I also wanted to add that he has some sensory issues as well(not diagnosed) he cries or screams when he hears loud noises like a hair dryer or a blender and often times a song of music on tv scares him. I have a hard time getting him to eat as well. He wont even try a food most of the time even if its something I know he likes. I know hes hungry though because he will eat cereal all day long if I let him.
He has never said "mom" or "dad" or anything of that type either. Doesn't respond when someone asks him where mom or dad is and wont even shake his head yes or no.
If you go over to the autism forum and click on the Health Page icon on the top right hand side of the page you can go in The Behavoural Characteristics behind a Diagnosis of Autism/Aspergers (ASDs). I have listed the DSM IV diagnostic criteria that the professionals use to decide whether a child is on the autistic spectrum or not. Parents have also posted examples of their child's behaviour that meets the criteria. Have a look at it and post again with what you think.
Sensory issues are common in those on the spectrum. If you google the name Olga Bogdashina you can read an article by her printed in Autism Today. She also has a very good book called Sensory and Perceptual Differences in Autism and Aspergers. At the back of the book is a questionnaire that you can complete to get a sensory profile of your child. The Autism Department in our city uses this questionnaire to get an idea of the sensory difficulties of the children. So it is a reputable questionnaire.
My son also waves and shows affection and is on the spectrum. The tantrums and frustration increases as they are expected to compy more with their environment. So my son was okay at nursery, but totally freaked out at preschool at age 3+ because he still wanted to do as your son does, and stay on his own doing his own thing. As soon as they tried to make him comply to 'join in' and do what everyone else was doing then he started with avoidance behaviours such as vomiting, banging his head on the wall, scratching at his face, hiding under the table etc etc. He was not showing these behaviours at home.
He is now nearly 8 and is in a mainstream school that has experience and expertise in autism. I moved him to this school in September this year and it has made all the difference having teaching staff who are trained and experienced in autism and who have a huger amount of experience dealing with lots of different children. Because each child is different and they have to find out their strengths and weaknesses etc.
If you are concerned go to your doctor and ask for a referral to a multi disciplinary team that specialises in diagnosing autism. The comment about waving and showing affection is not true when you consider there are people with Aspergers who are doctors, lawyers, married with kids, run their own businesses. They must also have some level of social ability, empathy, theory of mind etc to have got to the level they are at. That is why it is called a 'spectrum' disorder.
Hi Worried Mom,
At 19 months, I saw my daughter going down the same road. Loss of vocabulary, lining things up, poor social skills etc... 8 weeks ago we started her on Nordic Naturals Fish Oil supplements and have seen a dramatic improvement. She started to babble, then say words and now she seems to be "caught up". Even in her evaluations, they cannot believe the change. Now, I am no expert, at all - but it almost seems like the oil is detoxing her system - maybe of metal or whatever - I don't know. But, it may be worth a try. There are huge improvements in language, eye contact, social skills and tantrums. Just a thought. Research it, take it with a grain of salt. I've read that it doesn't help all - but I can't help but have noticed the changes in my daughter.
We have all traveled down this same road. My son was the same as you describe yours. My son is now 5.5 years. He is high functioning. I tried using sign language to get through to my son and it worked. We were able to communicate that way but alot of pictures helped too. I did not allow him a comfy zone or use his diagnosis as an excuse for him to not "use his words". We used pictures for drinks, food, bedtime, clean up time- things like that. He still uses alot of sign language and they use this technique at his special ed too. For my boy, sign language was alot easier for him to pick up and understand then the pictures. I think, if you use pictures, use pictures of himself with a drink or food or in bed etc. You can easily teach yourself sign language as you teach him by repitition. Once you know he has learned it, make sure you demand his using it.
On a side note, Read Jenny McCarthy's book Louder than words! It will help you alot.
Just as B208 above has noted using fish oil. I started using Cod Liver Oil recently and then had to leave my son for a couple days. He had not been on this for even two solid weeks and I noticed a difference. He has alot more cognative function- like now he can pretend and understand those kinds of games.