Autism & Asperger's Syndrome Expert Forum
Is this AS?
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Questions in the Autism & Asperger's Syndrome forum are answered by researchers at the New England Center for Children. Topics covered include Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Antisocial Personality Disorder, Asperger Syndrome, Autism, blindness, bullying, clinical depression, deafness, dyslexia, mental retardation, and social alienation.

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Is this AS?

Out son is 3 yrs 10 mos old. First child, my wife and I assumed he was going along very well until around 5 months ago we had a parent teacher conference at preschool where we were told by the teacher she was concerned that he wasn't making good eye contact, would answer some questions off topic, or would repeat a line from a movie or interrupt. She also felt that he played by himself a lot, but would play games of chase with the other kids. He was prett yound for the class, starting just before he turned 3. There were no concerns mentioned at the autumn conference. We went online and were crushed to see what such behaviors could mean, HOWEVER, we didn't see them much at home. He makes and has made good eye contact, will occasionally drift off, but nothing that stands out. He has no obsessions but really likes cars and dinosaurs. He would occasionally line up cars but not obsessively and was never upset if you messed up the line. He didn't do this for a long time, but we started lining them up to teach him math lately, so he does it a bit now, maybe once every few days, while doing math. He walked at 11 months, lots of words by 18 months, alphabet and counting to 10 by around 2.5 but we worked on this a lot. Didn't like the vacuum for a while, didn't like the loud coffee grinder at age 2 for a few weeks when it was new, was initially scared of automatic flush toilets and the hot air hand dryers, now he doesn't care about any of that.  Threw a fit with haircuts and toenail clippings when he was 2, now I cut his hair at home (he likes it) nail clipping has been fine for a while now, he tries to clip his own.  A little picky of an eater, but no textures things. Will jump up and down when very excited. Just yesterday I thought I saw him flap one hand while playing just a couple of times, has never done it before. Ride a trike this spring (legs finally long enough), now on a bike w training wheels, which he lives.  Loves books, can recognize around 20 words to "read".  Asks tons of questions, some of which he already knows the answer to, such as " how old are you?" or "what did I just do?" after doing something. He is not rigid, no schedule. Used o like steering wheels at the park but would steer them, not just spin. Not too much major pretend play until he was 3, now lots of it. Still announce the occasional non sequitur, or start talking about something out of context, like start talking about his swim lessons class out of the blue. When askin a question, he sometimes has an exaggerated questioning lilt at the end of the question, but not all the time. Has a pretty good memory, nothing savant like, afraid of big dogs, great in crowded places.  Points fine, very funny, makes up little jokes, newly into knock knock jokes now. Good joint attention, asks for thing appropriately though for the last 6 months will often insist on doing things himself.

I have noticed he will often ask people when their birthdays were and how old they are, sometimes more than once, though this just started a couple of days ago when we taught him all of his family members birthdays. He has friends that he plays with outside of preschool just fine, most a little older, some a little younger, with no problems. He always responded to his name fine, though will occasionally ignore us now, though that's not the norm.  He has had maybe two tantrums ever, one at the Drs office, one at the barber shop, both due to fear.

We took him to his pediatrician, who feels that he might have some anxiety about certain things, but he otherwise had no concerns, and thinks he's fine. We took him to the pre-K developmental assessment and they had no concerns, noted him to be engaged and bright, scored on par with a 6 year old. I still had this feeling they may be missing something, so we had an assessment with a child psychologist (did a PPD questionairre and the BASC2) who said nothing remotely close to a pathological red flag was there. She was excellent and felt that the thresholds we had set in our minds for "abnormal" we're a bit  off and most of his behaviors were well in the normal range for his age.

This has created some strife between me wife and I, as she (around him all say, goes on his play dates) feels there is nothing wrong, whereas I just don't know. It is now to the point where I am hypercritical of certain things he does and I find myself nitpicking him, which I'm certain isnt healthy. Any advice out there?  Is this something that a lot of new parents are going through in the age of ASD awareness?  

Of note, had his preschool teacher not mentioned anything, I Would have never suspected a problem. Per their report, he did a lot better the rest of the year, but the damage to my psyche has been done. I acknowledge that I jut may have to get over this angst and let him be a kid.  He is a very loving, gentle kid, lots of hugs for family, no fights/biting, doesn't play rough ever, and to my wife, it's those gentle qualities that set him apart.

Thanks for reading this long.
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The defining characteristics of autism include deficits in communication and social interaction, and perseverative patterns of behavior.  Based on your description, and the fact that multiple professionals have assessed your son and not observed signs of autism, it would seem like an autism diagnosis isn't warranted right now.  If you continue to have concerns, you can, of course seek other opinions.  However, I suggest you take a step back from worrying about the diagnosis.  Autism diagnoses make use of behavioral criteria, there's a wide range of behavior patterns and sensitivities that can lead to diagnosis and there can also be discrepancies between professionals in terms of whether a diagnosis is seen as appropriate.  At the end of the day, whether your child receives a diagnosis or not is less important than whether he receives help and services to address challenges that he faces.  Really, every child would benefit from having an IEP and receiving additional help to bolster areas of learning in which he/she is struggling.  Could your son benefit from some additional tutoring, or any other service?  If so, the presence or absence of a diagnosis doesn't change this fact and shouldn't change your efforts to make sure your son receives help that would benefit him.
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I should also add, follows instructions okay, not great. Not much interest in artwork until lately, writes name but can only trace the other letters. Normal run, climb, kick of a ball. Learned all states capitals in around a month after working in them with him daily, tried the planets and presidents but that didn't fly very well, learned Saturn and earth, and around 5 presidents. Still wet at night about half of the time.  Had a very tough time when little sis joined the family around a year and a half ago. Will sometimes induce her to baby talk by baby talkin to her.  Will often answer a question with a confirmatory question but not perfectly choed
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I should also add, follows instructions okay, not great. Not much interest in artwork until lately, writes name but can only trace the other letters. Normal run, climb, kick of a ball. Learned all states capitals in around a month after working in them with him daily, tried the planets and presidents but that didn't fly very well, learned Saturn and earth, and around 5 presidents. Still wet at night about half of the time.  Had a very tough time when little sis joined the family around a year and a half ago. Will sometimes induce her to baby talk by baby talkin to her.  Will often answer a question with a confirmatory question but not perfectly echoed, like "you want to play with the Legos?" "Legos?  Sure."
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Thank you for the response!  It's tough to know what's normal childhood behavior sometimes. I appreciate your expertise and time.
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The New England Center for Children
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