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Suspected ASD - dealing with tics

(6 Posts)
Jorior Tue 29-Oct-13 16:33:02

My 6yo DS is currently being observed by SENCO for possible Asbergers. He has always displayed behaviours which made me suspect he was somewhere on the spectrum but they've always seemed very mild and haven't affected his life or those around him.

Recently, however, these behaviours have become more frequent/more obvious. They're still relatively mild (inability to sit still, over sensitivity to temperature, fussy eater, difficulty dealing with pain, repeating himself, being pedantic and a vibrating tic to name a few).

He has made friends with a gang of boys at school and his friendship with them is very important to him. However, I'm concerned that the ramping up of the behaviours I mentioned will mark him out as being odd and perhaps lead to him losing friends/being bullied.

At the moment I'm most concerned about his tic. Every 5 mins he squeezes his hands together which vibrates his arms and shoulders. Of late, he also pulls his mouth when he does this which contorts his face. He does it to relieve excitement.

Is there anything I can do to help him not to do this so often?

Also, has anyone else found that their DC has suddenly increased their spectrum related behaviours like mine has? If so, any idea why this might be?

I'm new to this so any advice would be appreciated.

PolterGoose Tue 29-Oct-13 18:52:18

Hi Jorior there's a really good blogpost here that discusses tics and stims.

My ds is 10 and has diagnoses of Aspergers and sensory processing disorder, your description of your ds's sensory issues is very familiar! Whilst it's really good that the Senco is supportive, you will need to go down a medical route for proper assessment and diagnosis. With the benefit of hindsight my advice is read stuff, make notes and keep a diary, then ask your GP for a referral, in some areas it's to CAMHS, sometimes a child development centre, here it was direct to a developmental paed. I would also ask for referral to an occupational therapist, either GP or Senco/school nurse can refer. Tony Attwood is great on Aspergers and I would highly recommend a book about sensory stuff called 'The Out of Sync Child'.

With regard to an increase in autistic behaviours, I would say that for me it became far more obvious at around 7ish when suddenly the typical children all seemed to leap ahead of ds, before that age it was less obvious, from about when he started juniors his differences stood out more.

Fidget toys might help your ds relieve the need to stim.

Jorior Tue 29-Oct-13 23:19:56

Thanks so much Poltergoose. Your post has been really helpful. Your advice is great and the link you gave me was really informative. So much of it applies to my DS.

I've already come across Tony Attwood but I'm going to read the book you recommended because it sounds like what I need.

Can I just ask you a few more quick questions?
1. What's the difference between what a developmental paed and an occupational therapist in terms of what they can do for my DS. You suggested I should ask for a referral to both.
2. I'm not sure whether it's best to be open about my DS's dx or keep it to ourselves? In your experience what's best for the child?
3. How much have you told your DS about his dx?

Thanks again.

PolterGoose Wed 30-Oct-13 08:48:53

A developmental paed is a medical doctor who can assess for delayed or disordered development. They might administer standard tests (eg the ADOS for autism) and can diagnose things like ASDs. Once they've diagnosed they often don't have much involvement, particularly for kids with Aspergers and HFA. We see the children's community nurse ever year or so and she's part of the same team as the paed, she checks on development and last time we saw her she referred ds to a paediatric dietician.

An occupational therapist is a more practical clinician, they look at how a person functions and can help with day to day practical needs. They may diagnose things like dyspraxia and sensory processing disorder. Our OTs have helped with things like handwriting, sensory skills, cutlery, sleep, toileting, eating. I've attended a course with them on sensory processing and ds did a course with them for children to learn how to manage their own sensory needs.

When ds got referred for assessment we initially saw the paed's registrar, once he'd done standard developmental checks on ds we discussed how I felt ds had Aspergers, the next step was referrals to SALT and OT. I had no experience of either and was bowled over by how the OT 'got' ds and identified practical problems and things we could do, it was brilliant. When the paed got their reports back ds was assessed using the ADOS, a standard assessment for ASD, then he got his diagnosis. We don't see the paed anymore but we have continued OT involvement dealing with mainly sensory stuff. The OT also identified that ds is very hypermobile so she referred on to physio.

I told school he was being assessed and a couple of his friends parents. School were adamant he didn't have Aspergers. They were wrong! You too may meet a lot of naysayers so I wouldn't say lots at this stage. I just presented it to ds as if it were perfectly normal to have hospital check ups. He didn't know any different. With an early OT appointment I did say to him they might be able to help with some problem he was having at the time and he was a bit disgusted telling be that if he didn't <whatever it was> then he wouldn't he 'him', I had to explain how whatever it was at the time did cause him problems. He was really upset at the idea of being changed so I didn't use that approach again!

I told ds as soon as we got formal diagnosis, we discussed it and I bought the brilliant 'All Cats have Aspergers' book, which he still loves, though not all children take to it, and some other books. We've always been very open about it. He has only very occasionally said 'I can't <insert difficult thing> because of my Aspergers' and I tend to respond with reminding him that it doesn't mean he can't but that some things are harder because of it. He said recently he's really glad he has Aspergers because he likes having obsessions grin

Jorior Wed 30-Oct-13 14:26:38

Thanks so much Poltergoose. You've really helped with my understanding of everything at this stage. I really appreciate you taking the time to reply.

PolterGoose Wed 30-Oct-13 14:28:47

That's ok smile

Best of luck with it all and do keep posting flowers

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