Small update #24: Stim/tic - could you look at this and tell me what it looks like to you? - Mothering Forums

 
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#1 of 24 Old 08-08-2009, 06:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I posted about a month ago about my son's 'tic/stim' where he puts his hand in front of his face, repeatedly.

I finally managed to get a few occurrences on video here. For those who have kids who stim/tic could you look at this and tell me what it looks like for you?

We've got an appointment in about 10 days for an eval, but it's a 2-3 week process, minimum.

And of course, now that I've made the appointment, the behavior has lessened considerably. I've only seen him do it once or twice a day over the last several days. It's also becoming more subtle, where he'll put an object up in front of his face and look like he's examining it closely.

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#2 of 24 Old 08-08-2009, 07:48 PM
 
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that sort of looks like something my dd (who has autism) does. she will put both hands in front of her face and kind of shake them as she looks at them very closely. she does that and hand flapping a LOT, along with this weird flicking thing. we are still learning a lot about hese behaviors though, so i am no expert on them.

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#3 of 24 Old 08-08-2009, 08:10 PM
 
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Well, since I have a kid with tics I see it through my tic glasses and think it looks tic-ish. But, I can see how it looks stim-ish too (having worked with a child, many moons ago, who had a stim that looked sort of similar, but was more intense, less fleeting). Helpful, I know.

You'll get it sorted out with professional help. The waiting and the 2-3 week evaluation process (and, for some of us, the limbo of waiting at least a year to see if a child meets the diagnostic criteria of "lasts for longer than one year") seems really, maddeningly long. But you'll get there.

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Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post

And of course, now that I've made the appointment, the behavior has lessened considerably. I've only seen him do it once or twice a day over the last several days. It's also becoming more subtle, where he'll put an object up in front of his face and look like he's examining it closely.
IME, this is just typical. It's not unlike hearing your car make a funny noise, making the appointment to have the mechanic look at it, only to have the noise become intermittent (so that, of course, the mechanic doesn't hear it). Anyway, if it's tics this is pretty typical. They often do tend to wax and wane, and change over time. Could be the same with stims, I have no idea.

s and good luck with the eval. I hope it's helpful.
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#4 of 24 Old 08-08-2009, 10:27 PM
 
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How is his eye contact? Is it fleeting?
He reminds me a lot of 2 of my kiddos on the spectrum. I notice him figgiting with his shoes, and bottom of his shirt , does he do that a lot too? Also he seems to know a lot about the bus schedule, and different things about the bus route. Is this something you talk about a lot, or if it just something he seems to know a lot about.

Sorry for all the questions I watched it a few times, and just noticed some stuff, Then asked Dh who has aspergers watch it, and he picked up on the same stuff I did. Growing up his best friend had tics,and he says it seems more stimming to him ( Which Dh stims) then Tics.

I also had oldest dd who is a respite/hab worker watch it. She also agreed it seems more stim.

Good luck getting the right DX Mama! I know how the wanted to know can drive you batty sometimes.

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#5 of 24 Old 08-09-2009, 09:15 AM
 
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I don't know a whole lot about stims/tics so I going to approach this from a different angle. I thought it was interesting that he did it a lot more when he was walking. It almost made me think there was something visual going on. Also at 0:17 he does a funny thing with his eyes and mouth but I can't really tell because the writing is on top of it. Around 1:45 he does some squinting too but that is hard to tell whether it is from the sun or not.

Sorry if this is totally off base and you have already thoroughly investigated the vision angle, that is just what jumped out at me while watching it.

Great video by the way. I'm sure that will be really helpful for his evaluation.

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#6 of 24 Old 08-09-2009, 09:47 AM
 
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Yeah, my first question is he visual question. Has he been checked out by a pediatric opthamologist? That would be a pretty easy thing to check off the list of possibilities first.


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#7 of 24 Old 08-09-2009, 02:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the replies. He DOES have known sensory issues, which I forgot to mention.

To answer the questions: he hasn't been seen by a pediatric opthamologist, but I haven't had any concerns about his vision (he's passed his vision screenings, he can read clocks at distance, holds books at an appropriate distance to read, never complains about headaches). But it is something to check out. I'll take out the text before I give it to the doc next week. Now that you mention the squinting, I see it too.

I think he did it more on the walk home because there was nothing to capture his attention. Downtown, he was actively watching for buses. He was also more tired and more hot after the ride on the bus.

Eye contact: Good, especially with people he knows, fair with strangers. He will seek out my eyes. That's one of the things I love about this age (8) is that when his sister does/says something funny or absurd, he'll seek out my eyes and we'll share a private joke. (I shot the video while holding the camera on my belt pack, so he's not looking directly at the camera.)

Knowledge of buses: Interesting that you picked up on that. The context of the video (shot while we were taking the bus home) makes it an appropriate topic of conversation. BUT, the child has an extreme interest in buses and bus schedules in particular. He loves to go down to the local transit center (about a 15 minute walk, so it's not hard) to watch the buses come and go. Honestly, his obsessions are the one thing that screams "Asperger Syndrome" to me. Or as my dh puts it "He's a train spotter born on the wrong continent."

However, the thing that makes me skeptical of AS is that he has a great sense of when/where this is an appropriate topic of conversation. He never talks about his obsession with the other neighborhood kids. Yeah, they all know that he wants to be a bus driver, but they don't know that he plays bus driver with us or that we go watch the buses. And he only wants to go watch the buses if he can't find anyone to play with. Yesterday, he went to 5 different kids' houses to see if they could play (no one was home) before he asked to go watch the buses.

He's just such a weird, lovable puzzle!

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#8 of 24 Old 08-09-2009, 02:16 PM
 
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Just from personal experience I would say he is either showing signs of Autism Spectrum (possibly Aspergers or PDD-NOS) or simply Tourette Syndrome.

I have 3 kids, and one has Aspergers Syndrome (also tics some) and another has Tourette Syndrome. My son with TS use to tic much more and did a tic where he held a hand in front of his face just like your son. He also use to ask me SO MANY questions and started each question with "momma?" just your son. I thought that was so precious, and think your son is so cute doing it too. My son is now 15 and is doing well.

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#9 of 24 Old 08-09-2009, 02:35 PM
 
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He reminds me of my TS kid, too something about the way he talks and the blinking/looking away thing he does as well as his general demeanor.

It does look like a tic to me. Not entirely sure what the difference between a stim and a tic is really though, other than perhaps intent.

Have you ever asked him why he does it? My DS will say he just "has to" or that it relieves a feeling he has like scratching an itch.
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#10 of 24 Old 08-09-2009, 08:24 PM
 
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I have extensive experience with kids who have stims but only experience with my own transient tics.

At first, I was really thinking a tic. It seems very random, and doesn't interfere with his ability to conversate or pay attention to anything. However, when I saw how it increased on the walk, when he wasn't talking or interacting with anyone, I was thinking that it was more like a stim. Combined with his detailed knowledge of the bus schedules and routes, it definitely seems more like a stim. I also noticed the squinting, which one of my former students does.

From what I've read of older children/adults with AS, many of them only stim more noticeably when they don't have an activity/conversation going on.

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#11 of 24 Old 08-10-2009, 09:09 AM
 
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To me it looks like it could be either. From the ASD perspective (myself and my daughter), its quite possible its a stim. Mine are not constant either, and they do appear more when I'm not having a conversation with someone. He also does seem to have a lot of knowledge about trains and schedules.

But something about the hand motion seems more like a tic to me. I know a few children with Tourettes and theres just something really familiar about watching that video of your son. The blinking of his eyes, and the quickness and abruptness of the hand motion leads me to think "tic" instead of "stim." His general demeanor and voice makes me think the same.

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#12 of 24 Old 08-10-2009, 01:14 PM
 
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What a sweet little guy! He reminds me a lot of my son who is also 8. The movements definitely seem ticcish to me, although his whole demenor and tone of voice reminds me of my son who is supected to be an Aspie. My son has a stim where he looks at things through his finger by holding it in fron of his face. He will usually bring his finger closer and further away while looking at either an object, or me while I am talking to him! Sometimes he will go through a phase where he will shake his whole hand or fingers in front of his face as well. Your sons actions at a quick glance look a bit more tic like. Awesome to see the video though... it is much more clear than the photos. What a perfect thing to take to the ped! I am thinking of doing the same now.

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#13 of 24 Old 08-10-2009, 06:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Your replies are making me feel much better. I'm glad that it (a) does look odd to other people and (b) it doesn't look clear as to whether it's a tic or a stim. I do believe replies are about equally stim/tic.

I'll confess to being freaked out a tiny bit too. I've never really contemplated anything other than SPD for ds. Intellectually, I know that a diagnosis of something like AS or TS won't change who he IS, and it will help us figure out how best to help him. But emotionally, I feel like it's slapping a big "DEFECTIVE" label on my beautiful boy.

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#14 of 24 Old 08-11-2009, 12:08 AM
 
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Does he notice that he does it? Have you asked him why? Without seeming like you are shaming him for it or bringing unnessisary attention to it... just purely out of curiosity. Maybe he will have some interesting insight.

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#15 of 24 Old 08-11-2009, 01:40 AM
 
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It looks like a stim to me. I did notice what looked to be another stim--him moving his eyes to the side. From that very short clip, Autism is definitely not the first thing I think of. He doesn't seem to meet the first criteria for it based on what you have said about him, nor does he meet the first criteria for Asperger's (which are the same exact criteria).

Have you asked him what he's doing or if he notices that he covers his eyes with his hands sometimes?
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#16 of 24 Old 08-11-2009, 02:53 AM
 
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He reminds me of my Aspie and that looks like it could be either, to be honest. For my ds, I would say a stim. But if I look at it through the lens of observing the few ppl in my life that I've known w/ TS, I could easily say tic, too.

He seems rather obsessed w/ buses. That's like my son and 2 specific video games. So very specific and seemingly appropriate under certain circumstances (such as conversing w/ friends on video games or discussing the bus route while waiting for the bus), but obsessive.

BTW, I think we've all been rattled w/ the "DEFECTIVE" stamp on our kids (or ourselves, in some cases). He IS beautiful and he IS sweet and he IS precious. Absolutely.

But we all know exactly what you mean.

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#17 of 24 Old 08-11-2009, 04:09 AM
 
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Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post
Your replies are making me feel much better. I'm glad that it (a) does look odd to other people and (b) it doesn't look clear as to whether it's a tic or a stim. I do believe replies are about equally stim/tic.

I'll confess to being freaked out a tiny bit too. I've never really contemplated anything other than SPD for ds. Intellectually, I know that a diagnosis of something like AS or TS won't change who he IS, and it will help us figure out how best to help him. But emotionally, I feel like it's slapping a big "DEFECTIVE" label on my beautiful boy.
I hope you won't let the "label" thing get you down. We got our son dx'd for the reason that we wanted him to have all of the help possible. It really can make a difference in how the child develops. So many parents are in denial about their kids being different and won't get them the help they need. I know you are going to have an eval, but please don't think too much about the label.

Now, I must tell you; he seems so sweet and appears to be VERY smart. He reminds me a little of my son who is 7 and an Aspie. He also wanted to be a bus driver but now he wants to be an "expert hiker". He still loves city buses though!

From what I see it does look like a tic. I think if it were stimming it would be more often and constant. I could be wrong, but my son has had tics that have come and gone over the years. One thing he does now is makes a grimacing face. I feel so nervous when he does it. I never let on that I am, but I think the best advice about these things is to ask a professional about it to rule out anything physical. I think tics boil down to expressing anxiety physically, but they are about stress. Have you ever asked him about it?

Good luck, try not to worry and stay aware as you have been.
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#18 of 24 Old 08-11-2009, 10:46 AM
 
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Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post
I'll confess to being freaked out a tiny bit too. I've never really contemplated anything other than SPD for ds. Intellectually, I know that a diagnosis of something like AS or TS won't change who he IS, and it will help us figure out how best to help him. But emotionally, I feel like it's slapping a big "DEFECTIVE" label on my beautiful boy.
From the little snippet of video you shared, he seems like a sweet, wonderful boy. And a label really won't change him. But I know what you mean. Lots of us have felt the same way. Emotionally, it is hard.
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#19 of 24 Old 08-11-2009, 11:28 AM
 
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It looks pretty tic-ish to me but I also think he's visually reacting.
Maybe sunglasses might help him, I have very sensitive eyes if I don't wear sun glasses its unnerving. My optomitrist says this is more common in people with blue eyes...not sure if that's true but.

Did you ask him about the movements, show him the video?

8 might be enough?
Or maybe 9 will be?
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#20 of 24 Old 08-11-2009, 07:33 PM
 
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All I can say is he gestures EXACTLY like my 5 year old AS son! And my son does the same sorts of movements(arm infront of face kind of thing). But I didn't find it distracting. In fact, I found it sooo encouraging to see your beautiful young son so obviously doing well in life!
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#21 of 24 Old 08-17-2009, 12:32 AM
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My experiece is my own as an adult with Tourette's, diagnosed as a child, and not (yet) with parenting a TS child, but I did notice a few things from the video. In the first clip, the arm motion is just with one hand, but then later with the bus stop schedule it's both hands. He also does seem to do some blinking/eye movements that if it were me I would say are a different tic entirely.

Does any of it bother him? My tics started when I was about eight years old too, which is typical of TS, and I was aware of it but not bothered at all. It's just something I do, same as breathing.

I really don't know anything about AS or stimming, so am totally unqualified there, but as for the behavior questions tics can be complex and can manifest in behavior-type ways, such as counting the number of steps and things like that.

I hope you get some answers at the eval. And please, do know that whatever his diagnosis, your son is not and won't be defective. I have had TS for twenty years, I'm a college graduate, a wife, a mother, and yeah, I blink a lot, but I have absolutely never thought of myself as defective in any way. I can understand the sentiment as a parent, and I know you said that was your emotional reaction, not intellectual, but really he seems like a great kid and you should be a proud mama.

and to the pp who said TS was an anxiety thing - it's not, it's a neurological thing.

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#22 of 24 Old 08-17-2009, 02:05 AM
 
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Regarding the anxiety issue, my DS's tics are increased with stress and anxiety. Maybe for some it's not like that, but we definitely see a big jump in the frequency and severity when he's not relaxed. He was dx'd at 7 and is 15 now, so it's a big part of life around here.

I watched the video several times with the sound off so I could focus on his movements. First of all, he's freaking adorable! I bet he's a lot of fun to have around, he just has a delightful presence!! Second, just watching him I'd definitely vote tic-ing. It didn't seem to be stimming per se just because he wasn't doing it to self soothe, but rather it seemed an involuntary 'hafta do it' kinda movement.

I'd recommend sunglasses (without mentioning why, necessarily) and see if that rules out a light sensitivity, especially if he's already got sensory issues. I did notice quite a bit of heavy blinking too...that really seemed tic-like to me as well, because my 15yo son does this as his most frequent tic. My son tics AND stims, and there's a distinct difference between the two, IMO.

HTH mama, he seems like a wonderful and charming boy, I don't think there's a THING wrong with him, spectrum kiddo or not!

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#23 of 24 Old 08-17-2009, 12:59 PM
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Regarding the anxiety issue, my DS's tics are increased with stress and anxiety. Maybe for some it's not like that, but we definitely see a big jump in the frequency and severity when he's not relaxed. He was dx'd at 7 and is 15 now, so it's a big part of life around here.
Sorry, should have clarified my statement a bit more. Anxiety does increase the frequency and severity of tics for many people (and for me, so does pregnancy), but at its root TS is a neurological condition, not a mental health condition. Of course, there's nothing wrong with a mental health diagnosis, this just isn't one.

DD 04/07 DS 12/09
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#24 of 24 Old 08-17-2009, 04:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Update: Dh and I met with the developmental ped today - we'll go back in week or two (the appointment needs to be moved, and we need some forms filled out by his teacher, who's not back at school yet, so I'm not sure exactly when it'll happen) with the whole family.

I really liked this guy (Thanks BookGoddess!). He started the interview with asking us about the positive qualities for ds. I could tell that he was asking probing questions about ds' social interactions to see if an AS diagnosis makes sense. He asked some good questions about family history (yep, it's rife with anxiety on my side!). He made it very very clear that ds' bedwetting was neuro-developmental and that if ds could do something about it, he would. (That was nice for dh to hear, as he has the opinion that if we just 'toughened up' a bit, maybe ds would stop.)

He suggested one way to get ds back into his room was to move his sleeping area gradually further away from our bed. No hard core: You've got to get him back now!

So, we won't know anything more for a good number of weeks, which isn't great for my nerves. I've been having a ton of stress dreams lately, and had a horrible day of stress eating last week. I'm not sure why I'm so stressed about this, but apparently I am, even if I'm not admitting it to myself.


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Regarding the anxiety issue, my DS's tics are increased with stress and anxiety. Maybe for some it's not like that, but we definitely see a big jump in the frequency and severity when he's not relaxed. He was dx'd at 7 and is 15 now, so it's a big part of life around here.
interesting!

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I watched the video several times with the sound off so I could focus on his movements. First of all, he's freaking adorable! I bet he's a lot of fun to have around, he just has a delightful presence!!
Thanks! It's good to hear that from some 'unbiased' sources . I think he's adorable, of course. He's just the NICEST kid (usually).


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Second, just watching him I'd definitely vote tic-ing. It didn't seem to be stimming per se just because he wasn't doing it to self soothe, but rather it seemed an involuntary 'hafta do it' kinda movement.
Interesting insight. It does. I noticed him doing it the other day when we were roller skating - it was REALLY throwing off his balance, but he couldn't stop. He would do it at the same spot around the rink - the spot where he fell down the first 3 times around. He DID stop after about 10 minutes when it was clear he wasn't afraid he was going to fall down.

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I'd recommend sunglasses (without mentioning why, necessarily) and see if that rules out a light sensitivity, especially if he's already got sensory issues. I did notice quite a bit of heavy blinking too...that really seemed tic-like to me as well, because my 15yo son does this as his most frequent tic. My son tics AND stims, and there's a distinct difference between the two, IMO.
Wow! that's a combo. I will look for some sunglasses to see if we can get him to wear them in the sunshine. We're going to the beach in about 10 days and I can get both kids a pair for obvious reasons. I doubt highly that he'll wear them, but you never know. (He hates hats too, even though they'd shade his eyes.)

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HTH mama, he seems like a wonderful and charming boy, I don't think there's a THING wrong with him, spectrum kiddo or not!
Thanks! As I said, he is a great kid. I just wish he had it 'easier'. It's just a bit hard to overhear his friend next door say "Stop doing that. If you do that, you won't get any girlfriends when you're older." (Yes, she has older sisters!)

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Originally Posted by srs View Post
My experiece is my own as an adult with Tourette's, diagnosed as a child, and not (yet) with parenting a TS child, but I did notice a few things from the video. In the first clip, the arm motion is just with one hand, but then later with the bus stop schedule it's both hands. He also does seem to do some blinking/eye movements that if it were me I would say are a different tic entirely.
You know it's funny, but I didn't notice the eye thing at all until I recorded him!

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Does any of it bother him? My tics started when I was about eight years old too, which is typical of TS, and I was aware of it but not bothered at all. It's just something I do, same as breathing.
It doesn't seem to. I'm trying REALLY hard to not comment on it. But it's clear that he doesn't really notice much, or at least think about it.

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I hope you get some answers at the eval. And please, do know that whatever his diagnosis, your son is not and won't be defective. <snip> I know you said that was your emotional reaction, not intellectual, but really he seems like a great kid and you should be a proud mama.
Thanks! He is a great kid. I KNOW intellectually that having a 'disorder' won't change who he is, and it might even help us smooth his path a bit. But gosh, if I could take this from him, I would.

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Originally Posted by riversmommy View Post
All I can say is he gestures EXACTLY like my 5 year old AS son! And my son does the same sorts of movements(arm infront of face kind of thing). But I didn't find it distracting. In fact, I found it sooo encouraging to see your beautiful young son so obviously doing well in life!
thank you - he is doing amazingly well. So, yes, there's a lot of hope for 'quirky' kids like ours. And it's that I've got to keep in mind.

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