Monday, June 24, 2024

Why Do Autistic Flap Their Hands

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Identify The Behavior And The Unmet Sensory Need:

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

This part can take some practice so have patience and contact someone who has experience with sensory processing or special education if you need help. The first thing you must do is identify what the behavior is and what sensory need it is meeting. For example, you may identify the behavior as flapping, rocking, biting, etc. Then, write down all of the times that you notice that behavior happen for a while. Make note of what your child was doing before, during, and after the behavior. You may notice that your child always starts doing the behavior when hes been sitting for too long, when hes tired, or when hes excited. Also, make note of what sensory input your child is probably getting from that behavior. For example, if your child is flapping his hands, he is probably getting sensory input in his fingers. If he is rocking, he is probably receiving sensory input about balance and where his body is in space. Take some notes that will help you come up with some ideas of other behaviors you can try to replace it with.

Why Do Autistic Flap Babies

Similarly, spinning and rocking too is accompanied by hand flapping children engage in stimming when they are excited. For instance, when a child is excited about something, they would flap their hands and rock back and forth. Here, it is vital to notice that stimming is mostly, but is not always, a symptom of autism.

Is It Mainly A Boy Thing

Although Austrian paediatrician Hans Asperger thought it only affected boys when he first described the syndrome back in 1944, research since has found that there are likely to be a similar number of females on the spectrum.

The National Autistic Society says that because of the male gender bias, girls are less likely to be identified with autism spectrum disorders, even when their symptoms are equally severe. Many girls are never referred for diagnosis and are missed from the statistics altogether.

Aspergers affects females in a slightly different way. Girls will have special interests but instead of building up an incredible wealth of knowledge on subjects like trains or dinosaurs like boys with Aspergers might they tend to like the same things as neurotypical girls their age, albeit in a more focused way.

For example, a young girl with Aspergers might make it her business to collect all of the outfits that Barbie has ever worn.

Women and girls can find it easier to mask their difficulties, making the condition harder to recognise. It might only become obvious at around age 11, when the pressure to be the same as friends gets too much.

Some girls with Aspergers will manage to keep their difficulties under wraps at school, but might have meltdowns at home, where they feel safe to relax and release the feelings that they have been squashing down all day.

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How Do I Stop Hand Flapping

Talk with your childs occupational therapist or pediatrician before ever trying to shape their behavior. This article is solely informational and should never be applied to your child without professional consult.

As we mentioned above, a study found that 98% of stimming could be stopped when cued. This means that asking a child to stop is extremely effective. That said, this neglects the reason why they were stimming in the first place. If a child is anxious, overly excited, or agitated in some way, asking them to stop stimming may make the situation worse. If you want a child to decrease their hand flapping and other stimming behaviors, figure out why their doing it in the first place and how you can address the root of the issue.

Another interesting solution is physical exercise. A study found that kids and increased their interest in tasks after a period of exercise.

Again, if your kiddo is causing any harm to themselves because of their stimming, seek medical advice immediately. In general, its best to check in with your childs care team to make sure that you understand their specific stimming behaviors and what you may need to do to address them.

Autism Hobbies & Interests

About Toddler Arm Flapping

Programming was my lifeOne characteristic of autism is having special interests and some of the activities people described enjoying could be interpreted as special interests. Interests could be categorised into a love of nature, arts and technology.

Most people enjoyed and were fascinated by or even obsessed with computers. Daniel said, I have to say, probably most sort of leisure time is spent sort of fannying around on the computer while Richard, an obsessive games player played games for as long as he could.

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Does Hand Flapping Mean That The Toddler Has Autism

Toddlers with autism do this so that they can stay calm and also for regulation of their emotional state. The critical thing for a parent to note is that arm flapping can be typical when the child is upset or excited. However, in autistic children, this behavior is repeated over and over again since it is a form of self-stimulatory expression.

It is usual for kids to flap their hands. This is often the case when they are excited, and when the excitement overflows, they usually flap their hands. Sometimes also, when they get hurt, and they are under a lot of pain, for instance, they have stubbed their toe, they can overflowingly flap their hands to get your attention and let you know that they are under a lot of discomforts.

However, all that you need to know is that toddlers do not flap their hands solely for the sake of it. They are either excited, under pain, or autistic. When you see the toddler flapping, their hands take time to know what is causing this behavior since extensive hand-flapping is not something that toddlers do for no reason.

All in all, hand-flapping does not necessarily mean that your child is autistic. Autism spectrum disorder is accompanied by other telling signs such as problems in language development, poor social skills, and other notable symptoms such as speech-related problems. When you see these signs, kindly engage a pediatrician for a full diagnosis so that you can know how to care for your child properly.

How To Stop Flapping And Other Self

Self-stimulatory behaviors are things your child does to get extra sensory input when he needs it, such as hand flapping, rocking, biting himself, head-banging, or scratching himself. This article will tell you why it happens and how to help your child stop flapping and engaging in those other self-stimulatory behaviors.

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Why Do Children With Autism Flap Or Use Other Stims

Why Autistics Have to Talk with their Hands and Flap their Arms | Autism Awareness and Acceptance

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.

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Try Replacement Behaviors That Meet The Same Need:

What you will want to do now is try some other behaviors that will replace the self-stimulatory behavior but that are safer or less distracting. Keep in mind that your childs new behavior may not look entirely normal either, but we are going for more safe or less distracting. Once your child gets used to the new behavior, you can always try to teach him a more normal-looking behavior later. You will want to several different replacement behaviors to find what works best for your child. Keep trying them until one seems to stick or resonate with your child. Use this chart to determine which replacement behaviors might be appropriate to try with your child based on the information you collected during the last step.

Possible Replacement Behaviors

Child Has Been Sitting Too Long

  • Have child request a movement break
  • Offer alternative seating for the child, such as a chair vs. floor, sitting on a pillow, sitting on a small exercise ball, etc.
  • Offer child a fidget toy to play with while sitting

Child is Tired

  • Offer child a short nap

Child is Excited

  • Replace with squeezing hands together

Child is Angry/Upset

  • Replace with squeezing/biting/hitting a pillow
  • Have child request break/go for a walk

Child is Flapping/Sensory Input in Fingers

  • Replace with squeezing hands or pushing hands together
  • Offer child a stress ball or squeezable toy to play with
  • Replace with child sitting on hands

Child is Rocking/Sensory Input for Balance and Body

Child is Biting Himself/Sensory Input to Mouth

Lack Of Joint Attention Skills

Joint attention skills are the skills we use when we attend to something with another person. People use joint attention skills when they share a game together, look at a puzzle together, or otherwise think and work in a pair or group.

People with autism often have impaired joint attention skills. While these skills can be taught, they may never develop on their own.

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When Does Stimming Become A Problem

Stimming is usually harmless. It can become a problem in some situations, though, including:

  • When it is constant. Constant stimming may prevent a person with autism from interacting with others. People who stim all the time may not be able to take part in ordinary activities. They may be excluded from workplaces and public spaces. Kids may be excluded from typical classrooms.
  • When it is distracting to others. In some cases, stimming may be upsetting. In a classroom, a child who paces or slaps himself is a distraction for neurotypical students. The behaviors can even be frightening.
  • When it gets negative attention. Simming behaviors may cause people with autism to be stigmatized and socially excluded.
  • When it causes injury to the person with autism or to someone else.

Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin

Signs Of Autism Involving Hands

When should you worry about hand flapping?

Parents and teachers typically suspect a child has autism when communication skills including speech, following directions and ability to interpret nonverbal cues are delayed. However, children with autism also may exhibit physical symptoms, including decreased hand strength and muscle tone, repetitive hand movements such as flapping and poor eye-hand coordination. In addition, children with autism may demonstrate an aversion to touching objects and being touched, which affects hand development.

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Does Hand Flapping Ever Not Mean Autism

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 â 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 isnât 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 sheâs excited. Sheâs done it for years and is about as NT a child as Iâve ever seen.

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Why Do Autistic Flap Eyes

Some children and elders with autism can learn through coaching and practice to either change their stims, such as squeeze a ball or fidget with a toy rather than hand flapping, or engage in excessive stimming only in the privacy of their homes. Autism is a special condition, and there are special considerations needed to be made to deal with it.

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How Therapy Can Help Manage Stimming Behaviors

Therapy can help families and individuals manage stimming behaviors, especially when those stimming behaviors seem dangerous or interfere with daily life.

Family therapy can help families to:

  • Address and manage overwhelming sensory environments.
  • Develop strategies for managing the emotions and sensations that trigger stimming.
  • Address conflicts between caregivers about how best to manage stimming.
  • Determine whether a person is stimming because of an underlying neurological or mental health issue.
  • Help caregivers differentiate age-typical stimming from stimming that may signal a problem.

Individual therapy can help children and adults who engage in stimming find healthy outlets for their emotions. A therapist may:

  • Help a person manage harmful stimming behavior such as head-banging.
  • Offer different strategies, such as meditation, for managing anxiety.
  • Help a person talk to loved ones about stress and frustration.
  • Offer alternative stimming options that may be less disruptive or harmful.
  • Help an autistic person better control their sensory environment by identifying and addressing triggers for stimming.
  • Support a person in advocating for their needs, including disability accommodations, at work or school.

A compassionate therapist can help with stimming and the emotions that trigger it. Find a counselor today!


  • Living with children: Head-banging . . United Cerebral Palsy. Retrieved from
  • Excitement And Hand Flapping

    Hand flapping: when to worry?

    Have you ever seen someone get so excited that they cant help but throw their arms up and scream? Maybe youve been that person!

    Now, Im not just talking about planned excitement, like hugging someone or doing the wave or something. Im talking about excitement that feels uncontrollable. One second, youre sitting quietly and the next moment someone throws a puppy in your lap or your long lost best friend walks through the door and you get overwhelmed with excitement. Without even realizing it, youre waving your hands, jumping around, and throwing an exuberant fit.

    Aside from how fun these reactions are, our bodies actually need this tom foolery in order to stay regulated. To best explain, lets use the best teacher of allPixar.

    In Monsters Inc, screams are collected as energy. The more screams each monster can collect, the more full their canister gets. In the prequel, Monsters University, one of the canisters becomes so full that it explodes. That scream energy has to go somewhere, right?

    When we get excited, our sensory systems get overwhelmed. What do we do with all of this extra input and excitement? they ask.

    Basically, the scream canisters of our sensory systems are bubbling over and the excitement needs to be let out however in whatever way possible.

    Hand flapping and arm flapping is a way to let the excitement out.

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    What Is It About Autism And Trains

    What is it about autism and trains? We know its not just our son because we keep meeting other children and adults on the spectrum who are so fascinated by them.

    Todays Got Questions? answer is by developmental pediatrician Amanda Bennett. Dr. Bennett directs the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Networkcenter at the Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia.

    Trains certainly seem to be a popular topic for the children we see in our autism clinic. I see several probable reasons for the wide appeal among individuals on the autism spectrum regardless of their ages.

    First, trains have wheels, and this will appeal to those whose sensory interests include watching objects spin. This is certainly common among children with autism. In fact, spending an extraordinary amount of time spinning and rotating toys is among the signs that a toddler may be at increased risk of going on to develop autism spectrum disorder .

    Second, trains can be categorized into different models, types, sizes, etc. For some individuals with ASD, the ability to organize objects into categories is very appealing. Ive had several patients who could share more details than I knew existed about different types of trains!

    In addition, a passionate interest such as trains can offer an enjoyable opportunity to engage with your child whether it involves talking about a favorite Thomas the Tank Engine video or a recent family trip to a local train depot.

    Besides, trains really are pretty cool, dont you think?

    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.

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