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Is my child Autistic?
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Is my child Autistic?

I am a desperate and worried parent of a 2.5 year old who doesn't talk. A child who isn't good at understanding instructions, has selective hearing and doesn't speak a word to us yet. Otherwise he is a fun and happy child with no major behavioural problems.

He spins wheels, he lines up his cars, but he isn't obsessed with it. It is also difficult to get his attention. He looks us in the eye, understands emotions, understands when we are happy or upset, he laughs a lot and plays like a normal child but doesn't talk and doesn't seem to understand what we are telling him beyond "no" and "come on lets go".

Now I may be looking into things too much, I know many normal children will show Autistic behaviours but the key thing for us is that he doesn't talk and is showing some Autistic traits at the same time.

He has a hearing test on 28th August and he is on the list for Private and NHS Speech Therapy which will probably happen in September or October. He has already seen a Paeditrician whose report has said that he needs speech therapy and his nursery has said he is showing minor signs of Autism but some of it can mimick hard of
hearing / delayed speech symptoms. He has previous confirmed glue ear but we thought that had cleared up.

Any advice? I am worried sick.
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23 Comments Post a Comment
Avatar n tn
1. He doesn't speak but babbles a lot now
2. He has communication problems and doesn't really tell us what he
wants. He takes our hand sometimes but that's about it.
3. He spins toys, so sometimes when he plays he will spin that toy or
spin wheels on a car. This isn't an obsession though.
4. He sometimes eats things off the floor but he is a fussy eater
6. He still doesn't respond to his name most of the time - sometimes
it feels like he hasn't heard us.
7. When outside, if set free he will run, smiling at his freedom
8. He sometimes flaps his hands when he wants something, wants to be
picked up or is excited.
9. He can become pre-occupied and in concentration especially with the
10. He used to have sleep problems often waking at night but is much
improved now

But on the flip side:

1. He looks everyone in the eye and can fix eye contact
2. He shares his joy with us and is always smiling and displaying
affection. He laughs a lot and can get very excited when he us having fun.
3. He plays normally with his toys and isn't really obsessive about
any one thing, although he can watch TV for long periods
4. He understands when we are cross, or if we are playing, or if we
are hiding from him etc. He knows our mood by looking at our face.
5. He loves cuddles and loves being close to us and his grandparents
6. He can take turns in play e.g he can play ball, giving it to us and
wait for us give it to him
7. He is very aware of danger and is careful
8. He is not aggressive and doesn't seem to get frustrated
7. He doesn't point to things generally but points to story books and
stimuli pictures we show him
8. He doesn't injure himself, bang his head or anything along those lines
9. He isn't compulsive or ritualistic - he doesn't line up his toys or
expect certain rituals to be observed
10. He plays hide and seek and will chase us if we run from him
11. If we ask him for a kiss he kisses us, if we ask him to not do
something he stops, if we get cross with him he knows he has done
wrong and gets upset
12. He is aware of the outside world, loves to watch traffic, cars and lorries
13. He has creative play, he drags his bikes, sits on his trucks and
loves playing in play ground swings and slides
973741 tn?1342346373
Hi,  It definately sounds like your son has an issue with receptive and expressive language. Articulation you don't know about yet as he isn't speaking.  But a speech evaluation will give you much information.   It sounds like you are prepared for him most likely have a delay of some sort.  I'm guessing that he does.  How are his physical/motor milestones?  Does he catch onto things quickly in this regard?  There is something called motor planning which is really important.  This is how the brain communicates and organizes itself into action and then how the message is perceived by the part that has to do the work.  For example---  if asked a question, a child must organize and comprehend what is asked, then must organize an answer, then must send a message to the mouth, then the mouth has to organize and coordinate the movement to make the sounds.  It is all pretty complicated.  It is amazing how much motor involvment there is in speaking.  But this motor planning component is really important to make sure it is working alright.  If you show him how to do something brand new, does he catch on right away?  Does he avoid activities that are new?  These are early clues to if there is a problem here.
My son also loved watching things that spin----  and he is a spinner for sure.  This is related to his delay of sensory integration disorder.  Many autistic children have overlapping sensory issues and some kids just have sensory disorder.  
Watching tv is deceiving as it is actually mezmorizing for kids.  Kids with the delay of ADHD who have trouble focasing will actually zone out watching tv.  Parents grappling with the diagnosis often use tv as an example of when their child can focas when in reality---  it is not a good indicator of attention.
His play sounds good.  Does he ever instigate a game himself?  
So, I would do a complete evaluation to see if there is a delay and what exactly it is.  I am here to tell you that early intervention can do wonders.  I've been thrilled with my son's progress.  Try not to be worried----  they can really help children these days.  Our occupational therapist deserves everything we have for what she has done for our son.  And we do lots of activities at home each and every day.  It is a lot of work but more worth anything we've ever done.  I wish you lots of luck!
Avatar n tn
You are not only a special mom but a special person. Thanks for the kind reply.

My son had a hearing test at the Children's Centre today and they are confident that he can hear but it the result was inconclusive. They want to do more tests to check if there is any undetected hearing loss that needs treatment. They also checked him for Glue Ear and found that it had now cleared up probably due to the summer months.

This worries us as it means there could have been ANOTHER reason for his lack of speech. Although previous diagnosed Glue Ear may have caused it but thats probably clutching at straws now.

His complete lack of understanding of spoken words/instructions and zero speech has us very worried given that he is now 30 months. I can't imagine him ever listening to, understanding or speaking words. :(

We are so sad today, he is also getting more stubborn with age and set in his ways and its difficult to help him as he doesn't understand words much and doesn't speal, my poor baby.

He is on Early Intervention at his day care, he is seeing two top specialist paeditricians, he has speech therapy starting this week and as above he is getting his hearing sorted. We want to leave nothing to chance. His motor skills whatever that is, is "normal" according to his latest consultation - where he is delayed it appears is hearing and speech.

Now the trick is to find if the speech are and hearing are related or if the speech is due to something else. God willing he will be sorted soon but he is quite old now.
Avatar n tn
Otherwis he is a happy child, has excellent coordination, excellenet eye contact and loves hugs and love. If you didn't know he didn't speak you wouldn't suspect a thing. We are baffled.
973741 tn?1342346373
Good luck with your son.  I feel for you because I have been there.  When I first was trying to figure out what was going on with my son and then learned the diagnosis---  I was very very sad.  I felt isolated and saw all my friends and their kids as so lucky.  I was terribly worried about my baby and his future and didn't know what his delay meant for him or my whole family.  After some time and lots of contemplation and prayer, I realized that his diagnosis didn't matter.  He is a beautiful child through and through.  I adore him wholeheartedly and his delay is part of who he is.  

I armed myself with knowledge and am strong willed and became my son's champion and advocate.  We've come a long way in about a year and a half and my son has improved tremendously.  That is why I'm such a big fan of early detection and intervention.  It will truley amaze you as to what it will do for your son.

Your speech pathologist will be able to give you more information and things to do with him.  While therapy is so important, it is what you do with them on a day in day out basis that can make the biggest difference.  Watch the therapist like a hawk to learn from her and work on what she tells you at home with him.  I think I would also consider seeing a developmental specialist or occupational therapist as well. A child can have apraxia but it is often accompanied by something else.  I don't know this at all from your description but it would be beneficial to find out so any other issues could be addressed as well.  These specialists think of all kinds of questions I never would have to pick up everything going on with a child.  

I really wish you luck and blessings.  It can be a long journey but a very rewarding one.  Watching my son progress has been so meaningful in ways only a parent who has watched their own child struggle would understand.  Your son is in good hands as you figure this out.  He'll be okay with you behind him!  Good luck.
Avatar n tn
We don't have a diagnosis yet but we do have the following:

1. Early intervention at day care
2. Hearing Centre appointments and tests
3. Paediatrician assessments with another follow up soon
4. Speech therapy starting this week

We are confused about our son because other than a delay in understanding and spoken language, he is entirely normal. The GP does not think Araon has Autism the subject was raised by his day care nursery first and it has now got us becoming obsessed with it. We are so confused and often ask why God has given us this test, but we must be patient and take each day as it comes and be thankful for what we have.

Thank you for your support.
127529 tn?1331844380

Copy and paste the above into your browser or Google CHAT test for autism. It is not a conclusive test for autism as such but it is a good list of questions to ask about your child and can give you an idea whether it is a possibility.
Thinking back to my son's behaviours when it was first suggested my son was Autistic I quickly answered the questions. This particular questionnaire suggested there was a 65% likely hood that my son was autistic. Indeed he is and was diagnosed about a year and a half ago. Since he started intervention we have seen many of his autistic behaviors become less noticable although he still has problems with socializing with peers and although he is verbal with a huge vocabulary he still has trouble with conversational language.

Good luck with all the appointments you have set up, I hope you get some answers soon.
Avatar n tn
Hiya - we scored 30% on the CHAT which is an Autism positive score but on the lower side. We also scored a positive where the answer was "sometimes" or "borderline". We are still going to do the tests with the Paeditrician and have him checked.
127529 tn?1331844380
I think you are a great parent; wanting to find out as much as you can and getting the best help for your little boy, so many parents are afraid and "bury their heads in the sand" hoping all will work out in the end.
My son is on the mild to moderate end of the spectrum, he's such a great kid. IF (and it is a big if) your son does have autism he certainly sounds like he will be on the very mild end of the spectrum. Speech therapy will make a huge difference for him, it just takes a little time at first and then the kids just seem to improve really quickly from there. Again best of luck.
Avatar n tn
Today was a very depressing day. We took our son to his cousins and they are kids of 3.5 and 1.5 - the youger one spoke more words and was far more advanced than our son who is 2.5. The older one was playing on the computer and spoke like an adult.

To make us feel worse, our son was not communicating very well, choosing instead to play with a drum for a whole hour, line up a few cars and even stack coca cola cans! People even noticed that he was a little "different".

Now I am not saying he is autistic, he might be, he might well be on the mild side but its only when you take him amongst other children you realise that there might be a problem. We know he does things that are totally normal, I have highlighed them above but why do we always concentrate on the things that don't look so good?

I am totally depressed today and cried again.

We won't know though, he probably needs more tests, to start speech therapy and confirm his hearing status. We are so frustrated :(

God willing, he will be OK.
973741 tn?1342346373
It's hard not to compare your child to other kids and feel sad.  I understand what you are feeling.  A wise occupational therapist in the early days of my learning about my son's delay told me to go around other kids his age.  For the very reason you describe.  It solidifies that something is amiss.  Whether your son has autism or not remains to be seen, he very well could just have a speech delay or a sensory delay (such as my son) WITHOUT  autism.  But it still hurts when you are with others who aren't dealing with these issues.  

It would be hard to be social and interact in anyway with those you don't know without being able to communicate.  Give time for this to improve after speech therapy.
I am not going to try and diagnose your son, specialists will do that. But he sounds like a lovely boy.  So just love him and try not to be sad.  No matter what the delay or the eventual outcome of therapy, he's given you so much joy and love already.  Accentuate the posatives and do everything it takes to conquer the negatives.  I spend MOST of every day working on things with my son and your life will be consumed with this as well.  But you sound willing to do it---- think of all the kids that don't have a parent willing to do all of the hard work or the means to do it . . . your son is blessed in many ways.  
I'm guessing that the next few months will be very difficult for you.  Just remember what a sweet child your boy is and to hug and love him every chance you get.  You make him feel safe and every child needs that.  Good luck and I'll be thinking of you.
Avatar n tn
There are some great stories here of children who do end up talking and changing their behaviours to become normal children. At the moment that seems so far away from us. I can't imagine my son saying a word and know what he has just said - all he does is babble. It's in God's hands.

I feel distraught when my child does normal things like stack the odd brick or line the odd car. I know I am being overly harsh on him because "normal kids" do exactly what he does too but with him not talking it adds to the anguish.

I guess we have to wait until the speech therapists see him, wait until he is seen again by a Paediatrician, and assessed ongoing by the day care. We have to wait it seems and the suspense is killing us. Its becoming difficult to enjoy our son like we used to without worrying about "whats wrong".
Avatar n tn
My son had speech and language therapy today and I have to say I wasn't very impressed with the therapists knowledge. I have another private one coming in 2 weeks so hope that she is a little better. She did say though that he has an expressive and receptive language delay which might be a "disorder" but not confirmed given that he is so young still at 2.5.

However this delay could be due to a number of reasons, it could be due to Autism although she says that having evaluated him, he has emotions, understands communication, has non verbal communication, has good eye contact and is interractive with people which makes it less likely but you just never know do you? Too early to tell in any case. And there are many reasons why a child might have speech and understanding problems.

So on to the next therapist, also waiting for the next child paediatrician appointment and he is having ongoing help at day care.

One ray of light is that he is starting to understand words and babbling like his life depends on it. Maybe (God willing) it's coming slowly.

I just wish my little boy would say a single word.
973741 tn?1342346373
He will!!!  He is on his way and with your help, he'll get there.  Whatever his delay may be, you'll figure it out and the GOOD news is he is so young, that this early intervention will set him up to improve rapidly and have a bright future.

As far as autism, from your description----  It didn't sound like autism.  aspergers at most.  But there are general delays and by general they are pretty nonspecific.  Also sensory which can effect motor planning (which has a great deal to do with speech as the brain must organize thought in order to either understand it or say it to someone----- if the messages are al jumbled, they are hard to get out or to understand if they are coming in).  

Hang in there.  And I report to you that two years ago, I had a son who was falling apart in preschool but after early intervention-----  he is functioning well in his kindergarten class and the teacher is happy with how he is doing.  There is hope of some normalcy to life even with a delay!!  I look forward to hearing of your son's progress!!
Avatar n tn
So what happens when a child who has shown some autistic traits in the past, no longer does so? He is now totally normal but still doesn't understand language and has no speech?

I did the autistic test and he could be "mildly autistic" but take away the speech issue and it says "no PDD"....

Confused, so am I?

Father of A, aged 2.5, no speech but babbling, not a huge understanding of langauge either, previous history of ear infections and glue ear.
973741 tn?1342346373
Children can have just a speech delay, even  a severe one like your son's.  Symptoms, however, can disappear and reappear if it is another type of delay.  This happens with my son and his delay of sensory integration disorder.  No two days are just alike.

Anyway, it is good hearing from you.  I"ve thought about you and your son and was wondering how it is going.  It sounds like much better as things you worried about are now gone.  How is the speech therapy going, has he had any progression?  I'm telling you, you will be amazed at what early intervention will do!  All the best.
Avatar n tn
Hiya specialmom - I tried to email you via this but it obviously hasn't worked. My email is ***@**** - be great to exchange notes by e-mail. There is so much going on with my boy. We have every base covered with regards his development. 2 speech therapists, 2 paediatricians, a day care centre who are onto it... and a plan in place to have him talk.

With reference to Autism, we hope to God it isn't but if it is, we want everything in place to help him. It is heartbreaking seeing him so frustrated and seeing him wanting to talk but can't.
Avatar n tn
email h r a s h i d @ g m a i l . c o m
Avatar f tn
Hi, first of all, You are a great dad, dedicated and determined to help your son at all cost. I commend you for that. I'm glad you and  your son are doing better. Wether he is autistic or not he is a lovely child.Obviously he has a language delay but it doesn't mean autism. Sometimes children with lang. delay act different. My youngest son had a lang. delay, went to speech since he was 3 through all his school life. I even thought he was retarded at first. He is 18 know, just graduated from High School, was taking 4 advanced classes. I still can't understand him clearly when he talks. His muscles were underdeveloped. He played football for few years and that helped his muscles some. Now he is in the Army in basic training. We'll see how it goes. My nephew on the other hand, wasn't talking at 2.5, so they did all kinds of testing to find out he is autistic. Have your son had a neurological test?  Well he finally said a few words and the stopped. Today he is 23 yrs old, does not talk, uses a little bit of sign lang., was not able to be potty trained, developed diabetes at 4 and now he also has celiac diseases. BUT he is a good boy, lovely child, we love him to death. He enjoys swimming and he loves toys with music. Also learned to do some things in the computer. He seems like a smart kid just not independent. He would never be able to be on his own. It was very hard at the beginning but we learned to cope and accept him for who he is. I always think that things happen for a reason and God has a plan for him. So love your child deeply and enjoy what you can do with him. Always, always talk to him even if he doesn't responds. I always greet my nephew "Hi handsome" and auntie loves you, God bless you and he smiles, so he understands some language. I would like to know more about your situation, how is he progressing.
God bless you and your son, (remember he has a purpose in life).
Avatar f tn
Hello LondonDad, I just stumbled upon this forum thru google. I am very much amazed that your son and my son have around 95 percent in common. My son just turned 2, 3 weeks ago and although I have seen a pediatrician, I really do not believe on her diagnosis that my son has autism. Just like you my son is not obsessive at all and acts normal, if not only for his speech delay. I am seeking another opinion, appointment not until 31 of Dec. I wonder what happened to your son. Please let me know. What other measures have you done to help him?
470168 tn?1237474845
The thing to remember about children on the spectrum is that it is a spectrum.  It can range from severe to mild in EVERY ability.  So you can have completely different symptoms with the same difficulty at the root of the problem.  For example the DSM IV criteria for difficulties with language, speech and social interaction.  You may get one that that is hyper verbal and can talk perfectly, but does no have the understanding behind what they are saying.  Or you could have a child that is totally non-verbal, but they do have the understanding behind it and can use PECS.  But both children have got difficulties with the use of language.
If you go to the top right hand corner of this page and click on the Health Page link, you can have a look at Behavioural characteristics behind the DSM criteria for ASDs.  I post this some time ago.  It is the DSM IV criteria for autism, and parents have posted how their child fits each of the characteristics.
At this stage you don't know if your child is on the spectrum.  He isn't speaking at 2.5, and as you have seen, when in others younger and older than himself he is behind with language and social interaction.  That could be an indicator of being on the spectrum.  He does not have the language skill or the social interaction skills to join in at social gatherings such as parties etc.  My son is the same.  If it is more structured he is more likely to join in.  
But when you have your child around you every day it is difficult to see the difference.  I could not see it with my child either until we were at parties, and then eventually when he first went to school.
As you say, the first professional to be involved is to check that there is no hearing loss of hearing impediment.  Then the speech therapist will assess.  My son often appeared deaf.  He might or might not respond to his name being called.  He was talking, but only in two/three word combinations by the age of 3.  If I asked him a question he could give a totally unrelated answer.  He often repeated what he had seen on TV and would happily sit infront of the TV all day if allowed to.  
He didn't line up stuff, or spin stuff, or flap.  He did used to spin.  He played with toys as they should be played with, but always had to follow something he had seen on TV.  That has developed.  Now he still does repeat things he has seen on TV in his play.  But he can also make stuff up and use his imagination.  My son is now 8.
What many parents find is that their child appears the same as other children, but gradually as they get older, the differences become more apparent because the basic skills are not there and therefore cannot be built upon.  
I would recommend working with the SALT to encourage speech, and to use signing and gesture and pictures as a way of communicating to him and him to you.  You need to encourage any kind of communication and for him to get some kind of enjoyment and reward out of communicating with you.  That can be hard to do with a child that is not talking.  As a parent you can find yourself trying to preempt their needs.  But if you discuss this with the SALT, if she is experienced in speech disorders and ASDs she should be able to give you some advice.
And you are right to be starting the ball rolling now, because soon he will be at nursery, and before you know it he will be in school.  If his speech does not develop, or his other skills do not develop, he may need alot of support in school or may need a certain type of school that can meet his needs.  That is a very hard thing to hear as a parent.  But most mainstream schools are not geared up for these types of children.  So a nursery or school that has an attached autism unit and experienced staff is what you need to be looking for.  In those schools there are also children in the mainstream classes that are supported.  At this stage you do not know how your child will develop.  
But from what you have posted he is interesting with you and is happy.
Does he appear to have any sensory issues.  Is he okay having his hair cut or brushed or washed, or his nails cut.  Does he need clothes labels cut out, or does he have problems with his seams on his socks.  Or does he prefer to go barefoot, or walk on his toes.  Does he cover his ears at noise, or appear not to hear things.  Does he fluctuate between the two ie. over and under sensitive.  Is his balance and co-ordination okay.  Can he colour and draw?
Avatar m tn
My son will be 3 in 3weeks and he has all the things you said about your child.  I took him to get a medical team when he was 22 months old and they said he was developing delay not autistic.  But now since he almost three and he has to go to a public school.  We took him to the school for an assessment and one of the therapist said to me that he fit the autism list.  I'm taking him back to a different medical team for another evaluation in January.  How is your child now? does he talk yet???? please let know I'm worry so much and try everything I can to help my son.  Thanks.
Avatar m tn

I read you post and I am father of a son who is shy and doesn't communicate well with others. I am curious to find out how your son is now and what treatment you have given him. Appreciate your response.
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