quick to disregard needs we don’t have if it falls into that intuitive, unquestioned, ableist category of “acceptable environmental change”. We’re trained from birth to evaluate everything this way, so of course we don’t think about it.

I’m autistic with the SPD fun package deal. This week my doctor gave me the additional word “migraine” in an effort to explain why I react so badly to so many things: chemicals, petrol, perfume, varnishes, movement, flickering, bright lights, loud noises, sharp noises, the glow of the computer screen. I get headaches, dizziness, vertigo, partial seizures. Your hands tapping on your phone screen will distress me. Your perfume and flashing lights will put me to bed. Your clicking will make me scream and snap. Clicking toys, noisy toys, rattling toys, toys with flashing lights, LED spinners, toys scented with artificial fragrance/perfume, toys with chemical odours, toys that have a lot of flickering movements - these will make me distressed, uncomfortable, ill or unable to stand. If these things happen in a space where I am already compromised (on a train where I’m dealing with motion sickness, or in a noisy/crowded space) it’s even more disabling.

There are a great many stim toys and bodily stims that will make me unable to be a comfortable participant in any given shared environment. (There’s even more objects that aren’t stim toys or bodily stims that do the same, although I’d argue that many of these are pretty stimmy, just more culturally acceptable. Perfume, for example.) There are a great many of my own stim toys and bodily stims that will make someone else an uncomfortable participant in any given shared environment.

As stimmers, we need to be aware of the changes our toys make to any given space and have active communication with other folks in that space. We need to seek their permission to change it. There is a very big difference between a person not wanting to go outside with someone using a chewable because they’re chewing (ableism) and a person who can’t bear the slurping sounds made by the chewer (conflicting access needs), and we need to be conscious of that difference and be willing to discuss alternatives.

(Sometimes there are no alternatives. Sometimes the only option is for the people impacted to be in two or more different spaces. That’s frustrating and unfair, but it’s also the reality of disability and conflicting access needs.)

If your toy changes the environment, you should get the consent of all the other people who occupy that environment before using that toy in a shared space. (Remember that your own private space is great for all these toys, and you have every right to use them when there is nobody else impacted by them.) We must start a culture of being aware of the changes our toys make and having discussions about using them. We need to empower ourselves with a broad stim kit so that we have options if one toy bothers someone in a space we’re sharing.

I actively encourage everyone to have as many different sorts of toys as is possible (aside from it being good practice for physical injury concerns) and even different variations of the same types of toy, as that increases the likelihood of finding something people around you can tolerate and decreases your frustration at having to take up a toy that doesn’t fill your needs of that moment. A chewable that makes fewer or quieter slurping sounds, for example, to swap for the one that bothers someone else, even if it isn’t your favourite chew pendant.

Safety and access requirements we need to consider in our toys include:

  • Is it made from something that might provoke an allergic response, like rubber or latex?
  • Does it contain a fragrance? Is that fragrance artificial (perfume) or natural (essential oils)? Does it have a chemical odour or contain chemicals that can be inhaled or smelt? Does it have a flavour that causes a scent?
  • Does it make a noise? Is that noise quiet or loud? Is it constant, like white noise, or periodic? Does it change in volume or intensity? Is it sharp and abrupt, like a click? Does it rattle?
  • Does it have any movement? Is that movement flashing, flickering or quick? Can that movement be distracting? Does the toy make you move? Are your movements repetitive or subtle, flickering or flashing, slow or quick?
  • Does it light up? Does the light flash or change in intensity? Does it change colour? Does it change gradually or abruptly?
  • Does it have a texture to which someone else might be exposed?

If the answer to any of those things is yes, we need to make sure that the people around us consent to that change in the environment they’re sharing with us.

For me, toys with flashing and LED lights (fidget spinners), artificial fragrances (anything not essential oils) and loud, sharp clicks are especially unsafe. Others will find latex to be dangerous. There’ll be other things I’ve left off the above list through my own lack of experience!

I’m not saying we can’t or shouldn’t use those toys. I’m just saying that if there’s any chance they’ll impact others in a shared space, we should ask. Ask your teacher or boss if anyone has any allergies, if it isn’t safe to ask your peers. Ask the people sitting next to you if they mind the click of your Tangle. It doesn’t matter if these people are ND/disabled or NT/able-bodied. We’re acknowledging that our toys can and do change the space in which they’re used and finding out if that change is going to be a concern for anyone.

(And if we can’t ask for consent, which is true of many very public places, we seek out the most low-impact toys we have in our kits: quiet, no scent, low movement, no lights or flashing, no rubber or latex. Toys like LED-light spinners are dangerous and shouldn’t be used in a public space, ever, unless everyone in that space has consented to it - and consented freely without pressure.)

By actively asking people ourselves, by not making people wait to request that we stop an annoying or difficult-to-experience stim, we’re building a culture where we’re all able to discuss more freely one’s sensory needs, where asking someone else will result in less frustration and aggression. By actively building a varied stim kit, we’re making it so a stimmer doesn’t feel they have to stop stimming - just change to a different toy, as it is incredibly important that we have the right to stim! By having conversations and giving ourselves choices, we’re creating a world where seeking consent for creating any kind of environmental change becomes a norm, and that can only help and empower ND and disabled people, regardless of whether we stim.

I need a world where people think to ask me before jingling pocket coins, stop playing with LED spinners in public or spraying perfume in a space I occupy. The road to building that, I think, starts by our showing people that the right thing to do is seek consent for those changes. It starts by my treating others how I wish to be treated. It starts by doing away with the idea that we can ever assume something won’t bother someone else and start instead assuming that something might.

TL;DR: many stim toys introduce change into the environment that impacts the people around us. As people who have sensory difficulties ourselves, and need that understanding from others, we need to be mindful of how others experience our stimming. We need to start a practice of seeking their consent to that change in spaces we’re sharing with others, regardless of whether they are ND/disabled or NT/able-bodied.

- Mod K.A.

anonymous asked:

As much as people joke about fidget spinners and cubes... They're sincerely helpful. I suffer from a thing (I forget the term; it was OCD related) where I pick at my skin and scalp. Its absolutely horrible and I can't help myself from doing it if my hands aren't occupied... So having a fidget toy just... It keeps me healthy man. Sure, be aware of your surroundings and make as little noise as you can with them in public (spinners whir), but they are really, truly helpful.

I haven’t really seen people joke about the cubes, just the spinners. And based on what I’ve heard from other neurodivergent people the cubes are better anyway. But yeah, fidgeting is even just a natural part of human existence, so I don’t think it’s much of a stretch that people with mental conditions that would cause them to fidget or become more easily distracted than others would benefit greatly from an item that lets one fidget easily.