Wow - once again I have to give my heartfelt thanks for your wonderfully helpful posts. I really appreciate you all taking the time to give your advice and share your experiences. THANK YOU!!
To answer a couple of questions.... she lives in Minnesota. I believe her son had a hearing test at around the age of three (I believe it was done right before they tried their hand at a few speech therapy sessions). I have no idea who conducted this test, but I want to say it was a recommendation or referral from the speech therapist. I'd be surprised if he has hearing issues, but who knows. The reason I say I'd be surprised is because he has always been very sensitive to sounds. Loud sounds really bother him (like a vaccuum cleaner, for example). He seems a bit less bothered by them as he gets older, but he still covers his ears when a noise is too loud.
As for teaching her DS non-verbal ways to communicate... she has never worked on this with him, and that's a great suggestion. I believe one daycare he was at when he was around two was teaching sign language because I remember he know the sign for ball... but I don't think he picked up too much of it (and this could be due to the fact that she didn't really enforce it at home). As far as I know, he hasn't been exposed to sign language since the age of three or so.
I'm not an expert, and therefore not a great judge of what I am seeing in her DS. But someone asked how is non-verbal communication was doing. (Does he nod yes/no, etc,) Too me, his non-verbal skills aren't great. He really doesn't nod yes or no very often, and when he doesn't he doesn't necessarily correlate to what he wants to say, it seems. He's never been a big pointer, and while I think he knows how to point and understands what it means at this age he doesn't really do it. When he was really little, like younger than two, I remember he would take my hand to have me point at items in a counting book as I counted out loud. I'm not sure if that qualifies as pointing?? I would describe his non-verbal communication as minimal, and perhaps awkward... but, again, I don't have a clear idea of what is 'normal' in this area.
He's very rigid in many ways. Things have to happen in a certain order. He likes lining things up. We used to joke when he was a toddler than he has OCD... although such jokes really no longer seem funny.
Thank you for the links on autism - very helpful! It really seems to describe him well, actually... except for the social part. But again, as a non-expert it is impossible for me to make a real assessment.
|Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:
* Marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction .
* Failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
* A lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g., by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest)
* Lack of social or emotional reciprocity
I think he definitely has at least one of these, but perhaps not two. I would agree with the first one, but all others are a question mark for me. He may also have the last one (lack of social or emotional reciprocity), but again without knowing what is truly "typical", I have no idea where he falls. PDD-NOS could be a possible diagnosis, and I'll (very gently) put this out there for my friend the next time it comes up in conversation and she asks what I think.
Bottom line, I agree that a professional evaluation is in order. I just think financial barriers may be preventing it - but, it could very well be emotional barriers too. She says she wants a dx, but I know sometimes she doesn't want one. I'm sure many of you can relate to that feeling. Some days she really just wants to have her head in the sand, and some days she wants to know exactly what is going on and throw herself into "research mode".
You've all given me a lot to think about and share with my friend. Thank you for that.