Treatments for Hand Flapping
In the short term, autism hand flapping can be treated by removing the person from the source of distress. This is not always possible, however, and it is better to seek a long term solution.
It is important for the parent or caregiver to discourage hand flapping and the offer of a treat or a favorite toy can work to motivate change. Parents can make the person aware of their behavior in the following ways:
- Use verbal reminders to stop the hand flapping
- Use a card with a stop sign on when the person starts hand flapping
- Gradually increase the amount of time that a child or adult must refrain from hand flapping before they get a treat
In some cases, it is possible to encourage a substitute stimming behavior that is not so publicly off-putting or obvious. These include rubbing or massaging the back of the neck, and moving fingers around.
If an autistic person is going to be exposed to circumstances that provoke hand flapping, it is best to be prepared. For example, ear plugs can be useful in a crowd as they cut down on noise levels. Sun glasses can cut out visual stimulation and a family group around a person can minimize physical contact and jostling.
Autism and hand flapping are commonly seen together and can be a source of frustration and embarrassment. Dealing with the stimming is often most successful when a combined approach of treatment and prevention is implemented. This will take focused effort and commitment from the people who live with the autistic person.