Normal 3 year old behavior?
by MNGal, Jul 29, 2009
My 3 year old son was just seen at the doctor's this morning for a checkup. She asked what concerns we had, so I mentioned that lately he has been pushing kids when he plays w/ them. Normally he plays quite nicely w/ others, but lately he has just been pushing his friends when he gets mad or just randomly sometimes (but mostly when they are in his way or something like that). He is always punished for it w/ a timeout. Anyway, as soon as I mention that the doc starts asking all these questions about "does he line stuff up?" "does he give hugs or sit on your lap?" "are you concerned w/ his eye contact?" So, I tell her that he does like to sometimes line things up (what kid doesn't?), but he doesn't do it all the time. He is very affectionate & I'm not concerned about eye contact. Well, she keeps pushing it. She said that she feels the pushing is not aggression but a "lack of social cues" & he didn't give her much eye contact during the exam. Well, let's see, he was reading a book while she was doing most of the exam, so that would be the lack of eye contact & I did say that he does like routine, but I thought 3 year olds were supposed to have a routine?!!? She then said that he wants him evaluated for Autism & that although she would never diagnose him from one visit she thought he was "at best" a high functioning Autistic or Aspergers kid.

I'm sorry, but I just don't see it. I have worked w/ Autistic/Aspergers kids before & he is not like that. It just seemed like she jumped to that right away & wouldn't let go of that idea. I even told her that he used to be in daycare w/ other kids who were older so he may have picked up some traits from that. She just ignored that.

So, my question is...... is the pushing "normal" 3 year old behavior or is it Autistic? Will he just grow out of it w/ redirection & punishment?

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Member Comments (8)
by specialmom, Jul 29, 2009
Hi,  not the doctors visit you were expecting, I'm sure.  I have two boys, a 5 year old with something called sensory integration disorder and a 4 year old who does not have it.  Both boys have been known to push.  Sensory integration disorder is a neurological dysfunction that actually many autistic kids have as some of their problems.  I would describe my son as a mixed bag of things.  Two of the things that can cause a sensory seeking child like my son to push are 1--- a craving for deep pressure.  Pushing into someone feels good to a nervous system that is craving this kind of input and 2--- they sometimes can't judge exactly where they are in space.  Sounds funny, but before occupational therapy, my son had a hard time floating on his back as they make you do in swim lessons and didn't like enclosed slides.  Anyway, your doctor does sound overzelous in her trying to say that your son is high functioning autism . . . and you would probably have more clues if this were the case.  My son has some trouble with social cues, however, without being autistic.  Both my sons line up things like cars and toys, but that isn't the only way they play and it has never meant anything for them developmentally.  Lastly, my 4 year old who has no signs of any disorder has been known to push a time or two.  With that being said, some inner voice told you to tell your doctor about it as something didn't seem quite right.  You've had the "wake up" call as I call it where someone else has pointed out they think something is wrong.  There may not be---- and I hope no!.  But now you watch him closely to see if you think there is an issue.  If really worried, you can always have him evaluated and be told everything is fine.  I waited to see with my son and the teacher and counselor at his preschool he attended one day a week turned out to be right.  I didn't see it at home, but at school it became more clear.  You'll also see more as he gets older if there is a problem.  Good luck-----  boy, being a mom is hard work!!  Oh, and early intervention works with developmental delays!  We've been seeing an occupational therapist and it has made a HUGE difference!
by MNGal, Jul 30, 2009
Thanks for the input. My son doesn't have any of those issues though. I have worked w/ Autistic children in the past & know the warning signs. I even came home yesterday after the appt & did the Autism checklist that is given to parents for evaluations.

My son scored a zero on it. He had absolutely no indicators of Autism.

My son is also not developmentally delayed. He has hit all his milestones early or on time. The doctor even stated yesterday (after telling her all the things that he knows) that he has a very high IQ & he was extremely intelligent.

I have also talked to friends since then who work & evaluate Autistic kids- all said that the doc was wrong. I guess the only wake up call I had yesterday was that the doctor we saw was a complete quack & we will never go back there again.
by specialmom, Jul 30, 2009
Hi, I'm glad that your son has no indicatiors for Autism!  Your doctor sounds a bit over the top.  I will say, however, that my son too met every single milestone and many of them early and has above average intelligence.  He can read, write and communicates in both expressive and receptive language as a 10 year old (as assesed by our Children's Hospital---  and he just turned 5).  Developmental delays do not always equate to intelligence or learning disabilities.  Sensory rears its head in the form of behavior problems that can be traced back to a childs 7 senses (includes vestibular and proprioceptive).  Sensory while it is a neuro problem like autism is completely different.  Your docs suggestion at an appt is crazy-----  but my point is that sensory issues are a different story.  Most kids, by the way, do have sensory issues.  It is only a problem if they aren't able to cope or if the sensory drives cause difficulty with others (ie: pushing).  Good luck and try the pillow thing anyway, I'm telling you---  your son will love it.  By the way, I'm not one of those moms who thinks because my son was diagnosed with a disorder that it means every other kid who has some similarities must have the same thing.  Each kid is different---- and one must take the whole picture into account to understand what is going on with a child.  If your child overall functions great----  then awesome.  And I do think the way your doctor handled things was ridiculous.  Okay, enough said.
by specialmom, Jul 30, 2009
One last thing, as I said----  I also have a 4 year old son that does not have a disorder or neurological problem of any kind who has been known to push a friend.  How your son functions day to day (especially when he is away from you as in preschool, daycare, etc.) is what is important.  My 4 year old is . . .well, 4.  His behavior isn't perfect and what 4 year old is.  So I'm not suggesting your son has SID.  You also do describe a child who is doing normal kid stuff.  What is a little different is that you brought up something that you are now saying "isn't it normal 3 year old behavior" as a concern of yours to his doctor.  You do sound like a great mom who wants the best for your son!  IAnyway, best wishes and good luck.
by jdtm, Jul 30, 2009
She said that she feels the pushing is not aggression but a "lack of social cues" & he didn't give her much eye contact during the exam  --  your words

These are also behaviours common to children suffering from anxiety; although after reading your posting, I did not see any other indications of social anxiety.  By the way, sensory integration disorder is very often co-morbid with children suffering from anxiety.  Just another (albeit remote) possibility ......
by specialmom, Jul 31, 2009
Sick of me yet?  Sorry for all the posts.  But a friend of mine called me this morning because she was concerned that her 3 1/2 year old daughter was . . .pushing!  I know this little girl very well, have spent lots of time with her and have seen the behavior my friend has spoken of.  Her pushing is pretty normal kid stuff . . .all be it annoying to her mother.  She pushes if someone invades her space, interferes when she is playing, or just getting on her nerves.  My friend and I talked about it for awhile and we came to the conclusion that she is an only child and usually the queen of her castle.  She is not used to having to bend for other kids (I have two boys close in age that HAVE to do that every day just to exist together in our house).  She is always reprimanded for it and my friend is a very attentive, good, caring mom that wants her daughter to be sweet.  She is going to have a talk with her (she's smart as you say your son is)--- and talk about a "new rule".  Pushing is a zero tolerance action.  If she pushes----  she will be removed from the situation.  My friend plans on leaving wherever they are at (playground, etc.) as a stronger form of time out.  This consequence will result in many tears I'm sure, but will get the point across. At school, that will be a little more difficult.  She will have a plan with the teacher for the consequence.  Is your son an only child?  My point is, my friends darling daughter IS a normal three year old that occasionally pushes.  So I realize this could be the case.  I guess since your doctor had such a drastic reaction, I'd be open to other posabilities but none as serious as autism.  Just thought of you after I taked to my friend.  Okay, as I said----  sick of  me yet?
by MNGal, Jul 31, 2009
No, I'm not sick of you. :)

I do appreciate your input. I understand what you are saying about every kid being different. I know that some kids have sensory issues, autism, etc. & some don't. I also understood that you were not saying that my kid does just b/c your son does. Sorry of that's not how it came across.

Anyway, I think I should have added that my 3 year old is a relatively new big brother. He went from being the center of attention to having to share it- & he is a Mama's boy. :) My other son is 9 months & getting more mobile everyday. They already fight about toys and such.

Your friend's solution is what we have started doing. The "One Push" rule as I like to call it. No warnings- we just leave. And yes, there have been tears about it already.  

I think I will continue w/ that & see if that helps. Otherwise he is starting school soon, so hopefully that will help. :)
by StephGal, Jan 24, 2014
I just came across your post. I'm curious to know how your situation has turned out? I am going through pretty much the exact same thing and bring that years have gone by you had more input. Thanks