Hand flapping¬†is not specific to autistic people. Young children of every neurotype will flap their hands in frustration and joy at certain times. Adults with learning disabilities often do the same. It suggests to me, human beings that are in touch with their inner feelings and haven’t learned the incredibly restrictive ‘socially acceptable’ ways to express and comfort themselves.

When it’s caused by frustration, that’s often simply the result of feeling unable to communicate our needs quickly and effectively enough. A personal example, I hand-flap, and I only do it in one specific situation: when I perceive danger ahead, as a car passenger, and I freeze with fear. My response is to violently flap my hands. I have no words, I’m panicked – my unconscious response is to flap my hands. It achieves nothing practical, of course – it gives no helpful information to the driver but it’s completely involuntary. It’s my stress reaction – it helps me let off a bit of emergency steam to depressurise.

Hand flapping is a very positive way of communicating and experiencing pleasure. It’s repetitive, it’s stimulating – it’s a very common stim. It’s hurting no one. Flap away, I say! – though perhaps with the exception of at an auction house.