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Old 11-21-2010, 10:37 PM   #1
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Concerned about symptoms in nephew - should I approach mom?

I have a 5 year old nephew that I suspect has some mild form of Autism. I have to first say that I love him dearly and think he is a sweet, very intelligent child...but there's just some traits he has that I know in my gut must be in the spectrum of Autism/Asperger's.

The reason I'm here on this board is to get advice as to IF I should approach his mom about my concerns...or just leave it be??? I don't want to be one of 'those moms' (I have 2 kids myself) that seems to be taking notes on other children's behaviors...but you know how it is with ASD...it's hard NOT to notice.

I'll just go ahead and describe some of the basic things that have caught my attention over the years.

* He toe walks...not constantly, but often enough that it is noticeable. He has an odd sort of galloping gait when he runs. Very clumsy child. He got a bicycle with training wheels last year for Christmas and he still doesn't try to ride it because he physically cannot grasp the concept of pedaling forwards. He can pedal backwards but that frustrates him because he obviously doesn't want to go backwards. So he doesn't like riding it because he doesn't 'get it'.


* He had some delays in potty training. Wetting himself during the daytime at age 4, also some trouble with figuring out how to pull up his own pants. During the summer this year, right before he turned 5 he was very resistant to attempting to learn how to put on his shoes and socks by himself. I babysat him some and tried to positively reinforce any efforts he made to at least trying to learn how to put socks and shoes on (shoes without laces)...but I had the most trouble trying to teach him!! I couldn't figure out for the life of me if he simply could not grasp the mechanics of HOW to do to (it was really painful watching him try because he was super clumsy about it)...OR if he was actually smart enough to know that if he ever did learn how to do it on his own that no one would be doing it for him anymore. (resistant to change in routine maybe??). Each time I would suggest he try to put his shoes/socks on by himself he would say "No, you're supposed to do it for me." And then he would seriously act like it was killing him to go to the effort of doing it. He would clumisly try to do it but the entire time he would grunt and pout as if it were the hardest thing in the world. I know I'm rambling about this but it was beyond my understanding that an almost 5 year old was having this much trouble with shoes/socks. He also had this same trouble with pulling up his pants after going potty. He would take his underwear and pants completely off and then bring them to you so you would help him. I would try to positively encourage him to try to do it himself, but he acted as if he couldn't conceptually figure out how to pull his pants up over his bottom. Like the grasping + pulling part didn't make sense to him. Same thing with the socks. It was the grasping + pulling that was the hardest to him. He did eventually get his socks/shoes on by himself but it would take 15-30 minutes (an eternity it seemed!) Once he finally got them on he was really excited but I don't think he was necessarily proud of himself that he did it...I think he was just glad that the 'trying' was over!


* Hard to control his emotions: He gets super over-excited. I have kids. I know kids can get excited about things. It's almost hard to put into words at this hour what he does when he gets excited. Jumping up and down (really hard jumping) and squealling or making random noises that are not appropriate. This is all in light compared to his TANTRUMS. If he ever gets disturbed about something and cries - he starts to hyperventilate he cries so hard. A few times I was beside myself when I observed him literally crying and smiling at the same time. ???


* He simply does NOT share. I was going to go into detail about this but there are so many examples of his demanding behavior that I don't know where to start. Anything from throwing a fit if someone tries to play with him to basically holding a death grip on a toy even if he doesn't want to play with it just because he doesn't want someone else to play with it...if you can picture that. And he definitely prefers to play alone. All the kids can be outside or in the other room, and there is my nephew by himself with a car, a puzzle or standing right directly in front of the TV as close as he can get.


* FOOD ISSUES. What can I say? The child's main course for every meal is peanut butter on bread or crackers. Of course anything sweet like yogurt, pastries, pudding, cake icing, candy and some fruits. He likes chips, crackers, etc. But vegetables? No. Meat? No. Cheeses? No. Pasta? No. Very super picky. He used to eat more of a variety of things, but at about the age of 2 or 3 he got to where when he was eating something he didn't necessarily want to eat (I guess?) he would chew the food but hold it in his mouth and not swallow it. Now he just refuses those foods and sticks to his handful of favorites. He also has trouble drinking out of a regular cup even at age 5. He does a sippy cup well...but when he drinks out of a regular cup it is awkward because he makes a humming sound and gulps hard when he swallows. Sorry, this is so hard to explain, but at 5 years old you would think that drinking from a regular cup would come more naturally at that point.


* Talks in a sing-songy voice. The inflections in his voice tend to be in a rhythm that doesn't reflect how the majority of people talk, if you know what I'm saying. Hard to describe that here. But I think you know what I'm talking about.


* Communication/social interactions. His verbal skills are great. He has a wide vocabulary. But it is very hard to get his attention, many times he won't respond to his name without you getting up close to him or touching him to get his attention. When he gets around my kids (I don't know if he does this with all kids, I would hope not)...but many times he gets so excited that he will start hitting them or shoving them, which is obviously not appropriate but he thinks it's fun I guess. And the whole turn taking/sharing thing is always an issue, like I said earlier. And many times I have heard him using words to manipulate people to get his way....far beyond his 5 years of logic! You would think it is smart, but it's almost mean that he would be so stubborn and manipulative just to get his way.


There are probably more examples I could give that I'm leaving out, but these are the red flags to me. His mom has even mentioned to me before about his behavior, some of the odd things he does. Like sensitivity to loud noises, and resisting change in routines, and his food issues, etc. And it's almost like she's hoping I'll say "Hey, you know have you ever wondered if he's showing signs of mild autism spectrum?" but I don't say anything. Should I? I don't know how she would react...get mad and take it as an insult? I'm just concerned that she's adapted to his behavior and adjusted so much so that this is NORMAL to her because it's NORMAL for him so maybe she's overlooking it as possible signs of autism. He will start KG next year so I'm thinking that if he doesn't 'grow out of it' like she's hoping, then by next year his KG teacher may suggest she talk to his doc. I don't know if I should be the one to suggest this to her, because it may really be nothing...you know, honestly I've thought if she and her hubs have just spoiled the child rotten, but the younger sibling is not like him at all...he's completely opposite. When his mom mentions his behavior to me she'll say "That's just, (his name)." It makes me wonder if she is overlooking the big picture, because she's isolating each issue he has but saying it's okay because it's just him. Which is so true. It is just the way he is...but is she in denial??

BUT let me add this.. That my nephew's dad is very socially different as well. Very very quiet and reserved. Hard to start or carry on a conversation with. He's always been a little different, but he's very intelligent and a warm person. Just a little socially odd.

Any thoughts?

 
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Old 11-22-2010, 10:20 AM   #2
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Re: Concerned about symptoms in nephew - should I approach mom?

Do you have kids? That would effect how I would understand your statements.

Pup

Last edited by pupcake; 11-22-2010 at 10:25 AM.

 
Old 11-22-2010, 01:35 PM   #3
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Re: Concerned about symptoms in nephew - should I approach mom?

Ok from what you've written there is something amiss and yes its looks autistic spectrum.

As for talking to his mum. I would. Like you said, have the behaviours become so 'normal' that she doesn't see them? In which case you might be the first step. If you decide to then be gentle, don't make comparisions with your children, look up milestones and indicators online and use that. Start generl talking about children and growing up and behaviours and go from there. See how she taks about her son, she may well bring it up if you do that. Or she may mention some behaviour which you can use, eg 'you'll never guess what he did the other day..........' you can then go on to ask what she thinks about it etc.

Hope this helps x x

 
Old 01-05-2011, 02:00 AM   #4
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Re: Concerned about symptoms in nephew - should I approach mom?

tbh your describing my own son at age 5, he's 11 now, luckly he was noticed within 2 days of starting nursery here by a very autism aware nursery teacher, a weeks assessment and a year observation after that by a clinical psychologist is how long it took to get a final diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder.
I would definitly say something but in the beginning because I was totally oblivious to it I absolutley hated that nursery teacher for questioning my little child genius*, with time I understand now what a difference she made to our lives all for the better.

Things at school have been difficult enough the lack of understanding in the education system is appauling enough with a diagnosis, getting him the help sooner than later and getting some support from the very beginning of school for him should be the focus of his mum show her this message if you like, it is very hard to understand people are telling you these things in order to HELP you and your child. Perhaps a leaflet on ASD to which you can point out behaviours positive ones more than negative and had she thought about it or noticed anything herself, you never know she may be very concerned herself and will welcome your observations with relief that she isn't being a over anxious parent. TBh I did have concerns about certain things from when my son was 2.5-3.5 when he started nursery but being a single parent and my first child I put it all down to I was a bad mum that and my mum telling me boys are just harder to raise when I queired the difference between my nieces and my sons behaviours, we were very isolated as I'm not very socialable myself and avoided toddler groups and the likes so failed to see the tell tale signs of interaction with peers not being quite right. Even now 'home' is our anti stress escape from the annoying interferring world out there that fails to understand us at every turn and school is a hard experience we both still work at coping with and fight to get the support he needs.

*My son learnt to read himself aged 2, I did read to him alot but you don't expect a 2 yr old to pick up new books and read them to you now know this is hyperlexia most likely (though he does appear to understand 99% of everything he reads) and all part of his wonderful self and not opposed to his ASD.

 
Old 01-24-2011, 08:25 PM   #5
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Re: Concerned about symptoms in nephew - should I approach mom?

Hi, I am a certified teacher and have been a teacher aide for three years. During that time I have worked with children who are on the spectrum. It does sound like there are some red flags. I can understand why you might be hesitant to let mom know, because some people may not take the news well. But it sounds like she might be open to ideas. You might want to gradually say to her that your concerned. Also it might be more gradual to ask her if she has talked to his doctor about some of his behaviors.

 
Old 01-29-2011, 08:20 AM   #6
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Re: Concerned about symptoms in nephew - should I approach mom?

What a wonderful descriptive you have given, I wish I had that talent. I also have a friend that I have some concerns about but she is much younger than 5 so I have decided to let the Dr's be the one to say it because I don't want them to hate me for thinking less of their child (which I really don't). I am very hopeful in your situation that the child speaks and has a great vocabulary I think that is going to be the best thing for any help that can be offered for him. Thanks for letting me chat with you. Good Luck an God Bless.

 
Old 02-06-2011, 08:29 PM   #7
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Re: Concerned about symptoms in nephew - should I approach mom?

Hi there,
Their are a few behavioral chacteristics that is common in a child with a autistic spectrum disorder. Such as the toe walking... However, if he is not doing that all the time then this may not be a issue at all. Their are some children who do this behavior when overstimulated, or excited. My son who has a diagnoses of autism toe walked from the time he learned to walk. He still does not ever have his whole feet on the ground when he walks.
Sound sensitivity , very common in autism. Loud noises or what seems to be a bit loud, hurts my son's ears. As a toddler I remember the fourth of july. We went to the fireworks show. She was so scared he actually shaked the whole time. He can't tolerate the sound of a vacuume , or the fire alarm going off in the house. Some autistic children cover their ears to block out the noises, or loud sounds. Yet again, their are autistic children who enjoy the sound of a vaccume's roar..
One very early sign that
something may be amiss was when my son was a baby. Anytime someone held him he would stiffen up his arms and legs. Other early signs include , rocking, hand flapping , finger flipping in front of the eyes , jumping up and down all the time, and spinning in circles. Those are just a few, their are more.
Your nephew who is verbal at 5 is normal. My son did not talk in sentences until age 5. He would repeat everything he heard in three to four words. That is called echoalia.
Poor eye contact , lack of imanginary play , no social interaction with other children are more typical signs in a preschooler or young school aged child.
Autistic shildren also do not like change in their routine. It is common for these children to only want to eat certain foods, and to have it cooked a certain way.
I can go on some more about the characteristics in autism , but it is a long list.
If you have a close relationship to the parents then tell them your concerns and what you have observed in your nephew.

 
Old 03-19-2011, 04:04 PM   #8
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Re: Concerned about symptoms in nephew - should I approach mom?

I am back to update you all...thanks for all of your responses.

Well, I don't know how long it was since my original post, but I have still NOT confronted my sister-in-law about my nephew. I honestly fear that if I confront her that she will be angry and think that I am too judgmental on her son. She has 2 other children and they do not, so far, have any obvious behavior problems. But her oldest clearly does. And sometimes I ask myself if his behaviors are just normal for him and maybe I really am being too judgmental. For the most part, my nephew is really smart, sweet and an all around beautiful child. I ask myself, what's wrong with him being different? He's only 5, and maybe these are just little learning curves that he has to go through and he'll outgrow these little idiosyncrasies. Who am I to judge what is NORMAL? And it really can't be fair that I'm comparing him to what my kids do or what I think is normal. So I do my very best to just love him just the way he is, and overlook anything that may seem different to me.

BUT, I have to share with you what happened last night that I wonder if this means it is time to confront his mom. OR if this is NOTHING and I should let it alone.

Last night my family (my hubs and 2 boys) went to a picnic with my nephew and his family. The kids went out on the playground to play. They were playing with a ball, throwing it around. Everything is fine. Parents are all back at the picnic tables talking and having a fine time. Then we all stop and notice that my youngest child who is 6 is laying curled up on the playground and he is crying. I go out to check on him and the other kids tell me that my 5 year old nephew kicked my son in the back. At this point I try to assume it was an accident. I asked my oldest child, who is 8, what happened and he said they were all playing ball, tossing it around and my 6 year old tripped and fell to the ground. Before he had the chance to get up the 5 year old nephew (the one I'm concerned shows autism spectrum signs) said "Let's destroy him!" and proceed to kick him in his back as my son was laying there on the ground. I asked nephew WHY would he do such a thing? Why would he hurt his own cousin? I asked him if he would like it if someone kicked him in the back? He said no. And I told him "We don't hurt people we love. Don't you love your cousin?" He said "Well, sort of." And I asked "Why just sort of? What do you mean?" He said "Well, he likes tall animals and I like short animals."

At that point I said the game was over, and it was getting dark anyways. Everyone back to the picnic area. I was FUMING! I was so mad! I seriously wanted to yank him up and spank my nephew right then and there for kicking my child when he was down, and when he had done NOTHING deserving of it. But it's not my place to discipline him. So on the way back to the picnic area I told my nephew that if he gets angry at someone that he shouldn't hurt them, but instead he should go tell a grown up how he feels.

As we got back to the group, everyone asked what happened to my son and one of the kids said that nephew kicked him. I was ready to verbally explode and let his parents know what a mean, heartless thing that their son just did to my kid....but I bit my tongue. I just let them handle it. All they did was they sat nephew in his dad's lap. His dad whispered something to him. And later on they made him apologize to my son. I HOPE he was disciplined when he got home but something tells me he wasn't. I don't know how they handle discipline...and really this is not a question on discipline.

It's a question of should I have told them what their son said to my child "Let's destroy him!" and how he copped out that he doesn't really like my child because 'he likes tall animals and I like short animals.'

Is there something WRONG with this picture? Maybe I am over-reacting. Maybe I should have explained the whole story to his parents, but I didn't want to start a family feud over a kick in the back.

Something just tells me that my nephew's behavior last night was either just plain hateful and mean, or that it really could be part of the lack of empathy that fits into the autism/asperger spectrum. I'm not a doctor and I shouldn't go around pointing out signs and symptoms to my sis-in-law about her son. But something makes me think that this incident last night is just a huge red flag that their child has some kind of issue.

Sorry if I totally sound like I am an angry Mama bear, but this has bothered me so much. I don't know if I should mention this to his parents. Should I bring this one thing up? I don't want to be like, "Hey your child did this really crazy mean bully thing last night, and by the way he does a whole lot of other stuff that I have noticed is not NORMAL." Of course I'm not going to say that.

What do you all think?

Last edited by BabsB8; 03-19-2011 at 04:12 PM. Reason: grammar

 
Old 03-20-2011, 02:26 PM   #9
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Re: Concerned about symptoms in nephew - should I approach mom?

My suggestion to you is to focus on your own child. I know that the two of them are cousins, however , I would not allow my son hurt no matter what type of special needs your nephew may have. I have a simalar problem with my nephew. My son has ausitism with cognitive delays, well his cousin is the bully towards him. This has been going on for years. So I feel for you. A lot of times i have to keep away > just to protect my son from being bullied.
The parents of this one boy really ought to open their eyes to their son, and pay closer attention to his behaviors. A evaluation on your nephew by a qualified professional would be ideal.

 
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Old 03-20-2011, 03:16 PM   #10
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Re: Concerned about symptoms in nephew - should I approach mom?

Hi,
The reasoning behind why he did what he did is average, children often don't like one another for such reasons. However, the 'lets destroy him' sentence and the fact he kicked him does worry me.
The difficulty now is that it might be seen as you reacting to your son being hurt. I would stay away as much as you can for a while. Protect your children and talk to them about how you felt the cousins behaviour is wrong and we don't kick etc.
Hold tight, I think that these behaviours will start showing at school and then they have to pick it up.
Hope this helps x x

 
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Old 06-08-2011, 06:27 AM   #11
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Re: Concerned about symptoms in nephew - should I approach mom?

If you are his aunt, and you notice these symptoms just by simply spending SOME time with him, I'm sure the mom sees it even more, unless you think she is incapable of understanding his symptoms. If you know that she clearly understands, and has approached you with "some" issues she has noticed, it is at the child's best benefit to get a consultation. I would recommend a Developmental Pediatric Specialist to start, trust me, they will ask ALL the questions in the book to mom, and if she responds to them the way you are describing him, then she will know the answer. There are some red flags, so it's not ALL typical behavior in children. If I was you, I would approach her, even if she get upset by it, she will feel the necessity to see what is wrong with her child and get an evaluation. The longer this drags, the harder it is to get him help, like OT, Consult..Play Therapy..there are a million things out there that can help children without having to take Meds. I would approach her very calmly with it though, and ensure her that you will be there for her if she needs any help in the time of his evaluations, or whichever it may be. Good Luck!!

 
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