My son is 39 months old. He has been seen by our local Regional Center to be evaluated for hand flapping. Long story short..he was dismissed at 3 after speech therapy (for eye contact) and OT. They say he is progressing fine. He is in preschool, does great. Very social, great at imaginative play. The only red flag I have ever had with him is hand flapping. He has flapped since he was very young, like 6 months when watching a ceiling fan. It has now evolved into hand flapping, staring, facial grimacing and jumping all at the same time. It is only for a few seconds and it almost seems involuntary at times. I can stop him at any time by touch or talking to him. It is as if his whole body is affected. This happens when he puts something on the table and it is in his line of sight. It may happen ten times a day, or not at all. It seems to happen more when he progresses in another area such as speech. He likes to watch wheels of a car or fan but again, it is just for seconds and then he moves on. Our MD doesn't seem very concerned nor did the therapists he has seen. The preschool doesn't notice it much because when he is engaged in something it doesn't happen as often. Only when something really excites him. I have read all the autism, Aspergers stuff and it just doesn't fit. Same with the information in Out of Snyc child. He is smart, great verbally, uses sentences, doesn't fuss at routine changes etc. Are all children who flap considered autistic or PPD? Can a "normal" child exibit these behaviors?
No, by no means do all children who display this behavior exhibit PDD-spectrum conditions, including Autistic Disorder. I agree with the various professionals who have been reassuring you about this. Take your focus off of the behavior, and focus instead on all the positive aspects of your son's development. There does not appear to be any reason for worry.
You just described our son perfectly. He is bright. He is 5. He makes lots of eye contact. He loves hugs and he is fully verbal (except does alot of nonsense speak) The only difference is he is a little delayed in fine motor (still can't write his name - but he can type it) and gross motor (walked at 22 months). He has been diagnosed with "PDD-NOS with a diagnosis of autism not unlikely in the future". In the past year he has entered a new phase of stimming or at least body movements - he picks up and drops things - anything. He can always be diverted to do other more appropriate things but he would do it all day if not interrupted. He still hand flaps if there is a familiar cartoon on (jumps flaps and smiles/giggles at Max and Ruby etc.) Good luck and get a second opinion because we do private ABA therapy and it has really helped him with his development/interest in things.
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