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How to know what Arm Flapping is vs. Excited baby?

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Old 06-18-2007, 04:53 AM   #1
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How to know what Arm Flapping is vs. Excited baby?

how do you describe arm flapping as listed as one of the red flags?
i know when a baby is excited and young, they may throw their arms around...mine does. what's the difference? is arm flapping, when a red flag, done all the time?


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Old 06-18-2007, 05:20 PM   #2
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Re: How to know what Arm Flapping is vs. Excited baby?

My son is 9yrs old, but in my experience there are some "red flags" that all babies do. Arm flapping by itself isn't really uncommon. Neither is walking on their toes when they are young. I've seen many of my friends and family's kids do those things. But I think it's the amount of it and the circumstance and the "adding" of the things together. My son still "flaps" when he's excited...and still walks on his toes quite often. Also one thing I remember being different when he started "flapping" when he was younger was that it was not "normal" things that he got excited over. My son doesn't flap when he's stressed, but when he's happy. He would flap over movie credits, his line of matchbox cars, his shadow out of the corner of his eye as he walked down the hall, etc... I don't even remember being concerned about flapping when he was a "baby" because until he was almost 2 everything was "normal" just like my three kids before him and I had never even heard of "red flags" then. So I guess part of it is how old they are and that they don't always grow out of it. Good Luck.

Old 06-19-2007, 03:40 AM   #3
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Re: How to know what Arm Flapping is vs. Excited baby?

Flapping by itself is probably nothing. It's when it presents with other RED FLAGS that I would be concerned about it. My son flapped much more when he was younger however it still rears it's head now and again and he's 4 1/2.

He would flap when excited or when he was trying to work through something physical that he had to do for ex. going up a flight of stairs that he was uncertain of. He would have to jump and flap to work out the stress before attempting the stairs. It usually accompanies a little jumping with it in my son's case.

Flapping and toe walking alone are things that typically developing kids do as well. If you are concerned about Autism then I'd be more inclined to look for the communication and social milestones to be happening. If they are not developmentally in range then I would speak to the pediatrician ASAP and set up an evaluation with a Developmental Pediatrician.

Good Luck

Old 06-20-2007, 10:10 AM   #4
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Re: How to know what Arm Flapping is vs. Excited baby?

I agree with everyone that arm flapping by itself means nothing---just excitement or trying to slow down your mind to get ready for a task.

Things we all do when nervous or happy:
  • Chew a pencil and tap it back and forth between thumb and forefinger.
  • Tap a pencil on the table while trying to think, and driving everyone else crazy.
  • Clap your hands together and jump up and down when happy and excited.
  • Clench hands together in a fist and shake them when happy and excited or nervous.
  • Chew the inside of your cheek when stressed.
  • Twirl your hair when contemplative or stressed or even sleepy.
  • Repeat an action over and over when upset about something--clean the kitchen obsessively, sweep over and over an area until you have received your phone call or solved your mental anguish.
  • Wring your hands in frustration.
    slap your forehead when you finally figure something out.
    • Stand at the sink and wash a plate over and over while you go into a "trance" thinking about a problem.
    • Frankly, this is how the mind separates itself from the mundane world and allows the subconsious to "take over" and solve an issue for us...
These and other things are considered "normal reactions" to excitement or stress.
A normal child will do a variation of all these things from babyhood on into adulthood.
Only get worried if it accompanies major social problems, speech problems or self-mutism. Being very shy is not a problem unless it keeps a child from answering in class, and not talking to teacher or friends at school.

if there is a problem don't worry because there are wonderful therapists who are helping and releasing children who are better equipped for public school.
Just keep an eye on it but don't discourage it ---Your baby is probably excited and happy.

Last edited by golfhat; 06-20-2007 at 10:14 AM. Reason: spelling

Old 06-20-2007, 09:15 PM   #5
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Re: How to know what Arm Flapping is vs. Excited baby?

I still cannot believe that so many autistic children toe-walk. I had never heard of it until I got diagnosed with Asperger's last year. I'm almost 20, and I still toe-walk: completely when I'm barefoot, partially in shoes. I just always thought it was something quirky I did. I never knew that it was a "red flag." It still amazes met that so many other kids do it. I've never met anybody who toe-walks.

I agree with the others that the flapping doesn't say anything by itself. First off, not all individuals on the autism spectrum hand flap. I rarely do. Only when I'm extremely, extremely excited about something. Even then, it's not the "classic" hand flapping. (I mildly shake my hands in front of my face. I didn't even think of it as hand flapping until recently, until I saw it for what it truly was.) Some "classic" autism signs to watch out for in conjunction with the flapping would be:
Lack of eye contact or odd eye contact (intense stare)
Lining up of toys
Extreme upset due to change in routine/insistence on sameness
Lack of interest in people/lack of desire to have social interactions
Obsessive interests (in high-functioning individuals, a key sign is nonstop talking about said obsessive interest)
Excellent rote memory
Echolalia (either immediate, such as repeating your exact words right after you say them, or delayed- repeating movie/TV quotes verbatim, something I do all of the time)
Trouble having a reciprocal, "give-and-take" conversation (in verbal individuals)
Hypersensitivies to certain sensory stimuli
Hope this helped!
"Not everything that steps out of line, and thus 'abnormal,' must necessarily be 'inferior.'"
-Hans Asperger

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