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Avatar universal

Concerned re: daughter--aspergers? autism? anxiety disorder?

I'm really hoping I can hear from a medical doctor or anyone with insight on this question.

My daughter is turning 7 in March.  While she exhibits many "typical" behaviours, she has several behaviours that I am concerned about.  

Since she was 4, we noticed repetivive hand movements.  She wriggles her fingers, about shoulder length at various times in the day.  Mostly she does this when watching television, but recently when listening to music (she plays the same CD all the time).   She also doesn't seem to be moved by the music, just focussed on the staring at the CD player.

She also has difficulty engaging in social play for extended periods.  She is beginning to join in more with kids, but only lasts a few minutes before retreating to her solitary play.  Unless it's an activity like toboganning or playing in the snow (something more physical), in which case she plays along with everyone and no noticable differences are observed.  She doesn't seem comfortable with her peers unless on play dates, which we have often enough in order te help her improve on her social skills.  She is always excited to have a friend come over and will play well, but then ignore the same person at school.   Sometimes, it seems like she is a different person at school.

Her solitary play is limited to mostly playing "Lion" where she has a couple of animal figurines (uses whatever figurines she has) that attach each other.  

Her interactions with her 5-yeard old brother are hot and cold. Some days she will play well with him for fairly lengthy periods of time, and other times she wants nothing to do with him (not that unusual sibling relationship, I guess).  

She has grown into showing affection--hugs hello, good-bye etc...but not overly affectionate.  When she is angry, she doen not want to be touched at all (holding hands, that kind of thing).  

She does have some fear of some things such as loud noises (hand dryers, toilets...) and is picky when it comes to her pants--he doesn't like pants to feel too loose on her (tighness isn't really a factor, nor are tags, texture).  

We addressed our concerns with her Ped. on 2 separate occasions over the last year and a half.  Her Ped. has known her since birth and does not think she has anything on the "spectrum" or to be concerned about at this point. She thinks she may have "anxiety" and feels the hand movements are more of a nervous tic.  My husband is comfortable with this assessment.  I, am not.   I worry all the time that it is something more and this has created friction between us.  The Ped. also did not feel a consult with a psychologist was warranted unless her behaviours interfere with her life or get worse.

She has fine motor skills.  She is average to above average intelligence.  She reads a couple years ahead for her age.  She has at least average verbal skills.  She has no difficulty communicating with family, close relatives, but would be very "shy" when speaking with others.  

My questions are:

1) Do you think it sounds like autism, aspergers, or something else?
2) When she is engaging in the hand movements, should we have her stop or limit them?  The Dr. feels we should ignore it, otherwise it will increase.
3) Should we "force" her to engage in more meaningful activities and play (ie. discourage the same "Lion" game.

I'm desperate for help. Thank you for reading this long message and for your insights.
5 Responses
13167 tn?1327197724
mc - we're all approximations on the mean - no one person is the "gold standard correctly created person".    I think as parents we imagine a perfect child,  and compare our child to that perfect standard and find places the child measures up,  and places that are a concern.  I see that coming out very strongly in your post.

I think she's doing fine.  I do think she has a little brushing of Aspergers,  but not enough to keep her from a happy wonderful,  successful life.  People are brushed with this or that condition - OCD,  ADD,  Aspergers,  Anxiety,  etc., and it's just part of your personality.

She does very well one on one,  so well that girls who are ignored at school are still willilng to come play with her.  She must be a very likeable little girl!  She doesn't do well in groups,  but she doesn't fall apart either.  She's coping.

I can't tell from your description what she's doing with her hands,  but it sounds like self-stim,  but not bizarre.  Sometime when you are feeling anxious,  try flapping your hands.  You will be amazed at the effect it has.  ;D

Just enjoy her.  She sounds like an interesting little kid - and who wants a boring one?

Avatar universal
I appreciate your comments.  I do appreciate my daughter's uniqueness, but I can't help but worry that if she has a disorder of somekind, it many surface more later on, maybe adolescence, and that I didn't intervene early on to help her.

It's just really hard to see her alone at the school when all the other children are happily playing along with others.  I just see this getting worse in time and what may not bother her now, will eventually and maybe she'll become an outcast or a person that the others tease.  That would break my heart.

The hand thing I was mentionning is that she stands up, close to the TV (or CD player) and sort-of opens and closes her hands fairly rapidly.  She will do this for anywhere from 5 min. to an hour.  I'm not sure if I should just let her do this.  Her Dr. says to leave it, so that's pretty much what I do, but occasionally I will suggest she do something else. She doesn't like when I say something about it.

She interacts with her family quite willingly and overall seems happy, although she does have a temper.

Anyway, your post made me feel better, but questions surface with me all the time.  I wish I could just let it go and accept her this way.
Avatar universal
Hi mc2727,

If your observing or if your instincts tells you that there's something unusual on your daughter's behavior, don't hesitate in going to a Neurodev Pediatrician.. Pediatricians may initially dismiss signs of autism, thinking a child will “catch up,” and may advise parents to “wait and see.” If you have concerns about your child's development, don't wait: speak to your pediatrician about getting your child screened for autism.There's nothing wrong in having your daughter assessed by an expert. But whatever the diagnosis will be, be sure to be READY & BE STRONG. HEALING STARTS WITH ACCEPTANCE =)

I'm not trying to scare you... but it's better to be sure than keeping yourself in denial...

I have a son who was diagnosed with mild autism last Dec2006 (at age 3). We noticed some red flag signs at age 2:hyperactivity, speech delay, short attention span, no social interaction, gets attached with objects, limited eye contact, picky-eater & tantrums)... but remember that ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) signs differs with every child (ex. others are hyper but other autistic kids are hypoactive. Some kids have no speech delays). My son's diagnosis was Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified, or PDD-NOS, for short, is a condition on the spectrum that has those with it exhibiting some, but not all, of the symptoms associated with classic autism. That can include difficulty socializing with others, repetitive behaviors, and heightened sensitivities to certain stimuli. This is the reason why it is important to have your child screened by an expert.

I did not waste my time in denial. I didn't even considered having a 2nd opinion because I know that the doctor is right, that someting is wrong with him. We immediately went for early interventions - occupational therapy, speech therapy & special education. Within 6mos of  therapy, my son has improved dramatically... he can speak words, improved attention span, his eye contact improve, etc.... =)

Again, whatever the diagnosis will be, you and the entire family needs to be strong for your daughter.

I'll be praying for you =). May God bless your family always!

Check out www.autismspeaks.org to inform you more about the spectrum.

Avatar universal
Thanks for your comments and for sharing your personal experiences about your son with me.  I'm glad to hear he has improved a lot with his therapy and I hope he continues to make advances.

We see the Ped. again in March so we'll probably ask for a referral then.  What we decided to do was document her behaviour for the next week or so so we'll be able to report back with examples and anecdotal info.  

In doing this, the last couple of days, my husband and I have been encouraged with some things.  She's been asking to play games like "Crazy Eights" and "Go Fish" and taking part very well.  We also observed her carefully in the game I called "Lion" (in the earlier posts) and it appears that she does in fact have a storyline.  There's a mom, dad etc.. and they are doing things.  So, it appears to be imaginative play.  In fact, just in the last couple days she's been taking out some age appropriate toys (ie.Polly Pocket) and playing with them.  Also, today a neighbour of the same age came and asked her to come out and play and they had lots of fun playing in the snow together.  We're also going through a period where the hand movements have been much less noticeable.  I have always found that came in waves and that is why we thought it may be something she does when she is excited or anxious.

I still worry about her, mostly in the social area.  She seems to want to play with kids but only for little spurts.  I also find that at times some girls have excluded her.   I think she has difficulty in with the dynamics of a larger group.   I'm not sure what to do for her to help with this.  I'm wondering if there are programs that help children develop social skills.  I also don't have any doubt that she has some issues with anxiety.  That seems to run in my husband's family.  

Anyway, I appreciate your words. Thanks again.

377600 tn?1225167036
I don't thin she is autistic or has asperger's.  I think it sounds like anxiety too.  I think she has to learn more skills on how to handle situations/people in her life.

I'm a very internal person.  I'm not very social.  My husband is very social.  My oldest child is like my husband.  My youngest is like me, and she loves to play alone and like your daughter--

My youngest has notable anxiety about just about anything--as do I.

My oldest only has anxiety when something really big is going on in her life.

I think she needs help with socialization...she might not like playdates--I tried that--or rather--I signed up--but I just can't stand the thought of actually doing it.

Try doing other things--go to the salon together--things like that--whatever interests your daughter--then she will become more comfortable with herself-- gradually increase that time and include others in those activities that she enjoys.

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