Autism & Asperger's Syndrome Expert Forum
worried need insight
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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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worried need insight

I have a 16 month old little boy who  was born almost a month early. He is not walking yet but cruising with no issues. He seems to have a good understanding of receptive  language. He makes good eye contact and looks at me when I call him most of the time. He shakes his head for no when he doesn't want something. He likes objects that spin and ceiling fans, opening and closing drawers but he is not obsessed by this. He will do this for a few minutes but then moves on.He doesn't have any tantrums and is easy going. This is what concerns me: He does not point but will reach out to an object with his whole hand. He is raised in a blingual household and is hardly around other kids. He  will acknoweldge other babies and tries to touch them on  their heads but thats all.  Since he turned a year he has anxiety when we go to new places. He will cling on to me for dear life. This is just when we are at someone elses house. He waves on occasion, he claps a lot but also waves his arms when he is super excited He repeats words I say clearly but as for using language spontaneously I am not sure. He babbles a lot like when he sees the cat he says something that resembles hi or cat but not sure. He does babble though and always did... Up until very recently,if his toy got stuck he would cry by himself until I went and got it but just lately he does look at me for help (very recent). If we are outside he does look at the direction I am looking at to see what I am seeing. If he is hungry he will put his head on my lap and suck his thumb. He still doesn't  bring me a toy to show me If I leave the room he cries. I feel like he has great receptive language but not expressive yet and this concerns me. He plays and responds to others smiles a lot especially with older kids as opposed to babies. He imitates and loves when I play peekaboo with him.If someone on tv is clapping he will clap too. Could he be speech delayed and the lack of pointing at this age what could this indicate.
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Much of what you describe is within the range of typically developing children, but there are a couple of milestones that may be delayed.  My initial answer to questions like yours is always the same: take your son to your pediatrician and discuss your concerns with him or her.  If your son’s doctor believes further assessment is necessary, then I recommend that you ask the pediatrician for help in finding an assessment team familiar with young children and autism spectrum disorders (ASD).  Alternatively, the pediatrician may suggest that you wait until your son’s next check up to see how he is doing, or refer you to a local Early Intervention Program (EIP) for screening.  I also always mention that if the recommendation is to wait, I strongly recommend that if you notice any decrease in the course of your son’s development you contact the pediatrician at that time (and not wait).

As I mentioned in your description of your son’s behavior there are a number of things that may or may not be indicative of some problem, but there is a range in the development of children such that at 16 months of age diagnosis may be difficult.  It sounds as though your son is socially engaged, and doesn’t have unusual stereotypic behavior.  It is possible that his expressive communication is somewhat delayed and warrants further attention.  Continuing to keep him in a stimulating social environment, encouraging him to communicate his needs in an appropriate manner, and monitoring his progress seems like the best course of action at this time.  
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Jason C Bourret, Ph.D., BCBA-DBlank
The New England Center for Children
Southborough, MA
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