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