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Autism - Support Across the Spectrum Autism - Support Across the Spectrum

Autism: Mom celebrates son's hand flapping via Orange County Register

Posted by on Jul. 23, 2012 at 10:08 AM
  • 24 Replies
6 moms liked this

Autism: Mom celebrates son's hand flapping

By JO ASHLINE

By JO ASHLINE 
OC Moms 
FOR THE REGISTER

There was a time when I considered Andrew’s arm flapping to be a maladaptive behavior; a piece of the autism puzzle that needed to be solved and put in its place. 

I worried that those wild flailing arms would be one more reason he would be misunderstood and judged by the world, so I made it my mission to subdue my son in exchange for what I believed to be the greater picture: acceptance by others.

Article Tab: image1-Autism: Mom celebrates son's hand flapping

It didn’t matter where we were or what we were doing, my response to his flapping was always the same:

“Quiet hands,  Andrew.”

Then one day, as we were standing in front of the Pacific Ocean, I watched as Andrew stood along the shore, his eyes transfixed on the waves, and I slowed down long enough to pay attention to that flap that was a trademark symptom of his autism diagnosis.

That’s when I realized his flapping wasn’t a symptom; it was a language:

“Mom! Did you see that wave?! It was so awesome!”

“Look mom, another one!”

“They just keep coming!”

“I love the ocean!”

“I’m so happy here. Nothing hurts, nothing else matters. It feels like home.”

“Thank you mommy, for bringing me here; I love you.”

My non-verbal son was speaking to me and for the first time I was really listening. 

And it was beautiful.

I haven’t uttered “Quiet hands, Andrew” since.

See, Andrew’s flapping isn’t the problem and it’s not something that needs to be “fixed.” What needs to be “fixed” is the way we view differences in our fellow human beings. I realize that as Andrew’s mom my job is to pave the way for his continued success and I take that responsibility very seriously. My little boy spends the bulk of his days immersed in one therapy or another, working triple time to acquire just a fraction of the skills you and I and the majority of society master without a second thought. From learning to hold a toothbrush to remembering the importance of “keeping our hands to ourselves,” each lesson is an attempt on Andrew’s part to accommodate the world around him.

Yet as parents, well-meaning friends and invested professionals, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we must spend just as much,-if not more- time striving to meet the needs of our special needs community. If we all invested just a small percentage of the energy our kids put forth in their daily efforts to fit into our preconceived notions of what “acceptable” is to accommodating them, I guarantee you there’d  be fewer meltdowns, sensory overloads, and “Quiet hands,” commands. 

The way I see it, our world could use a little less judgment and a whole lot more hand flapping. The kind of hand flapping that transcends suffocating societal norms, the kind of hand flapping that’s a language all its own, the kind of hand flapping that makes this mom believe her son is just a few flaps short of taking flight.

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/time-364954-considered-flapping.html

by on Jul. 23, 2012 at 10:08 AM
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Replies (1-10):
greenmommo
by on Jul. 23, 2012 at 10:35 AM
Made me tear up! Love it. I'm also so guilty of trying to quiet it in public.
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TheCrooners
by on Jul. 23, 2012 at 10:50 AM
3 moms liked this
Neurotypical mom here hand flapping in agreement!
Cubanmom84
by on Jul. 23, 2012 at 10:54 AM
1 mom liked this

You know I totally agree, at least for my son, hand flapping is a sign of joy and happiness, he does it every time he is really excited and happy. It makes me sad that people look at that and they say or think "how sad his autistic" and to me that right there tells me that they will never understand. My son is non verbal, and I have had to find ways to understand him and communicate and really see him for who he is. I love this!

Alma4Mom
by on Jul. 23, 2012 at 11:24 AM

Thanks so much we as Mothers of ASD kids have to find ways to see our kids and understand them...

MomOfOneCoolKid
by Gold Member on Jul. 23, 2012 at 12:27 PM

sniffle sniffle. thank you for sharing

HFBMOM
by Julie on Jul. 23, 2012 at 12:35 PM

Beautiful. My son doesn't flap, but if you ask him a question, he almost always twists his hands together and looks at the ceiling to find the words up there. My mother used to try to get him to make eye contact when she or he was speaking. It's great when we can all accept each other. Life would be boring if we were all the same.

mallowcup17
by on Jul. 23, 2012 at 12:46 PM
1 mom liked this

i do what your son does. the eye contact has gotten better with age but it still doesnt feel "right" to me and youre right the words are up there sometimes you just gotta look for them :)

Quoting HFBMOM:

Beautiful. My son doesn't flap, but if you ask him a question, he almost always twists his hands together and looks at the ceiling to find the words up there. My mother used to try to get him to make eye contact when she or he was speaking. It's great when we can all accept each other. Life would be boring if we were all the same.


KimberlyK
by on Jul. 23, 2012 at 1:04 PM
3 moms liked this
Yes! The ah ha moment so many autism parents experience right before our worlds expand. Then our mission shifts to helping others move into our expanded world instead of trying to teach our kids how to "act" "normal" just to squeeze into the really small "normal" world.
badgermom2012
by on Jul. 23, 2012 at 1:17 PM
4 moms liked this

To hell with "normal" is all i have to say.  

Leobaby2007
by on Jul. 23, 2012 at 4:08 PM
The tears- they're flowing. How beautiful.
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