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New Parent - Regressive Autism Questions

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Old 06-12-2009, 06:54 AM   #1
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broderbund HB User
New Parent - Regressive Autism Questions

I’m new to this Board and hope some of you could answer my questions on regressive autism in toddlers.

We have a nineteenth month old son who we’ve been concerned about for several months. He was saying three of four words a few months ago but now has lost that ability. In addition, he rarely responds to his name. I know these are two classic red flags for Autism and we’ve already got him enrolled in both speech and ABA therapy.

Couple notes of interest on our son. He seems to be very social with most people, will look you in the eye when you have his attention (will maintain solid eye contact many times --- not just a fleeting glance), does not seem to exhibit typical autism behaviors (no constant lining up of toys, stacking of blocks, preoccupation with wheels on a car ----- in general he seems to play with toys appropriately --- does seem to engage in pretend play like talking on the phone, etc), no major repetitive movements although he will occasionally move his arms up and down when he gets excited. His motor skills in general seem to be very good ----- can feed himself with a spoon, hold a pen and scribble, throw a ball, etc. Honestly, if you did not know about the language and lack of response to his name I don’t think many people would ever even suspect autism at this stage.

We’ve had him evaluated at Early Steps and at this point they did not feel he was on the spectrum (I will tell you we weren’t overly impressed with the folks that evaluated him), the individual who is doing the ABA therapy evaluated him initially and her take was we should be “mildly concerned” at this point. We also had his hearing checked through a pediatric ENT (interestingly enough when they took him in the sound chambers he responded (turned his head to the appropriate side) almost every single time they whispered his name. The ENT (who obviously is not qualified to diagnose autism) also told us he didn’t see typical signs.

All that being said, I don’t know what else this could be other than autism and so we’re assuming a “worst case scenario” and have him in six to eight hours a week of therapy (5 ABA and 3 speech).

I’m interested in feedback from parents who have experienced regressive autism in toddlers.

For those toddlers that lost language ---- did you also see regression in social/behavioral behavior at that same time ---- or did it unfold over a longer period? When will we be able to tell if this is a mild case of autism or not?

Are the outcomes for regressive autism better or worse than early onset or is it just based on the severity of the diagnoses for each scenario?

Assuming this is mild on the spectrum, is it possible he can learn to speak and carry on a conversation vs just reciting memorized phrases/responses?

I'm obviously sick with worry but want to know what's realistic ---- what are the best possible outcomes if this is a case of mild regressive autism?

Any other comments/observations are appreciated.

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Old 06-12-2009, 08:20 PM   #2
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Mira11 HB User
Re: New Parent - Regressive Autism Questions

hi - you will be very surprised and pleased at the progress your son can make when you start interventions this young - perfect time. there's no way to know anything for sure, but the important thing is that you are doing exactly what is right in getting good solid help.

my son did not have regressive autism so i can't answer all; but have to emphasize your son has a lot of strong points and the speech and aba right now are perfect. try to read "sonrise" by barry neil kaufman - some great helpful ideas.

Last edited by Mira11; 06-12-2009 at 08:22 PM.

Old 06-13-2009, 11:44 AM   #3
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Hope2Heal HB User
Re: New Parent - Regressive Autism Questions

I don't know much about regressive autism firsthand, however a friend of mine has an almost 3 year old who has been in speech too, he says no words at all. However, he was babbling around 15 months stopped. He has not been diagnosed with autism. they think he is too young for a diagnosis yet and want to see how the speech and special needs preschool help.s They suggested to them it could be apraxia or other speech delay. I personally feel he is mildly autistic even though he makes SOME eye contact and is somewhat sociable, he has so many other signs.

Two people I know (my nephew and friend's kid) both didn't talk at all until over age 3 and both were diagnosed with hypotonia. The poor muscle control in the mouth/tongue made it difficult to talk. My friends kid also got another diagnosis a year later as SID. sometimes he fails hearing tests and sometimes he does some autistic like things though he is not autistic now at age 5. My nephew got a PDD, ADHD diagnosis very early on. He didn't respond to much at all including his name. Medication he began taking for violent behavior was what helped him start talking, possibly due to calming his brain down long enough to pay attention to language.

Besides knowing a few kids on the spectrum, I was a nanny to a 2 year old diagnosed with PDD and I also am a teacher who worked with kids with autism. In my experience, this is what I noticed about very young autistic kids though every kid is different of course: not talking, humming or making strange sounds, toe walking (in combination with other symptoms), hand waving or flapping, obsessions with certain objects, holding ears during certain sounds or in crowds, spinning or walking in circles or staring at things that spin for long periods, frequent crying, screaming or unusually dramatic tantrums, not pointing or gesturing or doing that infrequently, coming and taking your arm or hand to lead you to what they want, issues with food, textures, sounds and other sensory, not responsive to name or understanding directions (go get your cup), not playing with toys appropriately for age, and in my experience, an obsessive desire to watch TV, such as gettingright up close and staring at it for extended periods, always wanting to watch certain videos over and over, and often tantrums when it is time to turn off TV.

I would't really rely on the social skills one yet, as most kids this age do not typically enjoy the company of other kids yet and may or may not smile and be friendly with adults. Some kids who are severly autistic can be very social with family members but not anyone else.

Dont know if this helps or not. Don't autimatically assume autism, though it is good you are vigilant and aware. My nephew got his diagnosis through a neurologist, not early intervention so maybe you can do that road next? Most important is listen to your gut, but don't let your imagination run away either, especially everything flying around on the internet. Keep us posted and in the meantime, try to learn about alternate ways to help your baby communicate to ease the frustration.

Old 06-13-2009, 12:00 PM   #4
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Hope2Heal HB User
Re: New Parent - Regressive Autism Questions

OH one more thing about the "regressive" question. Has your child been vaccinated? A lot of people seem to feel their child who was developing normally began to regress in developmental skills after being vaccinated with (usually MMR) but some trace it back earlier. Did you notice anything like that, or has he ever had a very high fever or severe illness and then never seemed right after that? The little boy i used to nanny, his mom believes her son's autism was caused from a vaccination because he was a totally normal baby then the night of the vac he had a seizure, then a few more then she said he began regressing with his skills over a period of few months, though he never had another seizure. anyway, just thought you may find some answers if you start looking into that

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