Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hand Flapping and Asperger's/Autism

One of the classic symptoms of autism is "stimming," a repetitive movement of some sort that stimulates the brain of the person with autism. Some of us without autism do this without thinking of it, but with the autistic person, it's on a grand scale rather than petite. The most common type seems to be hand flapping. Have you ever seen someone get excited and start flapping his or her hands? With the autistic person, this can happen on a regular basis.

For us, Bethany never did a classic hand flap. However, she used to do what we called, "strumming." She'd have her hands bent as if she were going to strum a guitar (with either one or both hands at a time), then "strum" them on her tummy. I'm of the mind that this stimming behavior tends to cause the person to go more "into their own little world," so my choice was to gently stop this behavior. Some professionals would agree that stopping is the best thing to do, while others would say to let them do this. I'm the mom, so I get the choice here!

Recently, Bethany has asked about hand flapping and we've discussed that it is a common trait in people with various degrees of autism. Okay, that sounds like you can get a B.A. or Doctorate in autism! I mean people at various places along the autism spectrum.

I may have mentioned that both my kids have a sense of humor. We like to laugh. A lot. The other day Bethany came down stairs holding something in her hand and shaking her hand rapidly as she stood there. I asked, "Why are you doing that?" Without missing a beat she said, "Because I'm autistic." I about came unglued with laughter, which wasn't a good thing as this was not long after my kidney stone surgery & it HURT to laugh! Then I realized she had a small pen in her hand and was shaking it to get the ink down to the bottom. You've gotta love an Aspie girl with a sense of humor!


Anonymous said...

Love it!

Wendy C said...

It is interesting that you have shared about the "hand flapping". I know two friends of my kids that do that and have wondered about it. One I know has been diagnosed with a few issues, but the other hasn't (that I know of in talking with the mom). Thanks for sharing! Your girls are great!