I just thought I would post this to stop some parents from worrying...
I am a hand flapper and have been since I was a small child but I am NOT autistic or have AS. I am 24 years old and I have very good social skills, many friends, a healthy relationship and a good job. I always excelled in school (straight A's) especially in science and sports and I received a scholarship to attend university. I now work in public relations which involves a huge deal of communication and building relationships with my clients and the media.
It's very strange as I still can't pinpoint why I feel the urge to flap my hands. It seems to be when I am excited or over stimulated. For example, if I have too many good ideas in my head (spiralling thoughts) or am feeling particularly competitive e.g. extremely driven to be the best. I feel as if I am overwhelmed by a built up energy that I need to flap to get out. However, I only flap in private - like in the bathrooms when I am at work - it seems to relieve tension and leaves me buzzing slightly and ready to kick ***! I can flap for about 5-10 seconds up to fifteen times a day (when I'm particularly excited/ tense/ happy).
As it's very strange thing to do as an adult, I am aware that I should never do it in public. Perhaps I am slightly on the autistic spectrum but I possess the necessary social awareness to not do it front of other people.
Funnily enough, my sister has Asperger Syndrome (AS) and does NOT flap. She is a great, extremely intelligent, loving person but lacks the need for social interaction - she's completely happy to be on her own with her collections of books, plants etc. She hates talking to strangers and conveniently forgets to call people back or turn up at social gatherings. It's not her fault - that's just the way she is.
So, don't worry if your child flaps... I didn't turn out too bad for me ;)
I appreciate your willingness to share this with the group. Hand flapping is what we often refer to as "stereotypic behavior", which simply means a repetetive behavior that an observer would say has no apparent function. The reality is all of us engage in stereotypic behavior--if I am at a meeting at work, and I have a paperclip, I will bend it back and forth repeatedly until it breaks! When I watch people in meetings, I may see poeple twirl their hair, tap their fingers, chew on a pencil, etc. Most of us are saavy enough not to engage in more severe forms of stereotypy in public, while many individuals with autism spectrum disorders may not understand this, and flap their hands in public.
Again, I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with the group!
The Content on this Site is presented in a summary fashion, and is intended to be used for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be and should not be interpreted as medical advice or a diagnosis of any health or fitness problem, condition or disease; or a recommendation for a specific test, doctor, care provider, procedure, treatment plan, product, or course of action. MedHelp is not a medical or healthcare provider and your use of this Site does not create a doctor / patient relationship. We disclaim all responsibility for the professional qualifications and licensing of, and services provided by, any physician or other health providers posting on or otherwise referred to on this Site and/or any Third Party Site. Never disregard the medical advice of your physician or health professional, or delay in seeking such advice, because of something you read on this Site. We offer this Site AS IS and without any warranties. By using this Site you agree to the following Terms and Conditions. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.