I know so much about this subject that its hard to be objective. I am an ECE specialist with experience administering developmental screenings and the mom of three older children on the spectrum. So my head constantly swims with info that can cause worries. That being said....
My 4 year old DS is really starting to challenge me. As a toddler he was rather sweet and quiet, and now he is still sweet but WILD. Here are some of the behaviors I am noticing (and have NOT responded to regular disciplinary measures).
- jumps on and tackles people when they are sitting down, reading or something. Will not stop if asked politely. He isn't angry, he thinks its fun. He'll stop after time out but he's back at it in a few hours or next day.
- throws toys and books frequently. He used to sit quietly and play with his blocks. Now they've become projectiles. He will stop after a time out, but it happens at least 3x a day.
- hits and screams at older brothers repeatedly throughout day if they are sitting somewhere he wants to sit or don't do what he wants them to do (like play a game with him). He has fantastic language skills but won't "use his words" despite prompting and encouragement from them and me. He just goes, "Eh, eh, eh, eh" while shoving them off the chair or raising his arms up and shreiking the way a toddler might who wanted something out of reach.
- he'll run up to you and make this buzzing noise and lightly tap your body with his fists. It doesn't hurt, but its annoying. It literally seems like his whole body is buzzing with pent up energy. He does this to his baby brother and sometimes it knocks him down which frustrates me.
- I used to be able to talk to him and/or gently physically guide him and he'd be receptive. Now when I go to touch him when he's misbehaving he takes off, usually laughing. I can't seem to connect with him when I try to get down on his level. He is either trying to wiggle away or looking everywhere else other than my face.
- its a huge fight to get him dressed or brush his teeth or wash his hair. Nothing new there but I thought I'd mention it.
- he does "flap" his arms and hang his tongue out when he's super excited but he's been raised with three autistic kids so it very possible that is a learned behavior.
I recognize that he probably needs more exercise. We are cooped up indoors most of the time and its worse that usual because we've all been fighting viruses since the holidays. But even today after working up a sweat with a vigorous indoor game, he was not better. I was totally losing it by bedtime. He has a routine, but he just runs around like a wild child.
His reciprocal social/emotional and language skills rule out autism, but what about ADHD or SPD? Or do I just have a typical active little four year old boy who is sick of winter? I know that four year olds go through a really tough testing stage and where they can get super aggressive and defiant. He's not angry though, its more like he's just wound up. He frequently apologizes to me during the day, "Sorry, Mommy. I don't know why I do that." Like I said, still sweet.