Self-stimulatory behaviors in children and adults with autism are not clearly understood. The self-stimulatory behaviors go beyond the stereotype of rocking. One person with severe autism that achieved graduate level education was unable to verbally communicate. Her reported self-stimulatory behavior was running water over her hands for long periods of time. Several teenagers I have known with some type of autism demonstrate different behaviors. One teenager enjoys walking at a fast pace (even in the house) while another teenager bites his nails at a different rate than a person without autism. These teenagers believe that some type of physical activity at the beginning of the day helps decrease these behaviors.
Is it possible that these activities help different parts of the brain connect? More research needs to be done in this area to understand if the need for these activities can be decreased by certain physical activities to stimulate brain activity.