Q: My 2 year old flaps his hands and tenses up all his muscles, he has an excited look on his face. I call it spazzing. He mostly does it when he is excited, like when his favorite song or movie comes on. He often bends over facing the ground and does it. The thought of autism has crossed my husbands mind, and the though of a type of ocd has crossed mine. He does it at least once every 20 mins to a half hour when he’s active. Why does he do this?
A: Your son’s behavior is unusual and you are right to be concerned. The flapping may simply be his unique way to express over-excitement or anxiety. But it is also possible that either you or your husband are on the right track. I can’t offer a diagnosis on the basis of a letter, of course. Please ask your pediatrician for a referral to a child psychiatrist for an evaluation. Do not let yourself be talked out of an evaluation. Some doctors seem to assume that parents are over anxious and tell them their child will “outgrow” behaviors. Sometimes they’re right. But I think it’s better to risk wasting a little time on an unnecessary visit to a specialist than to get a diagnosis years from now and have missed out on treatment during the important developmental years. If there is something wrong, early diagnosis and treatment is the best way to help your child.
I wish you well.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Nov 2006
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2006). 2 year old flaps his hands.. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2006/11/08/2-year-old-flaps-his-hands/