Stimming…it’s a word everyone in the autism community is very familiar with. I have an older son who has Asperger’s—actually, with the exception of occasional mind-boggling, overly-literal interpretations of language, I’d say he’s lost his diagnosis…but I digress. I was used to the stimming with Eric, but I didn’t know that was what he was doing—he would pace rapidly through the house for hours, while tossing a plastic sword, or would hug himself. I just thought he was nervous. Ha!
I’ve always thought Ryan didn’t really exhibit autistic stim behaviors, but thought it was so cute that he shook his hands when excited. I’ve since learned from some very timely YouTube videos that this is hand flapping. Who knew?
Since Ryan’s diagnosis I’ve told myself he wasn’t really that autistic—I comforted myself with the thought that he doesn’t have many of the behaviors I’ve seen other children with autism do…flicking their fingers in front of their eyes, rocking back and forth, making odd postures with their arms, etc…But it’s a meaningless comfort.
We’ve been told Ryan doesn’t “look autistic”, but he is in fact severely so. His communication and social skills are on par with those of children from birth to 18 months old, and he’s 4. He doesn’t speak, other than a few words. The thing is, when you have a 4 year old operating at the same level as a young toddler, it doesn’t seem so bad. When the same child is 6 or 7, or older, it begins to look different, and it’s becoming more apparent every day how impaired Ryan actually is.
But, even with autism and his inability to speak or communicate many of his thoughts, he is a very happy little boy. He smiles all the time, and laughs to himself at his own private little jokes. He is truly a ray of sunshine, and for him—and now for me, too, flappiness is happiness.