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hand flapping

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Old 02-09-2009, 01:01 PM   #1
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Garretson, SD USA
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julie86 HB User
hand flapping

My son has done this since he was very young. It started with moving his fingers and toes if he got excited about something. He is 5 now and it hasn't gotten any better. Whenever he is excited about something, as simple as me reading his favorite book to watching race cars on tv, he flaps his hands and holds his breath. He is a very busy boy, has tons of energy. He will jump and fall on the ground just to amuse himself. At times, he gets wild with his younger brother who's 2 and I'm afraid he will hurt him sometimes, but not on purpose. He gets/needs tons of sleep. At times, I will wake him up to go to daycare after having 12 hours of sleep. He is very smart. I taught him how to read and he is so curious about numbers and how things are spelled. I am a special ed. teacher and I don't think he has autism, but he sure exhibits some of their characteristics. Any ideas on what is going on with him? My other kids are not like this.

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Old 02-09-2009, 02:52 PM   #2
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grandmak HB User
Re: hand flapping

Dilon will flap his hands when getting excited or frustrated. He has non-verbal autism but understands everything. We touch his hands and he becomes calmer. He is making lots of gains. You might have your son tested.

Old 02-10-2009, 01:14 AM   #3
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Mira11 HB User
Re: hand flapping

Hi Julie - Since you're a special ed teacher you probably know all the signs of autism, and I would tend to agree that your son probably doesn't fall on the spectrum, or if he does, maybe mild. Does he make good eye contact? Is his language development fairly normal? Does he communicate back and forth in a "regular" way?

As I read your post, what jumped in my mind is that perhaps your son is gifted; he sounds intensely curious and bright and wants to soak up knowledge.

Do the daycare teachers have input about your son?

I wouldn't worry too much about the hand flapping; many kids with no autism issues do this when they're very excited and especially when learning a new skill.

Last edited by Mira11; 02-10-2009 at 01:16 AM.

Old 02-16-2009, 11:51 AM   #4
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Encino, California, USA
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allizfullofluv HB User
Re: hand flapping

My son is 6 and he is very high functioning, but does have Autism. He has normal eye contact, and speaks well and does not have most of the typical characteristics so when he began flapping at age 1 1/2 I did not pay it much attention.

At that time Autism was not as public as it is now and I thought "well he just does it because he's excited".

But as he got older I realized he was constantly fustrated because he does not always understand things a kid his age would. He was officially diagnosed at age 4 but I was sure from 3.

No 2 kids are alike, and I have even heard the diagnosis "with some Autistic tendencies"

My son appears very typical and is in a regular kinder class but let's say he asks you something and you say "I don't understand what you are saying" well 3 weeks ago he did not know what that phrase meant so he would get upset and start yelling. Little things like concept of time and date and the terms"under, over, next to beneath" have to be taught to him because unlike you and I he doesn't naturally understand them so it makes communicating himself or expressing feelings hard and at times he yells and screams (very loud) and will hit.

Otherwise he does not have lack of eye contact, he is very affectionate, he is very funny and has great humor, and you can usually find him playing with his action figures having them speak to each other and saving the day (which means he has good imaginative play).

But when he is excited or anixous like when his brother and him are playing video games or if I'm blowing bubbles for my 1 year old he will open his mouth and flap his hands. When he's holding the remote controller for his video games he flaps his feet.

I asked him "honey why do you to this?" and I flapped. He said"Mommy I have to my body is so excited and I need to think"

And he plays great with his little sister whos almost 2, but at times I have to watch them because he gets hyper and rough and knocks her over or gives her a little shove.

One other thing is that he is not always aware or able to anticipate danger, and does not seem to fear getting hurt, which maybe why he doesn't realize if he is rough he can hurt his sister or classmates. He at times may dart into traffic so we have to be careful.

Therapy has made so much great improvement and he learns new terms, and skills everyday from his school and home aides (ABA).

Your son may have it so mild that it is not even diagnosable which I have encountered from other parents. It certainly wouldn't hurt to have him tested. Best of luck to you.

Old 02-17-2009, 06:40 AM   #5
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Derby, UK
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jamiew1988 HB User
Re: hand flapping

Right, the hand flapping is it actually a result of under, sensitivity issues, Autistic/AS people people who do are actually doing it to stimulate sensation. I know, because I am AS, and I have the a similar inclination myself.

When I did some research into, I found it was generally caused by the sense of touch not picking up enough stimulation, and an urge to flap hands for example was a way to stimulate senses. I also realized that I my sense of touch was not that good.

You will probably also find that your son is a lot calmer when sitting on a well padded chair (the pressure of the chair keeps the senses stimulated).

Old 02-17-2009, 07:19 AM   #6
Join Date: Feb 2009
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peanetty HB User
Re: hand flapping

Hi Julie - my younger brother also flapped his hands. He has a learning disability (I'm not sure if there is a 'name' for what he has, but he is 22 now and only has reached a grade 4 level math, he is socially awkward, lacks a lot of what we call 'common sense', etc), he has no autism that we know of.

He grew out of the hand flapping as he got older, maybe 12 or so? He would often straighten his legs very stiffly out in front of him while he flapped and his whole body would go rigid. My mother always would tell him to stop, and he always would - it almost seemed like he wasn't conscious of it until someone pointed it out to him.

Old 03-15-2009, 07:21 AM   #7
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Allfourit HB User
Re: hand flapping

My 4 year old son does have Autism. He went through a stage of 'hand flapping' when he got excited about something. We never made a big deal of it and he doesn't do it anymore. I find if you make a huge issue of things, it can then turn into a form of attention seeking. Just ignore it, there's worse things he could be doing.

Old 03-15-2009, 01:37 PM   #8
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Re: hand flapping

I have a son who was DX at 3 1/2 as on the an autistic spectrum. He is now 15 yrs old. And always been in a SDC classroom for school. When little he had echolalia , and did not talk in full sentences until 5yrs old. He was extremely hyperactive, and agressive too. He handflapped, fingerflapped , looked at his fingers close to his eyes , spun around in circles a lot.
Now he still spins in circles, and will flap his hands, however only flaps when very excited. He's high functioning, verbal, but repeats, and obsesses over what interests him. He likes people though. And always asks when your born, and how old are you?. He is into names of actors , and dates of the their births and deaths. He functions at a third grade level. And will be 16 in Aug.
It is true that no two people with autism are alike. Hand flapping is generally A sign of autism, however there are plenty of other behaviors that indicate autism as well, not just this one.

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