I know. It's going to sound crazy at first. Hear me out.
For those who aren't familiar with the terms, "orphanage behaviors" is the term adoptive parents often use to describe habits their child has picked up as a result of the monotony of life in a baby house or institution. It's basically a form of self-stimulation, or "stimming" as the autism community calls it; as far as I'm aware, the longer term is used to clarify that the child in question has not been diagnosed as autistic. I wanted to talk about both because in every example I have seen, they are different ways for people to express the same need.
Examples of these behaviors can include the harmless: flapping or rolling the hands, bouncing or rocking in place, humming, and so on. It can also include the more destructive, such as banging the head on things, scratching at oneself, biting or hitting (oneself or other people), and others.
Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on a second. You're going to tell me it's okay to let my child hurt themselves and others? No, I'm not. These things are definitely a form of self-stimulation, but that doesn't make them healthy or okay. The first thing that's important when considering your child's behaviors, though, are whether or not they're truly harmful. I define harmful as "is causing physical damage to someone."
If that matches your child's behavior, I know you're thinking that your first priority is to eliminate said behavior. But what if you weren't trying to eliminate it, just redirect it?
It's the same approach we take when dealing with young children who are still trying to learn how to express their emotions appropriately. Instead of saying, "Don't do that," we need to give them something they can do that fulfills the same need. For example: "It's not okay for you to hit Matthew, but if you need to hit, it's okay to hit a pillow." The person in question is able to express how they feel in a non-destructive way.
Your child needs to chew on things? Maybe they would be soothed by a teething ring, regardless of age. If they need to hit and punch, you could try the pillow approach or invest in a punching bag. I know of parents who have had entire padded rooms built to keep their kids safe and happy, and while you don't have to go that far, there is definitely a compromise.
And no - it's not the end of the world if you can't eliminate the behavior. Your first focus should be on trying to redirect it, and if that doesn't work, you need to consult a therapist or other professional about how to eliminate it. Let me repeat that. You need to consult a therapist or other professional. You know your child best, but a trained professional knows the causes of their behavior better than you do.
But I'm willing to bet that if you've found this post through a Google search or some such, some or all of your child's self-stimulation isn't physically harmful. I don't say this to belittle you or your child's struggles, because I know it can be harmful in other ways. You don't want your child stared at or made fun of, and your child wants to have friends.
The difference is that now we are no longer concerned about your child's behavior. We are concerned about how others will react to it.
Can you teach your child how to react if somebody is impolite about what they're doing? Help them learn to stick up for themselves - and if they can't, that job falls either to you or to a sibling who wants to. I suggest you wait for the affected child or a sibling to bring it up so that you're not causing unnecessary worry. Don't try to lie or cover it up, but present in a way they can understand.
For example: "I think Cindy was looking at you strangely because she didn't know why you were flapping your hands. Maybe you could tell her you were just doing it because you were [excited, bored, nervous, etc]." If they aren't comfortable with that, you could tell them to redirect the friend's attention elsewhere: "The next time Pat stares at you, you could just ignore it and go back to talking about the show you both like."
Treat it like any other behavior. If your child is being bullied for these behaviors, it is your responsibility to equip them to handle the teasing or - if it is becoming too much for them to handle - take action yourself. This is not about your pride or how much you hate it when your child is stared at (it is much, much worse to be the person being stared at) or if you think the behaviors look funny.
This is about your child. That's why you're doing this, isn't it?