hand flapping — The Bump
Special Needs

hand flapping

I've been majorly worried my son has autism and I will admit - I am a major hypochondriac. 

I even spoke to the doctor about it, who assured me my son seems like a perfectly normal one year old, but I just am still paranoid. 

The thing is he sometimes will wave both arms around when he's mad.  It's always accompanied by whining.  Sometimes though since now he's becoming a toddler and into "fake" tantrums, he'll do it and I'll tell him he's being dramatic and he'll smile and stop. 

I just don't know if that is actual hand flapping or not. 

My doctor did even see him wave his hands, but I just still want another opinion. 

He also plays with his hair a lot when he's tired and I just worry these things are self stimulating behaviors.

I don't see any other worry or red flag - he didn't clap until a few days after his year birthday and still doesn't really clap at the right time.  He doesn't wave yet, but is starting to point in books when we read. 

Good things he does - he makes excellent eye contact and my doctor said this is often a big indication at an early age.  He loves games like hide and go seek, he babbles a lot and mimics certain words or phrases. 

Just want to know if I should be concerned by this "flapping" or if it really is a normal toddler thing.  I did look at some you tube videos and I guess it wasn't quite the same, but I really, really don't know anymore!


Re: hand flapping

  • My son has some sensory issues and sometimes has odd hand movements. He also has speech and gross motor delays, but does not fall onto the Autism Spectrum. If he sees a bird, he flaps his arms/hands.

    IMO, try not to borrow trouble. It doesn't hurt to be informed, but there are often behaviors that are just typical for a toddler and that's it. They have tantrums. They do weird things. And they develop at their own pace. Yes, there are times for concern and to be proactive, but "Dr Google" doesn't always help you.

    And a better word to use, I've learned on this board, is typical (instead of normal). I'm not saying that to jump on you, just to let you know.

    If things change or behaviors intensify, then follow-up. But try not to worry too much, OK?


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  • Get your son evaluated by Early Invention if you're really concerned. There is no amount of speculation that will do you or your son any good. 
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  • imagemjsweetgirl:
    Get your son evaluated by Early Invention if you're really concerned. There is no amount of speculation that will do you or your son any good. 
    This. This is a poop or get off the pot situation. IME the pediatrician is jot a great diagnostician. I asked our dr at least six times if I should take ds to regional center for early intervention to be tested and she repeatedly told me everything I was pointing out was normal and fnally I took him and he is dx with PDD NOS. What you are describing sounds like typical toddler behavior but if you are worried then you might as well get on the wait list. No one on the Internet is going to be able to dx for you and IME your mommy gut is a good thing to follow.
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  • Thanks everyone.

    The thing is, everyone (including a friend who works with Autistic kids on a daily basis and has her masters degree specializing in this area) thinks I am crazy.  I would feel sort of silly going to EI because my son waves his hands around when he's mad and likes to play with his hair when he's tired. 

    Sometimes my hypochondria gets really bad and it's so hard for me to decipher between reality and a true genuine concern. 

  • Many of the things that are "red flags" for autism are typical toddler behaviors -- what is different is intensity, duration, and frequency of the behaviors.  My son has some hand flapping -- and it happens at random moments during the day (such as when he is watching TV and bored, or when he gets excited).  And it is really a flapping behavior, with motion from the wrists, rather than waving of hands.  If I try to stop him, he would not just stop on command, and may in fact get upset by efforts to make him stop.  And playing with hair when tired doesn't get me worried at all (again, time, intensity, duration).

    Honestly, unless you can point me to other things (problems with transitioning between activities, no babbling, no responding to name consistently, focus on parts of objects rather than playing with the object as a whole, no pointing), I'd say you have a typical toddler on your hands.

    Zachary, 8.31.2007 * * * Adam, 3.24.2010<BR>

  • Well, he isn't pointing at all. 
  • for the love, just get in contact with Early Intervention in your area (google is your friend) and get him evaluated.
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