To share my thoughts about friend's DS with her?(44 Posts)
My friend has expressed concerns re her DS to me on a number of occasions. He is 2 next month. She has described his behaviour as really "challenging". He has always been very clingy to her, and can be extremely emotional if he can't "have" her, eg if his dad tries to do something with him/distract him, he will scream for his mum till he is able to go to her. His dad is hands on, fun, engages with him etc, no issues there but DS very much favours his mum and cannot be distracted away from that.
Recently he seems to be worse, and is unsettled at night and being really difficult during the day (her word not mine) and his grandparents have apparently been quite taken aback at the changes in him (much more challenging than normal). Ordinarily I might think it's just normal almost two year old behaviour, but I know my friend is not one to sweat the small stuff so to comment about it to me and express concern makes me think it has got quite bad. She also has an older DC so is aware of "normal" toddler behaviour.
I think the thing that jumped out to me a little was that I was present when he recently had his hair cut and he really struggled with the whole experience. It took a lot of time and effort and patience to get the hair cut done as he refused to sit still but the main thing that concerned me was him shouting "ow" each time the hairdresser snipped his hair, like it was genuinely hurting him. I know through my own experience of SEN that children with autism often find getting their haircut physically painful, and I really felt like it was hurting him (she definitely didn't nick him with the scissors or anything, only his hair was cut!) Would I BU to share this with my friend, given her own concerns about behaviour etc? Or would you keep it to yourself for now as it could just be normal terrible two type stuff and the haircut issue is a red herring? She is a really good friend and if it was the other way round I'd be happy for her to share her knowledge/concern with me as I know it would be well meant. My DC are slightly older and one has SEN so I do have some experience of these things, and would handle it sensitively.
Sorry to waffle on, but what would you do in this situation? I'm not planning to say "I think your DS has autism" but rather to mention re the haircut and see if she thinks it is an avenue worth looking into in relation to other challenging behaviour?
I also wanted to ask whether anyone has experience of autism and finding haircuts painful, or indeed of NT children experiencing this too (to rule it in or out as an area of concern)?
Sorry one more Q - if anyone has experience of autism in very young children around 2 years old, what would be the key signs to look for?
I'd ask if she's ever considered he might have SN and listen to her reply.
I wouldn't mention the haircut though because I used to work in a hairdressers and you wouldn't believe the amount of angry toddlers who used to shout "OW!" when they were kicking off about having their hair cut.
My DS isn't autistic, but up until he was about 5 he would say "ow" and scream and cry having his hair cut. Even now at 9 he hates it, sort of shrinks into himself and can't wait for it to be over.
At 2yo I don't think anything you've said is unusual. Not liking haircuts is very common at that age-shouting "ow" doesn't mean they are hurt as much as they don't want it done.
I don't think you should say anything.
Of my children, their personalities were hugely different. DC2 was similar to how you describe your friend’s child. She has grown into a loving and bright girl with no SN. If I was to compare her to the others at the same age, I would have been really worried but the reality is that children are very different.
Your friend will have a two year check coming up and that is her opportunity to mention it then. Otherwise nursery workers are trained to look out for things that are a concern and mention it to parents.
My son isn’t autistic (I dont think) But he reacted like that at the same age to a hair cut and other similar things.
Support her with his behaviour but don’t be an amateur psychologist and offer a diagnosis
My child was terrible at hairdressers till about 6 but has no other issues. Just hated hair cut?
Does he speak? Does he point when he wants things? My DS hated having his hair cut until the last year (he’s 9) and many of the children at his special school hated having their hair cut to the extent that it hasn’t been cut in years.
My son was diagnosed at 2 - he didn’t speak, make eye contact and wasn’t interested in interacting with anyone. He would lie on the floor screaming or growling and opening and shutting cupboard doors.
Thanks all, sounds like the haircut could be a red herring then. I probably won't say anything, just offer a sympathetic ear. I'd say her level of concern is beyond what's normal, and she is very intelligent and well informed so I'm sure if she does have concerns along SN lines she will ask questions and investigate. He doesn't attend nursery so wouldn't have anything flagged by external parties, but will of course have the two year check coming up.
Thanks Twickerhun, I knew someone would have to come on and make a dig. I'm not being an "amateur psychologist" and had in fact made it clear I absolutely wasn't planning on giving a diagnosis (just mentioning something I'd observed that had concerned me a little) but hopefully you feel better for making a snide comment!
Does he interact? Show things? Eye contact? Does he copy? Does he engage with songs and rhymes? Pretend play? Play things like peek a boo?
My son is 4 and he’s always hated his hair being cut, teeth brushed and nails cut. My son also says ow as though it’s hurting him.
Ds had severe speech and language delay. Developed physically in the normal range ie sitting walking etc. Craved cows milk. Has periods where he sort of shuts down and doesn’t eat. Rubs his eyes a lot. Bounces up and down a lot. When he’s angry he sort of hums in an angry way. Had IDA and PICA (ice) due to poor diet ( despite my culernry delights)
Nursery have picked up on autistic traits. Ds is very different at school to home. Reluctant to engage in things, ie books, puzzles, etc. Conversation mainly on his terms.
I had no idea my ds could be autistic. Currently on NHS waiting list (long) We are going to have a private assessment done really soon.
I would have really appreciated a friend giving me a nudge. I was really comfortable his nursery raised it with me. I can now work towards getting my ds the support he needs specific to him.
The spectrum is huge ( I didn’t realise) I ignorantly thought autism was literally noneye contact, no emotional contact etc. This really is not the case.
My dd (22) met a friend in uni who has only just been diagnosed. She really had no idea. It’s barely noticeable. Hyper mobile is another link. My son still sits in the ‘W’ position regularly. Struggles with a scooter or doing a pedal rotation.
OP, I think Twickerhun's comment was quite legitimate, really. People with children whose behaviour appears to differ from a perceived norm get a lot of armchair 'diagnoses' and well-meaning advice (the Germans have a proverb 'often 'well meant' can be the opposite of 'well done'', and it's very true!) and I read her comment as just cautioning you to avoid falling into that trap rather than having a dig.
FWIW, my 44yo, NT dh still detests haircuts, to the extent that I have to make his appointments for him. I'm not keen either, tbh (also NT). It's quite an intimate situation and some people just feel comfortable with it. It's absolutely entirely normal for such a young child to be wary of a stranger waving scissors around his head.
Lots of behaviours in isolation or a few don’t necessarily indicate anything specific. I think it’s more a collection of these specifics.
My other ds 17 would scream having his hair cut. He’s My dd(22) never rode a bike until she was 13, ( she literally just didn’t fancy it)
My ds (4) seems to have a whole collection of things, although I must say, it really wasn’t that obvious.
He's in the age range to be screened with M-CHAT I think. You could suggest to her she does that?
My ds was exactly the same. He also had speech delay. He's completely "fine" now, a very loving and kind little boy (He's 7) but God was it hard. Your friend though needs to take him to see a GP or someone who can assess him.
Hair is a bunch of dead cells. Cutting it doesn’t hurt...
Did you know this?
It wasn’t meant to be snide OP. I think you can do a lot of harm if you pick up on one issue (like the hair cut thing) and suggest that there may be a problem. If her children are at childcare they will be in a much better place to help the mother with any diagnosis.
I’ve had plenty of people comment on my DSCs behaviour and try to diagnose what’s behind it - they are all unhelpful comments and all wrong. but people suggest BF diagnosis does lead to stress and occasionally panic as a parent. I’ve had a few sleepless nights over unwarranted comments
There is a massive range on normal toddler behaviour.
From your first paragraph, it sounds like the friend’s DS has learnt that if he cries and screams, then his mum will come running. Basically, by having a tantrum, he gets what he wants.
Sorry if that sounds harsh.
@Kalifa OP meant that people with autism can find sounds or sensations physically painful.
It can sometimes be due to a sensory issue. The head being touched or the hair being lifted or combed can feel incredibly uncomfortable for some people with sensory issues. It’s not actually about the hair feeling pain as it’s being cut. It’s the association with the movement. Even if I try and trim my sons hair whilst he sleeps, he senses it and wakes up. It can be harder for boys as the expectation is to have short hair so more hair cutting.
I have 2 autistic DC and neither of them have ever had a problem getting their hair cut.
I guess I was looking for reassurance that finding hair cutting physically painful isn't exclusively an autistic trait. I had not concluded autism based on that, but because I was aware that it is common amongst those with autism and because she has mentioned so many other concerns. It seems plenty of you do have experience of DC finding haircuts painful or distressing to this extent though, so that is reassuring. I have 3 DC and two of them used to hate haircuts but never to the extent of screaming ow as if in extreme pain as my friend's DS did. It was like I could sense how it hurt him.
As mentioned he isn't in childcare so no opportunity to anyone except family/friends to raise concerns.
He does engage and interact, has quite a few words so his speech can be very good, although at the moment whenever I see him he is much more likely to scream or shout rather than use his words. He seems very angry/frustrated a lot of the time, but this can of course be usual 2 year old behaviour, not being able to fully communicate what he wants/needs.
He does need routine, and I know my friend goes out of her way to preserve that or he will kick off (eg keeps his evening meal at a set time). Again, could be totally normal for his age and I know I generally worked to maintain a degree of routine with my DC at the same age, although wasn't quite as religious about it as didn't have the same "fear" of the fallout.
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