Wednesday, October 17, 2012


“I’m going to…” flap, flap, flap goes my Hubby’s hand, pointer finger extended.
I try to look at the direction his finger is pointing. Fortunately he isn't using his middle finger today as he often does, citing that his middle finger seldom gets any use by itself and therefore needs more usage.  
It appears that Steve is pointing at the lamp in the corner. I walk towards the closest window and peer beyond that point of the wall. I am now looking at a huge cedar stump.
“Are you heading outside?” I guessed.
“No, no, no!” comes the booming response accompanied by more vigorous flapping.
I try to guess again. “Out to the store?”
“NO!” shouts the Hubster. He throws his arm down in frustration and stomps off to the basement stairs. 

I follow along behind him.
As it turns out, he’s heading down to the laundry room to change out the water filter we have on our house water supply. We live in a rural area and have a well. Our well water has a lot of iron in it so we filter it. Keeps the rust stains down. I  can’t use bleach for cleaning or for doing laundry, and I also purify our drinking water from the tap. We don’t have a monthly water bill however, so it’s worth it.
Back to the flapping and finger waving. Many Aspies use ‘stimming’ to calm themselves. My husband becomes agitated and frustrated when he can’t find the words he wishes to use to communicate. I’m not quite sure if the flapping and waving really help him calm himself though. It often seems to make him more anxious.
I ran across a blog by ASpiring Dad who addresses this issue. It was written several years ago but includes recent posts from others that are eye-opening. ‘Dad’ mentions:
A profound first-hand account of hand-flapping is featured in an article called “A Boy, a Mother and a Rare Map of Autism’s World”. In it, Tito Mukhopadhyay, a 14 year old boy from India with severe autism explains why he flaps his hands like this: “I am calming myself. My senses are so disconnected, I lose my body. So I flap. If I don’t do this, I feel scattered and anxious. I hardly realized that I had a body. I needed constant movement, which made me get the feeling of my body”. Tito’s nervous system receives so little input that he cannot sense a connection with his own body. His hand flapping is his attempt to calm himself and gain a sense of his body’s existence. 

Personally, even after all these years with Steve, I can still find the flapping to be so irritating that I want to shake my finger back at him while he is flapping at me. All of my life I've equated ‘finger shaking’ as scolding. It’s very deeply ingrained in my psyche, probably as deeply as Steve’s stimming is in his subconscious. So my finger remains still. I am not his mother.
Occasionally we are out somewhere together as the flapping starts, so I will also raise my hands to flap, and begin dancing with the Hubster. Making a joke out of it takes any ‘criticism’ out of the equation, and makes us look like we are having fun. Or equally crazy. It forces me to ‘lighten up’, and slows Steve down to the point that he can ‘find his words’.
After all, our kids are very well trained to grab at things that I point to across the room when I can’t seem to find the right word quickly. It’s certainly not solely an Asperger trait to forget words, lol!

1 comment:

  1. ben posted about his own need to flap, reminding me that my hubby does indeed flapping in happiness, frustration, joy, sorrow - often accompanied by skipping! thank you, ben...