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Old 02-20-2008, 05:32 PM   #1
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Language/Speech/Social delay in 4 year old

My son turned 4 in December.

He just started preschool for the first time about 4 weeks ago and the Preschool teacher has asked that he have a developmental assessment as they believe he could possibly have a developmental delay.

They mentioned , possibly Asperger's.

He had his first group speech therapy session last week with about 6 other little boys.

Unfortunately, his attention span was not at all good. He was sitting on the ladies lap and got bored with it very quickly. He got impatient waiting for his turn.

(The parents were in a mirrored room next door so we got to witness everything, and they didn't know we were there.)

I can't believe how different he is in a group setting than he is at home.

At home he is the best behaved of my 3 boys (he is the middle child with a very outgoing, talkative older brother and a 1 year old little brother)

He follows instructions straight away, is very affectionate and caring, hates to get in trouble, is able to ask for what he wants although sometimes can't think of the words to use.

Sometimes he goes off in his little world, but also loves to play with his brothers. Sometimes he does play alongside other children but he also knows how to play with them. The problem is being able to have conversations with them and be social all of the time.

His dad is very quiet and passive too and I have always put it down to being like his dad but the kindy teacher is concerned there might be another problem.

Sometimes he does lose interest and doesn't listen or quite understand and I find this is more in a group setting, like preschool.

He has interests in all the regulare things like, spiderman, racing cars, cartoons, action heroes. He doesn'y obsess over one particular toy or theme.

He loves counting and the alphabet and also very keen with footy, swimming, bike riding etc

He does have an issue with eye contact at times though, especially around his teachers but not all the time.

Sorry for my rambling but do you think this may just be a language/speech/social delay that can be corrected with speech therapy etc or do you think there is an underlying problem such as Asperger's or mild Autism?

He gets assessed next Thursday by the developmental peadiatrician.

Thanks

 
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Old 02-20-2008, 06:42 PM   #2
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Re: Language/Speech/Social delay in 4 year old

Hi. I am a mom to Autism. My son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS at 4 1/2 which like Aspergers, is also on the Autism Spectrum. He is now turning 8.

Your son seems to have a lot of strengths. It really may just be a delay and if he turns out to be on the spectrum, I would say on the VERY, VERY MILD end. He can "learn" those social relationships and be a "typical kid" before you know it with just a little help.

Attention span is a hard thing at his age. My other son (4 yrs) who doesn't have issues will sit and bear through something where as my oldest son at that age would have a very difficult time if it wasn't something to his liking.

It's great that he is able to follow your instructions. Try to look how you may be doing it different (if you are) at home. Do you have to get his full attention? Do you use smaller sentences and ask for tasks to be done in steps rather than the teacher speaking in longer sentences explaining everything at once? He may have a little processing delay if that is the case? Is the class very noisey and he is not able to filter out the noise and listen to what he should be?

Affection is good thing in my book. Does he give and receive? Is it only on his terms?

Organizing his thoughts may just be a simple processing problem as well. If you think of your brain as a computer....he may need a little more time to pull up the file he is looking for or even may pick the wrong file and not be able to voice his needs to where he can be understood.

Look at HOW he plays with his brothers. A lot of pretend play? Turn taking? Sharing? Aware of personal space? Does he contribute to the game....."Hey, how about we do this?"

Having eye contact with stangers or people of authority just may me he is a little shy. If he has always had eye contact with you and family I would let that put your mind at ease.

What helped us with communication was talking on the phone or all things. When you are on the phone you are forced to keep the converstaion going, you are not able to answer nonverbally. You can't pause for long periods of time as you would face to face. Try to call him when you or other family members are away from home, even to the store. Have grandparents help out with that too.

My husband and I would also do skits. We would act out a situation if front of my son to SHOW him HOW to do it. Have fun with it. Make him contribute to conversation at dinner. Take turns going around the table telling about your day. Everyday when he gets home from preschool drill him on what he did, who he played with, what was the best part, what was the worse part?

another thing is "social stories" You can g**gle that and should give you examples of them and how to write your own. Basically they are little stories about social situations tailored to your child. You can even find clipart on the internet. Lets say that he had a problem with sharing with a friend. You could make a social story explaining why we share. How it makes the other person feel when we don't and how good it makes us feel when we do......etc. Why we wait our turn at school. Why we listen to the teacher. I did this with our son and saw a real difference. For some kids it just has to be taught; it doesn't come natural, but they eventually can do it with a little help.

I know that this can be all very overwhelming, but he does have some great strengths. Try not to think to hard about getting the "diagnosis." It is the extra help you need now to get him on the right track. I hope some of this was helpful. Please check out the "Autism" board on here as well. You may find some more guidence. Good luck to you and your babe

Last edited by meechieny; 02-20-2008 at 06:45 PM.

 
Old 02-20-2008, 07:13 PM   #3
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Re: Language/Speech/Social delay in 4 year old

aspergers??? it sounds more like your son is having a perfectly normal reaction to being in a completely new situation. in fact, he sounds very much like my own four year old daughter (also had her birthday in december) who gets incredibly bored with menial things like group settings and such.

at four years old, being thrown into a totally new setting with a whole bunch of kids you've never met before, and a brand new teacher can be quite intimidating! heck, i shut down and kind of keep to myself when i'm surrounded by a bunch of people i don't know and i'm a grown up!

as far as speech therapy.... what kind of speech problems does he have? my four year old has a problem with talking sometimes, but i've discovered it is due to the fact that she thinks way faster than she can get the words out and so she is trying to talk as fast as she thinks and just gets all confused.

around four years old is when children really just start playing and interacting with other kids. it's very normal for a four year old to play along side other children and not with them.... especially with the boys! haven't you ever noticed how men are together??? and as far as him conversing with the other four year olds.... if you've ever listened to a conversation between four year olds, it's really kind of funny to think that anyone would use that as a basis to diagnose a developmental problem! most kids at that age are really just starting to learn how to converse and they all still kind of have their own language.

by "he goes off into his own world," do you mean he will sit and play by himself and use his imagination? my daughter has whole conversations with her toys, talks for them, cries with them, hears them calling her from across the house..... it's all very dramatic , but i think it's wonderful because she is so imaginative!!! it breaks my heart to think of how many people have commented that she is "weird" because she can play like that!

what i recall from the kindergarten classes i taught, most four year olds have an attention span that lasts anywhere from 5-15 minutes, depending on the child, and what the lesson is about. eye contact is a learned behavior, so if he's not making eye contact, it could just mean that he hasn't learned it yet..... and he probably finds his teacher to be intimidating, so of course he's not going to make eye contact with her!

sorry this is kind of all over the place.... i'm trying to address all the issues you brought up and compare them with my own experience with kids his age. i definitely don't think it's aspergers or anything related to autism!!!

i'd really love to know what the specialist says! hope it all goes well!

Last edited by mcr285; 02-20-2008 at 07:14 PM.

 
Old 02-20-2008, 08:34 PM   #4
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Re: Language/Speech/Social delay in 4 year old

Today I watched my son sitting at group time while the preschool teacher was reading a story. All the other children his age were listening, or at least trying to listen. He had little or no interest in it. He actually sat there biting his fingernails.

It is this sort of situation that makes me think maybe there is something not quite right.

I don't know, some days you would look at him and not notice a thing and other days he just seems to be not quite with it.

When it comes to being affectionate he is affectionate when he wants to be and any time anyone looks sad he will be affectionate toward them. Especially adults. He loves to sit on their laps.

When I ask him questions alot of the time he doesn't really know what I'm talking about.

An example being, today I asked him what he did at kindy? he replied 'went to kindy'

I said 'But what did you do at kindy, what did you play with?' he replied 'i played at kindy'

That sort of thing.

I think the social problems could be because the preschool setting is new but then sometimes with his 14 cousins he does sometimes prefer to play on his own.

The thing that confuses me the most is that he is very knowing one day and then the other, not so much.

What sorts of things can I have him do to improve on the social situations, attention span and understanding of language.

Do you think a group speech setting is worth it when his attention span is practically non existant?

Or maybe just go straight to one on one speech (which he is supposed to begin after group)?

Oh another thing I thought of is that he is very fussy when it comes to food.
I didn't worry too much because his older brother was even fussier but ended up growing out of it. I just can't get him to eat any type of fruit or vegetable. It is near impossible. I have even tried sneaking up behind him and just putting a small amount in his mouth to taste and he absolutely goes beserck.

Oh I am such a worried mum right now.

He is meant to be starting school next year which is a big concern. Does a year make a big difference?

Last edited by 4caz; 02-20-2008 at 08:35 PM.

 
Old 02-21-2008, 03:59 AM   #5
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Re: Language/Speech/Social delay in 4 year old

I agree with mcr. Don't let anyone..doctor, teacher or otherwise try to put a label on your son. He is too young for that. I think this is a wait and see situation. It is too early to put this label on him at 4 years old. I know one dr. tried to tell me my son was hyperactive and might have add, just because he did not listen as well as others. Now he is 18 years old and a very laid back person.

 
Old 02-21-2008, 05:21 AM   #6
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Re: Language/Speech/Social delay in 4 year old

He could have developmental delays but a teacher should not be diagnosing him! You are doing the best thing for him by having him assessed. Allow the testing to continue and see what happens in the end. The good news is that he is young and will be able to get help. Don't be afraid of the services offered to you. Many children might have early delays, but with the right help and support, they can come a long way.

Hang in there!

 
Old 02-21-2008, 05:58 AM   #7
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Re: Language/Speech/Social delay in 4 year old

Wow, you are getting a lot of different advice. My intention is certainally not to turn this into a debate. I want to support you if I can.

You know your child, but you may not be totally informed of developmental tasks and skills. That is not a bad thing. You are a mom, not a develpmental pediatrician. Teachers are exposed to so many kids and some kids might just be late bloomers. Some kids might need a little push, some might need intervention. Teachers are there to help your child, not to cause you problems or stress for either of you.

I personally had no idea that my child was on the autism spectrum. I would consider myself an educated person. I worked in the medical field. I certainally noticed other children. 6 years ago there wasn't the "public awareness" there is now about developmental delays. I saw a couple of red flags about things when my son was 2 and looked into it. He was not a hand flapper, had decent eye contact etc....not a textbook kid in any way at all.
I was not looking for a label or a diagnosis. I was looking for help for him to communicate better so he wouldn't get so frustrated. I got him help and he started preschool at 3 1/2. It was his TEACHER that said that we might want to go a little further and have him assessed by a specialist. She was what made the little difference in his therapy that made my child what he is today. A bright, spirited boy who has friends and the leader on his soccer team.

Check into things. It is VERY RARE for a child to get a clear cut diagnosis at 4. The only times that I have seen it is when the child was without a doubt that diagnosis. You certainaly can get help based on his need and not strictly a diagnosis.

What I am sure of is the growth and maturity a child has between 4 and 5. It's wonderful. That is why they start kindergarten at 5. Getting him a little extra help now may really prepare him for kindergarten and ease your fears in any case.

Good luck

Last edited by meechieny; 02-21-2008 at 10:27 AM.

 
Old 02-21-2008, 02:42 PM   #8
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Re: Language/Speech/Social delay in 4 year old

[QUOTE=4caz;3451248]The thing that confuses me the most is that he is very knowing one day and then the other, not so much.

What sorts of things can I have him do to improve on the social situations, attention span and understanding of language.

Do you think a group speech setting is worth it when his attention span is practically non existant?

Or maybe just go straight to one on one speech (which he is supposed to begin after group)?

Oh another thing I thought of is that he is very fussy when it comes to food.
I didn't worry too much because his older brother was even fussier but ended up growing out of it. I just can't get him to eat any type of fruit or vegetable. It is near impossible. I have even tried sneaking up behind him and just putting a small amount in his mouth to taste and he absolutely goes beserck.[QUOTE]

Good days and bad days might depend on his diet (food allergies) being over tired or over stimulated. could be a factor if you see big differences.
Some people start a food diary to a track concentration and behavior????

Try talking in fewer words with your sentences when explaining directions. You can repeat them, but in different words to see if he is misunderstanding.
You could make a picture board of the things you want him to do. Seeing it visually is better than trying to process auditory.
I think a one on one speech session would be better if you had to choose, but if you can have both he could also benefit by the group.....being around peers socially.
My son would be more willing to try new things if we were out in a resturant or at someone else house. You could try bargaining, but it may be a oral issue with him. He may not like certain textured food.
Hope some of this helps

Last edited by meechieny; 02-21-2008 at 06:32 PM.

 
Old 02-21-2008, 02:43 PM   #9
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Re: Language/Speech/Social delay in 4 year old

Thankyou so much for all your replies. I really appreciate the feedback from different people.

Today I had another chat with the kindy teacher and she is concerned about his muscle tone. She says he doesn't have trouble holding a pencil etc it's more carrying bigger things that he doesn't seem to have the strength to do for long.

He does often asks to be carried so I guess this could point to something.

It's so odd because somedays he is quite talkative and listens to instructions and other days he kind of zones out for a while.

With what I have told you do you think there is a likely chance that he will live a normal life, with friends and interests like anyone else.

I just makes me sad.

Thankyou meechieny you have made me feel alot better.

Can you explain to me how long it took for things to impove with your chid?

What were the things that concerned you before he was assessed?

My son has never flapped his arms either and has reasonable eye contact (but not great)

I just can't stop thinking about it. I know I shouldn't but I feel like a bad mum for not getting him assessed earlier.

It seems to be a kind of slow process getting his ears tested, then speech therapy, then assessment, then getting him into occupational therapy.

I just want things to get going now.

Last edited by 4caz; 02-21-2008 at 02:46 PM. Reason: typo

 
Old 02-21-2008, 02:57 PM   #10
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Re: Language/Speech/Social delay in 4 year old

The summer before kindergarten is when we saw the biggest change. Your son's issues sound more mild than mine. He is now in the second grade. Doing great. Most popular on the playground. He is in a regular elem school in a "integrated classroom." We are quiet about his diagnosis and other parents have NO IDEA that my son is one of the kids getting services. If you can recover from Autism....he is 95% there.
The things that I was concerned with when we started was language and the art of communcation and conversation. It just wasn't there. He also had BIG issues with sensory types of things. Hated to get anything on him. Obsessed with certain toys. When he did speak it was scripted language. He would use words from movies. When he would get upset, he would quote Woody from "Toy Story" "YOU ARE NOT A TOY!!!!"
Please don't think you should of done this sooner. MANY doctors wait until this age to see if kids will "catch up." It's a great time to have him assessed and you are doing everything right!!!!

Last edited by meechieny; 02-21-2008 at 02:58 PM.

 
Old 02-21-2008, 03:43 PM   #11
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Re: Language/Speech/Social delay in 4 year old

Quote:
Originally Posted by meechieny View Post
The summer before kindergarten is when we saw the biggest change. Your son's issues sound more mild than mine. He is now in the second grade. Doing great. Most popular on the playground. He is in a regular elem school in a "integrated classroom." We are quiet about his diagnosis and other parents have NO IDEA that my son is one of the kids getting services. If you can recover from Autism....he is 95% there.
The things that I was concerned with when we started was language and the art of communcation and conversation. It just wasn't there. He also had BIG issues with sensory types of things. Hated to get anything on him. Obsessed with certain toys. When he did speak it was scripted language. He would use words from movies. When he would get upset, he would quote Woody from "Toy Story" "YOU ARE NOT A TOY!!!!"
Please don't think you should of done this sooner. MANY doctors wait until this age to see if kids will "catch up." It's a great time to have him assessed and you are doing everything right!!!!
Thankyou so much. You have made me feel so much better.

I know whatever it is is mild.

My concern also is the art of communcation and conversation too. This is a biggie with my ds.

My son also dislikes getting his clothes wet or sand in his shoes. He has to get it out and get changed.

So mild Autism can be hidden from others. If this is the case I will definitely not be telling other parents or children.

It is easier not for others to notice at this age but I am concerned that when he gets older that is when it will become alot more obvious.

Can I just ask what is an intergrated classroom? Does that mean there are other children with developmental issues also?

Last edited by 4caz; 02-21-2008 at 03:44 PM.

 
Old 02-21-2008, 04:43 PM   #12
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Re: Language/Speech/Social delay in 4 year old

A "integrated classroom" is a specific classroom in a regular elem school that has some "identified" students mixed with some "typical" students. Where we live, there are levels of that support. The highest being a classroom that has up to 12 special ed students with the remaining class being up to 25-27 kids total. They have 1 regular ed teacher, 1 special ed teacher and 1 aide. The next level is up to 15 students who get services with 1 regular ed teacher and 1 special ed teacher. Then the least support is "resource" where they have your child be pulled out for services....speech for two 1/2 sessions per week etc.
My son is in the 15 classroom. I couldn't tell you how many kids get extra help. I'm in there for parties and can't tell; don't have a clue. The kids don't have any forms of judgements or discriminations about each other. They just think "Johnny is having a bad day." I can tell you that the kids that I do know NOT to have issues can be more of a handful at times. I laugh because more people have issues than are willing to admitt........they have to be making all these tagless clothes for someone!!!!!!
When I first got my son's diagnosis I thought it was if they told me he had cancer. I couldn't believe it. I had no idea what we were going to do. How where we going to handle it? What was his future going to be? Would he have relationships or be living in our basement at 40? Then I realized that he was the same exact kid the day before. It was just a word to get the help and guidence that we needed.
Try not to look at the whole picture. Work on one thing at a time. Think what it is. What ways could you help him with it. Work on it and before you know it he will have mastered it and you are on to the next thing.
Like I said, my son had BIG sensory issues. To cut his hair was as if we were trying to scalp him. He could no way tollerate a shower....it was like acid. What I did everynight before he went to bed was to put loation on him. I would start on his toes and each night see how much farther we could go from the night before.. Now, I can lather him up like basting a turkey and he has no problems, even his face. Haircut...got it. I practiced it at home and would do it in stages. Shower, every other day without boo after playing with the hose all summer and running up a HUGE water bill. It was nothing to him and totally worth the money it to us.
It is all do-able. He may have a diagnosis, he may not. As a mom you can do more help through love, patience, problem solving and IMAGINATION!!!

Last edited by meechieny; 02-21-2008 at 04:46 PM.

 
Old 02-21-2008, 05:06 PM   #13
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Re: Language/Speech/Social delay in 4 year old

Thankyou so much. You are an amazing mother and your boy sounds amazing too.

You have a way with words that I truly appreciate.

Thankyou

 
Old 02-21-2008, 06:42 PM   #14
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Re: Language/Speech/Social delay in 4 year old

Thank you and you are welcome. Diagnosis or not, the autism board is a great resource. If you have a specific issue that you need a little help with, the parents/ people on there have wonderful ideas. Good luck with your babe's evaluation. Whatever the outcome.....you will all be fine

 
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