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why is flapping a red flag for autism?

my son is almost 20 months old. He has to go to speech therapy. After the first evaluation they had a concern about his arms flapping when he got excited or frustrated. He did this when one of the women had bubbles in her hand. She wouldn't hand the bottle to him, and he flapped his arms in frustration. I understand if an older child + flaps the arms, there is something "wrong", but why would they say he might have autism for doing this, when he's only 20 m/o?

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Asked by Owl_Feather at 1:35 PM on Dec. 16, 2009 in Toddlers (1-2)

Level 22 (13,272 Credits)
Answers (2)
  • It's common for people of all ages with autism to "flap". My son has autism and never flapped his arms or had any type of physical stim behavior, but it can be a signal combined with other flags that a child needs to be evaluated for autism. If he's already in speech then they can probably tell you when/if further testing needs to be done, since many speech therapists tend to deal with numerous children with autism.
    Usually even specialists will not diagnose a 20 month old with autism and will wait until they are at least 2, but many are diagnosing it younger and younger. If you have any questions, ask for an evaluation yourself.

    Answer by missanc at 1:45 PM on Dec. 16, 2009

  • I think it's the excitement they can't contain. I have a client (28mos) who I work with speech and I've seen him do the same. He also shakes when he gets excited and bangs his head against the high chair when he struggles to communicate or doesn't get his way. I tell mom "these are tendencies but it's not to say he's autistic." Cuz I CAN NOT say "he's autistic" 1) I'm not a professional to evaluate 2) these are things I've seen from my experience with other kids.

    Answer by Vero0724 at 2:38 PM on Dec. 16, 2009

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