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Post-natal anxiety or valid concerns (ASD baby)

(15 Posts)
Lifesamasochisticparty Wed 13-Jun-18 20:21:39

I have a 7 month DS who I adore but I’ve struggled with post natal anxiety from day 1. Much of this has centred around his health, his development and whether he is displaying symptoms of various conditions. It was extremely debilitating at one point and I could list maybe 5-10 conditions that I was sure he was exhibiting signs of (of which he turned out not to have!) Much of this worry was exacerbated by poor sleep, which continues to an extent, but has improved a little.

The anxiety remains to a degree and has clouded my judgement about my current fixation: Autism. This worry has been prevalent for some time and was triggered by the fact that DS isn’t particularly cuddly. As time has gone on other things have emerged which concern me yet I have no idea or perspective to know whether I need to be worrying. I really hope that none of this is offensive to parents of children with ASD. Obviously I would adore him regardless, but I do feel very frightened about my ability to cope.

My concerns are the following:

- DS has always been very alert, almost hyperaroused and hypervigilant regarding his environment. He used to be quite startled by it and quite fussy, but this has improved significantly in the last few months and since then he doesn’t appear distressed by new sounds, places, people so much. However he is still scanning his environment constantly and is always moving, rarely still or peaceful.

- For the first few months was stiff, tense and uncuddly. He has loosened up over time a bit I would say but hates constraint of cuddles. He does like to be carried around though, stroked and kissed.

- He doesn’t respond to his own name. He does respond to my voice and looks in my direction maybe 50% of the time I call him but I think that’s more my voice he recognises rather than his name.

- His sleep is appalling, the 4 month regression hit hard and since then has been waking every 2 hours all night and needs to be fed back to sleep.

- His eye contact is relatively okay but not as good as some babies his age. It is good from across the room or when someone else is holding him but less good if I'm holding him and he seems to prefer to look at my mouth if I am very up close to his face. He used to actively avoid my gaze close up when he was smaller but again this has improved over the last month or so.

- Only starting to make some vowel-consonant babbles (vu, ge, la) but generally is quite a quiet baby. No ‘ma’ or ‘ba’ or ‘da’ yet let alone ‘mama’, ‘baba’ etc.

More positively he is smiley, enjoys other babies (and his own reflection), has a wonderful belly laugh and is warm and joyful. He has always been on track (if not advanced) with his motor skills, rolling early and crawling now. He spends most of his playtime happily perfecting these skills on the playmat. He loves toys, is focused and plays well. He definitely looks for me, tracks me across the room and has started reaching for me when I pick him up. He is a great feeder and enjoying weaning so far.

I don’t know anymore what are valid concerns and what may be some pathological anxiety levels. I’m just feeling very frightened and could do with some perspective. Thank you.

gamerchick Wed 13-Jun-18 20:29:49

Well I don't know if I can give you perspective but I can tell you my experience.

My youngest has ASD. He came out screaming and didn't stop until around 3 years. He hit all his milestones until a certain point then just stagnated. When crawling he would seek out something and just repeatedly bump his head on it (sensory) he has beautiful eye contact. His eating is and always has been limited, he's hard to feed.

He didn't enjoy other kids and hated mirrors.

Have you spoken to someone about your anxiety? Nothing you've described sounds alarming to me flowers

GrumpyBagFace Wed 13-Jun-18 20:30:49

Regardless of whether your baby has ASD or not, you're very clued up to what your baby likes and what causes him anxiety.

Read his cues and respond to them. Love him, comfort him, make him feel safe, talk to him, when he looks at you smile at him, get down on the floor with him and look at the things he's playing with, look at the things he's looking at and comment on them ...

gamerchick Wed 13-Jun-18 20:30:52

Mine never played with toys apart from lining them all up into infinity. grin

Abitlost2015 Wed 13-Jun-18 20:34:36

No one would be able to diagnose ASD in a 7 month old. The list of traits above could be that of a 7 month old who later in life is diagnosed with ASD or one who isn’t.
Have you accessed some help for your anxiety? It will not let you enjoy your baby as much as you could.

Lifesamasochisticparty Wed 13-Jun-18 21:17:52

Thank you for the replies and reassurance. I haven’t accessed any real support for my anxiety. I think I’ve been too scared to accept how intrusive and damaging its becoming. I think it’s time for me to do something about this isn’t it.

ADuckNamedSplash Wed 13-Jun-18 21:21:46

Someone told me that babies have their own priorities for their development: some are keen to communicate, others prefer to move. Amongst my friends with babies, this seems to hold true. My 9 month old DD is definitely focused on moving and your DS sounds a lot like her - advanced motor skills, not very into cuddles (squirms to get away!), nowhere near talking yet. She's also only just begun to recognise her name. However, she's very close to walking independently now and I don't think it's a coincidence that over the past week or so, her communication has been improving too (still nothing in terms of words, but in understanding what I'm saying, making meaningful gestures, etc).

CuppaSarah Wed 13-Jun-18 21:23:38

I had anxiety on the same way with DD. Eventually my concerns did turn out to be something, but for now we don't think Autism, we think it was sensory processing issues that she's showing signs of having mostly outgrown at 5. 7 months is too early to give these thoughts too much headspace. But do keep a rough note of it as he develops. Even if there is something to these intrusive, anxious thoughts, there's no reason to think the worst. But honestly chances are, it's anxiety and sleep deprivation skewing your perception. It's horrible isn't it?

JacintaJones Wed 13-Jun-18 21:29:32

Oh OP I could have written your post a year ago. In fact I think I did write something very similar indeed

I suffered awfully with PNA and was convinced my baby had quite a few rare genetic syndromes because he has epicanthal folds and an undescended testicle. I hace been hyper aware of every milestone which he has met on or before time.

It sounds as if your baby is very, very normal.
The fact that you have flitted between various diagnoses for him to fit in to, as did I points to a problem with your mental state rather than your baby. I mean this is the kindest possible way because I've been there and I still am to a degree, although less so as he grows and everything is ok.

Please dont let anxiety rob you of this precious time. I did and regret it so much now I'm back at work full time and dont see him nearly as much as I want to.

Go and see your GP. I found a small dose of anti depressants helped me to think more rationally.
Did you have a stressful pregnancy?
Sleep deprivation really sets off my anxiety so I completely get where you're coming from but please prioritise your rest and appreciate what sounds to be your happy, smiling little baby.

flowers for you.

PureColdWind Wed 13-Jun-18 21:46:16

I have a son with ASD and he has a very happy life and is getting on very well in school. He has lots of interests and enjoys life to the full. He does have some things he struggles with but he is learning strategies to manage these. So just to let you know that if it turned out your son had any issues its not necessarily the end of the world.

It does sound like you need help with your anxiety as you seem to be over-analysing your child. If you monitor any human very closely you'll start spotting things that seem a bit out of line because none of us are fully 'normal'.

Also, autism often doesn't present as people would expect. It can look very different in different people. Many people with autism, like my son, love hugs as much as the next person. Many of them have good eye contact etc.

The happiest families I know have parents who are the right balance of concened and laid-back and I think it is really worth sorting out your anxiety for your child's sake.

I've suffered with anxiety myself and a combination of anti-anxiety medication, exercise and cognitive behavioural therapy really helped me. The medication took a few weeks to kick in and it made a big difference in my case.

CanaBanana Wed 13-Jun-18 21:53:17

Your DS isn't the one who has a health problem. It's you. Nothing you've listed would concern me. But your intrusive and obsessive thoughts are concerning. I suggest having a chat with your GP and maybe arranging some CBT. This worrying is pointless and will make no difference to whether or not your child has any of the conditions you suspect.

Lifesamasochisticparty Thu 14-Jun-18 09:21:13

Thank you for all your replies.

Duck - It really does sound like we have similar babies and it’s reassuring again to hear that DS’s developmental ‘pathway’ is actually similar to others. The problem with all the milestones you read on the internet is that every website says something different. I should be focusing on the brilliant things he is doing physically I guess. The communication and social stuff will hopefully come later when his focus is less diverted.

CuppaSarah I’m so glad that your DD has done so well to move past some of those early sensory issues. I think that category is particularly difficult to understand as I assume lots of perfectly usual babies have sensory likes and dislikes and figuring out what might be the sign of something problematic must be so hard! For example I assumed that as DS hated cuddles it must be because he hates touch but actually he loves being carried around and has no issues with baths/clothes etc. It’s the constant analysis that I need to stop because it will make no difference to the outcome anyway.

JacintaJones Thank you for your really kind message. I’m so sorry that you faced all of these feelings too. They are so destructive and very frightening flowers I get to the point where I don’t just ‘think’ DS might have one issue or another but feel so very sure that he does that I can’t believe that I could be wrong. I’ve done the same with the syndrome searches (which incidentally I swear you could see traits of any baby if you interpret them certain ways). I’m pleased that it’s easing for you but I agree that it’s robbing me of precious time with him. It’s telling that I’m so fixated on a condition which ultimately I can’t prove either way anytime soon (unlike some of the others which I could disprove a bit more easily and then moved on from.) I’m scared though that even if I discounted autism I would then move onto something else and this spiral has to stop.

PureCold and Cana you are both absolutely right that this is my issue rather than my childs and for his sake I need to contain it. I feel huge guilt on top of my anxiety that I have been reducing my beautiful, complex child into a set of symptoms rather than looking at him as a little human. I really appreciate your honesty. I would much rather it was my issue than his to be honest as I can then proactively address it.

I’ve made a GP appointment for next week so I can get some support with this.

lornathewizzard Thu 14-Jun-18 09:34:10

OP I'm really glad you're taking this on board and getting some help. Anxiety is a bitch but you can get help. Stay strong

ADuckNamedSplash Thu 14-Jun-18 21:18:58

Duck - It really does sound like we have similar babies and it’s reassuring again to hear that DS’s developmental ‘pathway’ is actually similar to others. The problem with all the milestones you read on the internet is that every website says something different. I should be focusing on the brilliant things he is doing physically I guess. The communication and social stuff will hopefully come later when his focus is less diverted.

Very true! Likewise, the babies I know who are communicating really well, their mums are fretting about their lack of movement!

Lifesamasochisticparty Fri 15-Jun-18 10:29:12

Very true! Likewise, the babies I know who are communicating really well, their mums are fretting about their lack of movement!

And I would then be diagnosing him with all manner of physical health problems! Thank you again for the perspective x

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