After an autistic man’s stim toy was mistaken for a gun, with tragic results, NPR’s Aftereffects looked into how people’s stim toys impact their every day life.

When you feel overwhelmed with sensory input, as a lot of autistic people often feel, stim toys can help settle all that noise by giving you one specific thing to home in on.

Recently more and more self-advocates have been reclaiming the notion of stim toys, not as markers of childishness, but as highly evolved coping mechanisms.

At WNYC we invited autistic New Yorkers from all over the spectrum to a portrait session with their favorite stim toys or other important objects, and we talked with these people about how they want to be perceived.

Check out the portraits and listen to the podcasts on NPR.