borderline gifted / borderline autistic? - Mothering Forums
Parenting the Gifted Child > borderline gifted / borderline autistic?
mamamelia's Avatar mamamelia 05:40 PM 06-27-2007
dd is 33mo. for a few days now i have been seriously considering having her evaluated for autism as i have always felt something was a little off or different about her. i had never really felt this strongly until i recently noticed her sister doing things and behaving in a way that she never did (her sister is the typical textbook child).
i first noticed things were different from when she was born. at one day old, the lady that did the hearing test for newborns in the hospital told me to "please leave the room, as my daughter cannot relax enough to allow her to conduct the test". it turns out she kept focusing on my every move, tracking me moving from place to place in the tiny room. she would not stop looking at me with great interest. i had to hide so that she could do the test. when mama was no longer in view, her mind relaxed enough for the hearing test to start. she then told me that babies are her job, and that she could tell straight off the bat that my baby was very alert and probably going to give me alot of trouble over the next few months. she said that melia was behaving in a way that her 3rd child, who is now gifted, behaved as a newborn. sure enough, she did give me hell. never slept, always wanted to be in arms or at the boob. nothing else could keep her quiet. she was very fussy, very high needs. she started to scoot on her back at 9 weeks old. as in, she could go all the way from the bottom of the bed to the top in a matter of seconds. she rolled over at 10-12 weeks from back to front and vice versa, began crawling at 5.5 months, mastered crawling at 6m1w, was climbing the stairs at 7m and it's a little sketchy but i think she first walked at 11 months? developed and used the proper princer grasp (thumb and finger) at 5 months. she never played with toys, they were just tossed to the side. she always preffered real things. we were very much a CC family... we didn't talk to her much actually... we just let her do her thing. we never read to her, or sat down and 'played' with her. just went about our things and she went about hers. we also had no TV. she never saw a single minute of TV until she hit 14 months or so. she developed alot of things what i could call early.. she could hold a normal (not tri side) pen or pencil the way an adult does (as in the proper grip) at 13 months? she could draw a perfect closed circle at 17-18 months. when she first drew circles, she was somewhat obsessed and had pages of rows and rows of small perfect circles... there were circles everywhere.
she potty learned all by herself (we didn't even try to teach her) at 18 months. this wasthe loveliest surprise of all i think! she just decided to one day get up and go to toilet and was dry within a couple of weeks. she has an excellent memory. we gave her a book last christmas (2 20page books actually) and she had all the names and pictures memorised within a day! she memorised the book back to front. we tell what something is once or twice and that's it, bam, she memorises it forever. she has always been interested in letters and so i started to write them out for her. at 24 months she wrote out the letter D from memory. around that time, i also noticed a very distinct face had been drawn on her table (she drew it) and i had only started to draw faces for her. at 28 months, she grabbed a paper and pen and asked me to write 'A', i did, then she took them both off me and copied it exactly - there was no distinction between mine and hers. she will be doodling and then suddenly write out a letter and say "look mama, i wrote H" for example and i had not written H to her in a long time (she just remembers the form). she knows the entire alphabet upper and lower case and recognises them everywhere we go. we did not directly teach her the alphabet. i pretty much just only used to write out the letters when she would ask me to. she figures out puzzles within a day or two and tosses them to the side. she doesn't play with toys as normal toddlers do. i bought some blocks for her sister and when she saw them she just stacked about 20 or so and lined several up. she cuts with my cook's knife.. she will now cut parsley and onion finely for me, when i am prepping dinner. she recently unscrewed daddy's computer case with his screwdriver. again, we never show her this stuff. she just looks at us while we are working, grabs the equipment and copies it almost perfectly from the word go. one thing that makes me laugh is she washes her hands like a surgeon prepping himself, does. she also cuts paper in a straight line and can make a sandwich for herself.
ok, so your probably wondering about the autism part. well, the circles for a start... but now it's triangles and squares (which surprise, surprise she draws perfectly).. she draws them all the time. she won't draw anything else but letters, shapes, some numbers too. she will draw rows of them everywhere, it has me concerned. she will scribble too, and draw lots of lines in rows. when she paints, she paints in rows aswell. she understands counting objects, all the colours and varying shades too. she doesn't have an extensive vocabulary, or at least i don't believe she does. now before i go on, i need to say that for the first year of her life, i HARDLY EVER spoke to her (probably nothing more than "why won't you sleep?!?". had very bad PPD, i could barely just take care of her. we had no TV, no plastic sound making toys, played no music, never saw anyone, she always just heard the birds or silence 24-7. actually, there was music, when her dad rocked her to sleep.. but that was all. i have also only read to her a whole maybe 8-10 times in her 33 months of life. that's pretty bad, i know. we don't go to playgroup and she doesn't have any friends her age (always just sits with adults). YES, i know - her life has been very, very boring. but despite it, she could speak in 5-7 word sentences since she was 24mo, which i guess is OK. but then again, considering we have never really talked to her and she hasn't heard much of the english language overall, that's pretty good. sometimes she can say up to 13 or 15 words in one go. she will say things like "i don't want to eat chicken, but i would like to eat some bread" and sometimes she will say "mummy, please put the baby down on the floor and come wipe my bum bum!!" LOL. she does alot of funny things that i wonder where she picked up from, like when she was almost 2 and her fingers were dirty from eating, she wanted to grab her cup of water but not dirty it, so she picked the cup up with her clean palms, drank from it and set it back down the same way so her dirty fingers wouldn't touch the cup. sometimes she acts mature for her age. for example, she calls out to us when the baby is doing something dangerous or about to fall to come put her back down and will say "no baby, that is dangerous! mum, mum, quick come lift her!". every morning when we wake up (we co-sleep), she gets out of bed, grabs her chair and stands on it to turn on the light on for the baby, goes over to her and gives her a kiss, then gives her a toy to play with and sits with her and says "shhhh, mummy is sleeping", and she patiently waits for me to wake up and get out of bed. if the baby pulls on my hair, she will take my hair out of her palm and say "don't pull on mama's hair!". she takes care of her sister the whole time. a few times i have fallen asleep unexpectedly after waking up and i wake up again and they are still both on the bed playing and waiting for me. it melts my heart! for a 33mo that is a pretty mature thing to do (at least IMO). before i had the baby, if she would wake up before me and it was clear i wasn't going to wake up, she would go inside to the lounge room and put a dvd on for herself to watch while i sleep - she knows the buttons and how to put it in correctly. oddly enough, she never ever did anything dangerous even though it was all there for her to do. she has never done anything dangerous other than try to freefall from the top of the couch. so many times i woke up to find her sitting on the couch laughing at some movie she put on for herself (she was obsessed with elf and pippi for a while).
she puts the washing in the dryer and sets it to dry. oh, also when she was very young she knew which plugs went in which hole (like the laptop charger or the phone line). also recently i have been singing her to "you are my sunshine". i sang it about 5 times i think before she popped up and just sang it back to me word for word! we have always recieved comments on her being alert and smart, but i am not sure exactly where her intelligence lies if that makes sense. for one, she doesn't have much of an imagination (as in she doesn't pretend play). she will sometimes with her bear or doll, but not much and certainly not the amount that other kids do. as in if she had a play kitchen, she'd play in it a whole five minutes. she prefers to do real things, puzzles and go out. last night she lined up her pencils perfectly... she also has a fit if the baby takes a block out of her perfect line... it's late and i cant think of much more.. she hops, skips with a rope, dresses and puts her shoes on the right way, has been using an adult size glass cup since she was 10 months old. can pour herself juice or milk with no spills, has been feeding herself with adult utensils since she was a year? never was a messy eater when feeding herself either. it always went from plate to mouth. oh, the other night we were lying down in bed and dd said to dh "look daddy, there is ant"
"where melia?"
"on the ceiling. look!"
we searched for about 2-3 minutes and sure enough there was the tiniest of tiny ant walking across the ceiling. how in the hell did she see that???? she picks planes in the sky and they are so far away they are almost dots... she has a good eye for detail. anyway, i guess i wanted to know what the mamas of gifted children thought. now granted, she doesn't read or know another language so it's not blantantly obvious that she is gifted, but i also know that she is definately not normal either, at least not from the kids i've seen. the repetitiveness of the circles or whatever she is drawing, painting and the lining up - not playing with toys properly and the lack of pretend play make me point to borderline autism, but then i wonder how in the heck she could copy and memorise so easily if she wasn't gifted in this area. i don't know. i need some perspective i guess. and before anyone mentions it, we are working on doing more one on one activities with her. our AP parenting with her was excellent but our one on one attention is pretty shameful. she turned out ok though.

so yes, perspective please!

loraxc's Avatar loraxc 06:26 PM 06-27-2007
She doesn't sound autistic to me--the only things that would point to that are the lack of pretend play and lining up objects, and I don't think that's enough. It sounds like she understands feelings and emotions really well, which is not a very autistic characteristic.

From your description, I think she has extremely good fine motor skills and is possibly visual-spatial and mechanically inclined. It's hard to tell if she is gifted, but she sounds very interesting and advanced in certain areas.

Just out of curiosity, why don't you read to her?
Roar's Avatar Roar 06:30 PM 06-27-2007
I don't think it is surprising that a kid who hasn't been talked to or interacted with a lot would seem odd or not that socialized. My approach would be to put an intense effort into interacting and socializing with her. Talk a lot, be social, go to the park, invite over friends, etc. and give her time to develop. Stanley Greenspan's books may be a big help to you in giving you ideas how to help her be more engaged in play, social interaction and language.
mamamelia's Avatar mamamelia 06:48 PM 06-27-2007
"From your description, I think she has extremely good fine motor skills and is possibly visual-spatial and mechanically inclined."

i agree. i forgot to mention that at 1.5y she used to pull pacers apart and put them back to together again in the correct way. she has always been fascinated with pulling things apart to see how they work. no surprise, her daddy is an engineer.
i didn't read to her in the first year or so because i was battling depression (could just barely make it out of bed enough to take care of her). after that, i'm not sure.. she was very wriggly in my lap and preffered to just do her own thing. she'd bring me a book every once in a blue moon and i'd read it to her. i read 7 books to her last night though. lol. she was as happy as larry after that!

"I don't think it is surprising that a kid who hasn't been talked to or interacted with a lot would seem odd or not that socialized. My approach would be to put an intense effort into interacting and socializing with her. Talk a lot, be social, go to the park, invite over friends, etc. and give her time to develop."

yeah, i feel absolutely horrible about it all, and i'm trying to make an effort to turn it all around. she is not odd (her drawing habits are). i know i said something is off about her, i think that was the wrong word. i meant that something about her strikes me as different when compared to her peers. her speech is fine (she's does 13-15 word sentences which is great considering her experiences), and she is very friendly, very confident (always get comments on how confident she is) and makes friends in an instant (like when we go to the shops). although she has a habit of chasing kids around (like they are playing tag). she just doesn't see many kids in general for a few different reasons (don't drive, live in a shitty area for public transport, no gated parks and they are not within walking distance anyway, and it's winter right now). so we stay at home. today she spent her day painting, drawing, playing with her sister, helping out with house stuff and she watched a movie. we read a little, talked about all sorts of things too. she's getting some new puzzles soon. she loves puzzles until she has mastered it - we usually give her a day. so they don't last long in this house.
but yes, we are working on doing more with her! i feel like i've really wasted alot of her life just letting her stare at the walls. thanks for the link.
ChristaN's Avatar ChristaN 07:26 PM 06-27-2007
My older dd is definitely not autistic and definitely is gifted, but she does appear to have something "wrong" with her at times. Dh was insistent that there was something wrong from the time she was an infant. He kept insisting that she needed a "brain scan." Honestly, I think that part of the reason we had her IQ tested at 7 was to help him understand what it was that made her so different. I'm still not sure that he gets totally, unfortunately.

Your dd doesn't sound autistic to me either. I am getting the inkling that you are in England from your posts and, having never been there, I don't know if you can find the same books as we have in the US, but I would imagine so. You may want to take a look at a book called The Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children and Adults. I thought that it did a good job of laying out how giftedness in and of itself could appear to be many other things.

Hopefully having a younger sibling will give her some more opportunity to interact with other children, but I'd agree that trying to give her the opportunity to get together with children her age (or older) may be good as well. Just be aware that she may do better with older children rather than age mates.
mamamelia's Avatar mamamelia 04:56 PM 06-28-2007
hi christa, thanks so much for your input. i am curious - what made your dh think something was wrong with your dd? my dh seems to think that nothing is absolutely wrong with dd and that i am overanalyzing. that book sounds like it will be alot of help... i will look it up, thanks for that. i live in australia actually
my neice and nephew are staying with us right now and dd is loving it, of course they are 13 and 8 but she gets along with them really well and they love being with her. in fact, most of our friends offer to take her out as they think she is good company and a lovely kid to be around and i can tell she much prefers the company of adults. she does have this one 3yo friend who absolutely adores her to peices but she hardly gets to see because of circumstances. we will be moving in the spring and will be much closer to this little girl, so they will get to see eachother every day.
we have gone to playgroups before but she just wasn't interested. she just wanted to play tag and not sit around and "pretend play". the other kids were colouring in and all she wanted to do was run around like a physco in circles (she motivated all the other kids to get up and run around too and the organizers got angry because she disrupted the "playing"). when the doors opened up, she ran out to go home and asked if we could not go back.
Roar's Avatar Roar 05:04 PM 06-28-2007
Not odd, makes friends in an instant, confident...

None of that says autism.
mamamelia's Avatar mamamelia 05:09 PM 06-28-2007
oh, i also wanted to ask for reccomendations for toys/materials that will help her thrive? she is very interested in letters, words and how things work. i am thinking of teaching her how to read but are wondering if maybe it's just too much at this age (she is not yet 3)? for the first time today she sat patiently in the shops in the book section and just looked through the books and helped me pick some out. i bought her 2 new books that she will really enjoy.
mamamelia's Avatar mamamelia 05:25 PM 06-28-2007
Originally Posted by Roar View Post
Not odd, makes friends in an instant, confident...

None of that says autism.
ok, thanks roar. see, that's what my sister said too - that autistic kids generally have a harder time with thier emotional side and she didn't exhibit those characteristics. but what is up with the repititiveness when drawing... the pages and i mean pages of circles, and now triangles and squares??? i just don't get it. is she just in love with shapes, or is it something deeper than that? and the lines and dots, and lining up things..... she is somewhat of a perfectionist too sometimes. i have never really worried about anything she has done except for this. it freaks me out. also when i ask her questions, she often gives me a very puzzled look... she still sometimes gets her words mixed up and will refer to herself as 'she' instead of 'i' and repeat things that have been said to her and use them as 'conversation' if that makes sense. i don't know if she still just developing speech because it hasn't been consistently present until the last 1.5yrs or if she is leaning towards borderline autism and we just haven't picked up on it yet.
she has always been a friendly person. as a baby she used to sit in the sling and smile at everyone passing by.

oh, i forgot to add, *sometimes* when something does go wrong when she is trying to perfect things, she has a HUGE, HUGE meltdown like the world is going to end. she just falls apart... and i don't know what to do for her. i've noticed sometimes that she does exhibit some anxiety but overall, she is fairly confident (sometimes over-confident) and will approach people of all ages without fear (she has even kicked 8 and 10 year olds off shopping center rides before). it's only when something doesn't go her way that the anxiety pops up (and she looks really scared while its happening) and will often just revert afterwards and have what i call a silent tantrum where she doesn't talk to anyone. it upsets me to be honest. i hate that she has trouble expressing her sadness. i suffer from high anxiety and a tad of perfectionism, i certainly hope it hasn't been passed on. ugh.
ChristaN's Avatar ChristaN 06:40 PM 06-28-2007
Originally Posted by mamamelia View Post
hi christa, thanks so much for your input. i am curious - what made your dh think something was wrong with your dd?
My dd is not exactly like your dd. She does love pretend play, for example, but she is clearly different than other children. I've heard her referred to as an "old soul."

The major things that made dh think there was something wrong with her as an infant and toddler and preschooler... (lol!) was her intensity and lack of sleeping. She pretty much screamed non-stop as an infant and never slept. She also had obsessively long attention to things she wanted to master and also a very low frustration tolerance, perfectionism and a tendency to observe things until she is sure she can do them right b/c she doesn't want to risk making mistakes.

She was intent on getting the caps on and off of ballpoint pens when she was about 6 or 7 months old. I remember her just sitting there with this furrowed brow practicing getting that cap on and off for about 15 minutes until she had it down pat. We used to joke that she'd be a neurosurgeon with her wonderful fine motor skills. On the other hand she didn't walk until she was 15.5 months old and refused to pull up or cruise around furniture at all. I thought that she'd never walk, but she was apparently mentally rehersing rather than practicing physically b/c she just stood up in the middle of the room and walked all the way across it one day. She was walking up and down the stairs by herself within a week of that.

She also threw the most amazing tantrums multiple times/day until she was about 4. They lasted for hours at a time. The neighbors could hear her screaming even with the doors and windows shut. She just seemed to have a very difficult time managing her intense emotions so she lashed out at me. My favorite was her, at around 2, in the middle of a melt down screaming at me "I'm going to pee on the floor!" and then proceeding to do so. (Like your dd, she potty trained pretty much by herself shortly after she started walking -- about 16 months.

If it provides any reassurance, she's a really neat almost 9 y/o now. Adults usually love her.