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Question about hand flapping and ASD

(14 Posts)
sickofthisrain Wed 13-Aug-08 20:38:59

Didn't want to hijack the aspergers thread but can anyone explain about hand flapping to me please? Am suspicious that DS1 has the milder symptoms of an ASD and have been watching him for some key signs posters mention such as hand flapping.
DS1 can sometimes wave his arms around for a few seconds when he's jumping, running or excited but it's kind of more flailing than deliberate flapping and I don't know if this should be concerning or not. It rarely lasts more than a few seconds and isn't something he does when standing still.
Is the ASD related flapping more of a deliberate and compulsive action (which apparently I did a fair amount of as a child and I'm NT as far as I know!?)
Sorry, sounds a mad question but would love someone to explain please!

Widemouthfrog Wed 13-Aug-08 20:55:06

Certainly my DS, ASD, 'flails' his arms and legs briefly but repetitively when he is running -it is definitely a compulsion and not deliberate as if you ask him why he does it he is completely bemused. My DS also twists his fingers in front of his face.

However if this is the only concern you have for DS1 I would not be thinking ASD - the flapping is part of a much broader picture of repetitive behaviours and routines, combined with social difficulties. Do you have any further concerns about his behaviour/development. How old is he?

I have a 6 yer old nephew who always fidgets and flaps around, but in every other aspect he is a very NT child. I think we all have some AS traits if you start to delve too deeply wink

Seuss Wed 13-Aug-08 21:16:01

My ds has only started flapping lately (he's 8 and ASD) but it is a definite flap rather than a flail and not something he seems to have control over. Having said that, he has had plenty of other repetitive behaviours before but they tended to be vocal ones like humming. I would definitely agree we all have traits!

sphil Wed 13-Aug-08 21:18:17

My older son flapped a lot as a younger child, but now at 7 only occasionally does it when very excited. He has no diagnosis and is probably on the 'grey area' between NT and Aspergers/dyspraxia.

My younger son, 5 with severe ASD, flaps too - but it's a different kind of flapping - more intense, for shorter periods of time. He does it at times of 'sensory overload' - when watching exciting TV for example. It just looks more 'unusual' than when DS1 does it.

On the other hand a completely and utterly NT 5 year old girl I know flaps and jumps an awful lot.

So I think it can be a sign, but as widemouth says, it has to be part of a wider picture.

Seuss Wed 13-Aug-08 21:22:36

I used to 'rock' a lot as a child and yet am NT (although poss nearer the grey area sphil mentioned) I remember my mum saying people would think there was 'something wrong' with me - I guess the sensory overload can happen to us all at times but it's just how you deal with it and how extreme it is.

Widemouthfrog Wed 13-Aug-08 21:22:55

Good point Sphil, there is definitely an intensity to the flapping. My DS sort of looks zoned out as well - a wide eyed glazed look.

expatinscotland Wed 13-Aug-08 21:27:15

my daughter twists her wrists in a spasm sort of way and her legs also stiffen in spasm when she is excited.

she has always done this.

she has a DX of dyspraxia but despite numerous tests she does not exhibit any ASD traits - poor soul, repetition and sequence are real weak points for her.

sickofthisrain Thu 14-Aug-08 14:41:31

thanks all, I have posted on here before under another name, flapping isn't my only concern, but from reading your responses I don't think that's what he's doing anyway - DS1 just turned 3 and has an expressive and receptive language delay, although is making good progress now and has around 350 words (in Jan he had less than 50) His language can be a bit repetitive and stereotyped and there's still lots of jargon but no echolalia.
He has social interaction issues in that he is still at the playing alongside stage, but this may be linked to his language development. He doesn't shun other children but play with them is very immature and restricted to chasing, pushing around a child on a scooter etc. He's just started a bit more 2 way play, and will throw and catch a ball with another child, or push a car to and fro.
Imaginative play is starting to come but very limited, he likes to pretend to be in bed, or use things as a phone, or pretends to go over a bridge. He's just started representational drawing but mainly does fish for some reason!
We are at the horrible grey area of is it an ASD or a language disorder at the moment, which is why I'm looking for symptoms which may indicate one way or another. He does sometimes examine objects from different angles and occasionally hold a toy up to hie ears but these are the only ASD signs I can see. Eye contact was iffy for a while but is now restored after I cut out aspartame from his diet. There are no rituals, routine fixations or other stereotyped behaviours at all as far as I can see, and we're lucky in that he doesn't have behavioural issues or more than the occasional tantrum but something about his development is definitely not right. My gut feel is that he falls on the mildest end of the spectrum, if that makes sense..

BriocheDoree Thu 14-Aug-08 17:47:52

Sickofthisrain, you'll find that there are several of us on this site who are in the "grey area" between language disorder and ASD. Very frustrating, isn't it!!

bullet123 Thu 14-Aug-08 17:57:06

I handflapped as a child (and still do). Am more aware now of when I'm doing it and can make a conscious decision to hold off until I'm somewhere quieter. I also twist my fingers about which is harder to control and I finfd myself doing it midway through doing it. But those stims alone do not place me on the spectrum.

sickofthisrain Thu 14-Aug-08 19:26:42

Briochedoree, yes it is frustrating! i just want to know either way so we can move on, not that a dx would change him but it might help us access more resources for him. It's the wait and see approach which is so unbearable, although i know i should be grateful he isn't more severe, and then it would be a bit more clear-cut I suppose.

amber32002 Thu 14-Aug-08 21:39:39

Never hand-flapped. Did rock back and forth for hours. Now I tap out invisible music, tap my toes very fast, or twirl my hair repetitively. Not everyone flaps, though some professionals seem to think we should hmm

Tclanger Thu 14-Aug-08 23:00:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Tclanger Thu 14-Aug-08 23:01:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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