Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Does Hand Flapping Mean Autism

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What Causes Flapping Of Hands

My Child flaps his arms Does that mean he has Autism?

Flapping hands is normal behavior exhibited by toddlers under the age of 3. Usually, toddlers will flap their hands when theyre stimulated by something and are either happy, excited, angry or anxious. In the case of autistic children, it is one of the self-stimulating or stimming behaviors that help them regulate their emotions.

How To Deal With Stimming

Just like autism, stimming too wont completely go away. However, it can be minimised, and its severity can be lowered. There are many forms of stimming, come may create a lot of problems while some types are not very disruptive and allow the child to stim quietly without any disrupting. One way of effectively dealing with stimming is to convert a more problematic stim to a more subtle, discreet stim. Some stims like hand flapping or constantly making screeching sounds looks very odd to other kids and can cause a lot of problem for you. This stimming can be converted to visual stimming where the child can calm themselves by doing something that is less harmful to themselves and less disruptive to others.

Stimming does not always create a big problem and proves to be a source of relaxation for the child. In general, unless the behaviour is dangerous, there is no reason to forbid it but there are several reasons to manage it.

Autism is a special condition, and there are special considerations needed to be made to deal with it. Stimming is a symptom of autism, and it cant go away. What can be done is to make things better for the special children and people is to spread awareness about autism, so more and more people are tolerant towards autistic and people and treat them the right way.

Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg. He interviews people within psychology, mental health, and well-being on his YouTube channel, The DRH Show.


Hand Flapping: Should I Be Worried Does It Only Happen With Autism

As a parent, you have an Eagle eye for any new behavior that your child starts doing. If that behavior is hand flapping, youve come to the right place.

Hand flapping is a form of stimming that kids do to calm down, self-soothe, or regulate their bodies. Its common when kids are excited, nervous, anxious, or having any other type of high emotion state. It can also become a habit.

Hand flapping or, arm flapping, has become one of the more popularly recognized signs of autism. As with any concept that becomes well known, we have to deal with both the positives and negatives of it.

We also have to deal with the confusion.

In one sense, its great that the potential signs of autism are becoming more widely known.

Three cheers for autism awareness!

In another sense, assuming that hand flapping=autism is too simplistic and ignores the nuances behind the behavior. In all the confusion, the #1 question becomes when should I worry?

So, youre a parent of a child and you see them starting to flap their hands. Given everything youve heard about hand flapping from the media and greater society, you start to panic.

What does this mean?

Lets dig in to what hand flapping is and whether your should be worried.

As we move forward, please keep in mind that this is general information and is not specific to your own kiddo. If you have any concerns or questions about your childs unique situation, please reach out to their pediatrician or occupational therapist.

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When Do Autistic People Stim

For most people, stimming occurs only now and then. People with autism, however, often find it difficult to stop stimming, and may do it during most of their waking hours.

People with autism may stim because they are excited, happy, anxious, overwhelmed, or because it feels comforting. Under stressful circumstances, they may stim for long periods of time.

Most of us are aware of and can control our stims . If we feel the need to stim in a stressful situation, we are usually careful to be subtle about it. For example, we might tap our toes under the table rather than rock back and forth.

People with autism, however, may not be aware of and responsive to others’ reactions to their stims. There seem to be circumstances in which some people with autism are not able to control their stims, or find it extremely stressful and difficult to do so.

Does Hand Flapping Ever Not Mean Autism

When should you worry about hand flapping?

Do NT children flap their hands in excitement?

Depends a lot on the age, I think. Handflapping at 1yo is quite common among NT kids, quite uncommon by 6yo.

DD used to do it a lot. When she was about 2, we spent an afternoon watching some old cine films, in which I was featured at a young age doint exactly the same!

My 2.5 yo DD does it with excitement – as in she puts her arms out straight and kind of makes star signs with them, while out the same time often putting her legs our straight. IT never occured to me that this was a potential indicator for anything. Like purpleturtle apparently I also did it as a child.

I still do it! Have learnt to control it but they do slip out sometimes. My dh thinks it is hilarious and I have noticed my dd doing it sometimes. My dad does it too. My family nickname was butterfly.

Flapping can also be related to sensory processing disorder, which can be linked to autism but isn’t always.

Is the star-sign thing what people mean by flapping, though? Mine used to do the star signs when they were babies and they knew food was coming.

My DD is 9 and will hand-flap and bounce around when she’s excited. She’s done it for years and is about as NT a child as I’ve ever seen.

Read Also: Dyslexia Comorbidity

What Does Autistic Stimming Look Like

About stimming and autism Stimming might include: hand and finger mannerisms for example, finger-flicking and hand-flapping. unusual body movements for example, rocking back and forth while sitting or standing. posturing for example, holding hands or fingers out at an angle or arching the back while sitting.

Impact Of Stimming On Your Health

Many parents ask how they can help their children to stop stimming behaviors in an effort to help them blend in with their peers. But stimming is very normal, if not widely accepted socially. Instead of asking how to stop the behavior, try asking why your child is engaging in stimming.

Common reasons for people to stim include:

Overstimulation. Stimming helps block out too much sensory input from overstimulation. An example of stemming action is making a âbrrrâ sound with your lips in a place that is too loud.

Understimulation. If a place doesnât have enough sensory input â things to hear or look at â or if you are bored, stimming provides additional sensory input. An example of this type of stimming is clucking in a room that is too quiet.â

Pain reduction. If you fall or bump your arm, your reaction might be to hurt yourself in some other way to take away from that pain. Many children bang their head or body to reduce other sensations of pain. Even though it seems counterproductive, medical professionals believe that this type of stimming may release beta-endorphins that decrease the sensation of pain or provide a sensation of pleasure.

âManagement of emotions. If you suddenly feel happy or sad, it may trigger you to stim. You may flap your hands when youâre happy or begin to bite your nails when youâre upset.

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When Should You Worry About Hand Flapping

Hand flapping usually occurs in preschoolers or toddlers and looks like the child is rapidly waving his or her hands at the wrist while holding the arms bent at the elbow. Think of a baby bird trying to take off for the first time.

Hand flapping is usually seen when the child is in a heightened emotional state, such as excited or anxious, and sometimes even upset. Parents are often concerned when they see hand flapping because it can be one of the signs seen in children with autism.

Some children with autism hand flap as a self-stimulatory behavior. Other self-stimulatory behaviors sometimes seen in children with autism include rocking and spinning. These behaviors help them calm themselves or regulate their emotional states. Children may also do it when excited or upset, and it can be very hard to distract an autistic child away from their self-stimulatory behavior.

Hand flapping in developmentally typical children

In developmentally typical children, hand flapping looks quite the same and it also occurs when the child is in a heightened emotional state, but it’s for a different purpose. It does not necessarily serve to calm them or to regulate their behavior, and they can be easily distracted away from it.

When to worry

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Why You May Be Concerned

Hand Flapping and Autism Explained

Despite the fact that flapping isn’t a sure sign of autism spectrum issues, it does indicate that the child may be dealing with sensory problems. This can be alarming to many parents for the following reasons:

  • There’s a social stigma associated with flapping. You may be concerned about what others will think when they see your child behaving this way.
  • Flapping can be distracting. For the child, this may be the whole point in doing the behavior, but for you, it can be somewhat frustrating.
  • The flapping may be a constant reminder of your concerns about your child’s development. Many parents associate this type of visual stimulation with their own anxiety.

Recommended Reading: Adhd Dyslexia Comorbidity

Why Do Children With Autism Flap Or Use Other Stims

Children may engage in stimming to help with sensory processing, to either increase stimuli, or to help decrease stimuli. For example, if a child feels overwhelmed with the stimuli in their environment such as too much noise, they may stim to help calm their system.

Stims also often occur at the same time a child may feel a strong emotion such as excitement, or anxiety. For example, if a child is excited by bubbles being blown or singing their favourite song, they may stim. Similarly, if they are upset as they cannot find their favourite toy or the routine has changed, they may stim.

Why Is Stimming So Important

An autistic person is able to self-regulate through stimming and navigate their sensory environment. This helps them cope with challenges in their sensory processing in their day-to-day lives. It is a means of easing physical pain and internal anxiety as well as expressing ones emotions, from frustration to joy.

If an autistic individual doesnt get an opportunity to stim and meet their sensory needs, then they may withdraw and shut down or experience a meltdown. Do not try to stop a person stimming. This will only make them feel anxious and create negative associations in their minds with a particular person and or place.

Also Check: Life Expectancy For Someone With Asperger’s Syndrome

How Stimming Affects Autistic Children And Teenagers

Stimming isnt necessarily a bad thing, as long as it doesnt hurt your child. But some stimming can be self-injurious for example, severe hand-biting.

Stimming can also affect your childs attention to the outside world, which in turn can affect your childs ability to learn and communicate with others.

For example, if a child flicks their fingers near their eyes, they might not be playing with toys so much and not developing play skills. When the child is older, if theyre absorbed in watching their hands in front of their eyes in the classroom, theyre not engaged with schoolwork. Or if the child is pacing around the fence in the playground, theyre missing valuable social opportunities.

Hand Flapping: When To Worry

About Toddler Arm Flapping

Posted by Kamakshi Anand | Early Childhood Care

Hand flapping is something fairly common with toddlers or preschoolers. Children usually demonstrate hand flapping when in an emotionally heightened state. But the main reason parents get concerned when they see their kid flapping their hands is because it is a sign of autism. Our guide to hand flapping in kids should help you better understand this behavior.

Also Check: Can A Child Outgrow Autism

How Does Stimming Differ In People With Autism

Almost everyone engages in some form of self-stimulating behavior. You might bite your nails or twirl your hair around your fingers when youre bored, nervous, or need to relieve tension.

Stimming can become such a habit that youre not even aware youre doing it. For most people, its a harmless behavior. You recognize when and where its inappropriate.

For example, if youve been drumming your fingers on your desk for 20 minutes, you take social cues that youre irritating others and choose to stop.

In people with autism, stimming might be more obvious. For example, it may present as full-body rocking back and forth, twirling, or flapping the hands. It can also go on for long periods. Often, the individual has less social awareness that the behavior might be disruptive to others.

Stimming associated with autism isnt always cause for concern.

It only becomes an issue if it interferes with learning, results in social exclusion, or is destructive. In some rare cases, it can be dangerous.

When To Worry About Hand Flapping

Some people, especially high functioning adult autistics who are completely conversational, do not believe that we should consider stimming to be a problem behavior. Or that we should try to reduce it. But children with autism may have problem behaviors when asked to do self-care skills or homework rather than stim. It just makes sense to teach a child needed language and learning skills and to reduce their stim behavior as much as possible.

So to reduce any kind of stimming, including hand flapping, we need to assess, we need to take some data and we need to plan what kind of learning activities were going to do to reduce the self stim behavior.

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What Is Hand Flapping In Children

Hand flapping looks like the child is waving their hands in a rapid motion. The childs entire arm moves while staying bent at the elbow, with the wrists flicking back and forth due to the motion. You can relate more if youve seen a baby bird trying to fly for the first time. Toddlers will take to hand flapping when theyre anxious, excited, and even upset.

Children suffering from autism flap their hands as self-stimulatory behavior also called stims. Other such behaviors occasionally seen in kids with autism comprise spinning and rocking. These behaviors tend to help autistic children calm themselves or regulate their emotional states. It can be extremely hard to divert an autistic kid away from their self-stimulatory behavior.

Knowing when hand flapping is normal and when it is a sign of autism is an important part of a parents job.

How Can You Help Individuals With Autism To Reduce Or Stop Hand Flapping

WARNING! Autism Hand Flapping | Why Do Autistic People Do It?

No one should try to stop hand flapping because it is part of who we are. Would you like it if everyone were trying to make you stop smiling? Or tucking your hair behind your ear? Or putting your sunglasses on top of your head? Or crossing your legs when you sat? That is what people are doing to us when they try to make us stop flapping our hands: they are trying to force us to stop moving in ways that are natural, healthy, and comfortable to us. Said individual with an autism spectrum disorder.

Autism spectrum disorder and hand flapping, which is one form of stimming, go hand in hand most of the time, but if the behavior is detrimental to learning or if it interferes with the persons daily life, there are some steps can be taken in order to reduce the behavior. Even in this situation which is changing the behavior, caregivers should keep in mind that hand flapping is definitely a normal behavior for a child with autism.

Hand flapping by itself of course, not bad behavior. On the other hand, it can cause some other behaviors which are harder than the behavior itself to cope with. It could be self-harming. It could be something interfere with education. It could be something to prevent making friends.

It usually does not harm the child with autism but it is normal to worry about how it affects the childs learning and socializing, in short, their lives. Skill development, environment changes, and behavior changes can help to reduce or stop.

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Repetitive Behaviors Ease With Age In Most Autistic Children

Hannah FurfaroMoving around:

Restricted and repetitive behaviors decrease significantly in about 75 percent of autistic children from age 3 to 11, according to a study that tracked more than 400 children. The study is the longest yet to analyze this core autism trait.

Researchers presented the unpublished results today at the 2019 International Society for Autism Research annual meeting in Montreal.

Restricted and repetitive behaviors, such as finger-flicking and hand-flapping, are distinctive characteristics of autism. They help some children cope with stress. They also can impede childrens ability to learn and socialize, however, and may manifest as self-injurious behavior. Severe repetitive behaviors may even be linked to delays in developing daily living skills. So experts debate about whether and when to intervene.

The new work suggests that these behaviors often peter out as autistic children get older.

tend to decrease. So it may not be super useful and helpful to try to stop them, says Valérie Courchesne, a postdoctoral researcher in Mayada Elsabbaghs lab at McGill University in Montreal.

Courchesne and her colleagues recruited 421 autistic children enrolled in the Pathways in ASD study, a long-term study of autistic children in Canada. When the children were 3.5, 4, 4.5, 6.5, 9 and 11 years old, their parents filled out the Repetitive Behavior Scale-Revised, answering questions about 43 restricted and repetitive behaviors.

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