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4 y.o. "agressive"? aspergers? gluten?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

HELP PLEASE!! I'm completely perplexed. There are a lot of components here, so I apologize for the long post, but I can't tease them apart. My son is 4 1/2. He attends preschool half days at a Waldorf school. At the end of last year, we were called in to meet with the teacher. She thought we should test for autism. Her reasoning consisted of "odd" speech (unusual prosody), unusual movement - bumping into other kids as well as running clumsily, upset by changes in schedule, and oversensitivity, especially to noise. Yet, she also admitted that he was the most empathic kid in the class and his oversensitivity to noise usually took the form of worrying when someone else cried. Further, it turned out that the schedule changes didn't bother him at all if someone simply told him the schedule was changing; they were a problem when no one mentioned it. The speech turned out to be an imitation of the Waldorf singsong that the teachers used and his dad's European accent. I can't argue with the clumsy. Her point was that there were reasons for each individually but together they could add up. After a lot of research, I couldn't make it fit at all, and we decided to give it some time. 


The summer was great. He joined in at various summer activities without much problem. He never seemed to make a lot of friends, but he would play with the other kids off and on without too much problem. He has always kind of preferred doing his own thing most of the time, but I have seen him join games of tag at the playground or throwing a ball with other kids. Then school started again. By a month into the school year, he was throwing tantrums every day not wanting to go to school. He came home saying the kids were mean. We met with the teacher, a new one but one who knew the history - it's a tiny school. We were concerned about bullying. She said that he tended to annoy the other kids, bumping against them, wanting to play chase all the time, getting into their personal space. He played too rough, we were told. He didn't seem to hold back at all when rough housing and all he wanted to do was rough house. He clearly thinks he's playing, but it's too much.  We started working on this at home, talking about it a bit or playing through it with his stuffed animals, but we don't seem to be getting anywhere. Things are worst with one kid, but it seems like (from his mama's perspective) the other kid doesn't get in trouble, while our son is separated and has to spend all his time with the teachers. The teachers are complaining about having to follow him around to constantly redirect him. 


Around the same time as this September meeting, we noticed a physical component. He seemed to be allergic to something - baggy eyes, stuffy nose, itchy eyes. We put him on Allegra, and the behavior didn't stop but it did get better. To make sure it wasn't our pets or something in the house, I took him to an allergist, and weirdly, he didn't test as allergic to anything. The allergist switched him to a nasal steroid, which was a disaster. We quit after a few days. He was not only worse at school but a mess at home and loud. We switched back to Allegra. He also has really smelly gas in the evenings at times, often but not always worse on days when his behavior is worse. He seems to take a long time to poop, too, like up to 15 minutes. He doesn't strain, just hangs out on the toilet.  


I should note, we don't see this behavior at home. He's great with the baby and the animals. He gives hugs, makes eye contact, plays on his own or with significantly younger or older kids and adults fine. With kids his age, it's almost like he gets bored with them quickly, and not knowing what else to do, starts to bounce around until he can get a response. He is ahead verbally and has started to teach himself to read and to add and subtract. He's curious about the world and how it works. He can take turns, likes talking with people, can follow conversation rules. 


I'm afraid he's going to get kicked out of preschool. We've been called in twice since the first meeting in September. The school wants to bring in an occupational therapist. The pediatrician wants him to be tested and seems to think it's Aspergers. But nothing makes sense of the antihistamines. Could it be gluten? Are we looking at autism spectrum? something else? Any ideas on what's causing this or how to handle it??? 

post #2 of 8

Personally I'd explore diet changes before allergy meds, especially since a food sensitivity (different from an allergy) won't change one bit by using meds. You have two options here - change the diet on your own and see what changes it makes, or seek out a naturopath who will do sensitivity testing and give you the exact triggers.  Also an ND can order lab work to see if any other things are out of whack (low or high vits, minerals, heavy metals, etc) and get your son on a better path to healing the underlying issues.  I can say with absolute certainty that were I born today and not 30 years ago, I'd have been diagnosed with some form of ASD as a child.  Minus the outbursts and pushing I was VERY much like your son in many ways.  I was "normal" in some regards, even advanced in things like reading (read at a first grade level at age 4), able to play with others but mostly preferred to play alone.  But I didn't make much eye contact, I was very reserved and moody (like crying at the drop of a hat) and it only took me 30 years to learn that many of my social anxieties and issues could have been headed off had my parents just known to ask the right people.  I'm gluten/dairy/soy intolerant, and have major issues with my body processing b12 and folate (consistent with MTHFR gene mutation which I'm awaiting test results on) which has caused on/off jaundice my whole life along with a constant battle with anemia and a really hard time processing simple OTC meds like antihistamines (I'm almost comatose for 24hrs following a children's dose of Benadryl).  Much of these issues are highly prevalent with ADHD/ASD and the like and all seem to be connected.


So find an ND.  They will discuss in great detail all aspects of you son's life and lifestyle and can get to the root of the problems (maybe even find some you aren't aware of) and get him fixed up from the inside out rather than putting a bandaid on the issue and ignoring the underlying cause.  MANY, if not most, behavior issues have an underlying medical cause, specifically issues with the gut.


My 2yo DD is dairy/gluten/soy sensitive as well as borderline oat allergic (she's not tested allergic but breaks out in full body hives and gets pretty puffed up so we avoid them as though she's allergic), and reacted fairly harsh to the few vaccinations she had making it likely that she too will have methylation issues and will end up on similar supplements to correct it.  But I'm glad I caught it early and she hopefully won't suffer as I did for many years.  Currently the only supplement she needs is a super strong, specific to her, probiotic and we maintain a paleo diet to avoid the food issues.  Her overall behavior is much less testy (for a 2yo, obv she will still have her moments) and her tantrums are so much less frequent and less intense since making these changes.


Hope you figure things out!

post #3 of 8

Allergy testing can be imprecise.  I'm also assuming you took him off any allergy meds 48-72 hours before the test?  Even so, test results can be different from what you can see day to day.  sassyfirechick's experience with her daughter's oat allergy test does not mean it's not an allergy, just that the test wasn't indicative.  Visible reactions, based off keen observations and records, are always *the* standard to go by, and any allergist will tell you that.


But I think that allergies and intolerances are a red herring in this case.  Doesn't mean that you shouldn't try taking steps to minimize environmental allergens in your house (our allergist old us that some 85% of those with environmental allergies are also allergic to dust mites).  Use a HEPA filter vacuum, if you can, wash *all bedding* when you launder the sheets, encase mattresses and pillows if you can..... And, possibly even a food diary to see what the cause of the smelly gas and any other digestive upsets, but I don't think behavior is part of this (after one single post, I know this :wink of course!)  My oldest did have extreme behavior issues that disappeared when the culprit was removed from her diet, so I know it does happen.  However, from what I've read, allergies/intolerances don't seem to be the triggers for what you are seeing in school.


FWIW, I can't leave the subject of allergies without mentioning that I believe the kind of testing NDs do for allergies is... trying to put it sensitively.... unscientific, incorrect, misleading..... no basis in reality..... sorry, not meaning to get into an argument to those who swear by it, just putting in my two cents here.


But what I am guessing at this point is that you have 1) a very sensitive child, especially with changes 2) a new teacher (and classmates?) and possibly new routine and 3) a boy who is developing and changing himself, learning how to and how not to express his feelings and his energy and communicate-- in other words, suddenly 4!  It might be well worth talking to a professional who can see the situation more impartially than the teachers.  Though, I wonder what this teacher would do anyway, regardless of a professional's opinion.  


I think once I got a professional's opinion, I might try to work with the teacher more closely.  And as much as Waldorf seems to be a wonderful environment, your son might be one of those kids that Waldorf does not serve well, IMO.  He might do better with Montessori or Emilio environments--or even homeschooling (sorry, biased here!), especially if he enjoys being around kids of different ages.  


BTW, my daughter couldn't stand other 4yos when she was 4, either, and I don't blame her!  She was nearly 6yo when she started connecting in small, highly structured ways with other girls her age (like in gymnastics) and 7yo before she could be in open-play situations for relatively brief periods (like 2 hours or less-after which she gets moody and frustrated).  


Boys, I find more than girls, seem to try connecting with others by being rough and crazy.  Not the best way to say "play with me", I would think, but it does seem to be a stage that many high-energy boys go through.  We have been devaluing this kind of connection for years, sometimes for better, but I think it has swung too far in the other direction, making these kids feel like they are wrong, out of control and borderline bullies when they are anything but.  


Also, entirely my opinion, I find that peace-loving Waldorf environments see this as more problematic than other settings, another reason why I think you should rethink Waldorf for your son.  But, please, just my opinion-- I feel I need to point this out even at risk of an argument.

post #4 of 8
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

FWIW, I can't leave the subject of allergies without mentioning that I believe the kind of testing NDs do for allergies is... trying to put it sensitively.... unscientific, incorrect, misleading..... no basis in reality..... sorry, not meaning to get into an argument to those who swear by it, just putting in my two cents here.


I can understand where you are coming from with this, and had I not seen results I'd have agreed.  Even my chiropractor (who uses the same ND I do) referred to it as a bit "hippy voodoo" when she first experienced it and we were discussing taking my DD there to confirm the issues that her original ped claimed were in my head :p.  But I've see this done by an ND for myself and my daughter, and it's an odd sensation to lose control over a limb simply by holding a food (and I had no idea what foods I was holding so not like I could have played into it).  BUT, for anyone skeptical my ND always backs her testing with bloodwork to confirm her own findings or for anyone looking to back them up she will offer up lab work as well as her testing.  And actually DH had this done with our old chiropractor/acupuncturist and he is highly skeptical of many things I do for our health, and even he was pretty surprised. Now if only I could beat him over the head with a frying pan and get him 100% on board with the gluten/dairy free eating and he would much less cranky!  Damn firemen do as they please:dizzy

post #5 of 8

Take him off gluten  first, try taking him off lactose 2nd. But start with the gluten, and see if that has an effect, 30% of the population are gluten intolerant.  It has many different manifestations, including some of the ones you mentioned. An eleimination diet is  a more reliable indicator that allergy testing, which can  be inaccurate.

Google GAPS--gut and psychology syndrome.

Also, if he has sensory processing issues, ocupational therapy can help. Its very common.

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks to everyone for the ideas! I think we're going to try a gluten free diet. My partner comes from an ethnic group prone to Celiac disease and has a sister who is gluten intolerant. There was definitely bullying going on in the school as well. We spent a few days watching him this week at school, and it was clear he was being scapegoated. It was horrible. We've taken him out of school and he cannot go back there. When i suggested he could go to another school, he hugged me and said he was never, ever going back to where he was. So we'll wait a few weeks and then try gluten-free, but it's possible we might not need to. 

post #7 of 8

If you suspect Celiac, not just an intolerance, do NOT go on a gluten free diet if you want to do any tests to confirm it.  You *need* to be consuming gluten for an accurate test.  

post #8 of 8
I would have him tested for food allergies and maybe change schools as you said there is already talk and they may never give him a chance if the teachers gave already "labeled" him
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