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high functioning 3 year old speech

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Old 01-27-2012, 12:32 PM   #1
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peyto HB User
Unhappy high functioning 3 year old speech

My 3 year old son has been flagged up for autism numerous times and we are getting very close now to his cdac appointment and possible diagnosis, however I have really mixed feelings over this and difficulty excepting this.
He attends a specialist centre for pre school children with autism for 7 hours Per week and also recieves one to one support from the autism advisory service for one and a half hours per week and they both say that he ticks all the boxes and to expect a diagnosis. I recognise that there is something wrong with him but am confused by his speech . How poor does there speech have to be if they have many other symptoms of autism and tick the boxes. He has around 100 single words, lots of learnt phrases mostly learnt from tv or from repetition when modelled by an adult, however recently he has began to say some sentences that he has worked out for himself such as, wheres dummy gone,get out,come on lets go, round a round a circle, its fallen on the floor, time for ? ,wheres find (when looking for something), say help,(to ask an adult to help) wheres gone etc. He makes requests for things he needs and coments on his play and what he can see.
He cannot however talk about past/present/events/people or answer any questions including his name or hold any form of conversation.
When I listen to his speech during play it sounds quite mature for example, oh no crash, its fallen in the water,oh no whats happened, its on the track, its stuck.
He picks up nursery rhymes easily and is always singing.
He often pauses in the wrong places and sounds as if he has an accent at times/uneven pitch.
His symptoms include hand flapping,toe walking,jumping, opens and closes fingers, watches tv within inches of his face and often at the side of the screen, severe rages, sensory difficulties, poor attention, developmental delay in all areas,does not interact with other children,difficult to engage, few self help skills, poor social skills , repetitive play and behaviour etc
Does anybody have a child diagnosed with autism at this age with this level of speech, is this unusual and how likely is my son to recieve a diagnosis.please advise as the uncertainty is causing me alot of distress.

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Old 01-28-2012, 01:17 AM   #2
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Re: high functioning 3 year old speech

Hi, i can understand how frustrating is to be in the situation you are now and confused as well. I will try to give some help if possible to guide you a little through the Autism Spectrum because nowadays the most difficult thing, as i notice, is to give a proper diagnose.
Autism it comes today with a big spectrum indeed and we all have to know that all children with autism are different and not all have the same symptoms. They have more or less. So let’s start with the deffinition. You will find for sure that Autism is a developmental disability that typically appears during the first 3 years of life. Is the result of neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain and intereferes with normal brain development in the areas of REASONING, SOCIAL INTERACTION and COMMUNICATION SKILLS. For me, being a mother with a child diagnosed with autism few years ago, this deffinition always frustrated me because is very poor. Usually a typicall child with autism has many symptoms and will give a long list to help you out but i repeat, they have more or less, not necessarly to have all of them to be labeled as autistic children:

- poor body awareness, not being very good with balance, clumsy and will walk into things
- poor gross and fine motor skills (their muscles do not move fluidly)
- difficulty suckling or inability to feed at the breast are also a sign of improper brain development
- poor eye coordination
- poor social skills
- speech delays
- abnormal emotional reactions
- sensory processing symptoms (vision, hearing, touch, smell and taste)
- compromised immune system ( allergies, gets sicker significantly more than normal)
- food sensitivities (they are picky eaters)
- poor digestion
- cognitive symptoms (inappropriate laughing and giggling, lack of fear, especially in the face of danger, risk taking, an aversion to being cuddled or held, sustained unusual or repetitive play, avoiding eye contact, a preference to play alone, difficulty in expressing needs, making wild gestures, insistence on everything being the same, difficulty interacting with others, difficulty setting goals and prioritizing, difficulty controlling emotions, difficulty learning, remembering and paying attention, poor motor control, inability to monitor own actions etc) – these are part of what is called executive functions and are controlled in the prefrontal lobe of the frontal cortex, the slowest to grow and most sophisticated part of the brain.
Autism is not only a behavior problem and that is all, it implies a lot and you have to take into consideration evrything in order to go on recovering the child as much you can.

I noticed you are confused because you say that verbal communication is at a higher level than normal but you have to know that there is what is called Asperger’s syndrome – similar to autism but with excellent verbal skills. Just take it into consideration, i am not trying here to diagnose your child because i dont have a full image, i am just trying to figure out and to guide you through some information with the little information you gave.
I am trying to understand something: you said that he has around 100 single words, lots of learnt phrases mostly from tv or from repetition when modelled by an adult – this is quite a sign that his way of reasoning is not at a high level if he is learning by modelling or repetitions, or just memorising them mechanically after hearing, so we might not talk about high functioning here but just AUTISM. For many children with autism, words are used without attaching meaning to them having what is called: Echolalia - repeats questions, statements, sounds, directly after hearing them or with a time delay (like TV phrases or words repetitions)
But 100 words for a child of 3 years old is not much and is not more than normal. A typicall child at this age has 200 or more words into his vocabulary and many children at this age can string together 3 or 4 word sentences. (find the specific milestones for the age of your child and you will understand if he is at a high or law level).
What is more important here is the last part you wrote which regards the other symptoms: hand flapping, toe walking, opens and closes fingers, sensory difficulties, defficit of attention, developmental delays in all areas, non interaction with children, few self help skills, poor social skills, repetitive play and behaviour – all these are part of what is called autism with no doubt.

I will explain you a little about memory because you wrote that he can not talk about past/present events or people or to answer questions or holding any form of conversation but you noticed he can easily memorise statements from TV or nursery rhymes etc.
Memory in Autism has been researched for over 50 years and still very little to find. Many people with autism spectrum disorders are remarkably proficient at remembering how things look and sound even years after an event. They are also good at rote learning and establishing habits and routine (this is why the repetitive play and behaviour ) However, all individuals with ASD (autism spectrum disorders) have difficulty in recalling personal memories and relieving experiences.

I will end with my wish for you to find the answers you need and hope all the best and good health for your child but please dont think that your child is mentally retarded or the label of autism is a nighmare, just take it as it is and do something about and you will see how much the child can improve. The good thing is that you care and the child already is on the way attending therapies and so on. Still more to be done but 3 years old is a great age to start the way to recovery, believe and you will succeed and ask as many questions you have, you will find answers. (just a little advice if is possible, dont let your child to TV anymore, find other solution and watch for half an hour a day a cartoon together or something educational on dvd but dont spend more time on leting your child with eyes on the images changing all over again, is not healthy at all, we all know that time spent watching TV replaces time spent interacting with adults or other children and will be critical for the social interraction and for the health of brain).

Be well and and keep a positive attitude, will help not only you but your child as well and entire family, is a lot on your shoulders, i know, but the children are our treasure no matter their issues, we can solve them!

My best regards!


Old 01-28-2012, 02:36 PM   #3
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peyto HB User
Re: high functioning 3 year old speech

Thankyou so much for replying to my question. How old was your child when diagnosed and how was his speech at age 3. I realise my little one has a delay in his speech and language, he also does not wave bye or hello or shake his head or nod for no, he also does not recognise other peoples emotions or able to express his own appropriately.He also has difficulties with his balance and spacial awareness. I feel so confused as I always thought children with autism had severe problems with regards to speech. Just tonight he shocked us all by saying ,"I dropped my dummy", and he had, so is definately using some functional language although I cannot dismiss his other symptoms.Often when I watch him I think no I don't think he has autism and other times it seems obvious that he is autistic. Is it always obvious. Do you think my son sounds like he has autism even if he is beginning to say some sentences. He also engages in a little imaginary play although it tends to be very restricted and repetitive. many thanks

Old 01-29-2012, 12:22 AM   #4
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Re: high functioning 3 year old speech

Dear mother, you are very much welcome! I will suggest not to make comparisons between your child and other children with autism because as I have already said to you in my previous message, all children are different and although diagnosed with autism, the levels are from mild to severe and I repeat, is not necessarily to have all the symptoms.
Autism is NOT only about speech (but you already told me that you noticed your child has delays in this area, if it is not so severe, does not mean he can not have autism), most cases are about inappropriate behavior, etc… I gave you a whole list of symptoms.
Lets go a little through the milestones of the age 3, like a check up list for your child. Developmental milestones are things most children can do at this age so here we are:

Social and Emotional
• Copies adults and friends
• Shows affection for friends without prompting
• Takes turns in games
• Shows concern for crying friend
• Understands the idea of “mine” and “his” or “hers”
• Shows a wide range of emotions
• Separates easily from mom and dad
• May get upset with major changes in routine
• Dresses and undresses self

• Follows instructions with 2 or 3 steps
• Can name most familiar things
• Understands words like “in,” “on,” and “under”
• Says first name, age, and sex
• Names a friend
• Says words like “I,” “me,” “we,” and “you” and some plurals (cars, dogs, cats)
• Talks well enough for strangers to understand most of the time
• Carries on a conversation using 2 to 3 sentences

Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)
• Can work toys with buttons, levers, and moving parts
• Plays make-believe with dolls, animals, and people
• Does puzzles with 3 or 4 pieces
• Understands what “two” means
• Copies a circle with pencil or crayon
• Turns book pages one at a time
• Builds towers of more than 6 blocks
• Screws and unscrews jar lids or turns door handle

Movement/Physical Development
• Climbs well
• Runs easily
• Pedals a tricycle (3-wheel bike)
• Walks up and down stairs, one foot on each step

Remember that all these are not like rigid deadlines and every child can develop sooner or later but it can guide you through what your child is supposed to do at this age, normally. You can judge better being his mother and you already have the feeling that something is not ok, so trust your intuition and don’t wait so much to see that your child has all the severe issues to be diagnosed with autism, what is important is that you already see something wrong, no matter autism or not.
You asked me if I think that your son sounds like he has autism even he began to say some sentences and I will say yes, he sounds like that, from all the things you said about your child is very obvious BUT i am not here to diagnose, just give an opinion.
I will never hurry to give such diagnose if I don’t see the child or talk with the family to find out entire history from birth till now, how much time the child spent with children or family, adults and not in front of tv, etc so don’t take my word and look for a specialized dr. and I can suggest you to find a DAN one (defeat autism now!)
For more guidance you can visit [url][/url] , are amazing information and you can find a lot to answer to your questions.

Don’t stay confused, just stay informed and find the right specialists and what is more important, help your child NOW. He will be just fine with early intervention!

Best of luck and be well!


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peyto (01-29-2012)
Old 01-29-2012, 01:07 AM   #5
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muztech HB User
Re: high functioning 3 year old speech

hi . i have read your mail . it sound like you already made dignosis and u just want to conform it . my son is 2.75 years he have certain red flags at younger age 14 to 18 month like speach delay and repetitive bahaviours . then he is going to improve ,i already have couple of screening visits of him with OT and autism specialist but every one say he more toward speech delay but they jus want to have eye on him . like your son my son is also saying more then 10 or may be more 150 words joing 2 ,3 words and saying some repeated and some sentences but every day he using more and more language , for your info repeating words is also part of speech development ,till 3 years it gradually disappears , in case of my son 50 percent is repeation and 50 is actual language. but he is weak in actual back and forth conversation , i child who have language delay have actually delay in back and forth converstion .
i do notice some bahviour like hand flaping and jumping but occationally that is even very hard to detect . did he engage in play with u like foot ball and other games and is giving u turn ?this is also like back and forth converstion i child with speech delay have this thing at this age.
my best suggestion for you is contect with your nearest child helping agency
and tell them to screen refer him to some autism consultent . at this age they may be cant give u any clear dignosis they might have eye on him for month , because yours son have language development and other lot of positive things . be patient and continue all thearpy

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peyto (01-29-2012)
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