How much of a concern is lack of eye contact?

(18 Posts)

DD2 has just turned 4. I have had concerns about her since she was 1. She gained words and then lost them, didn't point until well over 18 months and seemed to live in her own little bubble. She didn't seek anyone out socially, and spent most of her time carrying toys round instead of playing with them.

Fast forward to now and she has developed a lot. She speaks well, although I sometimes think the way she forms her sentences is a bit odd. That could just be a 4 year old thing though. She is in preschool, and seems to have settled in well. She plays pretend games with DD1, and is very chatty on her terms.

I still have some niggles about her, though. She finds it very difficult to make eye contact. I wouldn't say she never makes eye contact, but it seems to be very fleeting. Often she looks off to the side instead of directly at me. If I ask her to look at me, or at a camera, for example, she looks off to the side as well.

How much of a concern is this? In other ways she seems to be doing fine, and no one else seems to have picked up on this. She is also sensitive to some loud noises, and will cover her ears or get upset. I am not entirely sure that she always understands instructions, either.

Bit of a brain dump, it's been playing on my mind for a while.

BumpyGrindy Thu 13-Mar-14 23:07:27

The main concern is that YOU are concerned. As her parent, you're the one who knows her well enough to know that something may be causing her some issues.

Can you elabourate on the "oddly" formed sentences? Idiosyncratic speech is a marker for Aspergers syndrome which is very hard to spot in some girls...have nursery pointed out any problems socialising?

Having said all that, I don't want to worry you....I had similar concerns myself about one of my DDs so I do understand how stressful it is.x

ZuleikaD Fri 14-Mar-14 06:49:07

How is she with humour? Does she understand that you can say one thing and mean another (sarcasm)? Does she have any particular friends?

AFishCalledBarry Fri 14-Mar-14 07:06:26

OP would you mind if I pm you later about this? I'm on my phone at the moment and can do better thinking typing on my laptop.

Thanks for your posts smile I have raised concerns about her a few times when she was younger, and no one has ever seemed to see what I see. I was told by the woman assessing her speech that I Googled too much!

I suppose I'm thinking of this more at the moment as DD3 is just reaching the age DD2 was when I started to have concerns about her, and the difference between them is staggering.

It's hard to explain the sentences. Most of the time she forms them properly, but she sometimes mixes up the order of the words, or replaces a word with completely the wrong word. Sometimes it just sounds a bit stilted, as if she is speaking English as a second language.

She seems ok with some humour, but is very literal. So if someone joked that monsters were coming, she would think they really meant it. I wouldn't say she understands sarcasm either. She seems to have friends, but they're mostly my friends' children so there is usually an adult there to prompt. Nursery haven't mentioned any problems with socialising, although I am going to have a word with them on Monday.

A PM would be fab, thank you AFishCalledBarry smile

I meant to say, she's also really repetitive. She'll say exactly the same thing, in exactly the same place on the school run for example, for months until she replaces it with something else.

Goldmandra Fri 14-Mar-14 16:49:53

I have raised concerns about her a few times when she was younger, and no one has ever seemed to see what I see. I was told by the woman assessing her speech that I Googled too much!

This is really common amongst parents of children with Asperger's. I'd be surprised if I could find one parent who hadn't been told something like this at some point TBH.

You are clearly concerned and have been for some time. Your concerns sound reasonable to me as a parent of two girls with Asperger's and they seem to cross several aspects of her development which is significant.

Go, without her, and ask your GP for a referral to a developmental or community paediatrician who can trigger a neurodevelopmental assessment. In the mean time, make a list of your concerns and how long you've had each one plus dates when you have raised these concerns with professionals in the past.

It's impossible to predict the level of a child's difficulties without getting to know them really well so nobody on here can say yes or no to whether she should get a diagnosis. However, it is important that children who may struggle at school have a diagnosis because it makes it a lot easier to access support. It shouldn't but it does.

You will probably come across other professionals who choose not to see what you're describing and dismiss your concerns. Stand your ground and remind them that you feel she is significantly different from her sister and from her peers if that is the case.

My DD2's pre-school didn't mention any concerns to me but when asked later, after her diagnosis, the manager remembered a little girl who could be quite controlling about play and preferred to be on her own if given the choice.

Thank you so much for your post, Goldmandra. It was really helpful. I will make an appointment with the GP for next week to discuss my concerns, and will also speak to the HV I have seen previously, in case she can do anything to help.

Luckily, I posted a lot about my concerns on here in the past, so I can get a bit of a timeline together of when I was concerned about what.

It is reassuring to hear people agree with me, and say the same things I am thinking. When everyone is telling me that she is obviously fine, it knocks my confidence a lot because my intuition is saying that she is going to struggle in some areas.

Thanks again to everyone who has posted smile

Confusedaboutstatements Fri 14-Mar-14 18:33:33

One of the things I have always noticed with my DS who has high functioning ASD is that on most photos his eyes are looking to the side, he finds it hard to focus on the camera.

It might be common with NT children too of course but it's just something I have noticed.

No one took me seriously about my concerns with him. I raises concerns at age three but he didn't get assessed and diagnosed till he was seven. Very frustrating!

Interesting that you've seen it too, confused. The photos I do have of her looking at the camera are either ones that were taken without posing, or she looks incredibly pissed of!

Meant to add, I am worrying about being dismissed until she is older and really struggling. I'd rather do my best to get something in place if needed, although I know it's not as easy as that.

Goldmandra Sat 15-Mar-14 09:42:26

Meant to add, I am worrying about being dismissed until she is older and really struggling. I'd rather do my best to get something in place if needed, although I know it's not as easy as that.

That's a good approach to take because it often takes months, if not years, to get the right support in place if you have to fight for it.

The eye contact you're describing is pretty typical of girls with Asperger's. It's a masking strategy and they can use many, very competently, to cover their difficulties and try to fit in socially.

It's worth Googling Tony Attwood and reading what he has to say about masking. I learned a lot about my girls from him.

Raxacoricofallapatorius Sat 15-Mar-14 09:52:55

Good luck with it. She sounds a lot like my niece (who has asperger's). It only became clear that the little idiosyncrasies were something noteworthy when her younger sister reached the same milestones but differently iyswim. We always said that she did a good job of learning behaviours by rote that other children adopted naturally. So her speech seemed absolutely fine (after a shaky start) but it sometims sounded like she'd been taught perfect English but it wasn't her first language. Odd constructions and word substitutions or getting stuck on certain quirks of language highlighted this. Similarly, the way she walked round a room lacked, I don't know, fluidity. You could see her move from one thing to another as a series of calculated moves which were almost natural but not quite. Her sister next to her moved round without thought or precision, happily skipping and changing direction. There were minute differences with DN1.

It's hard to explain and I'm waffling but I suppose it just always seemed that she'd learnt to navigate the world not developed as part of it. She's brilliant and wonderful and thriving but it was the explaining to the professionals that caused problems because it was always a case of 'well yes she can do that but it's how she does it, it just seems slightly odd'. And they'd shrug and say, but she's doing it, what's the problem?

Just thought I'd mention how things were for my DB and SIL because some of what you said really struck a chord. Might not be the same at all, but I remember well the niggling feelings my DB had and how he felt like it all pointed somewhere but he couldn't quite fathom where for a while.

Raxacoricofallapatorius Sat 15-Mar-14 09:55:17

Oh and she always looked sideways at you. Photos of her always show her looking off to the side unless displaying defiance or being cross. She had some other quirks as well in the way she looked at things or reacted to things approaching her.

I have been lurking on the MNSN boards for a while, Goldmandra, so I have seen that it is not quite as easy as need=get sad I have searched for Tony Attwood, and will have a read later, once the kids are in bed. Thank you smile

What you have written really resonates with me, Raxa, because it's how I feel about DD2 a lot of the time. I can see that she definitely behaves differently to DD1 and DD3. She does a lot of the things that they do, but not exactly in the same way.

I spoke to DD2's main teacher today. We are going to have a meeting once I have spoken to the HV. She did say that she tends to watch interactions rather than jump in and make friends, but that a number of the children also do that because there is such a range of maturity within the class.

Monkeyandanimal Tue 18-Mar-14 15:49:21

Maybe just get her eyes and ears tested too, just to rule those probs out as contributory factors? I've been concerned about my DS since he was slow to roll as a baby and then wouldn't make eye contact, and was slow to speak and wasn't good socially and couldn't concentrate and is clumsy; it turns out he had glue ear and couldn't hear, which explains some of his issues, and then just recently we found out he's quite severely long-sighted, which explains a whole load more of his problems....I'm not saying it explains away all his delays, but it does account for a lot.

Thank you Monkey smile I am having a meeting with my HV next Wednesday so I will organise eye and ear tests then. She doesn't behave as if she can't see, but obviously there's lots I could miss. I have terrible eyesight myself.

Now to collect together all my information so I can explain to the HV why I am concerned.

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