Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Community
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Avatar universal

Signs of Autism?

My daughter is 2 years old and has been flapping her hands since she was one. She flaps her hands often, especially when she is excited about something, usually a moving object. She also goes on her tippy toes when she's excited. She does a lot of pretend play, tells her family members that she loves them all the time, hit all her milestones at the right time, is extremely social, loves going to the park and playing with other kids, is potty trained. She is a little slow with her speech but she has a lot to say. She stutters a little bit and occasionaly says odd things. She'll opoint to a stanger and tell me, "that's my mommy." She just started to cover her ears when things are "too loud." I'm not sure if I'm becoming paranoid or if things are getting worse. Does this look like autism? If it is, can she become less affectionate than she is now? Does autism get worse with age? Please help! I so worried!
15 Responses
492869 tn?1285022533
It's possible she could have some form of autism, but there is really no way to know for certain until you have her evaluated.  I would recommend seeing bringing up your concerns with her pediatrician, and perhaps with a pediatric neuropsychologist.

Children with autism often flap their hands when they are excited, and block there ears when things are too loud.  Other children can have these behaviors sometimes too, so it's not exclusive to autism.

By the way, I am on the autistic spectrum with a diagnosis of PDD-NOS.  I do flap my hands when I am excited, spend most of the day rocking, and sometimes block my ears.  Although I speak well, I have difficulty with some aspects of socialization such as eye contact.

With autism, no two people diagnosed are alike.  Everyone gets their own little mixture of symptoms.  While some have more severe forms of autism than others, it's by no means the end of ones chance at a normal life.  It's possible to be autistic, and still be happy.

There are also some treatments available to help with some of the difficulties associated with autism.  The most common treatments I can think at the moment include speech therapy, occupational therapy, and applied behavioral analysis.

I wish for you and your daughter the best.
470168 tn?1237474845
Alot of the things you mention come under sensory problems.  This can be a diagnosis in itself, although alot of autistic people (if not all of them) have some kind of sensory processing perceptual difficulties.  It is quite possible to have a number of autistic traits, but not enough in all the categories to get a diagnosis of autism (or infact any other disorder).  As Halbashes points out, everyone with (and without) a diagnosis is different, and from your description it does sound like your child is doing much better on the social side of things.  For example my son finds academic work hard to understand (although he is of at least average intelligence and has been assessed as exceptional in some areas of abilities), is relatively social but in an odd way, but he has no rituals, routines or obsessions apart from an occasional hand flap (about once a day if you're lucky to see it), but that one ocassional hand flap and spinning does bring him into the criteria for a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.  Again, as already mentioned, a diagnosis, although devastating for the parents, does not mean that the child will not be happy/content and will develop to their potential.  In most cases autistic people have special abilities (not to the extent of savant) that can be useful to them in terms of work.
The only way to get a diagnosis is through observations carried out by a multi-disciplined team.  So it is better if you get the ball rolling so that any support she needs can be in place for nursery/school.
319766 tn?1198945534
The fact that she is pointing her finger is a great sign.Absence of protodeclarative pointing(using index finger to indicate interest in item or person) is predictive of later diagnosis of autism.
But talk to your pediatrician....
319766 tn?1198945534
On the other hand covering her ears is somewhat concerning.
There are certain motion abnormalities frequent in kids with autism.One that stands out is when child places a hand with fingers separately outstretched before eyes and rapidly moves hand back and forth.
Walter(I sometimes get my real and fictitious names confused)
325405 tn?1262293778
If she is social, I wouldn' t be concerned too much.  I'd bring up any issues you have with her pediatrician.   If you live in the US and you have concerns about her speech and stuttering or other developmental areas, you could ask the pediatrician to be referred to your state's 0 to 3 program.  Some states it is called First Steps.  Other states it has different names.  Anyways, the assessment is totally free.  Most states usually come to your house to do it, but not all states, so you'd have to check.  The therapy is either free or subsidized (I have a $3 session copay for example) based on your income level.

Just make sure you work with her on areas she has difficulty with, like the sensory issues.  It sounds a lot like she has some sensory issues.  Sensory issues can happen on their own.  I have a lot of sensitivity to sound, smells, and certain touch for example, but do not have autism.  My mom said I used to flap my arms as a child.  As an adult I do other things.  If I'm nervous, I pen click, twirl my hair, rock, bounce my legs if I'm sitting down.  Some noises and smells will literally drive me up the wall.  There are a lot of people with autistic tendencies who do not have autism.  My husband and I both have a lot of autistic traits but neither of us have autism.  

You could see if you could inquire about sensory integration therapy for a couple sessions or try to find a workshop or conference on it in your area.  It works with kids with ADD/ADHD and just sensory issues.  There are techniques like joint compression and brush therapy that seem to help regulate the senses.  It really has helped my daughter with her sensory issues.  If you do manage to get an assessment, you could inquire of the therapists who do the assessment what to do.  Even if you don't qualify for services, maybe they'd give you some ideas.  

It sounds like you  have a healthy and happy little girl.  Congrats.  :)
470168 tn?1237474845
Regarding finger pointing.  Although some children more severely autistic do not finger point, alot of Aspergers and higher function autistic children do.  My son always pointed and brought things to show me.  He has a sense of humour, empathy, social smile/gestures, theory of mind and can also lie convincingly.  Many autistic people say that, it is not that they don't have these abilities, they very often do.  But because of sensory/perceptual differences and language processing delays they are not always able to multi-task from a sensory point of view.  Therefore if they want to talk about something they have to concentrate to such an extent to retrieve the correct words and put them in a grammatical sentence that makes sense that they are unable to also monitor their expression/posture and also monitor the other persons reaction and expression to what they are saying (plus there can also be other additional social communication difficulties such as prosopagnosia).  In less busy environments, on a one to one basis, they usually do much better.  That is why the internet has been such a brilliant communication aid for those on the spectrum because it gives them a structure to follow, turn taking etc and there is no one-on-one social confrontation that can cause great difficulties.  You would never know who was autistic in these forums unless they volunteer that information themselves.  
However, although may parents and many autistic people are saying that they do have these abilities, it still seems that most professionals do not accept this.
However if you hear autistic adults giving seminars/speeches etc they continually demonstrate that they do have these abilities.  Indeed, if they didn't, then they probably wouldn't be able to conduct these seminars.
Avatar universal
i know u posted and responded to mom76 but you mentioned that your son has an occasional hand flap and does spinning that has put him on the autism spectrum??? i am curious is that the only "autistic" characteristics he has..i thought they had to have a few "behaviors" from each group on the criteria (forget the name of testing they use)
i'm just curious how u got the diagnoses..i know we have posted to each other in the past about my son and my concerns..my son also does the occasional hand flap (i'm lucky if i see once a week) he rocks while watching tv on the couch daily (only time he does it)neurologist says b/c he needs to release his energy also he does have some sensory issues so it could be a movement proprioceptive thing he needs..  he copies noises ie the microwave beeping, has oral sensory issues w/ some food (picky eater and gags w/ new foods) language delays (improves every day) but does impact his education and will need to be pulled for xtra help in kindergarten next year..  we were not giving the diagnoses of being on the spectrum...told we are looking at a kid w/ language delays (optimistic he can catch up) mild sensory issues, and possible adhd...i know a lot of these behaviors can over lap and sometimes look a like (adhd,spectrum, sensory processing disorder) but i am just curious how your son did get the diagnoses of being on the spectrum vs other???
470168 tn?1237474845
No he has other autistic behaviours.  But the main things I notice with him are sensory ones.  It is just in the section under rituals/routines/obsessions etc that he occasionally flaps or spins.  He also finds it hard to leave things unfinished, but is improving with that.
He had some echolalia as a toddler (he repeated questions I asked him back to me) and delayed echolalia from 3+ to now (he only needs to watch a DVD a couple of times to know all the dialogue - but that doesn't necessarily mean he understands all the dialogue).  He has speech disorder eg. finds using pronouns difficult.  His expressive language is assessed at age 7+ (he is 7) and his receptive language (ie. understanding communication) is assessed at age 3.  He can also sometimes take things literally eg. the other day I told him not to do something and he went ahead and did it.  Then his dad said "Do that one more time and see what happens!"  So that is exactly what he did.  He did it one more time to see what would happen, and my husband smacked him.  But my husband was to blame for that, not my son.  But every day is a learning curve.
He has sensory integration dysfunction.  All his senses are affected but mainly he is hypersensitive to touch/sound (especially unpredictable noises).  He also cannot multi-task from a sensory point of view and can only take in sensory information through one sense at a time.  When there is too much sensory stimulation he somehow (I don't know if he can control it) closes down certain senses to limit sensory bombardment and just keeps one sensory channel open.  So, for example, if I want him to hear what I am saying I have to repeat his name until he responds, then I tell him I have something important to tell him and he must listen, then I tell him what I need to say.  I don't look at him because if we make eye contact he effectively can only look at me and loses are hearing.  Or, although he is tactile hyper sensitive, if he is watch TV I can tickle his feet or pinch his ears and he feels nothing.  If he is engrossed in doing something eg. running around he might fall and feel nothing.  He also has hypersensitive smell and taste.  He frequently asks me about things he can 'hear' or 'smell'.  He used to vomit alot when he was a toddler if he got upset or at textures of food.
He tends not to initiate social interaction outside the family.  It takes him alot longer to process speech and he finds it hard to construct his speech.  So conversations are very difficult for him.  So games involving fast changing imaginary role play are hard for him because (a) he cannot keep up with what everyone else is saying/doing (infact he may even be effectively deaf) and (b) he may simply want to re-enact something he has seen from TV and the other children are not happy with him doing that and he is not happy to change his role.
He has problems with planning,sequencing, understanding time.  He finds it hard to follow an auditory instruction (eg. he may do only the first or last thing in the instruction).  
He may also have aspects of Dyslexia.
He has problems writing which may be due to Dyspraxia.  He is struggling to grasp, remember (and retrieve) information and generalise phonics or numeracy.  Infact one of my biggest frustrations is that he is like a recorder and knows many things, but he has significant difficulties retrieving relevant information when he needs it.  He is still on foundation levels (about 2 years behind).  
However he is brilliant at visual spatial stuff such as puzzles/lego etc.  He can build lego models for children aged 14+ and can follow the instruction booklet no problem.  He is interested in machinery and electronics and how they work.
He has empathy (if his sensory channels are open to notice what is going on), a social smile (again if he is aware of his surroundings and people), a sense of humour, he has some imagination.
But prior to school, although I did have concerns, he is really just like me and alot of other family members.  Prior to him starting school I spoke with his teacher because I was aware that he didn't have any of the skills needed in school.  He wasn't interested in books or drawing/colouring/painting.  He wanted me to do pictures for him because he wanted a perfect replica and would get very upset at his own attempts.  He was only putting short sentences together and only for things to meet his needs.  He didn't chat.
After 6 months at school they called me in and said he was head banging, getting under the tables and refusing to come out, he was rolling himself up in the mats, he was walking up/down the classroom and engaging in repetitive movements etc.  I was not seeing these behaviours at home.  But his reception class was actually two classrooms knocked together divided by a curtain; so from a sensory point of view he was seeing/hearing twice as much stuff as in a normal sized classroom and each classroom was sub-divided into tables with different activities on each table.  I think he was just totally overwhelmed and confused and hadn't got a clue what he should be doing.  
By my comment, I was just trying to get across how a seemingly 'small thing' can tick a box in the criteria.  Every child is different eg. an Aspergers child may talk for hours on their topic of interest and a HFA child may not be able to initiate conversation or want to socialise, but even though they are at opposite ends from a behavioural point of view, both children will be classed as having impairments in social communication.
My son is autistic, but I am aware that if he improved in that area where I feel his impairments are not that huge (and that could happen by adulthood), he could be in a position of losing his diagnosis.  Afterall there are so many children with traits of multiple dxs, but not with enough of any one disorder to get a dx.  And I am not sure how I would feel if he no longer met the criteria, he would still have significant difficulties in certain areas and unfortunately no diagnosis unually means less support.  I do not believe in recovery or cure.  But having said that I am extremely positive about autism as it has many abilities along with the disabilities.
Hope that clarifies!!  If you want to ask me anything else, feel free.
470168 tn?1237474845
Sorry, forgot to mention the meltdowns as well.  Because I also have alot of sensory differences, I have been telling my son for some time that how he experiences things is not the same for everyone else.  So, when he has a meltdown I can usually talk to him about it sometime afterwards and he can explain to me what is going on.  The big factor in all of them is that he is completely overwhelmed by his feelings at the time of meltdown and his feelings are not in proportion to the event that has happened.  It is a tidalwave of emotion.  The second thing is that he says he cannot stop feeling it.  So, whereas we would 'feel' an emotion in context to what has happened and would quickly manage to get our feelings under control.  He cannot do that.  He is completely overwhelmed with emotion and that feeling persists for quite some time and he cannot get it under control.  But he does recognise that his behaviour is out of control and he apologises for it.  He is also beginning to help himself by taking himself to his bedroom to calm down.  Which is a really positive thing.
Avatar universal
thanks for the response..i believe i misunderstood your previous post and your sons reason for the diagnoses..your son sounds like a wonderful,smart little boy and he's lucky to have a mother that is so "tuned" into his needs..i must say you def. did shed some light for me on the world of autism or what it is like for a child to have...what i do know about autism i have only read up on or seen on tv..it sounds like your son has come a long way..
as i've mentioned before i have had concerns about my son who does have some sensory issues and delays but do not have a diagnoses of autism..as time goes on and the more i read and learn about the more i am less concerned that he has...if down the road i do get a diagnoses?? so be it...it doesn't change who my son is, and the excellent progress he makes every day..
this is kind of funny as i've mentioned my son also has some "quirky" behaviors..he just had his 5th bday and ever since a baby he has hated/screamed and cried if anyone sang the bday song..at school one day his teacher forgot how much he hated and while they started to sing happy bday to a little girl in the class, my son screamed,ran in the bathroom and shut the door :) we can't figure it out b/c he will sing any other song no problem.. for his bday he told all of us at the party "don't you dare sing Happy bday to me" :) we think it may be over whelming to him..i mean when u think about it every since a baby w/ the whole family (large family) and friends looking at him singing, that can be over whelming to a child anyways,never mind one w/ sensory issues..so, any bday party we go to (w/ 3 kids it's a lot of parties) i have to warn my son that it is coming and he will go in the other room and hide...
we just came from speech and his therapist is so pleased w/ his progress...he is asking so many what/why questions,sentences are not always gramaticaly correct when answering questions.. he is getting the concept of time, he's never had a problem w/ socialization but his speech has always been an obstacle (altho' getting better) the other day  there was an older boy not being so nice to him and his little friend and my son stuck up for himself and his friend and told him "he was not being nice" 6 months ago my son would have just been physical and pushed or hit the other boy out of frustration...

470168 tn?1237474845
It is such a scary word 'autism' to all parents.  But when you see that your child is/will make progress it is so reassuring.
The problem with singing could be the combined voices of all the people.  My son also likes to sing himself or me sing to him, but he cannot stand school assembly when they all sing and he finds it hard in church if there is singing.  I don't know if it is the volume, or the number of noise sources or that he cannot habituate to noise.  (I do know that sudden unpredictable noise scares him silly).  I have used ear defenders for my son (the normal DIY kind you find in the DIY store).  They take the 'edge' of noise.  My son has a pair at school that he chooses to wear at dinner time and play time and during assembly.  He also chooses to wear them off we go to the cinema and I always make sure we take them on trips out even if he doesn't ask for them, just in case.
I have had a professional mention to me that it might be better to wean him off them as they 'make him look different'.  But from my experience it has made my son much more open to trying new situations that he simply wouldn't have done before and would have thrown a tantrum.  At the last school Xmas disco he managed to stay for the whole duration and danced and talked with other people (with his headphones on).  On previous years he would want to go home after about 20 mins and would spend the entire time walking round talking to himself and covering his ears.  So, I keep them as an option.  Afterall we wouldn't remove a blind person's walking cane because it made them look different and then wonder why their ability to function in the outside environment deteriorated!
I've also recently had a breakthrough with swimming.  And I think that was down mostly to sensory difficulties.  I took my kids swimming and as my daughter always gets sore eyes from the water I bought her some goggles.  So of course I had to get my son some as well.  Normally my son wears armbands and floats in the water.  He doesn't like to get splashed etc.  Anyway when he put on the goggles I told him he could see under the water, which he tried.  Then he wanted to swim under the water, but I told him you can't do that with your armbands on.  So he wanted to take them off.  He tried to swim, but was holding his nose with one hand.  But I was amazed that he was even attempting to swim under water and taking his feet off the floor!  So I got out of the swimming pool and went to the reception desk (all dripping and wearing my bathing costume!!) and bought a nose clip.  Well, my son really amazed me.  He had gone from a statue floating in water to swimming under water and retrieving things off the bottom that I threw in.  I was amazed.  And afterwards I thought, why didn't I recognise that sooner?
Avatar universal
that is great about the swimming..my oldest son (w/ no sensory issues just started doing that last summer at age 7 too) my 5 year old(w/ sensory) has always been the type of kid that u need to watch..last summer at age 4 he was jumping in w/ no bubble/swimmies and we couldn't get him out of the pool..he likes the jumping/banging/crashing tho'...he's in swim lessons this year but has a hard time paying attention..when the teacher is giving instructions, he is blowing bubbles or splashing other kids, ugh....

i do notice that a lot of parents are scared of an "autism" diagnoses..maybe fear of the "unknown"??? i can honestly say i am not afraid of a diagnoses b/c it's not going to change who my son is...he is who he is..my son does have a few  "characteristics" b/c of his sensory issues ( and like we've said the symptoms can over lap)i've taken him to a few specialist that have told me "no" he is not on the spectrum..he will continue to go for follow ups..if we do get a diagnoses  in a few years???(i've heard of that happening too, that's okay too)...as of right now no specialist thinks he is, and i have started to finally except that..i think i thought in the past if i got a diagnoses, just give me something, then i can grasp what it is my son has and help my son..
i still find this forum to be resourceful just for ideas how to help my son to overcome/adapt to some of his sensory issues etc b/c i know that kids w/ autism have sensory problems...

well, we thought the happy bday song may have been the combination of all the voices but why does he sing along to any other song at school??go to holiday shows at the school in the auditorium (which is soooo loud) be fine and sing along w/ the all the kids while in the audience w/ me.. singing doesn't bother him at church, lets just say he doesn't behave or sit still so church is a nightmare w/ him expecting a kid w/ that much energy to sit be quiet and behave for 45 mins..loud noises don't bother him either...you sing happy bday and he has a melt down!!!!i can remember as a toddler he would complain in walmart b/c of the big,loud freezer noises in the frozen food section..just say "mom shut it off" and i can recall wow that really bothers him, and i hardly even notice....now, it does not bother him at age 5..
just a few weeks ago/month ago he was copying the beeping noises at the check out line at the grocery store..every time the clerk scanned something and it beeped, my son copied that beeping noise...last 3 times we've gone to the grocery store he hasn't done it once ? i can't figure him out??

his teachers all say he is a "puzzle" "nothing adds up" as we said before he's like a mixed bag of salad, not enough ingredients of particular salad to give it a name??
i bounce around to this forum,one for speech delays,one for adhd and i find them all very resourceful..
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