Where's the line between normal develop. and austism spectrum disorder?

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  1. I have to admit, it makes me terribly sad to think my son might have a mild form of autism, but does he? And did kids like him and his development used to be considered 'normal' but just kind of following a beat to a different drummer?

    I have him on a waiting list to be evaluated for developmental delays, but he, to me, seems so borderline, but definitely, things are not quite right.

    Things that are a bit odd: his speech pattern. He learned to speak early (first word at 10 months) and spoke 8-9 word sentences WAY early and has a good vocabulary. He taught himself all the letters upper and lower case by the time he was 20 months old in a day, but.... a LOT of his speech is repeating lines from TV/movies and books. If someone talks to him, he'll respond with an inappropriate line from a movie, like if I ask, "what do you want to do today?" He'll often respond with, "no one wants to play with a Charlie in the box" (from his Rudolph book and movie). Othertimes he'll say, "I don't know." but never will he converse about what he wants.

    He doesn't really play. He has puzzles he'll somewhat do, but he doesn't play much with cars (unless other kids are rolling them on the floor), but nothing using his imagination - never playing with his castle set, or toy kitchen, anything. Yet, he loves chasing and playing with other kids. He was playing hide and seek with a kid the other day and 'gets' it, but I think his language of HOW to play it was a memorized line from something on TV and not 'spontaneous' speech.

    He is pretty shy, but has always been keenly aware of people's feelings and has always been very good with eye contact and interaction. HE LOVES people and that has never been an issue, but with playing and speaking? he's in his own world most of the time.

    I used to think that maybe he didn't understand what I was asking, but recently when I repeated a question he said back, "mom, I'm not listening to you." and continued with his play (reciting something)... so it registered, but he chose to ignore it.

    Also, of note, is that he hand flaps. If I ask him to stop, he will (which I have just started asking him to stop)...

    He fits so many of the 'criteria' and misses them completely in other areas for autism and aspergers - he's too socially aware, but for other behaviors, he's dead on.

    And even if we get a diagnosis of SOMETHING, what does it mean? Will it hold him back to have a label?

    I'm just so confused adn sad about it all. BTW, Henry will be 4 the end of April, so he's 3 and 9.5 months.
     
  2. Ugh so sorry about this. It's a tough thing to have to deal with. I taught a child with PDD for about 3-4 years. The diagnosing can be a pain, that was also 8-10 years ago though. Hang in there! The best thing you can do is take him in and get evaluated. BTW the child I taught is now mainstreamed...the catch is treat as early as possible.
     
  3. What you need to stop and ask yourself right now is what will diagnosing accomplish? Will specialized therapy help him in any way? Will a label allow for different standards in school? Do you even want that? Will diagnosing change outcome?

    I very firmly believe that the spectrum of autism/Asperger's/PDD is much, much broader than anyone is willing to diagnose. But many people on the fringes need no "treatment" per se. They function adequately and therefore need no therapy, meds or any other special treatment. They are often just regarded as unusual, eccentric or odd.

    My son (now 6) didn't begin speaking until he was 3, and when he started he used no consonants at all. He has/had gross motor delays and visual perceptual issues as well. He also engaged in hand-flapping and bouncing (stimming). But his social aptitude was not impaired enough for him to be diagnosed with anything firm. In hindsight, I am grateful for that. IMO, unless a child has an actual issue with learning, there is no purpose in diagnosing a child. It labels him and stigmatizes him through his records before a teacher even has a chance to meet him.

    My son never received a firm dianosis, but was in early childhood education for speech and gross motor delays. Fortunately, he tests above average academically and has no indication of learning delays, so after his speech and gross motor issues were addressed, he was mainstreamed with no label. He will always be unusual, and I firmly believe he fits on the spectrum. But there is no therapy for being unusual, and I wouldn't want to change who he is anyway.

    We consulted with a neurologist to confirm that there was nothing else as parents that we should be doing or providing for him and to make sure there wasn't anything to treat. After speech and PT, nothing else is "treatable", and I am happy and relieved that to the rest of the world, my kid is just "normal".
     
  4. ^^^ Thank you and this is where I am in thinking too. Academically, I think he'll be fine. The kid is super bright. He might always be a little different, but not in a way that kids would shun him I don't think. I just feel so torn. I want to give him help if help would make some of these things better for him, but I also don't want to get him trapped in some label trap that limits him instead of keeps his options open.

    The ironic thins that I'm the one who thought there was an issue and mentioned it to DH. Now it's DH who is the one who is pushing me to get him tested... but of course, he doesn't understand how the system of labeling works and so on too.

    So I go back and forth...get him tested, don't get him tested. I know that everyone says the earlier he gets help if he needs it the better, so i feel like a bad parent for NOT doing anything, but I don't want to go down that path if it does more harm than good too.
     
  5. Is there anything you think would help, though? There is no known treatment for being unusual, and a lot of the behaviour we as parents tend to think of as odd are actually normal kid things (I never realized until I spent time in a room full of 1st graders how weird they ALL are!). With my son, we knew that speech therapy would produce concrete results. We knew that adaptive phy ed and PT before that would make a measurable difference in how he was able to fit in on the playground and in gym class. We knew that help with the visual/perceptual issues would help him when it came to riding a bicycle and other things.

    But there was and is no help or therapy for being odd. There is no therapy (except reminding him not to) that will help stimming (hand-flapping, bouncing, etc.). Unless there are concrete issues in terms of interaction (most of which would be helped by role-playing at home, anyway, and you mentioned that socially he is not exceptionally awkward), there is nothing anyone can do.

    For example, my son also has an exceptionally large head. Unusually large. The neurologist was interested in doing an MRI, but he would have had to be sedated for that. There is nothing wrong with my son, nor is there anything anyone could have or would have done regarding his cranial size (it is likely genetic, as my dh is 6'8" with a head large enough that he cannot wear baseball caps), so the MRI would have accomplished nothing. It would not have changed outcome, nor would it have changed treatment. But there were risks associated with putting him under anesthesia for no good reason, so we refused.

    Similarly, if diagnosis will not change treatment, then there is no need for it. If a consult with a neurologist or other specialist will ease your mind and make you feel like you are doing everything possible for your son, then it might be worth it. You probably don't want to allow any invasive tests, but a professional's advice about what you can or cannot do might help ease your mind.
     
  6. Hi BBB,

    PMed you
     
  7. I think that is where we are. Motor skills are a little behind, but not in an uncoordinated way... if that makes sense. He didn't walk until he was 16 months, but in the same week he walked, he was walking up and down the stairs too. He can't figure out how to ride a bike/trike yet, but is very good at climbing on things and doing it carefully. His drawing is advanced for his age and writing too.

    With most everything (except math and language acquisition and vocabulary - like ACADEMIC STUFF) he's behind, like 6-9 months it seems, but eventually he seems to catch on. With academic stuff he's like a year ahead. Which is why every time in the last year we think, "yes this is a problem", he stops whatever problem it was, and then our fears recede... watch, we'll notice his mimicking tv/books disappear in the next couple weeks too.
     
  8. If you notice academically he's fine, but on social things he needs work, I would work with him on those social items and not take him to a get tested. I think academically at a young age it's more important if you notice something off. Like if he's regressing with talking or eye contact etc but MAJOR changes. I think all kids struggle in different areas. I'm not sure if he is but is he in any playgroups? Maybe that would help socially and with his converstion? I'm sure you will make the right decision on what to do.
     
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  10. yes my son repeats lines from movies because he thinks it is silly and wants to get a reaction. Sometimes his responses to things aren't really appropriate and he runs back and forth and makes weird noises but like someone else mentioned, he is really smart and is just really "4" I wouldn't worry too much but if you think it is cuase for concern then you as a mother have that instince and it may be worth it just to put your mind at ease. My son says the charlie in the box thing too and "I aint fraid of no ghosts" from Ghostbusters lol !
     
  11. ^^^but is that how he would react if someone tries to talk with him? Like, if someone says, "How are you today Henry?" Would he respond with, "Oh you know, the word push is spelled P-U-S-H. That spells push." and so on... That he recites lines, no biggee, that he doesn't know how to answer most of the time or converse - like a REAL conversation does seem a problem.
     
  12. You could "yes but" this to death BBB. :heart: I would in all honesty give it time. Maybe when he responds "inappropriately" you could start silly conversation with him and see how he reacts to your just as off the wall responses to his. Maybe you could tell him that Circus Peanuts are your favorite sweet candy when he spells in response to what he would like to do on a particular day. See how the interaction goes then.
     

  13. BBB, please don't throw rocks at me but ... he's not even 4 years of age and you're talking academic stuff? Don't you think it may be a wee bit too early to be analyzing him academically? All children are different, advanced in some areas and not so in others, and I really think you may be looking at this a little too hard. I would give him some time.
     
  14. Dallas and Adriane, I'm not looking at him academically, but those are things peds and specialists ask you - what skills in the intellectual side is he showing versus which skills on the physical and emotion sides is he showing. So, don't worry, we aren't doing flashcards or anything. We read age appropriate books and give age appropriate toys and he basically teaches himself or gets 'fascinated' with whatever he wants - like the typical knowing all the dinosaur names and so on.

    When I'm one on one with him, I don't feel this 'pressure', but when we are out and people get down to his level and first, he's shy, so he skirts away. Then, when they try to talk with him, he either says nothing or these memorized lines. The other kids he plays with and I see regularly of the same age will 'converse'. Then it makes me realize... I never 'talk' with Henry much.... He never asks why, never tells stories and doesn't play. He'll spell words all day (like right now, he's naming all the letters on his page of the book) or recites things all day - THAT's his play...never imaginative.

    Maybe that's a range of normal, but I feel the 'awkwardness' of when people try to converse with him and he's not conversing back. Maybe it's just his style.

    And I want other opinions. I only have the one other child and they are so vastly different that I couldn't compare if I wanted to!
     
  15. I have a friend who has a son who she says has some type of problem in processing the words and understanding them then replying. It does have some medical name. He takes speech classes at school and has a helper with tests. Well the school gave this once a year test (had some big name). He could not take it with a aid helping him. He takes the test and scores in the high 90's. Now this makes him in the highest percentile and the school is shocked because they don't know what to make of it. You son is just being a kid. My kids repeated TV shows to the point of driving me crazy, my daughter who is 10 still does it. She must know every line to each Hannah Montana show......I would not worry. I think kids should be allowed to be kids today and not have every action questioned. You son sounds very bright. When my son was 4-5 he would hardly talk to people. He was very shy.