Hand Rolling, Scared of Autism Risk

Updated on May 09, 2011
T.P. asks from Huntington Station, NY
12 answers

My son has been doing this "hand rolling" thing (looks like hes revving up a motorcycle) for the past few months, he is 6 months old now and he started doing it at the pediatrician the other day and it reminded me to ask about it, he made a worried face but said "he makes good eye contact with you and reactions so I wouldnt worry" Him saying this made me think.. why did he have that face. So I came home and looked it up and bam.. hand rolling and autism link. I started freaking out. He babbles ALOT, Smiles and laughs ALOT, makes a ton of eye contact. So basically the only "symptom" is the hand rolling thing. It is not all the time but he does it alot. I'm trying really hard to stop worrying about this, did anyone else's child do this and it be nothing? It's getting hard to think of anything else but this.

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So What Happened?

My brain knows this.. :) my brain keeps telling me, T. stop worrying, its too early hes too young and hes so smart and responsive and hes perfect. But that little tiny voice in the back is screaming at me saying I dont want to be one of those parents that dont "see" something because theyre scared of the outcome, you know? But for now I will try to shush that voice up :)

Featured Answers


answers from Albany on

Way WAY too young to be thinking about an autism diagnosis.

Six months old? It means nothing!

Me on the phone with the ped for my first baby:
Doc, I think he's got a third arm growing out the center of his back!

Doc: Oh, perfectly normal for that age! Don't worry about it, wait and see!

Relax Mom!


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answers from New York on

How old is your little guy?

I know it's scary, but if it helps... Autism is diagnosed based on the consistent prevalence of several different characteristics and behaviors. Yes, self-stimulating, "stimming", behaviors are one of those characteristics, but not the sole or defining hallmark. Many many young children engage in repetitive behaviors for varying reasons, but mostly b/c they are exploring how their bodies work and it's fun!

For my son, he walked on his toes for a couple of months and being a child psychologist I freaked out b/c that too can be a symptom of children on the spectrum. It was nothing- just playing around with what his body could do.

The most profound signal that a child may have Autism actually surrounds the development of the child's communication and language skills (including social interactions). Essentially, children with Autism "have it then lose it" or regress significantly around the age of 2.

Based on your child's picture (unless it's really old), he's far too young to be diagnosed with Autism and very likely, he's just exploring what his body can do and learning how to control it!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

My child didn't do that, but my kids always exhibit random symptoms of things that make my inner crazy come out! I'm not implying that you're crazy ;), but I understand the worry you have. It sounds like he's fine. Babies like to play with their hands once they discover they exist! My SIL kept taking her oldest to the pediatrician b/c she kept playing with her ears and they feared infection until finally the doctor said, stop worrying, she just found them and likes to explore! It doesn't sound like he has autism.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

6 months old is way too young to know if he is autistic - more likely he's thinking, "Hey! Look at this cool thing I can do with my hands!"

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

My son did this at about the same age. We called it "Doing the Motorcycle". 8) It lasted a couple of months or so. I'm guessing he did it because he could and that it probably felt pretty good. It remember thinking how cute it was. It never worried me.

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answers from New York on

Don't worry! It is totally normal; my baby (a little older than yours) does it too, and has no other symptoms. You cannot diagnose autism until closer to 18 months -- it is WAY too early to be worrying about such things, especially when rolling (my baby does it with her feet, too, as to the babies of some of my friends) is normal.

Remember, always look at the big picture. My baby didn't roll over until 7 months or laugh until 6 months. But otherwise, she was perfectly normal -- she smiled, made tons of eye contact, and even pulled to stand. Don't fixate at one particular behavior or delay if the child is normal otherwise.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

my DD did that around 6 months. She would do it on our arms. She is almost 8 months now and she doesn't do it anymore. I wouldn't give it another thought.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

My son does that and he definately isn't autistic. When my oldest son was little, he'd have autistic symptoms and terettes syndrome symptoms directly related to food allergies. I'm not saying this is food allergies but just trying to put your mind at ease. Having a habit like that is just a habit. It seems like he'd have more symptoms if there was a concern. Good luck!!! =)

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answers from San Francisco on

When my kid was 18 months, the doc was concerned because the vocab was too low and he thought there wasn't enough eye contact (my kid can be shy at first). We immediately saw a specialist (within 4 days) who met with us and did a full evaluation. At the same meeting, the specialist was able to tell us that he was not concerned and my kid was just slow to talk (which is hard to believe now b/c my kid talks all the time and has some of the better language skills among his friends/peers).

6 months is really early to be able to tell if a child is on the autism spectrum. Talk with your doc further about your concerns. Educate yourself. Then, try to relax. It is easy to read a list of symptoms and spot every one in our kid so don't let yourself become too consumed by it. Work with your doc and monitor your son's development. My bet is that he is fine (eye contact and smiling are big markers that they are not on the spectrum).

Good luck ((hugs))

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answers from Richmond on

First of all, it's not a perfect indicator of autism. All of my kids roll their hands and feet like that (and have done so since birth) when they're getting sleepy. None of my kids have autism. Wait until the baby gets older, one of the greatest, accurate indicators on NOT having autism is pointing. Once your little one figures out how to point (closer to a year), you'll feel a lot better... until they start pointing at PEOPLE who take it as rude ;)



answers from New York on


My son never rolled his hands and IS on the Autism Spectrum. He made eye contact and laughed and his pediatrician said he had no signs of Autism at his 12 month well child visit. He still makes eye contact and laughs A LOT! He is a very happy child who gets speech and other therapies at his pre-school.

I think your doctor concerned you for no reason. In my opinion, all parents, especially of boys, should keep their eyes open for language development starting at 12 month. Make sure your baby points to objects and tries to repeat the sounds you make by 12 months old.

At our 18 month well child visit the pediatrician (a different one) raised some concerns about his language development and that he wasn't interested in drawing with crayons or feeding himself. Since my husband and his brother were late talkers we decided to hold off for another 6 months. At 2 years old there was no significant improvement so we had him evaluated and started Early Intervention, which is when a therapist or therapists come to your home. We saw an improvement right away. If I had to do it over again I would have gotten him evaluated at 18 months and started that much earlier.

The evaluation and therapy was playtime for my son. He loved spending time with his therapists. He's in a special pre school now, but we expect him to be going to a general ed kindergarten in 2 years. We have every expectation that he will be a happy, independent adult. That's what we all want for our kids, right. Every person's path is different whether there are issues or not.

My advice to you is, forget about your worries for now, just keep your eyes open for pointing (9-12 months), speech and any aversion to textures. I've shared my story with you to emphasias that its way too early for you to be worrying about this and that even if there is an issue it can be dealt with and you can still have a great outcome.

If you are still worried about this, call a developmental pediatrician. It may take several months for you to get an appointment, but it will be worth it to settle your concerns.

Good luck,



answers from San Diego on

Hi T.,
My first child never did have any of the typical symptoms of Autism but was diagnose at 2 mainly because of Language Delays. All kids in the Spectrum do things so differently it is hard to see what to look for. SOme flap, some tiptoe, some run back and forth some do repetitive things. The one thing I did notice around 12 months was this looking at things from the corner of his eyes, which raised concerns but like you i wanted to stop worrying and believe he was perfect. HE is now 5 years old and after Early Intervention he will be attending a regular Kindergarten class with an aide to help him with some behaviors. Keep paying attention to things like his communication, eye contact, appropriate play, wanting to involve you with his pointing, eye gaze, join attention. If he starts to do things that just don't seem right follow your instinct and have him evaluated. My now 2 year old has been in an infant study since the 8 months to look for signs and after seeing the difference in their development it is so obvious to me now. I understand the fear of not wanting to know but in this case ignorance is not bliss, early intervention is key to their success and can really make a difference in how far they can get. I read somewhere that 90% of our brains develop by age 5. Best of luck and I am sure your baby will be fine.

Next question: What Are the Early Signs/first Signs of Autism?