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Please help. DH and I are worried.

(63 Posts)
ParanoidOrRightlyWorried Sat 24-Sep-11 08:54:31

I've namechanged for this as some friends and family know my normal username. I'm so sorry this is a bit long. DJ and I are worried about our 19 month old DS. He seems to do/say some things that presumably should be good, and other things that are really beginning to make us feel a bit anxious.

Here's the good stuff:

He has around 220 words, and is saying things like 'mummy bah' (pointing at mummy's bag) and 'gee car' (green car). He is also saying things like 'uh' (up), and 'o' (on or off, depending on context).

His understanding also seems good; he follows directions (e.g. could you put the blocks back in the box? Could you show me where your shoes are?), he points at things (both when he wants something - although not always, sometimes he'll just say the word - and when he names something he's seen, like a digger in the street).

He seems to play with toys appropriately. Mostly vehicles, though!

He seems quite logical when naming something he doesn't know - he pointed at a hedge and said 'gee', his word for tree.

He can count: he knows the numbers up to ten, but actually gets the concept of counting objects up to three. He also seems to know the alphabet: I think he mainly picked this up from a combination of youtube learning songs for kids, which he loves, and from his Vtech bus which has letters on the side.

He's affectionate with us. We co-sleep and he likes cuddles, and snuggling up in bed - he stares into my eyes as I sing to him. He will often run up to me saying 'mummy' and bury his head in my legs as he cuddles me. Sometimes he will kiss me, without me asking. Often before he goes to sleep, he says 'mummy' and gives me a cuddle while resting his cheek against mine.

He loves books and will often sit through some fairly long ones, e.g. Mog the Forgetful Cat and the Gruffalo.

Things we're not sure about:

He's not especially interested in other children, although he does notice them. If another child takes something from him, he usually just lets it happen, looks at them and looks a bit bemused. If it's something he really loves, he will cry, however. Today he tried to add in a piece to a puzzle that was being played with by another child and she snatched it back (not nastily, just as children often do) and he looked at me as if to gauge my opinion on it. I smiled and shrugged and he then just moved onto something else. On the whole his eye contact seems good if we're out and about and he's playing at a distance - he responds to smiles and loves to play peepo.

Here are the things we are worried about:

1. His eye contact can be intermittent. If you are up close to him or he is interested in something, he often won't look at you even if you say his name several times. For instance, we were at the sandpit and he found a car there. He was really taken with it and after playing with it for a while, did come to show it to me (he looked at me then), but after that he was so into it that he just completely ignored me saying his name and didn't look at me at all. Recently when I asked him where parts of his body were, I was sitting right in front of him, and he didn't look back in my eyes when pointing to them. However when I was standing up asking where his nose was, he pointed at it while looking at me.

2. While he has a lot of words, his pronunciation is poor. I would say that most of them wouldn't be recognisable to somebody who didn't know him, e.g. 'baw' is ball, 'bar' is bath, 'ba' is brown, 'deh-doh' is yellow, 'die-dor' is dinosaur, 'gar-gur' is trousers, for instance. He also has some made-up words, i.e. banana is 'ma' and hungy is 'uh-boh' (combined with pointing towards the kitchen).

3. He doesn't ask me what new, unrecognisable things are. It could be because I rush to explain things, but he doesn't really say anything that could be understood as 'what's that?'.

4. Not overly interested in other children. Quite happy playing alone. He does like looking at children though sometimes, especially if they are laughing and playing together and often points out other children and says 'baby'.

5. It seems to be more when he's tired but we've noticed when excited about something he slightly tilts his head and raises his arms quickly. He might shake his head once, almost like a shudder. We thought it was just a happy, delighted shudder sort-of-thing, but we're not sure. It usually happens when he sees something he likes, and is heading towards it, such as the bouncy car at one of the local playgrounds.

6. Seems shy around new people. Often won't reciprocate smiles if somebody he doesn't know (or doesn't know well) smiles at him, and sometimes sidles away and glances out of the sides of his eyes into nowhere. We thought this was a shy/bashful thing but we read that side-glancing can be a bit of a red flag.

7. Usually an initial dislike of new things, e.g. a new playgroup, new food, an unfamiliar book. When he doesn't want something, he moans and waves his hand as if waving/pushing it away. He has begun to say 'no no' but he tends to resort to the moaning/waving when cross.

8. He still falls over a lot. His balance seems quite wobbly at times, especially when distracted, even though he started walking before he was a year old.

9. This seems to be more when he's tired, but he still babbles nonsense quite excitedly, and can be quite uncoordinated in his movements. He's done it more than usual today and yesterday, DH noticed it as well.

10. When he sees something he really likes, he will keep naming it and pointing at it over and over again. For instance, there was a digger on the road and he kept pointing and saying 'diddah' (digger). It does usually seem to be in an excited way, but it is repetitive.

We would hugely appreciate some thoughts or advice on which of the above things are probably nothing to worry about, and which, if any, are more concerning. I will be seeing the health visitor, but we are both feeling scared for our lovely son and would love to feel like we can talk to someone else about this without sounding either paranoid, or like we are stealth boasting because he has quite a few words. We're really not. We are struggling financially at the moment, and that is causing us a lot of worry, so we are unsure how much we are projecting our anxieties onto our poor little boy.

If you've got this far, thank you so much for reading smile

HoneyPablo Sat 24-Sep-11 09:05:53

Everything you have described is perfectly normal for a child his age. I would say he is within developmental norms and I really wouldn't worry about him.
As a child develops, some things develop quicker than others and some things fall behind. But, most children get there in the end (this is because most children haven't read the child development guidelines grin)
He seems to have a reaaly good grasp of language and communication as well as numbers and counting.
It is normal for children not to want to play with other children. This comes later, around 4 years.
As for the ignoring, he is just asserting his independence and realising he is a seperate person from his mummy and daddy.
Some children are clumsy, some are more graceful. Like I said before, their brains can't cope with all the rapid development at this age and concentrate on areas at a time.
I have worked with children as a nursery nurse for 20 years and am studying for a degree in early childhood, so this comes from years of experience. he sounds perfectly normal to me.
I am currently working with a 2 year old who has no speech apart from 'gagaga' and seems totally unaware of the world around her.

LIZS Sat 24-Sep-11 09:09:08

I thik you probably need to review your list again in about 6 months time. A lot of what you describe could have related tp our ds (subsequently identified as dyspraxic with dyslexic and AS traits) but this is such a rapid phase of development, physically and mentally, that it may simply mean it will take a while for his brain and body to catch up. As for the shyness, he is still of an age where he is understanding that he is a being in his own right and that you can come and go without him, so some anxiety with strangers is natural.

ninedragons Sat 24-Sep-11 09:09:52

I don't have qualifications beyond owning one three-and-a-half year old, but again that all sounds completely normal to me.

Mention it to your GP if you like, but that would be more for your peace of mind than anything

AeolineReed Sat 24-Sep-11 09:15:41

I'm sorry you're worried. sad

The things you've highlighted suggest that you're concerned that your son might be on the autistic spectrum. My son has Aspergers (recently diagnosed - he's 9), and I was also concerned when he was a toddler.

Several random things come to mind.

My DS wasn't just interested in (eg) 'diddah's. He was completely, utterly obsessed with two or three things that weren't 'normal' for a child of his age (church steeples, for instance). If we couldn't walk the way that took in several of them, meltdown would ensue, even when he was tiny. Your DS does not seem to be this way inclined from what you've said.

Secondly, even if your DS were on any kind of spectrum, it's verging on impossible to diagnose at his age - because everything you describe is also 'normal' toddler behaviour (especially for a first-born, whose every move is generally scrutinised. I can remember what my DS was like at that age; his younger siblings just merge into a blur of toddlerdom).

Most toddlers aren't interested in other children. They generally tend to become more interested when they're nearer to three (my DS still isn't!) - so that is no cause for concern at all.

Must go now, but I hope this helps to allay some of your concerns. He sounds fab!

RickGhastley Sat 24-Sep-11 09:20:36

I have 4 year old DS and your son sounds exactly like him at that age.

I really would not worry about anything.

Infact my 4 year old STILL ignores me when he is interested in something else and is very shy around new adults! All the other things you were concerned about sort themselves out.

OnEdge Sat 24-Sep-11 09:27:20

You have just described my DS who is 2, I am not worried about him at all smile

gapants Sat 24-Sep-11 09:40:11

he sounds like a lovely, sweet loving little boy who is making good progress through his developmental milestones.

It sounds like you are concerned he may be on the Autistic Spectrum, and as the other posters have mentioned it is nearly impossible to diagnose as such a young age.

The word repitition is an indicator of language aquisition, infants will repeat a new word again and again and again to lock it in. The babbling is part of this too. Look at programs such a teletubbies, ITNG, waybaloo, they all show babbling. It is part of language aquisition.

My DS who is almost three, sometimes needs me to say his name many times before he will turn around and pay attention. He is ignoring me because he is engrossed in his play. All his peers do it. I have had mates who have taken their children to audiologists to get their hearing checked!

He sounds very bonded and loved, and i personally would not be worried at all.

tryingtoleave Sat 24-Sep-11 09:44:16

He's 19 months! Most children only have a few word, some can't walk. Children don't really socialize until around three. I think you need to relax. 220 words? Do you keep a list?

GwendolineMaryLacey Sat 24-Sep-11 09:49:20

You've described my nephew who has a condition but it's purely physical and pretty minor in the scheme of things. He's now 3 and the only thing he is interested in is hoovers. He is totally, utterly obsessed to the point where it drives everyone crazy. No one is in the least bit worried about him.

My 3.8yo totally ignores everyone if she's doing something and yesterday I took her into DH's work and she did not utter one syllable the entire hour we were there, not even when offered cake. She normally doesn't shut up.

Everything you've described sounds completely normal to me.

Imnotaslimjim Sat 24-Sep-11 09:49:53

You could quite easily be describing my DS, and like you, at that age I was concerned. There was one further problem we had - my DS has no indications of pain. He has pulled hot tea over himself, caused 2nd degree burns to his hand by putting it in a hot grill and jumped down the stairs splitting his chin open, all without flinching or crying. We saw lots of dr's and specialists who requested further assessments as he got older. Now (he's 5) we have no problems at all, other than the pain issue.

For now, I would just watch and see how he goes. The range of "normal" (I do hate that word!) is far reaching and your son sounds like he's within it

pozzled Sat 24-Sep-11 09:55:28

Just wanted to agree with other posters, everything you have described sounds quite normal. My 3 year-old had many of those behaviours at that age, and I have no concerns about her.

I would try to put your worries to the back of your mind and have another think about them in a few months time. If you're still not happy then you could have a chat with the GP.

I noticed that a lot of your concerns seem to be about how he relates to other children. How often does he see others his age, and in what contexts? Are there children that he sees often (e.g. close friends, relatives)? At your son's age my DD was starting to relate well to two friends that she saw very often (at least a couple of times a week). She would call them by their names, show them things she was interested in, and clearly enjoyed seeing them. But it wasn't until quite a bit later that she would play 'with' them, and at 3 she still takes time to feel comfortable with children she doesn't know.

Pagwatch Sat 24-Sep-11 10:05:01

He is very small and his language etc sounds fine/good. I suspect you are worrying about nothing.
Is it the physical movements and behaviours that bother you the most? Or is there something else?

I think we worry about our children when they are developing in the frusta couple of years but tbh it is unusual for both parents to be getting worried at the same time unless they have reason. Is there asd in your family or are the behaviours you are describing very jarring and noticeable in real life - these things are hard to convey in print aren't they.

I do agree with everyone else that you probably have no need to be concerned. But I know that feeling at the back of your neck so I don't want to just dismiss your concerns.

ParanoidOrRightlyWorried Sat 24-Sep-11 11:11:14

Thank you all so much for your replies. It really means a lot!

Pagwatch - astute as always. You hit the nail on the head about us both being worried and what that potentially means. Yes, there are, I believe, a couple of cases of ASD in the family but it has only been diagnosed in a second cousin of mine (Aspergers, but with some physical traits too such as large head - not sure if the two are connected?). The other members are definitely 'quirky': one has had problems all his life (he's now in his forties), probably not helped by the constant disparagment of his father and other family members who labelled him early on as simply a bad, naughty, 'problem' child. The other has maintained a successful, long-term relationship with children but does seem to struggle in certain social contexts, has a lack of inhibition and can't deal with small talk or chit chat at all.

The other problem is that I am, by nature, a paranoid person. It's a horrible trait of mine. DH is not so bad, but definitely gets anxious and worries too much about DS (he is a terrible hoverer sometimes). I have probably riled my poor DH up by constantly commenting on things DS does, like "Oh, that's good eye contact, that's a good sign', or "Oh. That's not very good, I wonder why he is completely blanking us? That can't be a good sign...".

So no doubt DH is now on the look-out for all 'signs' positive and negative, as am I.

With regards to DS' behaviours, I don't think they are very jarring. That is, nobody has ever really picked up on them other than to say, "Oh, he's shy, isn't he?". That said, very occasionally he will like strangers making faces at him on the tube and will smile, although most of the time he will turn his face into his buggy and side-glance, occasionally looking back up at them only to do it again. We do notice and look out for these little side glances. He does look at us directly a lot as well, but sometimes, especially when tired and we've asked him to do something, he will look to the side and then move away on to something else. Likewise the head-tilting - when he does it it isn't too jarring, it's usually when he is already walking and seemingly not sure about what he wants to do next. I asked DH whether he would have noticed it had I not said anything, and he answered that he would have noticed it but probably not thought anything of it.

You are so right about that fear though. Sometimes I can feel the anxiety and fear rising up in my chest. The main thing we are afraid of is regression, particularly as I read it happens round about now. DS is so sweet and loveable, and we are horribly afraid that he will slowly distance himself from us and stop communicating, and that his unusual behaviours will increase in number and frequency. Our current financial situation isn't helping as we are stressed already, so we are both in the habit of fearing the future at the moment.

Pozzled: I try to take DS out every day to mix with other children. Much of the time it's with unfamiliar children at playgroups or the playground, but he has made a couple of 'friends' who we have begun to see in their homes and he seems completely at ease around them. He just doesn't seem especially interested in them, more in their toys! One of his friends of the same age was offering him carrot and he was quite happy to take it from him and eat it, but he didn't reciprocate the action to my knowledge. A couple of months ago, he did go up and give a spade to an older boy who was digging in the sand, but I don't think he's done anything like that since.

DodieSmith Sat 24-Sep-11 12:07:25

This reads as if you comment on your DS's behaviour in front of him, constantly judging.

ChippingIn Sat 24-Sep-11 12:19:51

PoRW - to me he sounds like a really lovely, perfectly normal toddler smile Ahead of a lot of toddlers if anything (counting objects/knowing letters).

It sounds like you are unduly (but understandably) worried about him because of the other people in your family.

I think you need to relax & enjoy him - stop analysing him smile Before you know it he will be at 'Big School' and his toddler days will be a fond memory - don't spoil them with too much analysis & worrying.

If you can't put it to one side, then go and see your Dr (not your HV).

AngelDog Sat 24-Sep-11 13:38:37

You've pretty much described my 20 m.o. (except for the head tilting, and he has more words) and it had never occurred to me that he was anything other than NT.

Your DS sounds lovely. smile I agree you are probably overthinking because of the people in your family - it's easily done and I've done it myself on other issues.

I think a lot of the issues around relating to people / new situations are more common with a more introverted type personality. I would describe myself as a mild extrovert but my DH is definitely an introvert. However, I can see a lot of my DS's wariness of other people / children / situations mirroring the way I respond in those sort of situations.

alana39 Sat 24-Sep-11 14:41:09

Sounds to me like a lovely toddler (mine has only just started walking at 22 months and has far fewer words, but he is my 3rd and I've worried about so many things with them all that I finally feel able to relaxsmile).

However, if you are worried I would talk to your GP or HV, whichever you get on best with. Hopefully they will put your mind at rest so that no matter how stressful life is at the moment you can still enjoy your little boy.

piprabbit Sat 24-Sep-11 14:59:11

I agree with lots of other posters that (as the mother of a 3yo DS), your concerns sound very familiar but your DS sounds pretty normal to me. I'm sure your HV will be able to advise you. You may also find that your local Children's Centre runs Speech and Language development drop-in sessions, when you can informally chat about your concerns.

In the meantime, have you read about play schemas? It's an idea that acknowledges that many children seem driven to play in repetitive ways. I found it very reassuring to know that it is quite a normal way to play. Schemas can seem odd (and a little boring) to an adult, but it basically seems to be a child's way of squeezing every possible learning experience out of a particular pattern of play. My DS used to make lines of things - cars, trains, crockers at mealtimes, shoes, bricks etc. I'd stumble across them everywhere around the house. He's grown out of it now, but seems to be moving into a 'what happens when I hit my sister with different objects' phase instead grin.

This is a useful introduction to the concept.

BlowHole Sat 24-Sep-11 15:03:57

Just let him get on with being himself, and try to support him in that. It sounds like you are trying to find something to worry about, and from my own experience (friend's child) I would say that you can end up creating problems for your child. Don't mean to sound rude, but you really need to relax.

Casmama Sat 24-Sep-11 15:11:08

I think your ds sounds totally normal. I do think you sound very anxious and when you mention that you and your dh have worries that you may be projecting on to your ds I think you may be right. I think you really need to back off as if you carry on constantly analysing and potentially pressurising your son it will be a very stiffling way for him to grow up.
I'm sorry if that sounds harsh as you clearly adore your ds and would not want to do anything in anyway detrimental to him but it may be worth speaking to your GP about your anxiety/

happygilmore Sat 24-Sep-11 15:33:54

Also sounds very normal to me. At that age they just don't know how to interact with other children, that doesn't come til around 2-3 years.

Scoundrel Sat 24-Sep-11 15:40:39

He sounds like a lovely little boy smile

I just wanted to say that the falling over thing, when my kids were very little I thought that they would grow out of falling over by the time they were twoish, but it turns out that they fall over with alarming regularity until they're about 10, so try not to worry about that aspect! grin

ballstoit Sat 24-Sep-11 16:03:38

Agree with all who feel your DS sounds fine. Possibly a little shy, but tbh it's quite an unusual under 2 who initiates communication with other children or responds to every smile or silly face for an adult. DD2 (2.3) is my sunniest and most outgoing, and she still ignores about a third of all communication from unknown adults, by putting her head down and closing her eyes.

I wonder too if Casmama has a's very understandable to worry about your much loved child, perhaps more so if he's your only's not normal for this worry to take over your enjoyment of spending time with DS and as a family. Your anxieties will be transmitted to DS and this may make him, in turn, less likely to enjoy social interaction.

Perhaps it's worth making a GP appointment for both of you, to talk through your concerns, both for yourself and DS.

Bink Sat 24-Sep-11 16:24:35

The thing you should ask yourself, and I think when you have asked it you will feel reassured, is "How is his social instinct?" - because that is the core of the difficulties you are feeling concerned about. In v broad terms, the autistic spectrum is about a missing (or in some way deficient) social instinct - it's not about types of eye contact/lack of eye contact/side glances/selective hearing/head-tilting/fascinations per se, or things you can consistently quantify like that. Children on the spectrum do of course present with 'red flags' like that, but they're red flags because of the social instinct problem that they demonstrate - so eg an autistic child might look you straight in the eye, but your instinctive expectation of 'recognition' or reciprocation just somehow isn't met in their look.

The thing that makes me think your son is a cautious little person but that his social instinct seems OK is the story about what he did when another child took his toy - he looked to you for reassurance - and when you used body language to reassure him, he understood. That's social instinct operating.

That's not to say that, as he gets older, you might find he has quirks and needs some bridging between him and the world. But it does sound as if he's got his social instinct in place.

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