2 year old hand flapping, aspergers?
by addy36, Jul 01, 2008
I've noticed my 2.5 year old has been doing a lot of hand flapping and jumping while excited lately.  His speech is good, he speaks in sentences and uses pronouns correctly for the most part.  He does not ask a lot of questions though, but instead will say "I want to talk about ____" when he wants me to explain something to him.  He is getting more social and interested in other kids, though sometimes I have to encourage him, but once he decides somebody is his friend he will run around with them and try to play follow the leader.  I am concerned about the hand flapping and think he may have some sensory processing issues, but I don't want to pay 400 for an OT eval. if it maybe isn't an issue.  Is it normal for some 2 year olds to flap their hands if they don't have aspergers??  I have heard that they need to be pretty delayed to qualify for early intervention in our area, so I'm not sure where to turn.  Should I have him evaluated based on the hand flapping and sensory issues or is it possibly a phase for a 2 year old.  thanks for any input.
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Member Comments (5)
by MJIthewriter, Jul 01, 2008
I wouldn't say hand flapping alone means autism.  You can try searching the various other threads here and on the autism forum about hand flapping.  Just for my own curiosity, how does your your son flap his hands and when does he flap them?

I'm sure someone swatting a bug looks like they are flapping their hand. (I'm sure that's not what you mean, but one just sort of flew up by my computer and planted that random thought...)
by Sally44, Jul 02, 2008
Apart from the hand flapping, what other sensory issues have you noticed.
You say his speech is good, which is a good sign.  Keep an eye on his speech to see if it develops.  He is only 2.5, but I do notice what  you say about he will use a set phrase to get information.  My son, who is on the spectrum, does this and when he wants to tell me something he always has to say first 'mom, I want to tell you something'.  Is your son's tone of voice unusual or does he emphasis parts of words.  Does he repeat things he has heard you say or things from TV or DVDs.
He is just at that age when the social interaction starts.  Alot of children on the spectrum like to play chasing games and some like rough and tumble games, whilst others shy away from contact.  Team games can be difficult for them because of the concept and also because of the physical contact.
Please post back with more info, and say what country you are in.
by MJIthewriter, Jul 02, 2008
Your son's "set phrase" reminds me of something I did around 1st-2nd grade. At one time I'd always end my sentences with "Okay?" or something because I couldn't tell if the person heard me and was paying attention or not.  If they replied with "Okay" then I knew they were paying attention.

That lasted I think until somewhere around 2nd or 3rd grade... Someone told me it annoyed them which eventually caused me to stop...

It kind of makes me wonder if perhaps your son's "set phrase" in this setting may be more of a social/nonverbal communication misunderstanding than a speech problem.

For instance if you are doing something, I can imagine myself in that context saying, "I want to tell you something". If you say, "Okay" then that would be my cue that it is okay for me to speak the rest of whatever came to mind. If you didn't, chances are, if it were me (I don't know your son) I'd probably repeat that phrase again, over and over until you did reply with some kind of cue.  If you didn't, then chances are I'd get very upset and start throwing a tantrum...

As an adult I won't do this, but this was something I did to my parents when I was younger. I don't recall starting my all sentences with a particular phrase, but I would repeat myself until I knew for sure the person heard me.

addy36, this can be something you can watch out for with your child. How well does your son pick up on nonverbal communication?  If he lacks skill in that area, likely he will try to make you reply in some sort of way he can understand that you are paying attention and if that doesn't happen, likely will throw a fit.
by addy36, Jul 03, 2008
thanks for the replies....
He usually flaps his arms/hands when he is excited and often times when he is talking, trying to get the words out and describe something.  He is usually jumping up and down at the same time... It varies, usually he flaps at the shoulders, sometimes, elbows and wrists.  I believe it is a sensory thing for him.
      His other sensory issues are he gets overstimulated and has a hard time modulating his actions, running around, smashing into the couch, sometimes runs up to his baby sister and grabs her hair, runs hard into me.....He has a hard time with loud crowded places.  Also, sometimes when other kids get too close he is obviously uncomfortable and will sometimes act out aggressively, though at the same time, he often "touches" other kids in the face or hair as a way to be friendly and connect with them,which makes them uncomfortable... If he has identified somebody as a friend, he acts much differently to them than a strange kid, who he can be very fearful of.  Sometimes at the playground he does seem to shy away from the other kids and will say "I want a snack", I think to avoid playing.     I really want to get him some OT for these issues.  Has anyone else's children had success with OT for these type of issues.
   When he repeats things it is what we say, never from TV.  He does have set phrases it seems.  He will repeat things we said back a few days later, but it is always in context, like if I said "you don't want to push that chair near the stairs, you could fall down"  3 days later he will say " I don't want to push this chair near the stairs, because I could fall down" while at the same time pushing the chair..... But I do believe for the most part he is understanding what we say and it's sinking in, because if I try to sneak something in that he doesn't like "let's have tomatoes for lunch"  he hates tomatoes, there's an immediate "no" even if I don't think he's paying attention.  His tone is a little flat when speaking, and it's usually slow.  but he is only 2, so i'm not sure what is normal there.  He also is not always that easily understood by other people (besides us) at this point.  
   I am not sure about the nonverbal communcation at this point.  I'm not sure how to test his nonverbal at this age.  anyone have ideas.  I've been so busy being verbal with him I haven't noticed.  I have noticed lately that his eye contact isn't great.  I thought it was, but now that I'm paying more attention he does avoid eye contact and will often talk to me without looking at me,but again I'm not sure of the norms for a 2 year old.  
we are in the united states, california.  There is an early start program, but I have heard it's about 3-4 months to get started, he will then be close to 3,but I will try anyways.  
thanks everyone for their input.

by Sally44, Jul 04, 2008
I would start and ask for him to be evaluated through Health ie. his doctor or paediatrician.  Simply because if he does need help he needs to get it before he starts nursery otherwise he won't cope well and could start to show avoidance behaviours and generally be uphappy.
As you've mentioned alot of sensory stuff (which also impacts on the communication and social interaction side of things), I would recommend googling the name Olga Bogdashina and reading an article by her printed in Autism Today.  If this sounds relevant to your situation you can buy her book Sensory and Perceptual Differences in Autism and Aspergers.  This book has a questionnaire at the back that parents can fill in to give them a sensory profile of their child.  That will basically tell you which senses are most affected, and this information would be very useful to an Occupational Therapist.  Olga is well known and respected.  She was invited to talk to professionals and parents in our city and her questionnaire is used by our own autism department.
Another thing you could google is 'echolalia in autism'.  This might give you an idea as to whether that is relevant or not.
But I would get him onto some kind of programme asap, because it will help him, and if they suspect he needs further assessments these can be carried out.
Regarding speech.  It is alot harder to produce speech than to understand what is said.  Alot of children on the autistic spectrum, when tested by a Speech and Language Therapist, usually score differently on their receptive speech as opposed to their expressive speech.  A 'normal' profile should be about the same.  When there is a difference it indicates a problem with the processing of language.  My son is assessed as being 3 years behind with receptive speech.  His expressive speech is age appropriate, however they have noted that he is echolalic, and therefore alot of this speech is phrases he has heard before and is repeating in their correct context.  If he has to produce his own speech he struggles and sometimes gives up and tells me 'I can't find the words'.