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Old 08-12-2009, 09:37 PM   #1
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Concerned about nephew

Oh, I'll just jump right to it and not try to sugar coat this...I am really concerned that my nephew may be displaying symptoms of autism or some other PDD. I am not a doctor. I know - I shouldn't be trying to analyze my nephew like this, but his behavior disturbs me. Then again, he's not my child and he may be a completely normal 3 (almost 4) year old.

I know that a lot of members on this board have children with autism or another PDD and it would ease my mind to know if these are typical symptoms or not...

♦ sometimes acts like he's deaf - you can call his name repeatedly but he doesn't respond. You can be standing right next to him saying his name loud to get his attention and he continues his activity. He does not have a hearing problem. All other times you know his hearing is completely normal.

♦ He toe walks...not 100% of the time, but I have noticed that he has an unusual gait, quite clumsy most of the time.

♦ He rarely makes eye contact. He may look toward you but not at your face or eyes if you are talking to him. If he's talking to you he may or may not turn his head in your direction but he rarely looks right at your face/eyes.

♦ He has been known to have high interest in lining up his toys. In fact, his mom posted pix of him and his line of toys on facebook, and it was really cute, but now I'm thinking autism?

♦ Sleep - or the lack thereof. . . He has never been a child to take naps. Not even since infancy - very high wired. Not sure about his bed time routine at home, because I only babysit him - he refuses any form of sleep here. that may be a normal kid thing though.

♦ odd thing he did as a younger toddler - had a 'blankie' that he literally chewed holes through it! He had an unusual habit of chewing chewing chewing his blankie. It would be soaking wet from him chewing on it and it was full of raggedy places and holes. I understand the 'blankie' has been put away now.

♦ TV...I don't know how much TV he watches at home, but when he watches it here or anywhere he demands to be standing right up in front of the tV no further than 1Ĺ feet or so away from it. This is annoying to his cousins and others and also surely not healthy for the eyes, but apparentely he doesn't care what anyone else thinks about wanting to watch the TV.

♦ He has food issues. Only eats a very small selection of certain foods a certain way. Many times at mealtime he will not swallow his food. He will continue to chew and chew and chew or just hold the food in his mouth, I can't understand how he keeps food in his mouth for 30 minutes but he does it. I have babysat him many times and asked his mother to please feed him before she brings him because of this. He does this at his home on a regular basis as well. It is an ongoing issue with him

♦ He is potty trained, but he can not and will not dress himself. I thought maybe his parents weren't teaching him but I don't know....he will be 4 next month. With my children they could dress themselves BY themselves at age 3. To me, part of potty training is teaching the child to pull up his own pants. He refuses to do this. I thought maybe his parents were being lazy and not teaching him so when he comes over to my house I take the opportunity when he uses the potty to allow him to try and pull up his pants himself. He either blatantly refuses to try or when he does try it is very useless and he doesn't grasp the concept. He also doesn't put his own shoes and socks on. And won't take his own clothes off (observed this when he came over with his family to swim recently - he needed help with EVERYTHING).

♦ He has an INTENSE dislike of sharing. This is a big issue. When I babysit him I have to warn my children to be careful about him sharing...because he WON'T. Instead of taking turns he demands that every toy is his (and it's not - he's at our house!). Even if he's not currently playing with or interested in the toy he will snatch it away from my kids or his little 2 yr old brother and hoard it 'just because'. I have observed nephew walking right up to my children or his own brother and smacking/hitting them for no apparent reason. To me this is disturbing to see a nearly 4 year old child behave this way. Scolding or explaining the sharing/being nice rules do not help. When he's in my care, time outs only seem to put a gap between one outburst and the next. I don't do spanking/disciplining on other people's kids. I could go on about this but I won't - I have spoken to his mom about his behavior and she just says "he has problems sharing". Well, duh!

♦ He overreacts emotionally! oh! From his infancy this has been very heartbreaking to me! I have never seen this in a child so I don't understand it. The slightest little tiny bump or fall will set him sailing into an outburst of screaming uncontrollably to the point of almost hyperventilating! No amount of cuddles or soft spoken words or distractions can ease his outburst. Eventually, he recoups but after what seems like an eternity. His crying to me is abnormal - for example - we were all at his house and he fell down and just slightly bumped himself on something. Most 4 year olds might pout a minute and then resume play. But nephew let out uncontrollable cries that turned into just yelling and he almost looked like he was smiling! it was so weird! I asked his mom "is he crying or laughing?" because I seriously couldn't tell! She said he was just overreacting. And many times if he's met with resistance, maybe the word no, or just not getting what he wants, he throws a fit. We've observed his parents just putting him in a room by himself and closing the door on him until he stops. Must be a regular thing.

♦ Odd thing, I have noticed several times that when I point to something across the room for him to look at, he doesn't look at the object but instead focuses on my pointing hand. This can be frustrating as you all know.

♦ He is smart and has a good vocabulary. He knows all his colors, numbers, letters, letter sounds, basic things...but yet, he has no emotional sense...towards peoples feelings and how to contain his own.

Otherwise, he's a beautiful, fun, healthy child. I don't want to focus on all the negatives. I know he's just nearly 4 and some kids take more time than others to mature in certain areas. Maybe that's all it is. But I am concerned that I need to be more accepting of his needs if this is the case. And how and SHOULD I ask his parents if he has a PDD??? I just can't fathom coming out and asking someone this especially if I'm wrong! Oh, the horror! But one other small clue would be that at his parents' church, they have an outreach program for parents of children with PDDs. From what I understand nephews parents are involved in helping organize that program. I certainly wouldn't know how to help a program like that unless I had a child with such condition. So that almost seems like it's obvious.

In the past I would feel quite concerned that his parents were just spoiling him and not teaching him proper behavior, but I am really beginning to feel like they are doing all they can with him and maybe he really has a condition such as autism.

I suppose I am suggesting that he DOES have autism or PDD and that his parents just haven't come around to sharing it with the family yet. In which case I should not express my concern, or should I? I want to be able to be more receptive to his needs when I babysit him if he does have autism or PDD. Otherwise in the past I have been so stressed out after babysitting him because of his behavior‼ I love him so much either way, but it would just ease my mind knowing if this is autism/PDD or some learning curves that he'll grow out of.

Ah. Good to get this out. I hope anyone with experience will have some words of insight to share...thanks

Last edited by MamaQ; 08-12-2009 at 09:51 PM.

 
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Old 08-12-2009, 10:07 PM   #2
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Re: Concerned about nephew

I must also add one very important observation...if there are any genetics links to autism, this might be of use concerning my nephew. His father is very very socially reserved. He doesn't talk very much and it is very hard for any of the family to carrying on a lengthy conversation with him. He also doesn't make a lot of eye contact. He is very highly intelligent (used to memorize Trivial Pursuit questions/answers) and a very gifted woodworking craftsman, even owns his own business. Yet, socially there is something atypical about him. He's a great guy and we all adore him...just so hard to talk to him though! May be relative to his son's (my nephews) behavior.

 
Old 08-15-2009, 07:16 AM   #3
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Re: Concerned about nephew

Hi Mama, your checklist certainly would point to some sort of autism spectrum disorder. Sometimes we must confront those we love with truth and there is nothing wrong with telling your brother or sister that you've noticed some things about your nephew that are concerning.

If he does have autism, research shows that the earlier a child can start intervention, the better chance of reversing some of the symptoms or even a recovery. If the parents are ignoring the issue and waiting around and speculating whether he has it or not is killing precious time....he must be seen by a specialist ASAP.

And keep in mind, a diagnosis is not the end of the world. Our son was diagnosed at 3 years old and is now a thriving 7 year old who is very intelligent, doing very well in school, and making friends. He is not 100%, but he is very special and we would not want to change a hair on his head.

There is nothing wrong with bringing this up in a loving way -- after all, you are family.

Best of Luck,
G

Last edited by gregger090; 08-15-2009 at 07:18 AM.

 
Old 08-15-2009, 09:53 AM   #4
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Re: Concerned about nephew

Saying something is ok. Have you had personal experience with autism spec? You seem to be know a lot of the symptoms. I knew my son was different, Dr.s said ADHD. When my sons 3rd grade teacher suggested that the school do a ...can't think of the word..testing, they came up with possible Autism spectrum, they can't do a diagnosis. We had him evaluated and yep, that's what is was. Understanding whats going on is far better that just thinking your child is different.

 
Old 08-15-2009, 12:24 PM   #5
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Re: Concerned about nephew

Thank you gregger for your encouragement to confront my bro & sis in law. The hardest part will be approaching them about it but I need to be sure of a right time, since these are in laws. If it was my bro or sis it might be easier. I just don't want them to feel like I'm stepping on their toes with an attitude of 'my kids are fine and yours aren't'...it's just that autism and related spectrum disorders are quite common and as these littles ones get older things become more obvious. I've been thinking that the best time to approach them is the next time we're all together and my nephew has an outburst (because he always does)- either not sharing, not pulling up pants/putting on shoes, or emotional outburst - then I will gently ask if he he does this often enough that they have considered a type of spectrum to be tested for. I don't know how to ask it gently enough without seeming like an overly analytical person, but I agree...the earlier the treatment the better.

Nephew will be starting preschool with my son in a few weeks and I know that the school has a policy of 'complete potty training' and pulling up pants is part of the potty training package. I'm not sure that they are aware of that. Plus all the other challenges he seems to have about sharing and such - I just hope it's an easy transition for him. Maybe I could approach them about it concerning that.

Cathy - I have known several families to have children with autism so I have been familiar with the symptoms. I never thought about my nephew as having autism, but until this past year his 3rd year of life, during the times I've been around him, babysat him, such patterns of behavior have really stood out to me. Mealtime has been such a frustrating time that it just stood out as something so huge - a sign of something more than just a picky eater. He would sit for 30 minutes with a mouthful of food and after an hour of waiting for him to eat I would just give up and tell his mom he needs to eat when he gets home. I have observed his parents trying to deal with his eating issues when we're all together at a restaurant or for a family gathering so it's not just when he's at my house. It's been an ongoing thing for him. The crying tantrums have always been a struggle for me to deal with because it breaks my heart to see him cry. I understand children will have boo-boos and uh-ohs, but nephew just falls to pieces at the slightest little thing.

But in other areas I thought maybe his parents were lacking in teaching him about things. Like sharing, putting on clothes, looking at someone when they talked to you, and then finally I starting putting it all together and it fits the checklist. He'll be four in a few weeks and I just feel like that's a big age to still have challenges in these areas. But I could be all wrong.

I just still can't grasp why they would be helping with a 'special needs' program at their church without being familiar with 'special needs', which is another hint that he may have already been diagnosed but they just haven't told family yet? I can't see why they wouldn't tell us - it doesn't change a thing about him, just would help us to understand him more.

 
Old 08-16-2009, 04:21 AM   #6
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Re: Concerned about nephew

you are an amazingly observant aunt and your devotion to your nephew is heartwarming. he is lucky to have you in his corner!! it does sound to me like he displays some signs of autism; but more specifically he seems to fall in the category of aspergers which some consider a very high functioning form of autism.

the fact they your bil and sil are in a church program already shows they probably have discussed this with professionals. and when he starts preschool, it's almost for sure that these issues will be picked up in the early months, if not weeks of school. i also think that since you often babysit, that you might ask if there's anything specific that you can do about the tantrums and the food issues, sharing issues, etc. i think that once school starts, his parents will begin to learn more and more about the issues, and whether it is asperger's or not.

 
Old 08-16-2009, 08:11 PM   #7
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Re: Concerned about nephew

Hi there,
It was my sister who first observed behavior indicaters in my son at a very young age as well, however, my father told her not to say anything to me. Then, it was my son's babysitter who had a child who was autistic that was on a ABA program and had her progam lady approach me aabout my child. My son was 3 yrs old. I wish my sister had told me sooner about my son!
Early intervention is so inportant with young children . Evaulating them through the local school district is the first steps that your brother and sister n law take. Children 3-5 yrs old can have this done , and if they are found to have a need to require services it is started right away.
A "average' preschool program for a special needs child is and will a disastour > Because a regular program does not have trained teachers to work with special needs children + children are on a tight schedule or routine each day. Your nephew needs time to eat, lots of time, he is not going to have it at that enviornment. He starts throwing long tantrums, the first thing the preschool is going to do is call the parents. I taught preschool for over 20years> And have a child with autism>
My son went into a preschool program for young children with special needs through the school district, under the diagnoses of autism with cognitive delays. By the time he got in he was nearly 4 years old. The teacher he had was so wonderful I kept in an extra year.
I would certainly discuss with your brother and sister n law , about your little nephew. Keep it light , and let them know your concerns, and help them know where to turn. At first I was in deniel, even though I worked with other children full time every day!!! I did not want to see it in my own child.
Cathy

 
Old 08-18-2009, 04:23 PM   #8
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Re: Concerned about nephew

I would like to say I know how you feel i am going threw the samething with my brother and his wife. I have told them that thier son needs to be tested do to he has alot of the same issue my son has. My son by the way has autism and my daughter also as autism. I also have a nephew that has aspergers and a niece that has autism and these are my sisters kids. I have told my brother that I think that there maybe somthing genitic in our blood and he should really have his son check to just be safe but he is in way denial even of my kids and my sisters. I do have to say that his wife is wanting to get him checked but my brother won't hear of it she said. I told her you are his mother and you need to stand up for your son because the earlier you get the dignoses the better off he will be. I used my sister son as an exsample due to I had the same issue with my sister and her son. After she put him in school he had nothing but problems finely she took him to the doctor 2years later and now she is having major issue with him. I can tell you my son got dignosed at the age of 1 1/2 and he had lots of intervtions with speach and behavioral and I will tell you it made A huge difference in him. The other side to that is that we didnt know our daughter had it until we put her in preschool last year and I could not believe what the teacher had told me she had done. I have to say I was in denial for a while about it but now as I see her at school around other kids I know she is and I am really mad at myself for not seeing it earlier like we did with our son and mainly because they have two total different personalitys and that is why I didnt see it. I was expecting her to act just like him and as I found that to be completely wrong. Here is what I said to my brothers wife " your the only one that can stick up for your child" and she seem to understand that. My suggention would be to try talking them one at a time to see how they feel about what you say.

 
Old 11-10-2009, 11:09 PM   #9
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Re: Concerned about nephew

Thanks for this useful discussion. < edited >

Last edited by hb-mod; 11-11-2009 at 12:54 AM. Reason: Disallowed link

 
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