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flapping - should I try to stop him?

(8 Posts)
mimsum Thu 28-Aug-08 19:39:33

ds2 (v mild Asperger's) has always flapped when excited about something - over the last few years it's changed from classic, plane taking off flapping to him wringing his hands together as if washing them over and over, combined with "pchow, pchow" type noises, stepping and a very, very strange expression on his face

when I've asked him what he's thinking about it's usually star wars or lego or something like that, but he's also set off by visual stimuli like fountains, leaves rustling in trees etc

he's nearly 9 now and shows no signs of stopping or even lessening and it's starting to look really odd - he's coping well in mainstream school and most of his classmates have known him since nursery so to them it's just what ds2 does - however I'm starting to worry about secondary school - we had to go to ds1's school yesterday for an errand and he started flapping while we were waiting for ds1 and I was very aware that he was being stared at by some of the other boys - I don't want him being teased for this when he goes out into a larger community (either school or when he starts going out and about by himself) - he's also exceptionally tall and looks much older than his real age which makes him stand out even more - he also has an odd, gangly way of walking/running and often speaks in a baby voice when stressed

should I just leave him to be himself and tell him not to worry about other people's reactions or should I try to encourage him to fit in more?

amber32002 Thu 28-Aug-08 20:49:23

It's difficult, because we don't know we're doing it. Seriously, not a clue. The wiring between the bits of the brain that do the social awareness and the bits that do the movement is awful, and even now as an adult I am aware that when I'm surprised or excited, I rock and clasp my hands. I stop it as fast as I can, but there's no way I can prevent it. I just have to hope that people see it as a mild eccentricity.

Putting him under pressure to stop might increase the problem rather than make it go away, as he probably can't do anything about it, but will feel pressured to try, which means there's even more pressure, so he'll flap more. It's easier for others to have autism awareness training in schools etc so they can work out what's causing the flapping and help to minimise the stress/excitement at any time when he needs to be calmer.

What helped me is to learn a way of calming myself down that others can't see - either counting in my head, imagining a difficult piece of music in my head, or tapping my toes gently or pretending to play the piano but very subtly so people can't really see my fingers moving. By doing it deliberately, it lessens the possibility of finding I'm doing anything else unexpectedly. He'll need to discover something that works for him.

allytjd Fri 29-Aug-08 09:54:58

Ds2(7)does the pchow pchow noise too! He doesn't flap but rotates a toy (usually a piece of star wars lego!) in front of his face and stares at it intently, often going cross eyed too. He tends to do this when he is at a loose end, he is not very good at sitting doing nothing. If I give him something to do he is happy to stop and I do gently tell him if he is being too loud and disturbing others with the noises. He doesn't do it at school, instead running up and down the playground, following the fence line or edge of tarmac. I worry about high school too, I think I will try and teach him to do what amber does. Isn't it funny how boys who obbsessively kick footballs up against walls for hours are seen as normal and our boys are seen as weird. At the moment DS2 does not care about what other people think but his big brother is embarrassed by his anticssad. No useful advice really just "I know what it's like".

misscutandstick Fri 29-Aug-08 12:08:26

DS1 (now almost 16yrs) is just 'growing out' of doing exactly the same - complete with full sound effects, hes done it since he was about 4yrs. Well, i say 'growing out of' - actually its more like changing to a more subtle form (clenching fists and rigid arms, but its certainly less visible) AND



something i thought would never happen... hes almost growing a sense of 'embarrassment', feeling silly...WOW and OMG!!! it is only in the last couple of months tho.

When hes wound up/excited/terminally bored he still 'jet packs' a bit, but a quick reminder every 3-4 mins keeps it in check ...usually.

misscutandstick Fri 29-Aug-08 12:09:04

forgot to mention - DS1 has ADHD. blush

misscutandstick Fri 29-Aug-08 12:10:00

ooops! blush at 'forgot' bit, NOT at the 'ADHD' bit!

mimsum Fri 29-Aug-08 20:05:23

thanks everyone - especially interesting to get amber's viewpoint

as far as ds2's concerned there's nothing wrong - he likes flapping, the other day when I asked him a question while he was doing it he got cross with me because I made him forget what it was he'd been flapping about ...

ds1 is starting to get embarrassed about it and is stressing about what it's going to be like when his strange little brother goes to secondary school - ironic really as ds1 has tourette's syndrome but is on medication which controls most of the big tics and he's got very good at supressing them or turning the movements into something socially acceptable

what bothers me is that up till now it's just been 'cute', one of those endearing eccentricities that some children do, but as he gets older and bigger it's looking much more 'different' and I just worry about how cruel pre-teens and teens can be

amber32002 Fri 29-Aug-08 20:22:25

Yes, they can be really nasty. I remember it well. It's why a school that really wants to help children with any disability has to use a whole-school approach. The best ones use a good behaviour/citizen reward scheme where everyone competes for who can be the most helpful and sensible, and is rewarded accordingly. With a bit of extra training on how to help people on the autistic spectrum, and a sensible band of Supporters to watch out for him, he can avoid much of the nastiness. In other words, so much depends on the school or clubs (or wherever else he is) really helping with all of this and seeing the benefit for the whole school rather than seeing it as a burden to help just one or two children.

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