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Hand Flapping

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hello all......I just wanted to ask a question about hand flapping. My son just turned 4 and has been doing it I'd say since around the age of two. He's not vaccinated and been raised fairly naturally. Eating natural and organic foods, etc. I never really thought much of the hand flapping. He really only does it when excited or happy about something. But just recently I've read that hand flapping can be associated with autism or sensory integrative disorder. I truly don't think he's autistic. He's intelligent and loving. Doesn't seem to have any other characteristics of autism from what I've heard/read about it.
He has been on a later developmental track but not severly delayed and it's all been consistent.

I know of other kids who have done the hand flapping and I've heard they just outgrow it eventually. I never really thought of it as a problem until I just recently saw it could be a sign of autism. I figure I'll just ask my pediatrician next time I'm there. I guess I'm just a bit concerned at this point. I'm just wondering if anyone else has experienced this with their children and if they did anything to pursue the cause of it. Or if children who did it did eventually just outgrow it.

Thank you for listening.

post #2 of 12
Most kids I know as toddlers hand flapped when they were happy or excited, I wouldn't worry about it if all other indicators are normal.
post #3 of 12
I wouldn't worry about it. You would know something is wrong by now if he did have autism or something like that. I know, my son has autism. My nephew used to hand flap when he got overly excited sometimes....and he's normal. My son who has autism never hand flaps. Also, boys sometimes are a little more immature in developement..... so I really thing you have nothing to worry about, however, you should bring it up with your pediatrician just to make sure.
post #4 of 12
I have to agree with the others-if there is nothing besides the hand flapping that is concerning you, I wouldn't stress over it. Just curious though, does the hand flapping seem to coincide with any other activity?
My nephew, who is 3 and1/2 is a big-time hand flapper. Incidentally, he does exhibit some of the other indicators of autism but his ped. said he did not have it. Which means the hand flapping in his case is merely that-hand flapping. Whew.
We have noticed though that he tends to do it much more when he is watching TV-his family are big TV watchers and he has been watching movies like Star Wars from birth pretty much. My nephew tends to flap his hands a lot while watching shows with a lot of action, be it a laser fight (or whatever those things are called) in Star Wars, or Elmo dancing on Sesame Street. He almost seems to be trying to act along with those scenes.
I was just wondering if you have noticed any correlation with your son's ahnd flapping and a particular behavior.
This is something my sister and especially my mother, who cares for my nephew while my sister works full time, have had some real concerns about, so now I will be able to tell them that I have just been hearing from other moms whose boys flap their hands and are not autistic! Thanks!
post #5 of 12
Hand flapping can be a "stim" or self stimulatory activity not always associated with autism. Sometimes, it is just excitement. Othertimes, depending on where the child flaps could indicate possible vision problems.

Does your child flap hands beside or infront of his eyes? Down by his sides? Some handflapping in front or beside the eyes could be a depth perception problem especially if the child looks at things like a book not straight on. Which could indicate a Vitamin A deficiency. If you have night blindness is another indicator of vitamin a deficincy. This is inherited.

A simple way to help vision would be to include some cod liver oil into the diet. The beta caratene (carrots) form of this vitamin would not be effective.

Best of luck.
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks so far everyone.......it's good to hear of other doing this that were not autistic. He always seems to do it when overly excited. I hate to admit but he watches a little too much t.v. which I've ben slowly cutting down - but kids stuff like Blue's Clues and Seasame Street. He will flap when he's watching something - I guess it's something that's exciting him. He'll sometimes do it in the car so I'm guessing that's if he sees something that excites him. Sometimes he'll do it when speaking - like when my husband comes home and he tells him something he is doing or something about his day.

He flaps with his hands at the sides of his head. Sometimes he gets his feet going at the same time. I'm going to try not to concern myself too much - and I'll just talk to his doctor next time I'm there.


post #7 of 12
My almost-5 y/o dd flaps. When my mil took the kids to Disney on Ice last year, she (mil) said they had a GREAT time and, laughing, said, "this one flapped so much I was sure she was going to levitate before the show was over!"

Anyway, if it helps to hear, my dd appears to be totally normal in every way, is highly intelligent, no physical problems, and has been like this since she was a baby, when she would stiffen her limbs when excited. As time goes by and I see her "in action in life", I have stopped worrying about it meaning something more, at least in her case.
post #8 of 12
dj's mommy-- that sounds EXACTLY like my nephew-where he flaps, when he flaps, dancing feet and all!!
Really though, wouldn't it be great if it were acceptable for us to express excitement like that every now and then!
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Jennifer -

Wow, that's good to know that they are so similar! I'm just curious, you said your nephew exhibited other signs of autism but his ped said he wasn't. What other signs did he exhibit if you don't mind me asking. I was wondering if in addition to the hand flapping my son is doing anything else similar to what your nephew does.


p.s. It would be great if we could express ourselves that way! But of course we'd be considered retarded....LOL. That's why I hate it when anyone looks at my son funny when he does that - after all he's just being a kid!!! He's already been labeled by some friends of a friend of mine as being extremely slow in his speech development - which I don't think he is. They are teachers but spent all of about 10 minutes with my son and put a label on him. I can't stand that!!!!
post #10 of 12
The most significant of the other "signs" is his speech as well. He is delayed in his speech to the point that he is now seeing a speech therapist. He is 3 and 4 mos. and up until a couple months ago, he had fewer than 20 words (if that) and was not even close to putting them together to communicate. He would repeat many things, but only repeat and not add to his vocab. Since his parents and ped. finally acknowledged he needed work in this area, he has improved quite a bit, but is definitely still quite behind in his speech. But his communication skills are increasing daily. Yay!
Also, he is socially very behind according to standards (including of course the fact that he did not communicate with others in language, which is changing now). On a developmental assessment test, he could not complete any of the social items listed and only one or two of the language development ones. Of course this could be attributable to the fact that his parents do not put him in social situations with other children-no play groups, no friends with kids (except mine), my sister even will pick parks that don't have other kids at them. This also has changed now that they have realized that, while they may not like socializing with other kids and their parents, my nephew needs that.
Other than the verbal and social issues, there is not a lot. Jusy a couple random things, ie he is very particular about where things go-change is not good-but mostly it's just stuff that occured to us as we were reading descriptions of autistic behavior, not things we would have considered problematic otherwise. And then my sister is not into natural living so her son has been fully vaccinated and exposed to many other risk factors as well. You know how you can diagnose yourself or a family member with just about anything if you read a long enough list of symptoms? It was like that.:
But that's mostly it and his ped. didn't seem to think his "problems" weren't anything a speech therapist and some time with other kids couldn't fix.
Does your son have other stuff as well? I know what you mean about labeling him-my mom was convinced my nephew was autistic because of his behaviors and that really hurt my sister's feelings. I hate it when people make ignorant judgements about my children too! People are so quick to form opinions from so little information sometimes.
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
He also is a little speech delayed (I think) - he just turned 4 last month. I'm not really sure how many words are in his vocabulary. But he does speak in sentences - maybe not gramatically correct all the time but he does. He will also repeat things sometimes more than once. Like telling me something three or four times. Or when anyone asks him "How old are you?" he repeats the question. I don't know why but for some reason that is really the only question he repeats. He'll answer if you ask his name. I feel like I'd like to take him to a speech therapist just to prove the people wrong who have said he is "severly" delayed.

I usually get together with friends once or twice a week and when we are in a park he goes up to other kids to play or check out what they are doing. But my son did everything a bit later which I don't see as a problem - just the track he is on. He didn't sit up until 9 months, didn't crawl till 11 months, didn't walk until 16 months, had first words at around 20 months, potty trained late at over 3 1/2, etc. So that's why I don't really see it as a problem - it's all been consistent.

Anyway, thanks for letting me know about your nephew. I hope all gets better for him as well. I'm just going to talk to my ped in October when I'm there and see if he feels I should be doing anything that I'm not. I'm planning on homeschooling so I'm not overly concerned about him being "ready" and on the same level as the world thinks 5 year olds are supposed to be.

post #12 of 12
Sounds like he is just right! There are so many things people would have us worry about in terms of our children's behavior and development but when we, who know them best, look at the whole child instead of just one aspect, so often we find that this is just who they are and not an issue that demands correction. (Of course sometimes a little reassurance from the ped. can make all the difference in relieving worry, KWIM?)
Enjoy homeschooling when it comes time-I've done two full years and loved it-dd wanted to try "regular school" this year, but I would gladly be homeschooling still!
Good luck!
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