This is a transcript of the video “Hand Flapping” by Asperger Experts, appearing here:
[YouTube video no longer exists]
How’s it going everyone? Danny Reade here from Asperger Experts where we help parents and people with Asperger’s understand the Asperger’s mind as well as personal development so you can really just end the frustration of the daily stress and struggle and have a prolific life.
We both have Asperger’s, me and my partner, Hayden, and today we are going to be talking about hand flapping. One of the things that, a lot of people go, “Why do they do that? What’s with that whole [waves hands] AIEAIEAIEAIEAIE thing?” So, what that really comes down to is the hand flapping or any other thing — I used to do snapping and drumming and a whole bunch of other things — it comes down to repetition. When we, as people with Asperger’s, are in a really unknown situation or we’re in a situation where there’s a lot of anxiety (we talk about that more in the Sensory Funnel video, there should be a link below to that) but, when we’re in a situation where there’s a lot of anxiety, there’s a lot of stress, the way that we manage that, is because generally it’s overwhelming we do repetitive motions, because then we at least know, hey, if I do this I have complete control over it. And I know that whatever I do, I have complete control and it’s going to happen the same time every time. Therefore, I get a little bit of comfort from it.
So you shouldn’t just try to stop these things, even though they might look ridiculous, I mean, I can’t just like go out in the middle of the street and go [waves hands] AOUAOUAOUAOUAOUH and people go “huh?” but what you need to do instead is work on the underlying issue of they aren’t comfortable. That’s a signal: hand flapping or any other repetitive motion, we call it a “stim,” that’s generally the accepted term is a stim, short for stimulation. What that means is it’s basically a giant signal saying, “hey! I’m not comfortable right now. Things are too much pressure or too much, just, overwhelm of sensation to the point that I need to do something to feel better about it.”
Now, as you get older that transitions into listening to the same song over and over again, I can say the same thing in my mind over and over again to get myself some comfort. But at a younger age, and sometimes even at an older age. You know, you don’t see many people that are forty doing this [waves hands] but, generally, again it means that they are extremely uncomfortable. You shouldn’t just try to stop it because then they’re just going to find some other way of gaining comfort. Because if you just try and stop it, “no more hand flapping or you go to your room!” then they’re just going to figure out something else to gain comfort. All of a sudden, they might gain a tic, like [clicks tongue several times] and then that’s just even more annoying.
All these things are unconscious; we don’t suddenly think, “hey! I’m just gonna move my hands back and forth!” or “I’m gonna go like this [waves hand] a lot!” or “I’m gonna, you know, think about the same thing over and over!” That’s not what happens, it’s an unconscious reaction, kind of like a defense mechanism thing.
So, anyway, I hope that clears some stuff up. For more, visit aspergerexperts.com, we have a ton of free content on there, free courses, more free videos, blog posts, interviews, you name it, it’s all there, aspergerexperts.com. As always, have a great day!