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Old 06-26-2006, 10:37 AM   #1
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Does this sound like an Autism Spectrum Disorder?

I am a teacher, and I have a very, very, special nephew who will be 6 years old in a couple of weeks. He and I have a special bond. Since he was about 2, I felt there was something not quite right. I have worked with mildly autistic children in the past, and he seems to have some of the symptoms.

For example, he used to be very routine driven (i.e. had to eat tapioca pudding while sitting in the blue rocking chair, hated new clothes, he still has to stick his finger in a cup of soda to make the fizz go down, etc.... ), but he seems to have outgrown some of that. Also, his speech was very delayed, and it is still very inadequate. However, he likes to initiate "conversations". These conversations are always limited to what he wants to talk about (usually Star Wars or Dragonball Z!!) If I try to talk about something else, he will interrupt me and continue with his topic of discussion. He never talks about someone else's interests.Also, if he is nervous, scared, or anxious he talks in unusual voices, if he talks at all. Sometimes he just growls like a dog or hisses like a cat. He also uses his hand like a puppet when he is stressed. In addition, I am concerned with the fact he exhibits no curiosity. He never asks, 'why?' Most little kids can drive you crazy with that question! He just doesn't seem interested. Another point of concern is when he is hurt or upset he usually hides, and he becomes rigid when you try to comfort him.

There are other behaviors, however, that do not fit the autistic profile. In particular, he loves to play with others kids when given the opportunity. (He has never been in a daycare setting) He can role-play certain scenarios, and he does have an imagination. However, while I am watching him play with other children he seldom, if ever, asks even the most basic personal quetions - What is your name? Do you like Star Wars? Its like he sees them as a walking, talking, toy. In addition, he is very loving and affectionate to his family. He has an even, happy disposition, and eye contact is not usually a problem.

I would appreciate any comments or suggestions you might have.

 
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Old 06-26-2006, 11:29 AM   #2
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Re: Does this sound like an Autism Spectrum Disorder?

From what you've described, it could be possible. There is a huge misconception about children with Autism not being affectionate. There are plenty of kids on the spectrum that are affectionate to their families.

Is he able to sustain a conversation about anything other than his own interests? If not then even though he is interested in other kids I would be concerned.

Has he been to kindergarden yet? How did he do? I would think the school should have noticed any communication or social difficulties.

Have you discussed this with his parents?

 
Old 06-26-2006, 12:36 PM   #3
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Re: Does this sound like an Autism Spectrum Disorder?

My son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS at 3 because he didn't fit all the requirements to be considered austic. He does initiate conversation about his games or cartoons that he wants to talk about and will have a lot of trouble getting off that subject, he used to have problems answering like what and why questions, but is better about that now, he just turned 9. He is loving to his family. He has trouble figuring out how to say what he wants to convey sometimes, and there is a definite difference in his speach. He likes to play with other children, but is not at their level of play, his play seems to be more playing out things he's seen on tv or in his games, but will follow along with games they are playing. His motor skills are also behind.
He is considered high functioning. I new from the time he was about 2 that he was different, although he seemed to meet milestones like crawling and walking on time if not early.

So if you haven't yet talk to his mother, do so, the earlier he gets help, even if he's just a little delayed, the better for him.

Good luck,
Robin

 
Old 06-27-2006, 12:38 PM   #4
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Re: Does this sound like an Autism Spectrum Disorder?

i am a little tired of the misconception that autistic kids dont like affection. they may not always know the right routes to seek it but they can be very affectionate and want affection as well.

my son is in the SEVERE range of autism and has been pointed out as one of the most autistic kids that professionals have had to work with in years around here. it took us until he was 3 and a half to get him diagnosed because he was a "cuddler". that doesnt change that fact that at almost 5 he still doesnt talk, cant manage to do anything on his own other than stimming, etc. he still loves and plays with everyone who comes into our house. he is potty training right now so is very stressed to say the least but on saturday we had on of my long time friends over and her new beau and he played with both of them and hugged my friends and iniated ticking with her fiance. so dont let affection be used to rule anything out if you suspect ASD.

 
Old 06-28-2006, 06:06 PM   #5
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Re: Does this sound like an Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Hi Lisa!
It sounds as though your nephew, may be considered as a child with high functioning autism. I am currently attaining my masters degree in school psychology, so autism is a big topic of conversation; plus, we have to be in a school 120 hrs. a semester and I have worked with a few children with autism. Children w/ autism, are typically very "spacey" , are routine driven, don't maintain eye contact very well (typically, but not always!!!), keep to themselves (typically, but they do want friends, they just don't know how to obtain them), and talk about things that interest them.
I have a few questions though..... when he talks in unusual voices when scared, is he copying the voices from a movie or tv show? Many times children with autism have echolalia (when they repeat what they hear-many times word for word). Also, when he plays with other children is he able to share freely and without getting upset? Many children with autism have a very difficult time sharing with other children on their own and are not sure how to relate to other children.
There are some basic indicators to watch for:IF he doesn't/didn't babble, point, or make meaningful gestures by 1 year of age; didn't speak one word by 16 months; didn't combine two words by 2 years; didn't respond to name; and/or has limited language or social skills;has poor eye contact; doesn't seem to know how to play with toys; Excessively lines up toys or other objects; Is attached to one particular toy or object; Doesn't smile; and
at times seems to be hearing impaired. I know there is alot there!
Typically, children's inability to have social interactions w/ peers their age or others comes from their inability to understand nonverbal cues, such as a smile or wink....they just don't understand what they mean. For example, if you were to say " Come over here", the child would interpet it the same way, regardless of your expression and body language.
When he uses his hand as a puppet when he is stressed it could be a sensory "thing" for him. many children w/ autism are very sensitive to certain sensory stimuli...this may relax him and that is why he continues to do it. Also, being routine driven is a common indicator of autism as well, because many children with autism do not like change. They prefer to know what is going on and what is coming next. In the school I am in, we use a picture board for certain children with autism. It is a little sheet covered with pictures that have velcro on the back and each time an activity is finished he/she takes the picture off the board and can see what is coming next. This allows them to be prepared and gives them a sense of calmness.
I could go on forever with all of the signs and symptoms. I would say he could have a form of autism, I would recommend having him screened for it. Good luck and I hope I have been some help!!

Liz

 
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Old 06-29-2006, 07:20 AM   #6
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Re: Does this sound like an Autism Spectrum Disorder?

lizzy21- Delayed speech isn't always a good way to determine autistic spectrum disorders. Autism, yes, but not spectrum disorders. Asperger's is one of the main spectrum disorders, and speech is normal and undelayed, and usually is highly advanced in both time and vocabulary.
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