I Learned to Love the Stim… with Help from a British Nanny

Girl riding bike in the neighborhood:“Don’t you and your little boy go to my gym? You know, he throws everything and is always flapping his arms. What do you think about that?”
Me: I think that you shouldn’t talk to strangers.”

During this zillions of evaluations, one question that always comes up… “Does your child display any Atypical behaviors.?” At first I didn’t know what that meant. I had been a preschool teacher and watched hundreds of kids do hundreds of things that I had never seen before. Was painting a doorknob Atypical? What about attempting to floss with pipe cleaners? Come to find out this question was referring to such behaviors as, rocking back and forth, humming, walking on tip toes, arm flapping, ect… My kiddo is a happy flapper.

The flapping started smack dab in the middle of my deepest denial, and I shamefully admit that I hated it. It started small, a sprinkler would kick on and he would give a couple excited flaps. Soon he would flap so hard at the slightest stimulus that I thought he would defy the laws of physics and take flight. To me it was a tell-tale sign that my son was different. I couldn’t hide it. I couldn’t stop people from noticing and occasionally asking about it. It is what it is. I would try to get him to keep his arms down or squeeze his hands together instead. After he gained speech he told me, “Mommy, sometimes I just need to flap.” Fair enough. He is the expert. I must admit, I am thinking of taking it up. He looks great in a tank top. Deltoids to kill for.

Not only was I able to accept the flapping as just a happy little quirk, it aided in making for a magical moment, one that will remain a favorite memory that I tuck away and bring out during one of the harder days.

On a recent trip the, “The Happiest and Most Expensive Place on Earth,” he was obsessed with seeing a certain nanny. You know, the one with the spoon full of sugar? Well, while all of the other kids were hunting down Mickey, my boy had to see Mary. He asked about every thirty seconds to see her. Finally, after asking around, we found her and he LOST IT! He grilled her and her chimney sweep buddy about everything from chalk drawings to whether or not she still lived with Jane and Michael. He asked her if she would ride Small World with him, and even invited her to visit our hotel room (Umm… what?) She gave him tons of attention and we thought that would be the end of it…. but he kept asking to see her again.

We kept showing up, and she would remember him by name. I should mention that Colin was flapping so much that I thought he was going to knock this poor magical nanny out cold. I tried to pull him away from Mary the last time, but she wouldn’t have it. She told him he would make a lovely chimney sweep because he had down the, “Flap like a birdie, step in time.” Then she and her companion broke into song and dance. Colin tried to keep up. He was delighting the crowd at this point, so much so that people were snapping pictures and no one seemed to be bothered waiting a little longer for her autograph. While others ran from line to line to wait for the newest, coolest attraction, we were having our own Jolly Holiday.

  1. This is so sweet! I love reading your experiences with your little Jedi. My nephew is on the spectrum and some if his quarks are so endearing. Thank you for sharing!

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