I was 4 years old when I first learned that my happy flappy hands were “inappropriate”. I was in class and the teacher said it was snack time and I happily flapped my hands and giggled. She placed her hands on my hands and set them down on my lap and whispered “that’s not how we act”.
I didn’t have verbal speech fully mastered yet but I did speak loud and clear with my body. I would bite others when I didn’t want to be touched, I would bang my head when I was overstimulated and I would flap my hands when I was happy. But I still don’t understand why it was so wrong for me to express my happy emotions. Why do I have to suppress my happy stims? Why does it make others so uncomfortable to see me happy? Why isn’t the world more accepting of different forms of expression? I hear professionals pushing the “quiet hands” nonsense and I get sick to my stomach.
As an autistic adult who took all my life to learn to embrace my autism, after spending most of my life having people tell me the way I function is wrong, I want to be the one to tell the next generation of autistic children that it’s ok to flap your hands. It’s ok to be happy and to express it in a way others aren’t used to. It’s ok to flap those hands as much as you want until you feel enough of that happy energy has been released. I understand that regulating emotions is sometimes complicated and even happy emotions are considered BIG emotions. We regulate it the best way we know how and please don’t let the world stop you. Being happy and showing it is not a bad thing. It only means you experience it in a much profound way than anyone else and that’s a very beautiful thing, to be able to feel immense happiness. You don’t need to contain it. It’s a beautiful thing to hand flap happily over the smallest things in life that others take for granted. Happy flappy hands are so pure and beautiful and I hope that someday everyone else can see it the same way I do.