Worried about my two year old son - Mothering Forums

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Old 11-11-2012, 07:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am so worried about my little boy



My son is 2.5 years old and only saying words and a few sentences to communicate. We have started speech therapy. The speech therapist says I should have him screened for Sensory Processing Disorder (because he puts everything in his mouth, jumps up and down, lies on the floor) or Autism.



He is VERY VERY happy and easy going, full of laughter. He prefers to kick a ball, but will sit down to colour too. He gives us hugs and kisses and communicates his needs. But he isn't social yet (only with people he knows very well) At daycare they say he is different because he isn't social and they say he is a handful because he is so high energy, always preferring to run over circle time.



In my heart, I don't think he has a disorder. I think he is a quirky two year old. Yet I hate having him analyzed this way. I read online that these are the flags for autism:



1)Shows little response when you call her name, especially if she is in preschool

2) May not respond when other people try to talk or play with her

3) Shows little interest in getting attention from others

4) Does not point with her index finger to show what she is interested in

5) Shows a lack of interest in toys or plays with toys in an unusual way

6) May seem moody or irritable or very passive, and she may suddenly change from being very passive to very irritable in a short period of time

7) may make have difficulty using eye gaze appropriately in social situations



I would say #1, #2, #3 #4 could be him at times and that upsets me!

However, he is very good with pointing out his body parts, pointing to things in books, and telling us all the animal sounds



Can someone have some autism traits at such a young young age and NOT have a disorder? I feel like he the same as I was at this age, but people were much easier on toddlers back then, there wasn't an enormous pressure to conform. I am 4 months pregnant and I am not sure if the hormones are adding to my worry. My husband isn't worried, or so it seems


 


There are videos on Youtube of toddlers my kids age having complex conversations about the makes of cars and writing the alphabet. My son is NO WHERE near that! 



Thanks



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Old 11-11-2012, 12:00 PM
 
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Welcome, Birdsounds!

 

I've been where you are, and I know just how crazy you can make yourself constantly wondering, Is he? Isn't he? What was that? And all the searching online. You might want to drop over to the Special Needs board - very supportive.

 

Yes - the range of kids' abilities and quirks alike is unbelievably wide. We really want answers, but sometimes the reality is that it's not so clear cut. Whether or not he has something with a label, what's great is that resources are out there for whatever challenges you are seeing, like you've already discovered with speech therapy. So if you decide to do additional assessments, that can be a positive outcome.

 

Are you familiar with the book Quirky Kids? http://www.amazon.com/Quirky-Kids-Understanding-Helping-Doesnt/dp/0345451430/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1352659704&sr=8-1&keywords=quirky+kids It's written for people exactly in your position and has very helpful info with a balance of reassurance and realism.

 

Best of luck on your journey!

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Old 11-12-2012, 05:37 PM
 
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We have also been right where you are and it was the most stressful time in my life!  The short answer to your question is that, yes, children can have "red flags" for autism and not be on the spectrum.  However, those red flags can indicate something is up (though that something can also totally just be quirks, my sister was just like that as a toddler and she's now a vet, happy about to have a baby so no one here can really tell you.)

 

Our DS had a number of Autism red flags, but he also did many things that made it seem unlikely.  We were SO confused and, to be honest, the experts we went to made things more confusing for us (partly, I realize now, because they were confused too).  

 

Just to give you a sense of our journey - at 2.5 our DS had almost the exact same red flags as yours.  Low eye contact in high stress situations, didn't respond to his name consistently, didn't engage with other kids much, and his language was very, very behind.  He had enough red flags that the speech therapist and Early Intervention both told us he was on the spectrum.

 

When he was 3 and his language was still very behind we took him to a developmental ped.  It turns out that he has some minor sensory issues plus a fairly severe language disorder.  The good news is that kids with that disorder (MERLD) tend to catch up to their peers.  But in the mean time, he is missing a lot of social interaction that is language based so we will always probably have to work on social/verbal communication with him.  Knowing what is really going on has been so helpful for us because it gives us a road map for what to work on (and what not to work on).  He is also incredibly happy, sweet, loving, and engaged with us.   

 

The red flags he had (most of which have totally gone away now that he's 3.5) were all because his receptive language was so far behind.  He literally couldn't understand a lot of what was said to him and thus the lack of response, lack of engagement especially with kids who were trying to talk to him, etc. 

 

I tell you all this not because I'm saying that is what's up with your DS, but because I hope you will consider an evaluation if you continue to be worried.  Developmental issues are often very complex and many things can look like SPD or Autism but aren't.  Rather than go to those on line check-lists which are TERRIBLE at helping you figure out what might be up, a good developmental pediatrician can really tease apart whats up with your little one.  Likewise, a child psychologist, OT, or speech therapist really shouldn't diagnose your child.  They can help with specific issues, and they will often offer an opinion about a diagnosis, but we had such confusing experiences with their attempts to help us that I think it did more harm than good in the long run. 

 

Oh, and no matter what happens, your DS is and will be the same great little one that is he now! :)

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Old 11-12-2012, 11:52 PM
 
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At around 1 year of age, I noticed some changes with my daughter and sought help from a DAN doctor (defeat autism now) as well as physiotherapist and dietician.  I sensed something was different. My daughter is now almost 3 and I no longer have the slightest concern, but I am so grateful for the help along the way.  For example, the physiotherapist gave us a weighted vest which helped her focus during certain situations.  The DAN doctor recommended some diet changes and supportive herbal remedies to help improve digestion (and behaviour). We never got a "diagnosis" and she was very young, but I feel that everything we did along the way was really helpful.  I guess I would tend to encourage others to take advantage of supports if they are available - it does not necessarily result in a diagnosis but sometimes there are small concrete things which are really helpful (like the weighted vest).  However, in Canada dieticians and physiotherapists etc are included under public medical, so we did not need to pay for these services. That can make a big difference in choosing which things to pursue. 

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Old 11-13-2012, 01:22 PM
 
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As others have said, I encourage you to seek out an evaluation. Yes, it's possible your son could be on the autism spectrum. If that's true, the earlier you can get a diagnosis, the better. It's also quite possible that your son has some kind of other developmental problem (maybe speech related) that has produced some symptoms that look a bit like autism, but will completely go away after he's overcome his speech issues (or whatever else).

 

For good or for ill, autism is the "hot diagnosis" right now. My son (now 7.5, in second grade), had a huge number of speech issues. He didn't put words together until he was 3.5, and that was after a year of speech therapy. Even then, he was really hard to understand. His speech didn't really start coming together until first grade. His preschool teacher and his speech therapists never suggested he could be on the spectrum, but all kinds of other random people did. When he was five, a high school friend of mind whom  I hadn't seen in years (who teaches special ed) spent an hour with us and several months later sent me a facebook message suggesting that she saw some red flags for high functioning autism or aspergers. The summer he was six, a distant cousin who works with autistic adults met him, said he observed him engaging in "flapping" behavior and asked us if we'd ever had him evaluated for ASD or SPD. These are just two examples. Every time, I drove myself crazy looking at online lists of autism characteristics and picking out which ones might fit my son. But the long and short of it was, none of these armchair diagnosticians were autism experts, and none had spent more than a short time with my son. He isn't on the spectrum, and, when I really thought about it and didn't let my fears rule me, I always knew he never was. But what if he had been? He still would have been the same kid.  I remember talking with a mom of a child in my son's special needs preschool class whose son is indeed autistic. She said there were lots of red flags early on but she was in denial about the possibility. When they had him evaluated and came in to learn the results, her husband said to her, " No matter what happens in there, we'll have the same kid when we come out." 

 

Your son may be a quirky two year old with a minor language issue who will start socializing on his own timetable. He may have an autism spectrum disorder. Either way, finding out what makes him tick early is going to be helpful. 


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Old 11-13-2012, 03:55 PM
 
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My son is 2.5 years old and only saying words and a few sentences to communicate.

 

(Yours is way more advanced than mine is)  Glad to hear you're doing speech therapy.  We are doing that here, and have seen quite a bit of progress, hopefully you are too.

 

The speech therapist says I should have him screened for Sensory Processing Disorder (because he puts everything in his mouth, jumps up and down, lies on the floor) or Autism.

 

Lots of kids do these things.  Does he do them "excessively", to the point where other people constantly comment on how weird it is, or to the point where they interfere with daily functioning?  Then maybe a screening is order.  If in doubt, talk to your pediatrician about it.  If there IS a concern, schedule another evaluation, but I would have thought that if you were doing speech therapy, he's already had a developmental screen and passed it (except in the area of speech). 

 

He is VERY VERY happy and easy going, full of laughter.

 

That does NOT sound like autism to me.  Granted there ARE kids with autism who tend to be easygoing, but it's pretty rare.  Most are definitely NOT.  Flexibility is not generally a feature in autism.

 

But he isn't social yet (only with people he knows very well).

 

Some kids just aren't that social, even though the majority seem to be.  Extroverts are more numerous in the general population than introverts.  Just because a kid isn't terribly social, it doesn't mean they have an autism spectrum disorder.  My own child is not terribly social, but then again neither are we.     

 

They say he is a handful because he is so high energy, always preferring to run over circle time.

 

Sounds pretty normal to me.  If you go into a normal kindergarten classroom, you'll see plenty of squirmy boys.  But if it's to the point where he CAN'T follow directions and settle down when he needs to, then you might want to look into that.  Is he impulsive at all, or just very active?

I think he is a quirky two year old.

 

I personally think all two-year-olds are rather quirky.  Regarding your red flags, here's what they're really getting at:   

 

#1  Is the child CONSISTENTLY non-responsive to their name (not just selectively--but ALL the time..to the point where you think they're hearing impaired.  The child never comes when called--even at home).

 

#3  The child appears totally oblivious to other people and NEVER initiates interactions with others.  If left to his own devices, would he probably NEVER interact with people?


#4  Does not point or gesture:  The important part here is SPONTANEOUSLY.  The child NEVER points out objects in his environment or wants to show you something.  (This is not to be confused with the kind of pointing kids with autism do when you're doing discrete trial where you're specifically asking them to point at a specific object to indicate which one.)

 

You say you see this "at times", but would you say it's MOST of the time, or just once in awhile.  Because if it's not MOST of the time, you probably aren't dealing with full-blown autism.

 

Can someone have some autism traits at such a young young age and NOT have a disorder?

 

Sure.  After all, MOST of the behaviors exhibited by people with autism spectrum disorders are the same things everyone exhibits from time to time.  The difference is the frequency and duration of those behaviors.  A lot of autism behaviors are things that normal children do sporadically or for brief periods of time, but outgrow quickly.  The difference with autism, is they aren't outgrown...hence the prevalence of 15 year old autistic boys who have Thomas the Train obsessions.  Appropriate at 2 or 3?  Sure.  At 15?  Not so much.

 

There are videos on Youtube of toddlers my kids age having complex conversations about the makes of cars and writing the alphabet.


As hard as it is, try not to compare your kid to kids on Youtube.  After all these are the precocious children, the ones whose parents were so proud of their verbal prowess and amazing fine motor skills that they felt the need to record the moment for posterity and post the video for the entire world to see. 
 

If you feel concerned at all, I'd get a basic autism screen done by your pediatrician, and see where that takes you, but based on what you've said, it doesn't sound like your son has autism.
 

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Old 11-13-2012, 05:01 PM
 
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One more thought on the social thing. Your son may just be shy. My son who was armchair diagnosed as ASD has, in fact, always been extremely social - with other kids. He's kind of shy around adults he doesn't know. I've always been apparently "antisocial" in large groups of people I don't know well. It's called being an introvert. It made for a rough adolescence, but it didn't put me on autism spectrum. You son just may not be super extroverted. I still think you should get some kind of evaluation, but what it will probably do is put your mind at ease.


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