Can hand-flapping be normal? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 06-21-2009, 04:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Help me chill out here if possible. I went to school in Early Childhood between babies (my last one is now 8!) and I am trained to look for autism signs in preschool age children. But I don't know if the same signs apply to babies. I tried to do some research online that also freaked me out worse, esp the videos. A lot of those kids look very normal to me. I need to talk to real MDC mamas .

My 7 month old flaps his left hand. Its kind of like he is bending his wrist more than fingers if that makes sense. He has done it since birth (I think before birth too I swear I could feel it and when he was a newborn and I saw him do it I thought - ah, so thats what that was!) He does it while nursing sometimes, or just randomly in the day. He watches and plays with his hands and babbles alot while doing it during playtime. He just did it while fussing to get my attention. He also does it against my breast while nursing with both hands - like he's "milking" me. In fact, i have wondered if its his "sign" for wanting to nurse...but that wouldn't explain the prenatal/neonatal flapping.

There is some family history of neurobehavioral and autoimmune disorders in our families, but no history of autism. I never even worried about it with my other boys who are all much older, but from the moment I was pregnant, its been in the back of my mind. Its hard not to become paranoid in the current school/education climate since it is becoming so common. I have made much different choices as a result of my research. He is not vaccinated and I am trying to keep toxins to a minimum, eat organic, whole foods, etc. Nonetheless, he has struggled with food intolerances since birth. We are dairy and gluten free since they make him reflux and cry a high pitched cry and not sleep. He is developmentally normal for social and language milestones of the autism awareness sites.

Sorry if I am rambling...he was just doing the flapping thing alot today and it started to freak me out.


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#2 of 5 Old 06-21-2009, 05:06 PM
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Yes. I have a niece who is about as neurotypical as you can get. She's 27 now, a middle school teacher, an extrovert, and very social. We all used to like to take her on errands with us when she was 5-10 because she was such good company!

And from age about 1-5, whenever she was excited, she would bounce up and down on her toes and flap her hands. It looked like a stereotypical autism 'stim', but clearly wasn't.

Hand flapping in the absence of anything else is just that. It's not diagnostic criteria, though it can be used with other criteria to establish autism.

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#3 of 5 Old 06-21-2009, 05:28 PM
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i agree w/ pp. hand flapping in an of itself is not a diagnostic indicator. i am a child psychologist and my heart would almost stop when i would see my dd (now 5) flapping with joy as a toddler and preschooler even. then i would remind myself that it was just her way of expressing her intense emotion....and it subsided as she matured. babies, especially as young as 7m, are still trying to figure everything out and beign able to move their body is so new and exciting. it can also be calming (ds has started to pat his own tummy sometimes when he wakes up but is still tired).

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#4 of 5 Old 06-21-2009, 05:41 PM
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If you watch on a playground lots and lots of kids flap when they are excited. Lots of typically developing kids. My typical kid flapped a lot more than my spectrum kid in fact. My spectrum kid was into studying things (his hands, a button, the eyes of a stuffed toy) as a baby and looking back I think it was one of his early autism signs.
That said, he had other signs. He wasn't consistently responding to his name. He took longer than typical to raise his arms to be picked up. He didn't point until he was 15 or 16 months. He was just different in interaction than his twin. Things I couldn't put my finger on but now I know there was less back and forth interaction and he was focusing on parts of my face rather than taking in the whole.

Flapping in the absence of anything else is insignificant.
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#5 of 5 Old 06-30-2009, 11:18 PM
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I know I am late with my response - but I was just observing on our vacation this past week how much my NT son flaps when excited. This child is about as NT as you can get - very outgoing, athletic, etc. However, if you didn't know him and saw him out in the ocean waiting for a wave you would pick him out (incorrectly) as autistic because he was flapping so much I thought he was going to take off! He has always flapped when excited. I am glad that I didn't know anything about autism when he was little or I would have probably worried about him!
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