You’ve heard of air guitar. When I was in middle school, my classmates and I created an entire air band.
At lunchtime, we would put on a CD and each pretend to play an instrument. I was on the drums, hitting invisible rhythms with invisible drumsticks, and it felt like the most natural thing in the world.
I didn’t realize at the time that I was essentially flapping.
Hand flapping is extremely common for autistics, and very useful for releasing tension and expressing excitement. But I didn’t know I was autistic, and my sliver of social awareness was enough to recognize that in most contexts, most people don’t flap.
The invisible band gave me a socially acceptable space for an action that felt really good to my body and brain. I wish the whole world could be like that for autistics.
In the meantime, we need more spaces like that – spaces to be free.