Son won't stop flapping his arms and mummy's paranoid there's something wrong.

(15 Posts)
MrsHelenBee Thu 12-Jun-14 10:29:27

Hi everyone,

Really hoping someone on here has a child who does or has done the same thing as my DS1 - almost incessant flapping of the arms (and for the last 8 months, turning his head from left to right at the same time, for ages at a time). He's like a bird trying to take off, and literally does it all the time unles he has his hands full!

He turns 3 at the end of July, and is a very bright, very loving and happy little boy. But the flapping thing really bothers me. People stare at him, his grandparents now seem embarrassed by it and snap at him to stop, and I don't know any other children who do it.

Has anyone else been through this so I don't feel quite so alone?!!!!
He was a very late walker due to severe hypermobility and benign hypotonia, so was being seen regularly by a hospital paediatrician for a number of months. I raised the flapping with him and he said he felt it was just a case of being a happy little boy, who enjoyed the sensation. Maybe I'm paranoid but I'm not convinced by this - I know so many other happy children who don't and never have done it. And the head turning with it is just bizarre. I thought, and hoped, he'd grow out of it, but if anything, he does it more now. He starts school in autumn next year and it's been such a long haul getting him walking, and hoping he'll catch up, but now I'm less worried about the physical progress and more concerned about the flapping and head shaking/turning.

PLEASE can someone shed some light on this?!!!!

Branleuse Thu 12-Jun-14 10:36:51

it can be a sign of an autistic spectrum disorder, but this can be pretty mild, so dont be scared of the term. I would certainly flag it up with the health visitor though.

My two boys have asd, and are lovely gorgeous and happy, but both do weird hand flappy things. I think its cute

Branleuse Thu 12-Jun-14 10:37:25

it can be a sign of an autistic spectrum disorder, but this can be pretty mild, so dont be scared of the term. I would certainly flag it up with the health visitor though.

My two boys have asd, and are lovely gorgeous and happy, but both do weird hand flappy things. I think its cute

Sillylass79 Thu 12-Jun-14 10:54:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BarbarianMum Thu 12-Jun-14 16:14:41

I have a ds who flapped (and I mean FLAPPED) whilst opening and shutting his mouth when excited right up until age 4. He does not have ASD. Since 4 the flapping has gradually decreased in response to social pressure, although it is clear the desire to hasn't gone (age 6 he now makes his arms rigid and open and shuts his hands instead because it is less noticable).

If you are worried about ASD - then google the 'triad of impairments'. Although flapping is associated with ASD it is not a diagnostic characteristic ie if he doesn't have social interaction, social communication and social understanding delays in some form then he doesn't have ASD no matter how much he flaps.

AnnaD2 Sun 15-Jun-14 21:15:59

My 3 year old flaps too and has done since he was a baby. He tends to jump on the spot with his mouth open. He doesn't have asd (I'm a speech and language therapist and used to work with many autistic kids and my son has no other issues like them). I find it a bit embarrassing sometimes tbh - people do comment. But I don't worry to much as I know it is just a quirk and not part of a bigger issue. I just laugh it off and say something like, 'oh we all have our funny ways...' Barbarianmum gives great advice above.
I can remember flapping as a child too and did learn to reduce it as I got older -my social skills are pretty good now! hope that's reassuring!

DeWee Mon 16-Jun-14 09:15:02

I worried about ds doing that and was told it was developmentally normal to do it up to the age of about 4yo. He stopped just before he was 4yo, although he had a short spate of doing it again after his "helpful" big sister said to him "you used to do this," <flapping arms> "do you still want to do it?"

PolterGoose Mon 16-Jun-14 09:29:30

Hypermobility often brings problems with our proprioceptive sense (the one that tells us where all the bits of our body are without needing to look). It's possible that the flapping is his way of giving his brain feedback so he can feel his arms. The book 'The Out of Sync Child' is good. Also look at ways of strengthening his muscles as this helps a lot.

Flapping is really common in kids with autism because kids with autism often have sensory processing problems and/or hypermobility/hypotonia but these things can all occur where there's no autism and it doesn't sound like the OP has any concerns about autism.

Floraclare Mon 16-Jun-14 16:27:55

Flapping is common in ASD, but all those that flap do not have ASD.

I have an adopted son of a similar age who is a big arm flapper - it's mostly when he is excited or when he thinks his dinner is especially delicious. I've no concerns regarding ASD as his speech is good and he interacts well with both adults and children and his nursery have no other concerns - he has also had a fairly thorough developmental assessment

I think he has a complex motor stereotypy, which you can google for more information and see if this applies to your little boy - they are usually harmless and children will often learn to consciously control them as they get older. Definitely see your GP though as it might be wise to get a paediatric referral to rule out anything else

BarbarianMum Mon 16-Jun-14 18:20:44

Sorry OP to be clear - I mentioned ASD because it is often mentioned in conjunction with flapping (on Google for example) not because I thought you should be worrying about it like I did

Flapping is also common with dyspraxia, especially when running. Are you under an OT already?

BarbarianMum Mon 16-Jun-14 18:29:09

Wow! Have just googled complex motor stereotypy. That's it! That's ds2! So good to have a name for it.

EmperorTomatoKetchup Mon 16-Jun-14 21:41:39

There's a very supportive Facebook group for Complex motor stereotypy, definitely worth joining if you're on FB. It's a closed group too so only members can see anything you post

https://www.facebook.com/groups/motorstereotypy/

BarbarianMum Mon 16-Jun-14 21:49:20

Thanks. Will look at it.

thegreylady Tue 17-Jun-14 17:29:57

My dgd used to do this a lot when she was little. In school the teacher tried to make her stop and she started to wring her hands together all the time. She was good at imitating too, at 3 she would copy Andrea Boccelli and her singing sounded like Italian (it wasn't of course). She gradually outgrew the physical things but continued to have obsessions with things which appeared either too young or too old for her for ages. She would read Shakespeare and insist on watching and rewatching something called Backyardigans.
She is now 13 and doing brilliantly at school and has a small but close circle of friends.

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