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question for moms of kids with adhd / learning difficulties etc.

(18 Posts)
Evita Wed 17-Dec-03 16:33:03

When do the variety of learning difficulties first show themselves in a baby? If any moms of children with ADHD, autism, etc. could tell me about their experience of this I'd be really grateful. Thanks.

Davros Wed 17-Dec-03 16:53:30

If I'd known what to look for I think my son's autistic behaviour would be have noticeable from about 3 months. Before that he screamed and didn't sleep which I think was also a sign that things were not right (I mean really to excess) but it was less specific. Examples are not making any eye contact, not following things with his eyes, not reaching out for things.

jinglesaur Wed 17-Dec-03 16:57:45

Evita, there is a thread called "Worried/Aspergers?" on which Jimjams posted a very long message which is, I think, the best summary I have ever seen of some of the "red flags". I am going to try and paste it in below, just in case you can't find the thread:

""Head down on the floor *is* a sign- but playing with toys properly (ie pushing train along and saying chuff chuff) is totally normal.

OK before I get into things that would worry me I will say that so far you haven't said naything that would particularly get alarm bells ringing but first a bit about diagnoses- At his age you really wouldn't see Aspergers (well it gets confusing and it's all semantics but the pros would be talking ASD unless you were in the States when you'd be PDD) What I'm trying to say is not to say "is he Aspergers/between Aspergers and normal/high functioning autism/ etc etc" because at 3 you would have no way of knowing. All you can do really is say "are there *enough* signs here to worry me?" (we're all abit on the continuum and all children will have some signs if you're looking at a checklist).

Ignore affection- it's irrlevent! There are autistic children who are very defensive about being touched, but every autistic child I happen to know is very affectionate. DS1 is far cuddlier than his peers and than his NT brother. So forget that entirely.

OK onto things that would ring warning bells. As a baby *either* very hard to please, always crying *or* extremely placcid. My ds1 was the easiest baby in the world. He was happy to spend a long time looking at ceilings! Very smiley, very sociable, very placcid.

Not playing appropriately. Rather than playing with a train, just looking at the wheels. As a baby maybe moving things from one pile to another. Lining things up (although ds 1 have never done this- much to the consternation of the clinical psych- and his most NT friend did it all the time). Maybe turning a ball over and over.

Manic laughter (!!) They all seem to do this! At 4 months ds1 heard his first pigeons and just killed himself laughing- really creased up like it was the most hilarious things in the world. DS2 has never laughed like that. He laughs but it doesn't have the manic edge! At 18 months DS1 would read books really intently and then turn then upside down and kill himself laughing all the way through (becuase they were upside down).

Being "moved" by music (especially classical). When the olympics were on the theme tune would make ds1 shake. He would stop and go rigid when he heard it.

Being obsessive about things like lights. Maybe they always have to be on, maybe flicked on and off. Obsessions about traffic lights. Absolute fear or absolute obsession with the hoover. DS1 used to pounce on the hoover and glue himself to it. He's now terrified of it and cries if I turn it on. But obsessed with them. if we see one in a shop or on tv or in a mag all we get is "mmdan mmdan" (hoover hoover).

The big big big one is pointing. Most NT childen develop pointing at around 12 months. And the important one is protodeclarative pointing- pointing out things of interest (as you mention above). DS1 does that- but not as often as ds2, and he's a bit vague about the direction he's poinitng in. It also developed later. (Although he had shared attention from a young age) Rather than point at something in a book. or something he wants he'll tend to take my hand and place it on the object (that's what the checklists mean by "using adult hand as a tool"

I think eye contact (especially with familiar people) is a bit misleading. Ds1's eye contact when he is relaxed is excellent, but when he's stressed non-existent. It's generally pretty good with adults, but if a child approaches him and he isn't sure what they want him to do he will totally blank them. It's incredible- like he hasn't seen them.

Finding copying difficult. You may have to actually teach things like drinking form a cup, using a spoon (I did- at 18 months). Couldn't believe it when ds2 just drank out of a beaker at 4 months. Still get a feeling of amazement when he does it now at 14 moths.

DS1 isn't bothered by change, isn't particularly fussed by routine. Hates shoes, haircuts etc. IME an autistic tantrum is something different form a usual toddler tantrum as it has a real "fear" behind it (not to say they don't have normal tantrums as well). But the intensity of one which has been kicked off by the autism- rather than just a stop is something else.

Imaginative play. If your son can pretend that a stick is something else, say a gun or a spaceship- then you have absolutely nothing to worry about. My son can't do that although he will play imaginatively with things like his teletubbies play set or dolls houses. I bought him a dolls office set the other day (computer etc) for his fort. He liked the swivel chair, but he twisted it and examined it upside down rather than pretending a soldier was sitting in it or something.

Other oddd things. Looking at things out of the corner of their eyes (that's a classic). Flicking things in front of their eyes (ds1 doesn't really do that but lots do) He does run a train station by the side of his head though.

DS1 likes other children, and likes being around them but will ignore them. If you say "A give so and so a kiss" he will do, but tends to keep away as much as possible. Like seeing friends though and would be really upset if I said we were going to see someone who was then out.

Um that's all I can think of really. Hope it's put your mind at rest! Things like an insistence on rouine would tend to go with an anxious child- not necessarily an autistic one (autism makes the child anxious which then leads to the routines- but you could just have the anxiety without the autism iyswim),

If youa re worried- have a chat to your HV. As he may have a language problem it may be worth getting a referral to SALT. Your nursery may be able to refer, your HV certainly can. I only say that as the waiting lists are so so so long- and you can always cancel if you don't need the appointment.

It may be worth trying to get hold of some stuff on the Hanen programme- it's good stuff and makes a difference. It was developed for childen with language/communication delay. I can't remember the name of their parent book, but I can find out. I think it's sold through Amazon. Hanen techniques really helped/help us, and their great for all degrees of problem.

Once again though I haven't really read anything in your message that would particularly set off alarm bells. Feel free to ask anymore questions. I've tried to give examples of things I know other autistic chidlren do, but I'll have missed out loads."

In answer to your specific question, yes I was worried about my DS1 by the time he was a year old.

What are you worried about with your DD? I know you have posted about her high-pitched/squealy cry before - what else?

Jimjams Wed 17-Dec-03 17:16:00

not reaching. Also being really cack at rolling apparently. Although both mine have been a bit clueless at rolling but only ds1 is autistic.

The big one for communication disorders is no pointing out things of interest by 18 months. Also difficulty in following a point. Pointing starts to develop around 12 months (first in repsonse to where's the..., then for things they want (or those 2 may be the other way round) then to things of interest).

santafio2 Wed 17-Dec-03 17:20:42

Evita, I have seen you post before worrying about your daughter being not 'normal' - sorry to use this word. If you are really that worried that there is something wrong and your health visitor is good, why dont you speak to her about it? I always had feelings that my daughter was developing as she should but never really raised my concerns. Then when I did to my HV I got a referal to a development paed at the CDC and found out the truth. If you spoke to someone else it would most probably either put your fears to rest or finding out the truth. From your other messages though it does appear that you daughter is developing normally. Sorry if this message is blunt. I just wish somebody had pushed me into seeking help earlier with my dd, instead of keep saying there was nothing wrong.

coppertop Wed 17-Dec-03 18:25:43

With hindsight ds1 was different from birth, when he refused to be fed for his first week. I now know this was because his mouth is so sensitive. He never bothered to point at things he liked or wanted. If someone else pointed he would look at their finger. He sometimes does this even now at 3yrs 6mths. He also seemed deaf. He didn't respond to his name often either. The first time the HV took notice was when he was still silent at 2. It was the SALT who actually referred him to a Paediatrician. He now speaks but speaks about himself in the 3rd person, eg "*ds1* go shop". He doesn't often line things up but likes straight lines. He will also look out of the corners of his eyes at unfamiliar things. Oh, and his favourite saying is "SHUT DOOOOOOOR!"

Evita Thu 18-Dec-03 16:07:12

jinglesaur, thanks for copying that post for me, it was really interesting.

santafio2, what is wrong with your daughter? Actually I have spoken to the health visitor but she's completely vague and not much help. She just says as my daughter's 8 month check was ok (she's 14 months now and changed a lot since then) she didn't think I should be referred anywhere. I don't want to worry unnecessarily and I confess to being a worrier. But I just feel something's not quite right, it's the way in which my daughter gets upset that seems totally different to any other child I see and other people have commented on it too. She can't seem to manage physical contact, when I try to handle her she bashes my hands away and really cries. Her eating is absolutely dreadful too and is totally focused on her refusing things because of their texture. I don't know, maybe she's just extremely sensitive. She does point at things all the time and makes a lot of eye contact and is quite chatty but not with a recogniseable word yet which I know is normal. I must sound like a neurotic mom but I am worried and I do see a lot of other kids and there's no doubt that she's very different in her general behaviour and ability to cope with frustrations, contact, tiredness etc.

Jimjambells Thu 18-Dec-03 16:14:52

Evita- Have you read "the out of synch child" by Kranowitz? It describes symptoms of sensory integration disorder- when senses by be hypo or hypersensitive.

If you want to be referred on- push. Try your GP maybe. You know your child better than any HV, and being concerned and noticing differences does not make you neurotic!

Evita Thu 18-Dec-03 16:17:36

I did try the g.p. actually but he'd already been spoken to by the hv and said unless I had a v. specific concern they would not refer me. I'll check out that book, thanks. Sounds v. interesting.

Jimjambells Thu 18-Dec-03 16:37:33

different gp? Or you could refer to SALT (I think you can self refer- so that a language assessment is made at least).

Evita Thu 18-Dec-03 16:42:38

What is SALT?

santafio2 Thu 18-Dec-03 17:49:18

Evita SALT is speech and language therapy. As for my daughter, she has no formal diagnosis - she is four. She was just different from day 1 but at the time i didnt know she was my first. She has a moderate global development delay, that is what is down on paper - but we are having further tests at the moment so we shall seee what that brings.

Please dont worry. I was worried. But if your daughter does turn out to have special needs, it isnt the end of the world. I dont think she does though

Agree with jimjams to get anyone to listen to you. YOU HAVE TO BE PUSHY!!!!!

coppertop Thu 18-Dec-03 17:58:04

Evita - ds1 also has problems with food textures etc. His mouth is very sensitive. Did your dd ever mouth things? Does she hate having her teeth brushed?

santafio2 Thu 18-Dec-03 18:00:20

got to say mine HATES her teeth brush and was very late to eat lumps, textured food - infact food was a BLOODY nighmare

not now though - so there is hope

Evita Thu 18-Dec-03 21:36:43

coppertop, funnily enough my daughter mouths everything. But when it comes to food she's beyond belief. Basically if it's warm, dry, soft, she might put it to her mouth. If not she touches it with a finger, pulls a face (even cries sometimes) and gets it as far away from her as possible. And she hates having her teeth brushed and has never let me or anyone put our fingers anywhere near her mouth. What does this mean by the way?

santafio2. What does it mean that your daughter has 'moderate global development delay'? And how does this affect her. What made you think she was 'different from day 1?' Sorry to ask so many questions I just have no-one to talk to about this or compare notes with.

coppertop Thu 18-Dec-03 21:47:06

Evita - sometimes if the mouth is really sensitive a child will use it to 'touch' things in the same way we would use our sensitive fingertips. If the mouth is too sensitive, even the softest toothbrush will feel like a wirebrush. Ds1's mouth is strictly off-limits to us.

santafio2 Fri 19-Dec-03 11:10:09

a global development delay means she is delayed in ALL areas of her development. Moderately affected, although i think this is going towards severe, i dont know how they class it anymore.

My dd had problems mainly with gross motor skills to begin with ie. rolling, sitting, crawling, walking, getting up and down stairs, riding a bike etc But now she is late to talk, feeds messily, etc she is 4.

When she was your dd's age she couldnt crawl, coouldnt feed herself, had no volcabulary etc

I think from what you have said your dd sounds nothing like mine. I just never realised my dd was having problems because she was my first, it was only when i had my second i realised what a world away she was from what she SHOULD have been doing. Does this make sense?

Evita Fri 19-Dec-03 16:45:24

santafio2 yes, that makes sense. It must be hard for you - do the difficulties affect her life in very many ways? You're right, my daughter doesn't display any slowness in the sense of gross motor skills. She never crawled but is walking quite well and uses her hands quite well too. She doesn't have any 'real' words yet but I know it's still very early. I think her problems are more to do with attention and emotions. Her fuse is incredibly short and it really does feel as though she gets completely overloaded by v. small things v. quickly. She's v. jumpy and nervy and the slightest little sudden noise makes her leap out of her skin and burst into tears. She's also very shy of people and hates being touched. And she won't eat. This week's been the worst ever which is probably why I'm getting worried again.

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