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10 Ways to Stim Using a Clothes Peg

10 Ways to Stim Using a Clothes Peg


I'm finishing off 'stim week' with a little ode to one of my favourite stimming objects, the humble clothes peg.

I want to show you a bunch of ways that you can use a clothes peg to stim because it's something that most people have, and I think it's important to show how people can and do stim in real life. I also want to use it as an example to demonstrate that stimming doesn't require special equipment, and that you can get multiple types of sensory input from one object.

Also if you're a teacher, parent or therapist who needs a bank of replacement stims (or you're looking for some for yourself), it's a good example of how you can use one object for different students or to provide lots of different stim options for one person. Having a basket of pegs at the ready is cheap and easy to store.

Here are some reasons why pegs make a great stimming object:

  • They're a good size for finger play
  • They have built-in resistance with the spring
  • They're cheap
  • They're easy to find and replace
  • They're small and portable
  • They're not noisy or visually distracting
  • They're an everyday object that doesn't look out of place in most settings
  • They're versatile and can be used for lots of different stims

Okay, let's see what we can do with these little wonders.


Special note: Many thanks and much love to my wonderful hand model, who wishes to remain anonymous :)


1. Squeeze it open

There are so many great pressure things you can do with a peg, with its built-in resistance from the spring. Holding the peg open for an extended time is a really good sustained source of deep pressure in the finger joints and hand.

I find this works really well when I need to do big hand movements in a space where it's not appropriate, like in a meeting. The effort required to counter the pressure of the spring tires my hand muscles and really zaps the stimmy urge. You can also open and close the peg lots of times quickly, or do it to the beat of a song or the syllables of words or counting.


2. Line them up

This is great for people who are calmed by visual order and like to sort things. Depending on the shape of the peg, you can stand them up next to each other like dominoes or make satisfying geometric patterns like the one at the start of this article.


3. Balance on a finger

Focusing on keeping a peg balanced on an outstretched finger is a nice little zen thing, plus you get the joint extension from keeping your finger stretched and straight.


4. Holding it closed

This is another great stim for burning excess hand energy. Hold the peg closed with one hand and try to open it with the other. Both sets of fingers have to work hard in resistance to each other, so you get double the bang for your buck.


5. Trace around it

Some people like to stim by drawing and doodling, and pegs have satisfying long straight sides but also interesting bumpy bits that give lots of sensory feedback when you draw around them.


6. Thread it through fingers

Pegs are a perfect size for finger play, and their texture and rigid construction make for some nice pressure when you spin them over and over between your fingers.


7. Pinch skin

Attaching a peg to a body part is a good alternative to pinching since it's less likely to break or mark the skin. It gives a deeper and less sharp sensation when left on for just a few seconds at a time (taking care to never leave it on too long so it doesn't cut off blood supply). Good spots to try are elbow skin, fingers or the webbed skin between them.


8. Press, scrape or draw on the skin

This is again a good alternative to using fingernails, as pegs are usually less likely to break the skin. Different movements give different levels of sensory feedback - lightly tracing the peg along the skin, pressing it in deeper, using it to draw shapes or write words on the skin. Depending on the shape of the peg, each end might give a different kind of sensation too.


9. Grip tightly in palm

Pegs are just large enough that they can be gripped in the palm of the hand, but small enough that they require a tight grip to hold them. This makes the fingers work hard and is a good source of pressure on the knuckle joints.


10. Attach them end to end

Making a long chain of pegs or building them into shapes is a good visual stim and satisfying for those who are calmed by patterns and order, but also requires you to manipulate the pegs and squeeze them open and closed so there's lots of touch and pressure input as well.


Bonus ideas!

11. Tap on something

Lightly bouncing the peg up and down on a surface gives the same kind of sensation as bouncing a leg, although this is probably one for when you're alone or don't share your office with anyone since it can be noisy.

12. Listen to it

Some pegs have squeaky springs, so holding it close to the ear and slowly opening it can be a nice little auditory stim. Again, probably one to do when you're on your own unless the spring is very quiet or you're in a noisy space.

13. Bite it

This is one of my favourite peg stims. It's like an oral version of #4, biting down on one end of the peg and then opening and closing it with your fingers. It gives lots of sensory input at once - deep pressure in both the jaw and finger joints, auditory input as the peg closes, touch against lips and teeth (I often lightly tap it against my teeth too).

14. Attach it to things

I usually have a peg stuck to something on my desk - the rim of a coffee mug is a good one, parts of my computer, notepad, pens. It stores the peg somewhere handy so it's readily accessible, and attaching/reattaching the peg is a quick little stim that I can do while I'm on the phone (ugh, phones) or thinking through a problem.


See? So many great ways to use this one little everyday object. I guess technically you could also use them to hang laundry out to dry, but that seems so boring and uninspired.


More Reading

In case you didn't catch the other 'stim week' posts:

This article was first published on 11 February 2017

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