Anyone out there have some wisdom to share about autism?
I have a 4-year-old boy who is having some communication and behavior issues. We have difficulties with him at home, but my biggest concerns are the complaints form school.
The specific areas of concern for me are:
Speech and language delay
Reluctance even refusal to make eye contact
Resorts almost immediately to retaliation with children at school
Extreme responses to what seem like normal sounds. He will cover his ears and cry that it is too loud. (He is absolutely terrified of the washing machine is spin cycle.)
Extreme responses to minor things. (Such as my folding a slice of cheese in half instead of leaving it flat, he will become distraught and refuse to eat the "broken" cheese)
He is in speech therapy and is having success. He is very bright in many areas as well. He does simple addition already and knows 20 of the U.S. states, so he is not lacking for intelligence, but something is up with him. I would appreciate anyone sharing his or her experience and knowledge with me.
Let me start by saying that I am no expert, but my neighbor has an autistic duaghter and this doesn't sound like her at all. It sounds more like another friend's child who has ADD, at least the noises bothering him.
He would have extreme reactions to loud sounds and busy places. When he went to the grocery store with his Mom, he would act up and become extremely agitated, but when he went with his Dad, no problem. They thought it was a parenting issue with the Mom, but it turned out that it was the noise level at the store. His Mom's schedule put them at the store during the busy times, Dad would take him during the evening when it was quieter. His doctor told them that to him, regular sounds are amplified to the extreme. No wonder the behavoir problems.
Write down all of these symptoms, then bring them up with the pediatrician.
I have a 3 1/2 year old autistic daughter, and there are some similarities with your son and my daughter. Kaelyn was and still is sensitive to some noises, sounds, and feel. That is refer to as Sensory Intergration disorder (occupational therapy would help with that). She is also very repetitive, and she has to follow a routine. Her eye contact has gotten much better, but sometimes when over simulated she can't handle it. She is also aggressive at times, and that is because she really can't express herself. At one point she was not verbal at all, then she went through a period of echolalia where she only repeated what she heard, and only knew how to talk in phrases,("momma I need tissue" was one word to her)she was not yet able to break up words and understand each word. Now she is talking in four word sentences, and she has learned how to put single word into a functioning sentence. Also whatever my daughter focuses on she can master it at an alarming rate, (colors, numbers, shape, the way the computer works, ect.) Ever since she started her early childhood program she has become VERY social. The only way to really know if your son is autistic is having him tested for autism. I see that you already have him in speech therapy, so you can ask your therapist, doctor, school, and or insurance company where to go. Autism has such a wide spectrum, from very mild autism (Asperger's Syndrome) to severe non-functioning autism. My daughter is on the mild to moderate end, and she is functioning. She has been getting speech, developmental, and occupational therapy since she was 18 months. Now that she is 3 1/2 she also goes to our area early childhood intervention preschool (you might want to check into that). She will also be starting a ABA program (Applied Behavior Analysis ), a very intense form of individual therapy. (you might want to check into that also) EC preschool would be good for your son in any case because these teacher are there for him and they are working with him based on his needs in a group setting with other peers who needs intervention as well a typical functioning peers and he would also get individual therapy. The fact that his current school doesn't understand his needs or give him individual time, whichmay be why he is aggressive. My daughter did have some of the same behaviors as your son, some we have successfully managed and some we are still dealing with, but the quicker you find out and get a true diagnosis, the better you and your family can begin to understand and really help your son. Again if he is indeed autistic it's great that you caught it when he is still young. In the mean time here are some helpful materials that will answer some of your questions, and also give you some great information.
1.The book Let Me hear Your Voice —by Martha Welch,
2. The video Autism the Road Back —by Inc. Magic Lantern Group
(both should be at your local library)
-Also don't be afraid if he is diagnosed with autism, because there is so much more help available once it's made, plus you'll know what your dealing with, and how to work with it. I remember never wanting to hear that word, but when we were finally told that our daughter had autism, so much more became available to us through our insurance, and our state's agencies.
I hope I have helped out a little.
Last edited by expmommie4; 01-05-2006 at 07:34 AM.
Thank you for sharing all of this information with me. I have called his speech therapist and set up to talk with her tomorrow. I mentioned my concern of autism and she said that she would discuss this with the special ed director at the school as well. Both of them are real nice and worked hard to get my son into the speech program as quickly as possible. I could not reach his teacher today.
What about discipline? How do you discipline your daughter? I do not want to make matters worse, by over or under reacting to his behaviors.
To be honest, I am still learning myself. I feel just like you, I'm confused. For the most part with she hits us or her sibling she gets timeouts. We know that most of what she does is impulse and she really can't help it, so we also try to disrupt that buy clapping, or we start to sing, or we do something we know will get her attention, and stop that behavior. We try many ways, you just have to find what works best with him. Just keep trying
Let me know if you have any more questions, I've been there and I know how you feel.
I have worked with several families who have multiple children with autism and am now working towards my degree in Psych. Before you take another step it is very, very important for you to take your child to your pediatrician, or general practitioner. In Canada we have child development clinics, once you are in your Doctors office, make sure your advocate for your child. You as the parent are the single most important advocate for our child. Tha means you need to research questions, write them down, write down your dr.s answers, if you feel the need bring another person with you so the both of you wont miss a thing. Make sure you feel satisfied that the doctor has actually heard you and can give you concrete steps as to what will happen next. At this point it is important that you follow up. Call his office back, make sure any referrals that should have been sent actually have been. Call the specialist you may have been reffered to, to be sure that they recieved the file and just to let them know your voice and get the next available appointment. At this point if you have been reffered to another spcialist, start at your local library. This is the moment when education will be your greatest ally. Research typical child development, there are many scales and typical ages that chidlren go through specific stages. When you are reading this keep in mind your child is special!! No child is like another and yours is unique and an individual. Once you kind of know where your own little guy (I think you said you had a son) is, begin to branch out. Look up Pervasive Development Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Sensory Intergration, and as you read, write down questions. All this reading may seem overwhelming, but remember knowledge is power. Also remember a diagnosis is JUST A WORD. One of the wisest women I have ever met taught me that when you are working with a child, you are working with a CHILD NOT A DIAGNOSIS. Go to where your chidl is. If you are having trouble with disipline for example. Say (as one little boy I worked with did ALL DAY) sits on tables, and thats unacceptable to you, deal with the behaviour. For example, think, "what would stop this behaviour?" which is very different than "What would stop this behaviour in a autistic/ADHD/ADD child." That name doesnt mean much beyond a title. The behvaiour is what counts. SO take the knowledge you have now from what development happens when and apply it to your child and guide your parenting. If your child understand sentances with only one direction (which may account for his acting out) help them get ready to leave the house by saying "Johny, shoes on now." Once he has his shoes on, "Johny, jacket on." and then, "Johny out the door." Keep it simple. Now one last thing, no matter what happens during this time, your child is still your child. The beautiful wonderfull little boy he was before any diagnosis he still is after. A diagnosis is just a word. Treat your child where they are. By adults meeting them where they are is what ensures that every child develops to their full potential.