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Are these signs of asd? Or just normal toddler behaviour?

(82 Posts)
Moulesfrites Tue 23-Aug-11 15:00:38

My friend is worried about her 16 mo ds as he shows quite obsessive behaviour and she isnt sure if it could be a sign that he is on the spectrum. I don't know about these this and my ds is only 7mo so not sure what is normal for a toddler, but I said I would ask on here...

He gets obsessed about odd little things eg he loves playing with door handles and gets upset if he can't get to them.

She has bought him 4 identical comfort toys as she knows how upset he would be to lose one.

He is funny about grass - doesn't like sitting on it, touching it etc, which she thinks could be a sensory thing?

As I said, I have no idea what this means, but thought there would be someone on here who does!

Pagwatch Tue 23-Aug-11 15:05:48

To be honest they are not great signs. But more telling is the fact that his behaviours are so noticeable that she is worried.
She should go and see her gp.
It may be nothing.of course it may
But with asd the sooner a child gets help the better the outcome.

UnexpectedItem Tue 23-Aug-11 15:07:39

god,it all sounds perfectly normal to me!

notcitrus Tue 23-Aug-11 15:14:11

Sounds like a version of normal to me - ds couldn't stand grass until he was over 2!
Is he pointing and generally trying to communicate? Making eye contact? That's what the HV told me to look for, and if that was all OK only worry if he didn't have any words at all by 2 (and try not to panic at 23 months...!)

Toddlers do get obsessed with the daftest things.

mistlethrush Tue 23-Aug-11 15:16:24

We've got 2 identical toys, just in case one got lost. Trouble is that DS can tell them apart now - and sometimes cuddles both at the same time grin

Meeshamie Tue 23-Aug-11 15:27:08

Sounds totally normal IMHO. I have a 3.4 yo and 16 month old who recently was obsessed with opening/closing doors. It's just that when they discover they can do something they like to do it over and over until they get bored and move onto the next thing. My 16 month old didn't like grass at first, nor did my older child. Not an issue now.. sometimes something new isn't popular at first but I'd have thought that's typical of growing toddlers...! The getting upset if he can't do something is just normal toddler frustration...

MoonFaceMamaaaaargh Tue 23-Aug-11 15:31:16

certainly getting obsessed with something and wanting to play with it all the time sounds very normal to me. Ds 18m does this and i just see it as being how he learns.

Some kids don't like the feel of certain things or being dirty so that sounds normal too.

Ds would be heartbroken if he lost his comforter so i have acquired two and fastened them on to my chest for safe keeping. wink

Pagwatch Tue 23-Aug-11 15:32:29

I quite understand why the impulse is to say 'all normal behaviour'. And he is very small.

But to be honest there is nothing in the world quite like the isolation of being a mother recognising that your child is exhibiting extreme reactions to inappropriate things and having everyone dismiss your concerns.

A reasonable mother who has concerns should be listened to. Expessing concerns feels like a betrayal of your child, something most of us do not do lightly.

Op. How upset does he get. And can he be distracted out of it or is his reaction extreme and prolonged?

StrandedBear Tue 23-Aug-11 15:48:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AuntieMonica Tue 23-Aug-11 15:51:25

i'd like to mark my place and not just watch this thread, thanks for saying that about feeling isolated, Pag

i'll wait for other responses before i jump in


MoonFaceMamaaaaargh Tue 23-Aug-11 15:54:29

What here does not sound normal to you pag? I'm not being dismissive of the op's friend's concerns by saying it sounds normal to me. I'm giving my opinion as requested and that reflects my experience as yours reflects yours.

Pagwatch Tue 23-Aug-11 16:08:02

It is almost impossible to explain what actual obsessive behaviour and related distress looks like unless you have seen it. Because we all say things like ' oh dd is obsessed with peppapig ' when what we actually mean is that she likes it ever such a lot.

Becoming upset, on a regular basis, about not being able to play with door handles is not a good sign. That does not mean it is a symptom. Just that it is not a good sign. Many autistic obsessive behaviours involve movements like turning or switch or opening over and over again.
Of course your average toddler can love doing that too. Which is where the line between wanting to do it every now and again and being upset if you can't - and having to do it everytime you are able and becoming very distressed if stopped.

The thing is complicated, layered in compulsion and accompanied by a fixed and determined need to do it. But in small easily frustrated toddlers in can look like something else.

The difference between my son who would have turned the hose on and off for hours and would refuse to be distracted away and would be inconsolable if stopped - and your average toddler who finds it endlessly fun and is poked off if you stop him - is hard to convey in writing.

My main interest is in supporting a parent who has concerns and I never see getting in front of a gp as a negative thing.
But I appreciate others see it differently.

I suspect that is a bit waffly. Sorry. Trying to sit with dd enjoying Moulin Rouge grin

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Tue 23-Aug-11 16:28:28

I guess the thing is we aren't worried when our toddlers do what they do, the ops friend is. And that is an important distinction, I think as parents we have a sort of instinct if something is right/not right with our children.

MoonFaceMamaaaaargh Tue 23-Aug-11 17:15:44

excellent multi tasking pag!

lingle Tue 23-Aug-11 20:24:25

OP, I think you need to tread carefully here. Would your friend not be willing to ring her health visitor or at least come on to the forum herself? It is easy, even on mumsnet, to answer questions like "my child doesn't seem to know how to show me what he wants and he is 2.6 - is that a problem?" (yes, it's definitely a problem ). But the examples you have given aren't like that, and "obsessed" is a word used so casually that it doesn't convey much information.

BlueArmyGirl Tue 23-Aug-11 21:02:07

Have you thought about posting on special needs to see what other persepctive you might get to this issue?

9reenflower Tue 23-Aug-11 22:43:12

OP, maybe also worth looking at the CHAT test . usually done between 18 and 24 month irrc but your friend's child is not too far off age wise.

If your friend is really worried, then she should also get DS referred to the dev paed.

I have a DC (3.6) with suspected ASD... I started to raise concerns when DC was 18 month old. both GP and HV refused to refer DC to the dev paed (giving me the every-child-is-different bullshit). 2 years down the line we are finally under the dev paed and in the diagnostic process but still no confirmed diagnoses. still no help and support. have been a year now on the waiting list for Salt (DC is 2 years behind with speech and language)... well, you get the gist.

a mum just knows if something is not quite right with her child. tell your friend to trust her instincts!

good luck!

lingle Wed 24-Aug-11 18:16:46

I like the idea of telling her to trust her instincts because it doesn't put you in the role of messenger but deals with the risk that pagwatch identifies.

smallwhitecat Wed 24-Aug-11 22:12:56

Message withdrawn

saintlyjimjams Wed 24-Aug-11 22:20:35

Completely agree with Pagwatch. And yes I would be worried about door handles as well. We had huge problems with door handles (and doors in general thinking about it) during the toddler years (actually we still do).

And yes to CHAT test, it's a pretty good screen.

DS1 used to sit on grass with his legs raised off the ground balancing on his bum. He had a lot of problems with crossing between different types of surfaces when younger as well (would get stuck where carpet met wood, or grass met concrete for example).

This is a pretty good website, it includes example videos of autistic behaviours and a link to online testing that can done pretty cheaply (although tbh a HV should be able to administer the M-CHAT)

saintlyjimjams Wed 24-Aug-11 22:25:49

You have to register to watch the videos but they're pretty good (and free). I'm watching one now showing 'preoccupation with parts of objects'. I wish the videos had been available when I was wondering!

addressbook Thu 25-Aug-11 16:43:57

But it really upsets me on here that the idea of a mother's instinct doesn't work both ways

Yes a mother's concerns should be taken seriously and she should trust her instincts. But what happens when the issue is the other way around? When someone suggests your child has a problem and your instinct is absolutely that he/she is fine? It doesn't work that way does it? On here if you dare suggest that, then you are accused of being prejudiced about children on the spectrum.

I was involved on a thread six months ago which upset me so badly I didn't sleep or eat well for a while. I am fine now but this thread triggered me a bit. I was accused of being a bad mother, called names and all sorts. Why? Because my instinct was that my child is fine. My dc has now settled into school fine but I have a good relationship with the staff who are keeping an eye.

I was told I was in denial, that I should feel sorry for my dc because I wasn't taking the concern seriously. It was terrible.

And yet if I gave the reasons why I think dc is fine, I was told that I didn't know shit about ASD.

OP of course if you have concerns approach a professional. However be careful about the responses of some on heree

addressbook Thu 25-Aug-11 16:56:22

It is just absolute double standards which really betray the bias and presumptions some people have.

For example I was told I was an eejit because I wasn't listening to a professional who had raised a minor concern. I did listen actually and took it very seriously. It was just my 'instinct' that my dc was shy and had confidence issues.

Then how is it that the other way around, when a mother has concerns and yet the professionals won't accept them - there is outrage and supportive tones?

We hear all about the cases where a child is diagnosed late because a mother's concern is dismissed, and yes that is terrible. But what about the instances where someone jumps to a conclusion too soon? Makes a wrong judgement?

Suddenly it seems like to not want your child to be on the spectrum means you are writing off all autistic children and judging them in some horrendous way. Very black and white conclusions to jump to and certainly not true in my case.

Arrogantcat Thu 25-Aug-11 17:25:37

I agree addressbook. I am convinced my almost 3 yr old has speech delay, not autism and I have encountered the same reactions from professionals because I will not subject her to a child psychologist or a community paed at the moment.
She is however having SALT which is IMO and that of my OH's all that she needs.
If I have more concerns in the future or the speech doesn't improve significantly we will review our decision.

addressbook Thu 25-Aug-11 17:37:13

Arrogantcat - it was a nursery worker who approached me. I listened and took her concern seriously. I googled and read about ASD as much as I could. But no I wasn't going to demand paed assessments at that stage. Six months down the line and my dc is in school. He is on stage 1 intervention, which means the teacher knows about the issue and keeps an eye on it. He certainly seems fine socially. He can be shy and unsure in new situations but actually he has adapted to school much easier than nursery.

But then no doubt I will get flamed for saying that. That how dare I suggest children on the spectrum aren't fine socially. You can't win. I realise it is a huge and varied spectrum. That one child may have problems socially another might not. It can manifest in many ways. I suppose for me it boils down to is my dc happy or not? Are they struggling in any area of their life which could impact on their well being?

Whatever you say on the matter, it seems that unless it fits narrowly defined criteria as dictated by some on these boards you will get accused of all sorts. It isn't educating or supporting people, it at times becomes bullying and sniping.

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