Javi loves to flap. I love to call him Flappy Flapperton, which he gets a kick out of. It is something we are currently working on in Behavior Modification to try to limit the amount, location, frequency, what he flaps (usually a paper and straw that he crafts into what sort of looks like a fishing line, we call stimmy sticks) and try to target the times that it is appropriate or not appropriate to self stimulate. I finally decided to video him flapping to show his story and his perspective on flapping. He definitely understands why he flaps, but we are trying a new method to limit when it's appropriate to flap and not appropriate to flap. Enjoy the clip!
We thought we would try a flap token of some sort to signify when it's appropriate to flap. This could be anything from a fidgit, an actual token, or object. When he has this object he knows that it's ok to flap. When he isn't holding the object, it's not ok. We found that Javi is very aware of his flapping and does have the self control to stop when he knows it isn't appropriate or it's a safety issue. However, he does have very little will power, and usually resorts back to flapping when our back is turned. He mostly flaps in the afternoon and evening, when he is more on sensory overload from his school day or an activity. It takes very little to put Javi in a state of sensory overload, so it is pretty much an all the time thing. We realize that he will have spurts that are uncontrollable when he needs some type of input, but this is where Javi can be redirected to use a different form of self stim that is more appropriate for the environment. We did not have much luck with objects (fidgets) when Javi was younger, but we are hoping we can come up with something that will allow him to regulate himself in a safer and more socially appropriate way. The problem with the "stimmy sticks" as we have come to call them, is he gets completely consumed with them and his focus is completely on them. We will be looking for other avenues that are not quite so consuming and will allow him to be more aware of his surroundings, but still get the input he desires. We feel at this point it is an unreasonable expectation that he will stop flapping or self stimming completely, but we can find ways to channel it into other with other types of input or give him times when it is appropriate if he chooses. We are hopeful that he will outgrow this urge, as many Autistic children do, but we are ok with him continuing as long as he is in an appropriate environment for it.
Javi pretty much has symptoms of every different type of self stimulation at one time or another. The flapping is just the most pronounced. Sometimes he will get multiple things going along with the flapping. He will make this strange noise that almost sounds like a gorilla, hold his mouth open and he will rock his head from side to side, all while still managing to finger flap or flap his stimmy stick. We have also observed that the more demands Javi has (school work, homework, chores) the more he resorts to flapping, also due to the fact that he is easily overloaded.
We will be testing the flap token out over the next few weeks, so we will continue to update and let you know how it goes.
We did attend ASD Parent Education Night tonight, but it's getting late, so it will be tomorrow's topic.