I have an almost five year old daughter who would be best described as "different" -- she really marches to the beat of her own drummer. She was a very high needs baby -- we could not put her down, she would just scream and scream. I wore or carried her most of the day as an infant. She was perpetually grumpy and did not smile much though she recognized faces. As a toddler, she was (and still is) very active but prone to temper tantrums that could last anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours over something as simple as giving her a toy rather than letting her take it from my hand.
She had a speech/social delay -- at 24 months, she had the expressive language of a 15 month old. She spent a year in early intervention and eventually caught up with her expressive speech. Her social was still considered delayed at 30 months because she still did not exhibit certain behaviors (like inviting to play, etc.) but at her 3 year old evaluation, they actually evaluated her as testing closer to 5 years old because of how she sought interactions with adults. She's always exhibited sensory sensitivities; she hates loud sounds, likes repetitive sounds,
I watch her peers play together and she's always outside of the circle in a way that makes me wonder if she even knows they're there. She says she likes her friends at preschool but I know she has no friends in particular. She strongly prefers adults to peers and is very bright -- gifted perhaps but definitely not like super-genius level. Her expressive speech and vocabulary is actually testing about a year ahead of her actual age, despite some continued articulation issues. She gets very "focused" on a subject but not in the way I think of when I think of Aspies, yet she doesn't stray easily. Her conversations tend to be one-sided but I thought maybe that's because she's only four?
She's social but there's something... odd? about it. I know that sounds horrible but there's no other way I can put it. She always seems to be more than a little out of touch with how the world is working around her. She's very eccentric with some wacky for a four year old interests (very interested in robotics, the undead, and anatomy, for starters ) and when I see her in a group of her peers, she tends to be in a world all her own. Yet she's social with older kids and adults, almost to the point of being "stranger blind" which has been weird to deal with. She's very creative, too, which IIRC is something that you don't normally see in autism? One thing though: she started to play pretend sort of late. She did not show any interest in any pretend toys until she was nearly 2 1/2, didn't play pretend with any regularity until she was closer to 3. Her empathy is hit-or-miss. Sometimes while watching shows she can be very empathetic towards the characters but sometimes in RL she seems to be unable to understand when someone's upset or hurting.
One thing that we've always noticed about her is that she seems unable to read body language and seems to have inappropriate reactions. For example, she does things like smashing herself against someone, over and over. She's four, I know. But what bothers me is that despite being told, over and over, "No, we do not do that because it hurts people," she'll laugh and continue the behavior. Even if the person she's smashing into is clearly upset and asking her to stop, she'll still laugh and continue. We will take her and tell her to stop, asking her to look at the person's face and tell us if that face means they're happy or upset... it just seems to go over her head. We will physically remove her and only once we've put her in time out does she seems to get that she wasn't supposed to do this but then gets confused. And again, when we ask if our faces look like we're happy with her behavior, she'll laugh or shrug. She may say that the frowny face means that we're mad but sometimes I think the answer is more of a puppet answer rather than her understanding. This is an every day thing; sometimes she'll continue a behavior over and over for days, or weeks. We're consistent in the punishment, trying to get her to understand but she doesn't *get* it.
Our roommate, who has way more experience with little kids than my husband or I, agrees that she just doesn't seem "typical" at all.
We had her evaluated for autism back when she was in early intervention, which they ruled out. Another psychologist also ruled out autism because she's obviously very social but he's never seen the weirdness in her interactions. But there are times that I wonder if they're missing something. When you place her next to another, typically developing peer, it's very apparent that she's "different" in the way she interacts with the world. I just don't know. She's not "typical" of NT kids but she's also not "typical" of other kids with autism her age. Should I keep trying to get her evaluated? Am i making too much of it?