My son is 22 months old. He was born 9 weeks early and had the cord around his neck 6 times. At 4 months, he was not tracking so we took him to a pediatric opthamologist who thought he had Cortical Visual Impairment and referred us to a neurologist. His neurologist said that his eyes were fine, but that he was not hearing adequately. So, he ordered an MRI, an EEG, genetic testing, and a BAER. The BAER said he was hearing within normal limits but the MRI showed a right parietal lobe lesion. The doctor suspected Central Auditory Neglect. Over time, it is apparent that my son has a speech delay. At 15 months, he had the expressive speech of a 1 month old and the receptive speech of a 6 month old. He has been in speech therapy for 6 months. However, his behavior is very scary. When he gets upset, he bangs his head on things. It can be the floor, the walls, his toys and recently he has started biting things too when he wants something or is angry. The neurologist said he bangs his head because he can't communicate and if we don't let him get his anger out, he will have more problems later in life. We try to get pillows under his head but he is generally banging his head before we can get to him. Also, if you try to stop him, he will pull your hair, pinch you, smack you and is very mean. He is such a sweet boy when he is not acting like this, but it is like a switch flips and he is completely different. His fits can last up to 45 minutes and there is nothing anyone can do to comfort him. He just screams and bangs his head, and bites. Is this a normal tantrum for a 22 month old boy? I am getting worried. Autism has been mentioned since he was about 9 months old, but I didn't want to do an Autism eval too early in life and label him before therapy was able to help him. Is this normal or should we be seeing someone about this?
Tantrums are certainly normal at this age, and head banging is not unusual. What is unusual is the duration of your son's episodes, and the situation would invite some concern re: PDD spectrum condition. It would be prudent to have him evaluated by a developmental team. If he requires intervention, the earlier that services can be provided the more likely it is that he will benefit from them.
As an early childhood teacher I hear all the time that people do not want their child "labeled" , however, that label gets resources and much needed services, including the therapy that you mentioned, that label gets helps sooner. The earlier the intervention the better a child's chance of recovering and functioning well in school. Being afraid of that label is an old fashion idea. Our school staff know so much more now and really are on your side! Although I do feel there are many disorders that are over diagnosed, many of those are mental health issues created by a difficult home life. I young child with the kinds of behaviors you are describing absolutely will benefit from early intervention. Your goal should be to get all the help you can before your child is in school and help prepare your child for school.
My son will be 2 next week, and his fits are getting out of hand. He still bangs his head all the time when he is angry, and now his biting is becoming more aggressive. He now bites himself, toys, or caregivers when he is mad and sometimes for no apparent reason. He has learned what time out is and that you stand in the corner but it is not stopping the behavior. The bitting has gotten worse and he even tries to bite tables and couchs! We have tried teaching him the sign for "mad" and always tell him to use his words. He speech delay is not getting any better, and I just don't know what to do about his behavior anymore. He has become very aggressive towards the family dog. He runs his toy shopping cart around the house chasing her and laughs thinking it is funny. He pulls her hair and hits her also. We put him in time out and it does not seem to be working. When you correct him and tell him "no no" he does it again!! When is behavior beyond normal? How long do I let this go on?
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