What is vocal stimming in ADHD? (+7 Causes of stimming)

In this detailed post, we will be checking out what vocal stimming in ADHD is. Furthermore, we will be discussing the different types of stimming and the causes of these behaviors. Finally, we will also be listing a few ways through which vocal stimming in ADHD can be managed.

What is vocal stimming in ADHD?

Vocal stimming in ADHD is a type of self-soothing behavior in which the person may repeat certain sounds or certain actions like throat clearing. Apart from these, the person may also repeat certain words or may sing particular songs as part of their self-soothing.

Vocal stimming is not necessarily one of the defining symptoms of ADHD but is often found in hyperactivity disorders along with impulsivity. The main purpose of vocal stimming is to soothe the person during times of great stress or distress.

Types of stimming in ADHD

Other than vocal stimming, there are numerous other stimming behaviors that are commonly present in ADHD. The other types of stimming behaviors are:

Visual stimming

Visual stimming is commonly present in autism. This means that the person would visually stimulate themselves through repetitive actions like watching their fingers flap, by making objects spin, by getting close to a television screen or flashing lights.

Tactile stimming

Tactile involves touch and therefore tactile stimming includes rubbing against soothing or comforting objects or rubbing hands together. Apart from this, the person may also indulge in teeth grinding behaviors and hair pulling behaviors for the same effect.

Vestibular stimming

Vestibular stimming is also pretty common in autism. Vestibular sensations include balance-related actions and therefore the person can be seen to rock themselves back and forth or even swing themselves on a rope or a swing itself for self-soothing.

Gustatory stimming

Another type of stimming which is common in autism is gustatory stimming which relates to the mouth. In this type of stimming, the person may taste certain foods or even lick surfaces for the cool or hot sensations. Smelling certain objects is also a type of stimming behavior.

Other types of stimming

Apart from these stimming behaviors, there are a number of other types which don’t fall into any exact category. For instance, a person may often sing a part of a song repeatedly or even blurt out certain dialogues from movies as part of their stimming.

Causes of stimming in ADHD

In ADHD, the main cause of stimming is stress or discomfort, but there are many other reasons as well. Some of the different causes of stimming in ADHD have been described in the points below.

Due to the impulsivity of ADHD

One of the most important symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is impulsivity. Due to the impulsivity caused by this condition, stimming behaviors, either vocally or through some other manner, can be manifested in the person.

For the purpose of self-soothing

Stimming behaviors are usually for the purpose of self-soothing and calming. Therefore, in the presence of high levels of stress or distress, old stimming behaviors may be repeated or new stimming behaviors may be created.

Due to hyper-sensitivity

Hyper-sensitivity to certain stimuli is another symptom of ADHD. Due to this sensory processing issue, the person may avoid certain types of stress-inducing stimuli. In the presence of these stimuli, stimming behaviors may be repeated for the purpose of calming down.

Due to hypo-sensitivity

Just like hypersensitivity, ADHD can also lead to hyposensitivity. Those who are hyposensitive may actively seek certain sensations. This seeking can eventually become stimming behaviors eventually, since it calms the person and gives them the sensation their body needs.

In order to improve concentration

Apart from just helping the person calm themselves down, stimming behaviors can also lead to better focus and concentration. Therefore, during a complex task or activity, certain stimming behaviors may be practiced.

Because of boredom

One of the most important reasons for stimming is because of boredom. In case the person feels excessively bored and has no interest in their surroundings, they may resort to stimming behaviors.

Due to excess energy

ADHD often causes the person to feel like they have too much energy, and this needs to be regularly expelled. When there are no appropriate activities to let go of excess energy, stimming behaviors may be practiced for this purpose.

Management of vocal stimming in ADHD

Vocal stimming and other types of stimming behaviors are not exactly bad or maladaptive in nature and most of these can be overlooked completely. However, in certain cases, the stimming behaviors may be socially unacceptable and for these, management may be required.

A few ways of managing vocal stimming and other stimming behaviors in ADHD are listed as follows,

  • Through medication: In case the stimming behaviors of the person become too hard to cope with and are making daily life difficult, certain medications can help. The most common type of medication for vocal stimming includes amphetamines.

Apart from stimulants like amphetamine, certain non-stimulants may also be prescribed. These can include clonidine and guanfacine. The advantage of using non-stimulants over stimulants is that there are much fewer side-effects experienced.

  • Through behavioral therapy: Apart from medications, behavioral therapy can also be useful for reducing vocal stimming behaviors. Behavioral therapy comes in various types but essentially targets certain maladaptive habits through rewards and reinforcements.
  • By habit-coaching: Executive coaching or habit coaching can also help in the management of vocal stimming behaviors. In this type of coaching, the person is coached and trained to get through the day with minimal stimming behaviors.

Apart from learning to reduce the use of their stimming behaviors, the coach may also encourage the person to try out new coping behaviors which may not be as attention-grabbing or maladaptive in nature.

  • Through better sleep patterns: Poor sleep is often a main symptom of ADHD and can also lead to stimming behaviors in the person. In order to reduce the need for stimming, sleep hygiene techniques and habits need to be incorporated into daily life.
  • Through regular physical exercise: Having too much energy is another main reason for any type of stimming in the person. Physical exercise in any form can help the person expel their excess energy through a positive habit.

And thus, physical exercise needs to be a daily constant for those who have ADHD and are exhibiting stimming behaviors. Apart from just decreasing stimming behaviors, physical exercise can also help the person sleep better at night.

  • Through informing others: In many cases of stimming, the behavior is not exactly harmful and actually helps the person get through their work productively. However, the stimming may not be seen positively by those around the person.

Therefore, self-advocacy and assertiveness is a must. For instance, if the person is working at a particular organization, they might need to inform their managers about their stimming and may need certain provisions and adjustments as a result.

  • Through certain toys: Stimming behaviors serve the main purpose of self-soothing. In the market today, there are numerous fidget toys which can help in achieving this aim of comfort. These fidget toys also come in a variety of forms for different purposes.

The advantage of using fidget toys for the purpose of self-soothing is that they can be publically used and are not so attention-grabbing. Many toys also offer a variety of stimuli to suit all types of sensory needs.


In this detailed post, we have checked out what vocal stimming in ADHD is. Furthermore, we have discussed the different types of stimming and the causes of these behaviors. Finally, we have also listed a few ways through which vocal stimming in ADHD can be managed.

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