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Hand Flapping



hand flapping


There a few comments I want to share with you that I have noticed regarding our 12-month-olds development. He is doing GREAT in all aspects, he walks all by himself, says 5 words in addition to pointing at all kinds of animals and objects he knows the name of, has a great appetite, loves to play ball and peekaboo with us, chases the dog, he does respond when we call his name, has great eye contact, and is starting to wave by-bye. He is happy and healthy.

The few things I have noticed is he flaps his hands when he is excited...particularly when its time to eat. He recently started flapping his arms (like a little bird) when walking back and forth and he is also excited. He does not do this all day, just sometimes. But the hands almost always when its time to eat.

When he is playing around he also shakes his head for a few seconds and thinks its funny. He also reaches for his ear usually on one side only (i think) almost as if his hair is bothering him...he does have a lot of hair. And he likes me to read the same 2 books every night before bed, no exceptions.

Should I be concerned about any of this? To me he is a happy and normal little boy. I am looking for your opinion and I want to stay away from the internet as much as I can otherwise I will probably go crazy.

He sounds like a happy normal boy to me as well. He is clearly advanced in his development - in both gross motor and speech.

You essentially list three developmental concerns. I'm sure you like many parents are worried about potentially autistic behaviors.

First, the fact that he likes the same two books. Yes, ritualist, repitious behavior can be a characteristic of autism. However, it is also a characteristic of all young children. Frankly, I'm impressed your 12 month old will sit still for two whole books. If anything this behavior argues against autism as listening to books is socially interactive. Given time he will begin to request other books, but probably not for several months.

The second issue is reaching for hair on the side of his head. This issue is similar to concerns other family express. Every day I see similar aged children in my office with complaints of "pulling on their ears" or "teething". When children come into my office with these complaints only rarely do I find solid evidence of a medical issue. This habit does not make me worry about his development. Fortunately, these complaints seem to disappear as children get older.

Lastly, hand flapping. Yes, hand flapping too can be a sign of autism. It can be a self stimulating behavior. But I doubt it is in your son's case. Hand flapping is common in developmentally normal children in the few several years of life - especially when excited. Given time his hand flapping will go away.



Written May 2016 by
Gregory Gordon MD, Orlando Pediatrician






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