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Arm flapping
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Arm flapping

My 4 year old son has a habit of flapping his arms when he's excited.  I've seen this only in a child with Autism that I've worked with.   I've searched high and low for causes/reasons why he may 'flap' his arms when excited, most often when he reads a book.  He has gone to preschool and has done well in every aspect.  His teachers did notice this, but could not find any indication of any other symptom/concern.  When he goes this week to his peditrician this week I will ask for an evaluation, but at his last appt. his doctor saw no other concern.  Can anyone help me??
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543250_tn?1214746777
im still trying to figure out my 8yr old myself,she does not do the arm flappin but she does open and close her hands alot especially when she wants to be picked up and i know she has a form of autism,i would only guess what u think myself if it were my child.does he have any language delays?can he have a conversation with u thats typical of a 4 yr old?does he have any sensory issues or social issues?i ask because if not maybe the arm flappin is just ocd.
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365714_tn?1292202708
If the arm flapping bothers you, maybe work on helping your son recognize his emotions and express them in a more socially acceptable way.

I'm autistic but I don't think I ever caught onto the hand flapping...  If I remember in 1st grade the teachers had me keep my arms down.

I can't speak for people who use hand flapping, but I think some people do it because it is a way to express their emotion or mood.  Making facial expressions is not an instinctive behavior for many autistic people. It has to be learned.  I still don't know if I have all the facial expressions right, but I have practiced over the years. Hopefully some of that practice has rubbed off and become more automatic. People don't seem to mention it being a problem, so maybe the practicing has worked.
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If it's not a mood thing, it could be boredom. Stemming is a slang word for doing things like rocking, shaking, twitching, tapping a foot, clicking a pen, anything to help make an anxious moment less anxious and more tolerable. It can also be a way to pass time.

If such behaviors bother people, I think finding a task the person enjoys much more should help cut down such behaviors.  I don't click pens unless I can't think of something else to do... For instance if I'm waiting for an appointment... I bring a sketchbook and try to draw something.  If I'm drawing then I won't be clicking a pen. If I'm writing then I won't be spinning in my chair (at least not at the same moment I am actively typing.)
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325405_tn?1262293778
My nephew used to arm flap.  He does not have autism.  He spoke very early, is very social, and has no communication issues. However, he does have some sensory issues... like he hates the feeling of certain things in between his toes.  His mom has mild OCD... and his Dad has over-sensitive sensory issues as well.  Arm flapping is a way of stimming.

I occasionally hand flap myself when  really excited... you know I never really knew it was an issue or a problem or that it indicated anything until my daughter was being diagnosed for PDD.  but there are ways to make it socially acceptable.  Like if you pump your fist in the air and say stuff like "alright!"  I pen click a lot.  Twirl my finger in my hair.  If I'm sitting at a chair, I usually bounce my legs/knees.  Anyways, there are ways to sensory stim that are socially acceptable.  I also didn't realize any of this stuff was sensory stimming, but it is.  I also know my husband does these things too.  I think a lot of people do to some extent.  Some more than others.
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank you all for your feedback.  It was very helpful and gives me something to think about.  My son had his peditrician appt. and there were no concerns that stood out for the peditrician.  His advice was just to keep an eye on it.  He said this may be just how he expresses excitement and doesn't have to mean autism, because there does not appear to be any other signs.  Should I continue to look into this, get a thorough evaluation, or just let him 'be himself' and not make an issue if it doesn't seem to be?  My concern is what if I am overlooking something?   Should I help him find a more socially acceptable way of stimming?   ( I think I do see a bit of OCD on my husband's side and he does have a cousin who has facial tics such as blinking his eyes repeatedly.)  Thanks again.
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470168_tn?1237474845
I've put together a Health Page about the diagnostic criteria for autism and some people had added their examples of behaviour that fit the criteria.  You might find that useful.  You access the Health Page by clicking on the icon on the top right hand side of the web page.
I agree with 888 mom that arm flapping is usually associated with sensory issues, which can be a disorder or diagnosis in itself, however most, if not all, people on the spectrum have some kind of sensory processing issue ranging from very mild to severe.
You can google the name Olga Bogdashina and read an article by her in Autism Today.  If that sounds relevant to your situation you can read her book called Sensory and Perceptual Differences in Autism and Aspergers.
A child with sensory issues can be affected in one or all senses (ie. taste, smell, touch, hearing, balance, proprioception (knowing where your body parts are and understanding internal sensations such as hunger/thirst/need the loo).  Any disruption in the balance of how these senses interpret the environment can mean that the child is getting a warped perspective of their environment, or no information at all.  Arm flapping and spinning is seen as a way of them regulating their senses.  If you read that article it might make you aware of some other sensory issues your son has.  An Occupational Therapist is the person who could advise on this.  If you feel you need one you can ask to be referred through your GP, or you could get a private one in.  In either case ask for an OT that has experience of Sensory Integration Disorder and who is also aware of autistic spectrum disorders as well.
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Avatar_n_tn
I have twin boys 17 months. One of them does arm flaping...we are varried about him. He is very loving and loves to be with us he recently avoids his twin brother and kids his age. His brother did just started to bite him and hit him and pull his hair so Jory likes to play alone. Other kids can be there but he does his own thing, accosionaly comes to them and snaches the toy...He loves older kids, 10 years and older and both boys love water.
He does not seem to have any sencory issues, sun light bothered him a little at the beach but sunglases did the trick. He loves to run( but both of my boys do) loves to watch videos and ocasionaly spins in the circles but not all the time and not very often. One thing that he will not do is answer when we call his name, he will not acknowlage us. But when I say there is a dog or a bird he will stop and go loock. I am warried about him, please any insight.
He can say "mammy", Daddy" baba, dede(grantpa) and will call my mom "MA"
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365714_tn?1292202708
You may want to start your own topic so you can grab our attention better than if you bounce a month old topic.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi - just wondering if you found any new info.  I have a 10 year old boy who has been shaking his hands since he was 6 weeks old.  He doesn't fit the descriptions for autism or aspergers.  He does it when he seems to have extra energy or is excited about something.  He also walks on his toes most of the time.  Thanks, Merrie in SC
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Avatar_f_tn
My 3 and 1/2 yr old daughter flaps her hands and opens her mouth when she is excited, too.  My pediatrician is not concerned b/c she said she obviously does not show any signs of autism and that she will "outgow" this.  I am not so sure b/c she does it quite often.  Her preschool teacher flagged this and recommended I have her observed.  I did and the again I was told she has no symptoms of being having special needs but did notice this "posturing" during the observation.  I am so frustrated b/c I feel I am not sure if this is a sensory problem or a neurological problem but can't seem to get any answers from anyone!
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