You raise some good points, especially that it's important not to react with a disproportionate amount of alarm when a child is not 'right on target' in some areas of development. Children develop at various rates in the different domains of development - this is not unusual. In fact, it's the norm. It is also not the norm for children to be able to read and/or write before the fist grade, even though some can do so. Because of the prevalence of pre-school experiences during the past decade or two, children often do develop some 'academic' skills earlier than used to be the case. However, there should be no onus for them to do so, and we needn't view our children as somehow deficient if they are not reading at kindergarten age. Relative to autism-spectrum disorders, speech delay in itself is not indicative of autism. What would be of concern is a child's not displaying the capacity to relate. It's the relational inability that is the foremost deficiency among children with autism and disorders along the Pervasive Developmental Disorder spectrum. The most reliable gauge of symtoms in this regard is the DSM-IV; it is the standard by which such diagnoses are made. Checklists and developmental screenings are useful in pinpointing symptoms, but they are not to be used to establish diagnoses. They can be a useful component of a diagnostic process, but should not be a substitute for a thorough assessment.
Autism is a spectrum disorder from mild to severe. Common traits run throughout the spectrum. In my son's case, he has problems with the pragmatics of language, conversation and some verbal stimming. While he is social, he struggles to connect to other children in very subtle ways. When he is anxious, you can really see the autism come out by his constant stimming and unusual body postures. Some of his speech is scripting, albeit appropriate to the situation. He likes to look at certain shapes out of the corner of his eyes (although not that often). Sometimes he likes to sit and spin objects, although not as much as when he was an infant. He has sensory issues with food and when he feels we can't understand him, starts to tantrum. He doesn't ask questions!!!! That is a big one.
To a casual observer, he may seem active but a little odd in some respects. When most people unfamiliar with autism think of the disorder, they have the most severe of its form in their minds, not higher functioning autistics. My son is only 3 years old now so we don't really know how his ASD will manifest itself as he gets older, it could worsen or it could get better. There is more, but I hope this helps.
I'm glad you made that comment about asking questions. My daughter has aspergers and her teacher says that she would do so much better if she would ask questions. We made it her goal to ask one question everyday, but all she did was ask "what is for lunch" everyday. There's a lot more to autism than speach. My daughter is delayed in speach, but her biggest problem is understanding social settings.
My don has Asperger's, too, and he asks a million questions every day. It just goes to prove that, like someone said, the disorder runs on a spectrum.
He was a late talker, but we were not worried, and by age 4 or five, he was all caught up, in two languages. Going back to his baby journal, I can now pick out his preoccupations, that are the hallmark of autism, such as spinning objects (while other kids enjoy watching TV, he enjoyed/still does watching the washer go around and around.
But the diagnosis became official when his difficulties of social interactions could not be covered by ADHD alone any longer, which was by 5th grade. I was not shocked. I knew about Asperger's then, and suspected my husband to have it. It was a relief, actually, to get yet another label for the kid, because that granted us access to the resources we needed for him to succeed (IEP, healthcare, social support and occupational therapy outside school.
So, at what point does behavior become autism? I believe, regardless of all the regression talk out there, that children are born with the disorder. A parent will "know" that their child is different on some level, because these infants are harder to parent, in my experience.
I thought that the true definition of Aspergers was that they are not late talkers?
I have two wonderful little boys whom both have autism spectrum disorders. This does not mean my children are what is the typical thoughts of " autistic" but that they are in the spectrum. They both have some speech problems not very bad though , these disorders arent always identified by a child's speech ... most times it is a combo of speech , emotional & social behaviors , and other things as well. PDD is being ruled out from my one child whilst the other has PDD (( go figure it is the youngest )) however , I do not necesserily believe the youngest has a problem so he has a few more evals to go thru. My sons are very high functioning which is great , however , they both have a type of Autism Disorder..theres many of them...my boys are doing great...my oldest passed Kindergarten & will go on to 1st grade this year. It is because of many services for children like mine and others that my son was able to pass kindergarten with minimal interventions and few sped. ed. classes. SO there is hope & autism disoders arent as scary as you may think. So calm down , hang in there , get the evals done & most of all keep on loving your kid as he/she is.
I agree... I think everyone is so obsessed with creating "Superbabies" that having a single milestone pass by a child becomes a crisis. Parents must realize that the rates at which children develop are all different and are just that: ranges. Although it is hard when you have the media sensationalizing every rare disease as the next pandemic in our society. Please visit www.yourchildrenshealth.com for helpful articles and news on autism and other health topics.
That's true about children developing at different speeds, but there does come a time when you should bring concerns up with your childs doctor. Looking back at my daughters development( she's now 9). They first time she showed signs that something might not be right was when she wasn't walking at 18 months. She also had speach and social difficulties. She is now diagnosed as having aspergers. I don't think we should look for problems but we should be aware enough to know when there is a problem. Because of her diagnosis and her doctors and theropists she is doing so much better.
As I so often say..Knowledge is a parents best friend. All children despite ASD develope at their own rate and I agree with that. I dont pretend to be an expert just a parent. If ya sit back and think about it being a parent can be itimidating now a days..especialy with this new era of disorders , ( kid cant sit still it must be ADHD) every child has one now. I have often wandered whatever happened to daydreaming being a good thing?? It takes daydreamers to invent things . Where would we be if Einstein didnt day dream? To many are anxious to treat the illness and not the child that sits right there before them not knowing what is going on. Sometimes I have to wonder about so many children being labeled ASD , is it a true diagnosis or just an upset uninformed parent pushing the issue to treat the "problem" child with meds ?? I was told recently that my son should be medicated. No way! Of course my son will be more compliant and less agressive if medicated but then any child w/o a disorder would be too. ASD running rampant might be a society problem more than an " epidemic" ...how many times do you hear of " oh yes my child behaves so much better now because of the medication." I have to wonder about that...my child's school is famous for not picking up their slack and sending children like my son off to another school ( most children there are MR children..bad environment for a child with ASD) and pushing for meds...Well I broke the cycle...my sons school is now picking up their slack , laying off wanting my son medicated and ya know what...My son has graduated Kindergarten " naturally" . Please dont misinterpret me here my path is not for everyone , it has been a long hard road but worth it to me , my thoughts arent everyones either but I challenge all to be well informed for their child no matter what the problem is because I feel that KNOWLEDGE IS POWER AND THAT POWER IS YOUR CHILD'S BEST HOPE. Best Wishes.