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Dr. Bonnie
Dr. Bonnie, Psychologist and RN
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  35 years experience counseling children and families
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My grandson who is 4 1/2 yrs old has a habit of shaking his

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My grandson who is 4 1/2 yrs old has a habit of shaking his hands (at the wrist) and opening his mouth as if he is saying a silent OOOOOO and shaking his head. This has been happening since he was a baby. He does this when he gets excited watching a movie, swimming, playing, favorite cartoons, etc. When you alert him and ask "what are you doing" he grins and stops and then will mock the same behavior as if it is a routine. It appears he is in control of the behavior and quits immediately when you bring it to his attention. This is not a seizure.

We have heard from other people who have had kids or other brothers and sisters that did the same and eventually grew out of it.

Should we be concern. Is there any specialist that can talk to. We are afraid other kids will make fun of him when he gets older and enters kindergarden. Worse is our concern this behavior can be treated and we are assuming it will go away.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Bonnie replied 4 years ago.
Hi and thanks for your question,
The behavior you describe is called hand-flapping and is known as a stereotypic behavior often seen in children with autism. But you are not mentioning any other behaviors typical of autism (poor social skills, developmental delay especially speech and language, rigid or obsessive behaviors). In isolation, it is probably nothing to worry about and he will control it on his own as he gets older. No treatment necessary. If you wanted a doctor to "check it out", I would start with the pediatrician.
Good luck.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Should we as friends and family comment to the child everytime he does this. It seems when you comment on it he grins and stops doing it. Should we be talking to him about this behavior in efforts to reduce the incidents. He is a very bright boy, above average for his age. Has an excellent memory. We just want to do everything that can be done to help him grow out of this.

Expert:  Dr. Bonnie replied 4 years ago.
Ask him if he would like to stop it. If so, arrange a verbal, visual or touch cue that you would give when you notice the behavior. Let him be involved in choosing the cue. Some examples:

a touch on the shoulder
a key word
a gesture

The idea is to draw his attention to it without others knowing. A secret between just a few people.

If he is not interested in this approach, then ignore it. He may desire to get help later if he gets teased and then he knows he can count on you for help.

hope this helps.
Dr. Bonnie, Psychologist and RN
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2183
Experience: 35 years experience counseling children and families
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