Why do many kids with autism flap their hands?

Kids with autism flap their hands for four reasons.  The first is a form of self stimulation.  The flapping applies pressure to the carpal tunnel nerves inside the wrists which in turn creates an unusual throbbing sensation and a “fuzzy fingers” feeling.  (Don’t believe me?  Flap your own hands for thirty seconds and see for yourself!)  Because a lot of autistic kids are very sensitive to every feeling and sensation their bodies make, this is a fun way to feel something out of the ordinary.

They may also flap because they are bored and need something to do.  Bored hands have to do something, and sometimes it’s not always the most productive choice.  However, flapping the hands keeps the hands busy, nonetheless.

Feeling angry or anxious or excited about something may also resurrect the flapping hands movement.  Even the average person when they win a prize or are doing something really exciting will flap their hands out of disbelief.  Does it make them autistic? No, it’s just a physical response to a unique situation.  We all fan ourselves when we’ve gotten hot under the collar about something; it’s kind of the same thing for children with autism.

The very last reason is because it’s a repetitive movement, something children with autism really enjoy.  They probably will dance, sway or jump up and down at the same time.  They will repeat these movements when it interests them most to be repetitive in their behavior.

In every single scenario, parents have to be aware of what’s going on around them.  They can generally figure out why the hand flapping is happening based upon the current situation in the room.  Redirection to something fun that involves the hands often helps curb the behavior or something so simple as a soothing back rub can fix it too.

More personally affected questions:

1). Why do autistic kids stimulate?
2). Why do children with autism avoid eye contact?
3). Why do autistic kids like trains?

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