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Could my 14 month old have autism?
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Could my 14 month old have autism?

I am writing because I am concerned about my 14 month old boy (just turned 14 months today).  His pediatrician has been concerned about him since he was 6 months old, and he was evaluated by a speech pathologist at his 6 month well baby visit.  She said she thinks he is okay, but that was 8 months ago.  He has never liked close-up eye contact, will not look at the person holding him, but will look at you most of the time if someone else is holding him.  He makes pretty good eye contact if I am in the floor playing with him.  He makes decent eye contact in his high chair and on his changing table when he wants to.  He has always been extremely interested in his environment and less interested in people at times.  He does interact with his family members and people he knows well, but tends to ignore strangers.  If they try to talk to him, many times he will point at something and ask "whas zat" to distract the fact that he doesn't want to look at them.  Sometimes though he will look at people and smile and wave.  The pediatrician thinks it is just his personality and temperment.  I am more concerned, however.  Ever since she mentioned the word Autism, I have been a nervous wreck, constantly observing and watching him for any clues.

His receptive language skills are pretty good.  He follows simple commands such as "bring mommy the baby", "throw it in the trash", and he will point to some body parts when asked.  He has pointed to things since 9 months old saying "whas zat", however, most times does not look back at us to see if we are looking at him.  Ped thinks he assumes we are looking at him.  He sometimes points to things of interest in books at bedtime and will point to things when named in his books.  Now, he does sometimes point to things or reach for them and look back at us, asking for the object.  He also has just started pointing to things asking "dat" and will look back at us for a response most times.  He has gotten better with this.  He will most of the time look where you are pointing to if it is not too far away.  He does not say mama or dada yet (has made the sounds though and knows who we are because if you ask where is mommy or daddy he will look at us), but has several other words such as ba for ball, bay for baby, hat, cat, hello on his cell phone, whas zat and dat for that, used to both say and wave bye-bye (now only waves), bang, and light.  He has never imitated language much, but will imitate other sounds and especially actions well.  A lot of times when you talk to him, he turns his head.  Again, he has gotten a little better with this more recently.  Now, sometimes, he gets right in my face if I am not paying attention to him and will jabber at me to get my attention.  He jabbers constantly.  He also will bring us things to share, always smiles in response to others smiles, responds to name most of the time (if he is engaged in an activity or in a noisy atmosphere it is harder to get his attention some times, but I think all kids are this way), feeds us bites of his food since 10 months, enjoys peek-a-boo, blows shuberts on my belly, and will imitates gestures such as all gone, where, etc.  He has begun feeding himself with utensils now also (still messy, but does pretty good).  His fine and gross motor skills are very good.  He is very bonded to me, his dad, his grandmaw's and papaw's.

I do not think he has any sensory issues, although he does not like having his nails cut, and he is a picky eater ( I do not think it is because of texture though because he eats many different foods) and will not eat large amounts of food at one time.  He has recently began to have mild tantrums when you take something away from him that he wants or if he can't have what he wants.  If I tell him no, he gets mad and will shake his hands at me telling me no, or shake them furiously for a second or two.  He has also started to flap his arms briefly sometimes when excited.  He does play with toys appropriately, although he is obsessed with hats.  He will play with a hat for 15 min sometimes saying HAT, putting the hat on and taking it off again. He will bring the hat to me or his dad and put the hat on us, take it off, put it on him, take it off, etc. Sometimes it is hard to redirect him if he is not finished playing with it. He does not get upset though if I take the hat away from him. He does not do this every day, but most days he plays with hats on and off.

My son hates to be alone.  He has always followed me around everywhere in the house since he was able to crawl.  He plays by himself briefly, but will always come to check in with me, or bring me something he has found. He will not nap at home unless I nap with him.  I think he enjoys being around people, but acts shy a lot.  He never shows anxiety when in large crowds or at restaurants.

He enjoys watching children.  He will smile at them many times, but will not interact with them.  He is okay with babies at first, then he acts a little afraid of them.  The babies he has been exposed to all have siblings, so they are a little aggressive with him.  Sometimes he will grab at them and sometimes not.  The only times he is exposed to other kids are at church and out in public.  He is my first child.  He does not like baby dolls either.  He acts afraid of them.  He is also afraid of the vacuum cleaner.  I do not think this is because of noise, because he is not afraid of the hair dryer or any other loud noise.

He always laughs at funny things and if we make funny faces at him.  He loves being chased and will often just run to us for us to catch him.

He is very jealous of me and one of his mamaw's.  If my husband kisses me, he will run over to us as and whine as if to say, that is my mommy.  He did this the other day when I was holding another baby also.  He did not like the fact that I was holding the child.

He gives me kisses constantly.  He will give his dad hugs when dad asks him to, but hardly gives him kisses.  He is in a woman or female stage right now.  He definitely prefers women right now.

As I type this email, he is trying to compete for my attention, climbing in my lap and getting in my face, hugging me, wanting me to pay attention to him.

Sorry again for so much info, but I wanted you to list everything I can think of.  I'm looking forward to everyone's feedback.
Tags: Autism, autistic, 14 month old
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6 Comments Post a Comment
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470168_tn?1237474845
If you want to see the diagnostic criteria for autistic spectrum disorders google DSM IV Autism (or Aspergers).
He sounds okay to me.  Sometimes it is hard when concerns have been raised, but you just have to wait and see how he develops.  The main things to look for are difficulties with speech and communication.  Is he at the same level as his peers, is he using language to interact or just to get what he wants/needs.  Social interaction: is he starting to interact with his peers, does he want to join in and does he appear to know how to do it.  Are there any repetitive behaviours or a need to stick to routine or getting upset when things change or when he has to stop doing something.  Throwing tantrums that seem a total over reaction to the situation and the child is obviously extremely angry/upset.  A need for preciseness eg. needing to dress in a certain way or a need to go to the shops taking the same route.
Children on the spectrum also tend to have sensory differences which can include any or all of the senses being over or undersensitive or senses not communicating with eachother or not being able to multi-task.  And it fluctuates day to day and throughout the day.  So, for example, my son will cover his hears at certain noises, or appear deaf when I call his name, or enjoy going to drum club, or try to find noises he can hear that I can't.  And that will be in just one day.  So that shows a huge range of difference in perceiving incoming auditory sound.  My son also has recently been diagnosed with CAPD.
I remember before my son was diagnosed and they were assessing and observing him, that everything I thought took him off the spectrum they can up with a reason why it was on the spectrum and it was very frustrating.  And it is hard to wait.  But that is the only way to see.  So if by 2 years he is only putting two word combinations together you need to be asking questions, also if he starts repeating things.  My son began repeating TV dialogue at age 3.5.  My son also points to things and shares things with me.  He can interact on a one to one much better.  In groups he tends to be on the outside looking in.  And, of course, every child is different so there is no definitive measuring stick.
So your son may not be autistic at all, or he may have some traits of it.  And if he does have traits, but not enough for a diagnosis, he will still need his difficulties to be met in the same way that an autistic child would ie. visual timetables to help him, frequent reminders of what he should be doing, tasks broken down into smaller chunks.
See how he does at nursery.  If they are also showing concerns that he cannot join in at carpet time, or gets upset at having to share/take turns when his peers appear to be okay with this.  Or that he is very strong willed and only wants to do what he wants to do and doesn't want to do what is planned on the curriculum for that day etc.
With my son one of the biggest issues with his is his literal interpretation of language and his poor language and communication skills.  But again, you won't really know that until he is around pre-school age.
As  he has already been seen by SALT, I think you would be reasonable to ask that he is re-assessed about a year prior to starting school to make sure his understanding of language is at a level that he can cope with classroom instructions.
Apart from that lots of physical activity is good for brain development, so things like crawling (through fabric tunnels), climbing, swimming, trampoline etc all have an effect on his the brain is constructed.  Play ball games with him etc.  Let him play with lego etc.  All these things will help development left/right brain dominance and co-ordination.  Apart from that, just enjoy him.  
In my situation concerns were raised when he was about 3, then everyone said he was okay, then at 4.5 his school raised concerns and he went on to get a diagnosis after 18 months of observations and assessments.  He is high functioning autistic and is in a mainstream school that has experience and expertise in autism.  He is in a class where 9 other children are on the spectrum.  So, I think if you can take anything away from this post, in my opinion (as a mum), I think that even if he is on the spectrum he is mildly affected (and therefore should do quite well) and therefore just enjoy him and try not to worry.  If at any time he loses language or appears to forget words he previously knew, or starts repeating TV dialogue etc then I would go back to his paediatrician.
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Thanks so much for sharing with me your thoughts! I think we'll give him a few more months and maybe reevaluate his progress.  Again, thank you, thank you, thank you!  
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325405_tn?1262293778
14 months seems kind of young to screen for autism?  I think the standard ages now to start screening are first at the 18 month checkup and then at the 24 month.  I guess unless there are issues that are affecting him seriously like being way late for all his milestones, not even looking at his parents.  Or stuff like if he had some sort of seizure disorder or if he was a preemie and had development issues.  

When my daughter was 24 months, she was screened again for autism (at 18 months we had issues but decided to wait since there was a family history of delayed language and other issues).  At 24 months, she had absolutely no receptive language.  She didn't even respond to her own name.  her eye contact with us parents was good but with everyone else was non-existant.  She did not point.  She did not follow someone else's finger when they pointed to an object.  They call that a shared attention skill.  She had no development of that either.  She had a ton of sensory issues since birth or at least younger than 12 months.  At 24 months she said no words.  She didn't even say ma ma or da da.  She said nothing.  She understood nothing.  She also had some other "red flags" such as arm flapping and toe walking which by themselves wouldn't mean much but paired with the other delays and issues, it was a "red flag" warning sign for possible autism.  We probably should have popped her into therapy at 18 months, but we waited, again because of the family history.  Also we figured that if her brain was just not at that point to develop we'd wait.  Well, therapy did wonders.  Hindsight is so 20/20... *sigh*  Alas, foresight isn't.  But, at 3 1/2 she's doing phenomenally well now and progressing.  

14 months is early.  It sounds like you have concerns about your child's development.  Stay on top of the doctors.  At the 18 month visit, make sure he is where you want him to be.  Make the doctor address the issues where he is behind.  Don't let the doctor dismiss it entirely.  Autism is a whole spectrum.  There are other things that are milder on the spectrum such as aspergers or PDD-NOS.  Kids with aspergers I believe don't have the language delay but they have more social communication issues.  Probably diagnosing aspergers I would imagine would be hard to do at a young age.  Diagnosing at all under 2 I am thinking would be really hard.  But making sure you have your concerns logged and in your child's medical records is important.  That way you are developing a medical/developmental history so when you look back later and need to know things it will be easier.

I hope that things work out for you as the months progress.  Some kids are just late at doing things.  And some kids do have personalities like that.  And sometimes it is more.  Just stay on top of it and try not to worry and stress too much!  Enjoy your child and his growing up!  They are babies for so short a time span!!
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I think what is really hard is that every child has different characteristics.
For example my son can make eye contact, but finds it hard to look and listen at the same time, so he avoids the eye contact not because it makes him feel uncomfortable, but because he cannot carry out other functions at the same time.
He did use to point at things and look to where I pointed.  He also used to bring me things to show me.
By 2+ he was using two word combinations, but his language didn't develop much after that until he started using echolalic language at 3+ where he was lifting whole sentences and scripts from TV and DVD to communicate.
He also had a strange tone of voice (we are in the UK and he has an American accent which he picked up off TV).  He also places the emphasis on words in the wrong place.
He appears to have alot of skills, but he cannot demonstrate them all the time.  For example he can show emotion whilst watching and film and can explain to me why the boy/girl is crying etc.  Then he may see someone fall down and hurt themselves and he will laugh because he thinks it is funny (rather like watching Tom and Jerry Cartoons).
And every parent with more than one child on the spectrum will say that each child is affected differently.
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586424_tn?1232180259
Your son does more than my 2 year old.  He even has a bigger vocabulary.  I would just keep the autism thing in the back of your mind, but encourage his play time.  He is at the age of 'mine'.  He can understand that you are his.  His world revolves around his perspective only so the fact that he doesn't want to share you is a wonderful developmental stage.  It shows that he is aware of how you fit into his environment.  He's curious about what you do when you aren't in his area...maybe even wondering why you left his fun space.  By 18 months he'll probably be more independent.  I say enjoy what he's doing and keep encouraging his play.  He seems to have a wonderful attention span and the fact that he hasn't totally taken interest in other children other than to observe them is ok for his age.  He's trying to understand them and how they fit into his world.  Right now is the time he should be exploring.  Just make sure he continues to try to say new words.  If he loses his words then I'd be concerned.  Or if he stops doing his regular activities.  The simple fact that he wants you to interact with him is good.  My child could care less.  That's a hard fact to swallow.
Just keep being a good mom.  The fact that you were concerned enough to post is good.  So many parents make excuses and try not to deal with something.  You were unsure and posted.  That's good.  If you see any warning signs from the websites... Autism Speaks or any of those then post again.  I think you may have a very relaxed little boy on your hands.  He may just have an observer's eye.  And there's nothing wrong with that.  Lots of our technology has come from observers.  :)  
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892840_tn?1243738146
I UNDERSTAND HAVING CONCERNS FOR UR CHILD,, I HAVE QUITE A FEW OF MY OWN FOR MY 2 YR OLD BOY..  UR CHILD IS DOING ALOT MORE THAN MY CHILD, AND THE SPECIALISTS RULED OUT AUTISM SO I PERSONALY THINK U SHOULD NOT STRESS URSELF WITH IT. AND I DO THINK ITS A LIL EARLY ALSO TO DETERMINE ANYTHING YET..  HOPE ALL TURNS OUT WELL AND GOD BLESS!
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