It is a frustrating thing being the parent to a special needs child. Eli’s first reaction to any group setting is one of being shy and reserved and usually manifests as him hiding behind me and whimpering softly that he is shy. It usually takes only a few minutes before he warms up but it is hard to deal with especially when he does it in front of his friends. I have always worried that Eli will be a social outcast and not because he waves his hands or has imaginary battles with whatever the toy of the day is (Super Mario 9 bosses from the Wii, or Pokemon from his latest deck). It is because he puts himself into the situation where he shows them his social anxiety. At this age he is starting to develop friends that could last a lifetime and nobody wants to be seen with the kid who has the wild imagination or is socially different.
I fear for him more and more because half the time he does things like this it seems like a ploy for attention from me. If I play into it, he does it more. If I ignore it, he either gets over it faster or melts down more. A no win situation for any parent. That is not to say that he is not getting better in some of these situations because he is, just when it happens, it happens and it is bad.