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I Love It When You’re Flappy

By Christine Denise

Autism Mom and Contributing Writer for As You Are, a virtual clinic dramatically increasing access to early autism diagnostic services through the use of exclusively telehealth appointments


Mac N Cheese does it.

So does swimming.

Any song or music video by the band OK Go.

The wind streaming across his face if we roll the car window down or if he’s on a boat ride.

Several select videos of animal sounds or speech therapy lessons he finds on his iPad.

And jumping for hours on a trampoline either by himself or with one of his older brothers, or an adult that can figure out he wants them to help him bounce higher can do it, too.

These are a few of the things that make our son Louie what I call flappy.

It’s a term I read in another autism mom’s post.

It describes how many children with autism flap their hands when the feeling of sheer excitement and happiness comes over them and they don’t know how else to express it.

So, they flap. And they’re happy. Flappy.

It’s become one of the most beautiful sights to me through the years.

And it helps me realize that things that bring my son true and utter joy are actually quite simple – unlike how complex it can be to experience true uncontrollable happiness for those without autism.

There are times when I grieve for all of the feelings and experiences my son will never know.

But there are also times – more often than not these days as we continue along this journey – when I realize maybe that’s not as bad as I thought it could be.

I know and experience and feel all of the disappointment, hurt and sorrow that comes along with being let down by others around my son.

I feel it when other children look at him and maybe laugh because they don’t understand what they’re seeing.

But my son Louie, feels none of it.

Instead, he feels pure joy in the simplest of things.

And, it’s so intense, he can’t think of a way to show it other than to flap his hands feverishly as if he just touched something hot and is trying to shake the pain off his fingers.

Finding things that make him flappy has become a mission of mine, but, I must confess, he makes it pretty easy.

Sometimes, it’s just seeing a dog walk past us in the park that can do it.

Sometimes, it’s when he sees me come home from work, or his dad or grandma.

Or when one of his brothers says his favorite word at the moment, “Duck,” and quacks.

Of course there are lots of things that can upset him as well. I don’t mean to paint a picture that this journey is full of hearts and rainbows all the time.

But I can tell you, the number of times I see my son flappy on a daily basis outweighs his bouts of frustration about things he cannot communicate.

I sometimes wish I knew what it felt like to feel flappy over the simplest of things – and feel none of the deep emotions that come with being the parent of a child on this journey.

I’m the one who worries, not him.

He’s too busy feeling flappy over the simplest of things. 


Do you have questions about your child’s development? The team at As You Are provides useful autism screening and diagnostic evaluations for kids 16 months to 10 years old via telehealth appointments.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. This is a sponsored blog post, but all opinions are my own.

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