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3 year old hand flapping
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3 year old hand flapping

Hello!

My daughter who just turned 3, flaps her hand when she talks in pretend play or "reading" a book, or explaining something. That's the only time she does it. It's primarily only at wrist and it looks like she's almost talking with her hands (like adults do) but to a little more extreme way since it's at her wrist. She usually does it when she gets very into her pretend play or explaining something. I didn't think much of it until a couple people brought it to my attention.

She is very bright for her age and has no delays in speech or social skills. She's actually WAY ahead in speech & reasoning for her age group. In terms of social skills, she's shy at first but once she warms up, she plays and starts talking and playing with others without a problem (both my husband and I are introverts so I'm not surprised about her shyness).

So once people brought this "Hand flapping" to my attention, I started reading more about autism and started worrying. She does a couple of other things that are usually listed with autism like she likes to line objects up when she plays sometimes, she sometimes (not often) tiptoes, she's kinda a picky eater.

However, what confuses me is that she has no delays in any way when it comes to her development and she's social and very affectionate to those closest to her. She's actually around age 4 when I look at developmental milestones. She started walking at 9/10 months, knew about 30 words by 14 months, knew how to sing the alphabet by 14 months, made multiple-word sentences by 18 months, her movement/coordination is great (she can play "sports" pretty well (throwing/catching/kicking ball, hopping on one foot...etc).

Another thing that she has done that kinda freaked us out at first is that before she goes to sleep she kinda lays on her pillow and rocks back and forth at her pelvis. It almost looks like masturbation. She even sometimes, comments that she need more comfortable pants to do this (she likes them thinner). She only does this when she falls asleep. Not sure if this behavior is normal or not, but since she has only been doing it in the privacy of her own room, we haven't tried telling her to stop doing it.

So do the above items sound like a disorder or could it be normal behavior?  Also, any way to stop the hand movement?

Any help and opinions would be greatly appreciated it!
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Avatar_f_tn
Hello!

My cousin (6) was recently found to be autistic. His signs were more extreme than your daughter's in that while he could read and spell impossibly well very young, he had speech delays and could not form words until recently (and is still working on it).

He also flaps his hand in very much the same manner when he plays by himself.

Other more drastic signs are the spitting, which didn't start happening until recently. And also recently is that he will take off his pants or touch himself (not masturbate) around others.

Otherwise he is super sweet and loving and very smart in certain areas, especially spelling and memorization.

I bring this up for you to compare. It didn't become blantanly obvious that my cousin had autism until he was a little older and his particular problem areas caught up with his age. The best way to determine your daughter's level of autism (if any, or if something else) is time and proper evaluation.

Once my cousin was in school he could be observed with other children. A teacher may see things freshly from the loving way you know your own child and let you know if a trip to a doctor or other specialist will be in order.

Reading your post it is hard to tell if your daughter is autistic. She is still young, but keep an eye out.

And don't be afraid. When we found out my cousin was autistic, I remember looking at him smiling at me and thinking "this doesn't change him one bit. He is still who he is and we all love him more than ever." It might be a tiny bit harder and require a bit more patience and understanding, but nothing else will change.

Good luck!
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Avatar_dr_f_tn
Hi there.  Autistic individuals display many forms of repetitive or restrictive behavior like stereotype which is a repetitive movement such as hand flapping making sounds or body rocking. The hands flaps and pelvis rocking could be part of this spectrum. Of course, children in this age group do experience and like to experiment with their private parts. Pelvis rocking would be giving her pleasurable sensation, which could be secondary to the compulsion. Please show her to a child specialist at the earliest for investigation and appropriate management. Also join social groups if autism is confirmed for better moral support. Take care.

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