I have no idea where to post this. I was spoke to by a close family member who has apparently been monitoring ds and researching his behavior. They montioned autism yesterday to me for the first time. This may sound offensive for someone to do this, but thats not the point, I trust their instincts and it has honestly been something I have been thinking myself. What are some determining factors in a child this young? I have read alot online about 18 mos, but I dont know what to look for in this age braket. He just started waving opening and closing his hand, doesnt make alot of eye contact, gags on food almost once a day, doesnt eat alot of food-mostly nurses, and is sooo fussy. I try to talk to eople about it, and all I get is "oh, thats how babies are." No way. There is not a chance other babies are like this. He as an infant would cry all day. ALL DAY. I would sit and rock and rock him. I removed alot of allergies at 6 mo and he did better, but he is still fussy. And he didnt sleep through the night until recently. I was up nursing him at least 2x per night until a month or two ago. Oh, and he was only pooping 1x per week. He has had digestive issues since we gave him his 1st bite of solid food, even though hedidnt get anymore for a long time after. We even have gone to constipation specialist, who gave us no info. He was primarilyu bf, and not pooping. He has started pooping better, with switching his probiotics. These are just some of the things they brought up yesterday. What else can I go on to understand if these concerns are legit?
Thanks in advance. Im feeling so overwhelmed by all of this.
This test is a good place to start:
I hope you're not vaxxing!
But if he is ultimately diagnosed ASD, there IS help. My son is recovered from ASD.
The younger they are the more possibilities as to what can be causing the symptoms. You already know he has GI problems and allergies, both of which can result in those symptoms (caused by bowel discomfort/pain and not neurologically based). It's also possible he may have sensory issues. You could call up EI for an evaluation, as well as a developmental-behavioral clinic for a more thorough evaluation (though the latter may require a referral from a PCP).
Search- threads concerning bowel issues
That being said, he may also just be on the more extreme end of 'normal' (which is almost harder to accept sometimes!) But it sounds like your family member tapped into something you've already been instinctively concerned about, so I would go ahead and follow your instincts and pursue this further, until you're satisfied that either he's getting appropriate services or is not in need of them, you know?
Thank you for all the help. Im not sure what El is? New to this I guess...And no vaxes! Vit K at birth, which I regret as we didnt circ. It was actually a battle to not vax as dh was for it. Im so glad I stood my ground. Thanks again for all the help. Is it common to be idenitfied in children this young? And yes, she was super hesitant to bring it up, but when she said it my first thought was "she thinks it too! Im not crazy!"
So to briefly explain EI (Early Intervention) as I understand it -- everyone can correct me if needed! -- it is federally-mandated, for kids age 0-3. Anyone can make a referral (doctor, teacher, parent) and you are entitled to an evaluation within 45 days I believe. They complete the eval with a team of specialists (varies, but at ours there were 4 people, each looked at different areas like his speech, play skills, motor skills, etc.) They "play" with your kid, testing them in different areas (don't be scared by the word 'test', it was actually really fun & laid-back) and ask you a million questions. Then they decide whether the child qualifies for services... in our case, DS had no actual "delays" because he is very much ahead physically/cognitively/etc. but he has enough other issues that he is considered :"at risk" so he is eligible to receive services. Different states have slightly different rules on this. But anyway. Then they will come to your home (or other comfortable environment for your kid) on a regular basis and do whatever -- speech therapy, OT, family education, etc. and they also have things like play groups. There is no cost to you -- your insurance (if you have it) should cover a lot of it & the state picks up the rest of the cost. You can get the eval & services through a number of agencies -- Easter Seals, Right Start, etc. -- so you can just google "EI providers in ___" (your state) and get a list and call one of them to set up the eval.
One of my biggest fears was that I was kind of inviting the gov't into my life and they'd criticize me for BF'ing etc. but it's not like that at all -- they are private agencies and they don't want to interfere with my parenting decisions in any way -- just support us in helping DS with his difficulties. Thought I'd mention that in case you or anyone else reading this shares that fear!!
I would trust your instincts and talk to Early Intervention. There is no harm (or cost) in doing that. I work with kids on the spectrum and I'm able to see it very easily at 18 months for kids that show signs early, it's not out of the range of possibility to see something that warrants a closer look. And it can be really helpful to have some play-based and relationship-based services from an early age.
The M-CHAT is a screening tool for toddlers to assess whether they are at risk of Autism Spectrum disorder; it can be used starting at 16 months. If you google it you should be able to find the questionnaire and the scoring instructions, and then you can take that information to the Pediatrician if it indicates a need for further assessment. Regardless, if you have concerns about his development it doesn't hurt to get an evaluation through EI and discuss your concerns with the Pediatrician.
It sounds like your relative was coming from a place of love and sincere concern. Early Intervention (EI) is offered through your local public school district. You can call and request an evaluation (just call the main phone # for the district and ask for the number for Early Intervention), and the district has to respond within 30 days. You may also request an eval in writing -- in some school districts, this is more effective than a phone call. The school district will then do a multi-disciplinary team eval to determine if your child is eligible for services such as speech therapy, occupational/sensory integration therapy, physical therapy, feeding therapy, social skills, etc. This is not the same as a medical diagnosis. Even if it is decided that your child is not eligible for services (usually only the children in the bottom 25% qualify for services), the team can recommend all kinds of useful activities to try at home or other strategies to help your child -- that's what happened with my DS2, who is not autistic, but was a late talker.
You may also want to pursue a medical diagnosis. You can do this through a developmental pediatrician (covered by most insurance plans with a referral) or developmental psychologist. Most doctors will not diagnose a child under age 2 with autism, but my DS1 was red-flagged with "behavior consistent with Autism Spectrum Disorder" at age 18 months. My DS1 received a formal medical diagnosis of ASD at age 3. The funny thing is, he didn't have most of the symptoms on the M-CHAT checklist. He was able to talk and even read as a baby, but his words were all scripts that he memorized from books, and he used them metaphorically, not in a functional way. He loved to be held by me and has always been very affectionate with me, but he has severe stranger anxiety. He made eye contact, but it was fleeting. My point is that autism is a spectrum with a wide range of symptoms.
There's a lot you can do right now at home for free to help your child. If you can concerns about communication, the book Play to Talk by MacDonald is pro-AP and scientifically solid and easy to integrate into everyday activities at home. You can also look into play therapy in one of Stanley Greenspan's books. Here's a blog that explains how to get started with play therapy.
You're welcome to pm me if you have questions. I have one child who's been "in the system" with global developmental delays since age 18 months and one child who has many autistic personality traits but no developmental delays -- he's actually my more difficult child! I wish your family all the best on this journey.
I ditto the Early Intervention recommendation. I actually contacted them when my son was about 2 because of concerns I had about his speech. It turned out that his speech was within the range of normal, but that he had low muscle tone, which no one had picked up on! So he received OT for that, which helped him a lot. And with all of these sorts of things, the earlier they can get help, the better! And if it turns out there's nothing wrong, then so much the better :)
While I agree that you should contact EI, it wouldn't hurt to get on the waiting list for a developmental pediatrician. My son didn't qualify for EI at 18 months and at 22 months - we were told he didn't have a speech delay but rather, he was too active and he needed to learn to sit still. Turn outs, he had a severe articulation delay among other things. Seeing a DP was what put us on the right path. They don't have an ulterior motive, EI does (saving the state $$).