Friday, January 7, 2011

The flapper

Back when my Aspie was about three I noticed something was different when he got excited.  He flapped.  And flapped.  And flapped some more.  It was like he was in one of those old Lewis and Clark movies where they put wings on their arms and launched themselves off buildings and tried to maintain air.  He'd get his little arms going and off he'd go.  I never noticed it until my sister said something about it.  Then I noticed it all the time.  He'd flap when he was excited, when he ran, when the doorbell rang.  It was the one thing that helped me pinpoint what was going on with him.  To this day he still flaps.  It's not as noticeable but it's still there. 

At the time I was really worried and didn't have a clue as to how to stop it or how to get him to shake out of it.  Turns out, he was flapping as a way to regulate all the external stuff coming at him.  All the excitement, excess stimuli, anything different.  It was too much for him to take in so he'd flap as a way to gate-keep what was hitting his front door.

I found out that a lot of Aspie's flap for self-regulation purposes related to sensory issues-either as a way to calm themselves or to regulate (perhaps block) all that extra external stuff coming at them.  Basically it's a coping mechanism.  Our little Aspie would also flap if he was upset or if he couldn't do something as a way to "get his angry out' as he would call it.

There are ways to decrease the flapping such as interrupting it as it happens or allowing flapping time at certain points during the day.  We tried to interrupt him a few times but it made him flap more and stressed him out.  He truly didn't understand what we were doing.  He wasn't hurting himself or anyone else so we left well enough alone.  The flapping really seemed to be something he needed to do.  It calmed him and allowed him to focus on what was going on rather than getting more hyped up.  I was uncomfortable taking away something that was working for him so we left things be. 

As he's gotten older he's been better able to regulate his body and what he's doing with it.  Yes, he still flaps but he seems to have grown out of most of it.  A little flapping never killed anyone, right?

My flapper.  I love him for it.

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