My friend's son and his development is like the Elephant in the Room

(23 Posts)
MrsCantSayAnything Mon 22-Oct-12 23:16:59

sad I have nc for this....friend has no other DC...just her son who is 33 months old. He's a dear and they're like family but it's becoming very, very apparent that he's having real problems with communication.

He wont respond to his name at all....no matter how many times you say his name...she doesn't even call out to him or attempt any games anymore... though I do try. He will turn if you rattle a toy or make a sharp noise though.

He won't play with toys...he seems to have sensory issues regarding some things and his speech is all repetition...phrases from tv shows or what you've just said to him...she seems to be quite pleased with his speech and doesn't realise that he should be responding quite differently.

He never brings anything to anyone or initiates any real play at all but rather wanders about aimlessly or sometimes flicks things and spins things. He watches HOURS of tv and she allows this as it makes him happy.

I can't bring myself to suggest that she gets him seen by anyone as I feel she ether knows something is wrong deep down and isn't ready....or she really has not a clue that he's not developing in the usual way.

I am feeling very bad about it as I am worried that the longer he goes without intervention, the less will be done for him.

My friend does not tend to mix much with her DS...she has her social life and his is limited to seeing me and my DS's and seeing his uncles and grandparents....I have tried to encourage her to playgroups but she won't go. She has a job part time and doesn't seem depressed.

So there's nobody to say anything apart from me. He wont attend nursery for a year...she's quite definite about that and I feel so worried. I can't risk offending her....or frightening her but I am torn as her son may have real problems.

He had his 2 year check and my friend said she finisehd the appointment early as the HV was rude and did not show interest in her Ds digestive troubles.

JackThePumpkinKing Mon 22-Oct-12 23:21:42

Ahh v tricky sad

Does she ever mention anything or talk about his speech or how he is at all?

MrsCantSayAnything Mon 22-Oct-12 23:23:32

No....she seems to grasp the good things (there are good things) like how he smiles when he sees my DS's...though he doesn't actually play with them...and how he is good with a laptop...and she seems happy with the way he comes out with lots of TV phrases.....I think she assumes this is fine.

ScarahScreams Mon 22-Oct-12 23:29:13

But what can you do? Really what on earth can you say?

MrsCantSayAnything Mon 22-Oct-12 23:30:08

Well I don't know. That's what I'm asking.

TheBuskersDog Netherlands Mon 22-Oct-12 23:36:03

I'm assuming you think he's on the autistic spectrum from the things you have said, he certainly seems to be displaying ASD features.
Only you know how receptive your friend will be to you raising your concerns, is it worth risking her being upset with you if it means it might sow a seed and lead to her seeing somebody.
I find it hard to believe that parents can have no idea that their child is not developing normally, most first time parents check out what their child should be doing at what age if they don't have a lot of experience of children.

Iwillorderthefood Mon 22-Oct-12 23:39:18

She probably knows in her heart, if you do say something she may not want to hear it. She may believe that the things he can do shows he will be ok in the end. Maybe talk about getting out and about a bit more? Give him more stimulation? If you know other people in her family well perhaps try to get them talking about it?

MrsCantSayAnything Mon 22-Oct-12 23:40:13

I think you're probably right....she's sticking her head in the sand and that is making it harder for me to say anything really. I don't think she would take it well...you just made it clear for me really.

I suppose that means I shouldn't say a word then.

Digestive problems as well? That she could do something about.

It's hard if she has no idea, if she was showing signs or asking you I would suggest lots of things you could do to help. Yes really he really needs to be seen given what you have said here. TBH unless she is very on the ball and willing to fork out a lot the early intervention on offer isn't likely to be that great anyway. I don't know what the ethics of you talking her her HV would be - possibly hideous and a bit tricky if she's already done the 2 year check.

Is it possible that she has noticed but just isn't telling you? I know when I began to notice problems with my son there was only one friend I spoke to about it, as she dealt with it in the right way, if that makes sense.

Is your son the same age?

Thinking about it the digestive problems could be a way in. Say you were googling for stomach problems and came across Treating Autism who had lots of advice about digestive problems - and although you're not for a moment suggesting her son has problems of that nature the advice for kids with digestive problems on their website was really detailed and it might be of use for any child. Gut page here.

I don't know. In some ways I think you either have to decide to say it or not say it. If you want to push her gently going via the gut (as she sees that as a problem) might be a way in.

TBH when I spot kids these days (and you do quite easily once you have a child with autism) I never say anything. I just wait and when they start asking questions answer them. I always think the problem with saying something is a) you might be wrong or b) you might be right but it might take 5 years to get dxed or the first professional they see might be wrong. In either of those cases you may well have damaged the friendship.

I think I've contradicted myself a lot there, but some thoughts. If she gets concerned herself I'd have lots of advice. Good luck. The most important thing is to hang around if the shit does end up hitting the fan. xx

TequilaMockingMagpie Mon 22-Oct-12 23:42:01

Do you think maybe she just doesn't want to talk about gos development ?

My son was diagnosed with a syndrome at 5 months old and I didn't tell anybody other than close family .

I needed to get my head around it myself and understand what would happen in the future before I felt I could speak to or educate others about it .

I do know that others had probably noticed he was different but I didn't care really .

As for knowing, early ASD signs can be very subtle and you can have concerns which might not go down very well with those around you. I had concerns at 17 months, any suggestion was shot down by all members of my close family. This was pretty much pre-internet days. I borrowed books from the library and hid them under the bed. When I did eventually manange to see a specialist when he was 2 and a half I was told that 'ds1 definitely isn't autistic' and he was dxed with mild language delay. I was wrong, everyone else was right.

Except they weren't. Ds1 was severely autistic and still is. He was eventually dxed age 3.

FreckledLeopard Mon 22-Oct-12 23:45:10

Could you 'invent' a child of a similar age to hers that's been investigated for ASD? Say something along lines of 'oh, I saw
xxx who was visiting from [insert name of place far far away] and I hadn't seen her in ages and she was telling me about how her son has suspected ASD.....

Or could you introduce the topic somehow - mention a book or an article you've read, or try to somehow come onto the subject?

CailinDana Mon 22-Oct-12 23:48:57

I would strongly advise you not to say anything. He will start school next year and his problems will be picked up then and once they are you can be as good a support as possible to your friend. This is a very difficult topic and not one you should broach unless your friend asks you directly.

steppemum Netherlands Mon 22-Oct-12 23:50:32

I think you have a choice.
1. risk the freindship. Tell her that you want to say something, but she may not like it and you are saying it because you are her friend, and then tell her you are very concerned about her ds development. Work out ahead of time how to phrase the problem in a very clear way (so rather than say he has speak issues, be very specific, a child of this age should be able to do 1.2.3.)
This approach risks the friendship and I would not do it lightly

2. continue to make gentle suggestions, nudging her the right way, perhaps ask her again about the HV visit etc

3. support her and wait til he reaches nursery and they pick it up.

Don't know really what I would do. depends totally on how well I knew her and what sort of friendship it was etc

Himalaya Tue 23-Oct-12 07:38:10

This is really hard.

My two cents worth:

It may not be picked up at school, or even by HCPs. As far as I know schools can't make an informal diagnosis, even when teachers have a pretty good idea and so they often talk around it, particularly if they get the feeling the parent doesn't want to know.

I guess I would try and broach the subject with her gently - give her opportunities to talk about his development, talk about people you know, books, TV programmes that might bring the subject up.

Maybe don't talk about autism - which is scary (for her, for your friendship), but talk about his speech and language development. Perhaps if she recognises that he has a (possibly mild, temporary etc..) speech delay that should be picked up and dealt with before he starts school, she might think about going to the her GP to get a referral about that, and maybe it will be picked up there. If not, you haven't jumped the fun with your diagnosis.

MrsCantSayAnything Tue 23-Oct-12 08:49:36

Thank you for all the suggestions and advice. Sorry not to answer people by name...my DS's are both older....6 and 9.

I'm not assuming all DC develop at the same rate I don't think....I've known DC not talking a lot at this age but with no problems later....I think it's just the repetition of phrases that's worrying. I saw them on Sunday and was watching and waiting for him to say something of his own thinking...but it didn't happen...

I did think about telling her about someone who'se son has similar troubles but can't seem to do it as it's lying and she knows me so well....

I really think I will do as you say and just be there...try to encourage mixing so that she may see that he is behind in his speech and play.

He's such a dear and I really want him to get help....I've read that a lot of good can be done before children reach three years.....I suppose I wish she knew so he could benefit.

Quodlibet Tue 23-Oct-12 09:05:42

Just to offer a different perspective. I know someone whose next-door neighbour's child was showing very clear signs of autism which the parents seemed unaware of. The person I know was an early years specialist so was making that judgement from quite an informed place. She decided in the end to talk to the parents and actually their response was one of relief at discussing something they'd been frightened to really think about and being grateful to her once they'd got over the initial shock. She still supports the family. I appreciate it is a different situation as she wasn't risking a friendship as you are (although she would have had to live next door if they reacted badly) but thought it might help to hear that breaking that news/supporting someone to a dx can have a positive outcome.

I wouldn't say you friend is unaware of her DCs delays, she is probably very much aware, but is desperately clinging onto the hope that he is okay. I was much the same perhaps you could offer to visit a different hv with her, to back her up, with the digestive probs etc, or to a dr, to get a referral to a paediatrician? I would have greatly appreciated any support from my friends when I was at the beginning of the dx road.

Lougle Tue 23-Oct-12 09:35:53

I'm torn. I understand and respect all the posts so far. However, when I was deeply 'niggled' by my DD's behaviours and development, but all around me people talked about how 'inquisitive' how 'intensely concentrating' how 'loving' she was, I thought I was going mad.

What made me absolutely furious is when, after she had been diagnosed with significant SN (now goes to Special School) someone told me 'I did think she had SN, but I was told not to tell you.' The person was a friend's mother, and my friend had said similar to those here 'if she has SN, preschool will pick it up, and if you're wrong it will really hurt Lougle.'

I was so furious that I had been thinking there was something, dismissed as neurotic until she was 2.9, yet by the age of 4.9 was at Special School!

I think, myself, I'd rather risk the friendship than see a child go without provision, especially as from your description he may well have quite severe ASD.

Sputnik Tue 23-Oct-12 09:44:05

This is really difficult. My son was about that age when his nursery teacher gently broached with me that he might have problems, and he reminded her of autistic children she had taught in the past. I was devastated but I knew deep down something was wrong, and we started the ball rolling for speech therapy and other things. I am so glad we did that as the early years are so important, waiting another year is a long time, plus however long the nursery would take to pick up on it.

I know from experience that if you have a child not talking at this age everyone around you will come out with stories of how their neighbour's nephew or whatever didn't talk til they were 4 then came out with full sentences. People want to reassure. Your friend has only one child and doesn't see other kids that age much, perhaps you could find a way to let her know that her DS should be communicating more by now.

I found this website teachmetotalk.com/ really helpful at that stage, my son wasn't really interested in toys much either at that age, but if you really get down to their level and engage they will respond, and you can use this to help language. Anyway you'll find some clips on there which demonstrate, along with other free info, you don't have to buy her DVDs. Maybe you could say you found the site and thought of her DS?

Sputnik Tue 23-Oct-12 09:57:34

Yes basically I agree with Lougle, if she discovers down the line that people close to her could've said something and didn't then that could equally damage the friendship. I think you should at least try.

MrsCantSayAnything Tue 23-Oct-12 11:38:09

Lougle I really appreciate your input and it is worrying me so much but I really value the friendship and am so afraid of hurting her....I AM going to attempt to suggest that she looks into his speech as it seems less scary to suggest that that aspect isn't up to where it should be....I could suggest that maybe she looks at getting his hearing tested as a starter....thanks for the website Sputnik I will have a look now.

mrscant so many other things can present like ASD; hearing, speech and language delays, sensory processing disorders.

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