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DS doesn't like other children

(23 Posts)
nancerama Fri 28-Jun-13 19:49:10

DS turned 2 a couple of weeks ago. He's a lovely boy, most of the time. Developmentally, I think he's coming on well. He walks almost everywhere, his language skills are developing well, he is (finally) eating a good range of foods, and he sleeps well most nights.

My big concern is that he is extremely antisocial with other children. He is polite and charming to adults, but he hates being in the company of other children.

I'm a SAHM, but have made a point of taking him to baby and toddler groups almost every day since he was a few weeks old to ensure that he doesn't miss out on socialising with other kids, but he doesn't want anything to do with them and almost always chooses to be doing whatever activity no one else is doing (being in the sandpit in the rain, being the only one indoors on a sunny day). Sometimes we get to groups and he decides it's "too loud" and demands to go home.

He seems incredibly sensitive to noise and gets upset by cars starting, has a complete meltdown if he so much as sees a Hoover.

I see other children his age playing side by side one another nicely and although I know it's too early to expect him to play with other children, is it normal for him to seek to avoid other children?

DH thinks I'm worrying over nothing and thinks he's perfectly normal, if a little sensitive about certain things. I'm just very aware that he'll be starting Pre-school in a years time and I want him to be prepared and not terrified by being surrounded with other noisy children.

AllIWant85 Fri 28-Jun-13 20:50:32

Could he possibly have a sensory issue? Some children can be noise sensitive. Maybe see your GP if you are concerned?

It could just be that he prefers his own company (or that of adults).

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Fri 28-Jun-13 21:14:47

when you say his language is coming on many words does he have? Also, when he plays at home, does he play with you? Simple games I mean such as peekaboo or hiding things...or having a picnic with bears or whatever?

nancerama Fri 28-Jun-13 21:18:38

Thank you. I think it would be a good idea for us to visit the GP. In fact I think his sensitivity to noise is getting worse. There are a couple of his toys that make a revving noise that he's always been fine with, but that have really started freaking him out.

Now I think more about it, he absolutely hates getting anything on his hands. He'll freak out if wet sand sticks to his hands in the sandpit. When they do jelly play at play group he runs a mile. Until recently eating was terrible too. He didn't really want anything to do with solids until he was 14 months old and displayed a fear of many textures. I tried to address this with health visitors at the time but was given a dressing down for "spoiling him with milk" hmm

nancerama Fri 28-Jun-13 21:23:01

He has about 250-300 words. Knows all his colours, can count to 12 and knows his alphabet. He speaks in 2 and 3 word sentences now. Of his peers, I would say the number of words and communication skills are average. Some speak much better, but others are practically wordless. His obsession with letters and numbers is quite unique though.

He adores playing peekaboo and hide and seek. He hoots with laughter when I pretend to look for him. He loves playing with his train set and will build towers of blocks. Has little patience with craft type things, but we are getting there with paint. He even let me put some on his hands this week.

bump6 Fri 28-Jun-13 21:51:12

Hi, how is your ds if his routine is changed?

nancerama Fri 28-Jun-13 22:00:50

I would say he's pretty adaptable to change. He has a loose routine, but doesn't get too perturbed if things get mixed up a bit. There are certain books that have to be read every day and they have to be read in a certain way, but I nothing out of the ordinary, I don't think.

bump6 Fri 28-Jun-13 22:15:21

I have a couple of friends which have children on the autistic spectrum..
to be honest I would say that your ds is showing some signs of the spectrum..
It is a huge spectrum so I really don't want you to panic.
I could be wrong.
you can take on line tests to see if it might be possible, especially as your health visitor was so negative to you.
People on the spectrum are very sensitive to noise, taste and textures.
Like I said I don't want you to panic, but didn't want to read and not reply.

nancerama Fri 28-Jun-13 22:36:35

bump, you've confirmed what's been at the back of my mind for a while. Having had such a rotten time with the health visitor in the past, I've not really know who to speak to about this and as he's only just turned 2 it's hard to know what is toddler behaviour and what isn't.

DH thinks I'm bonkers and thinks that DS is entirely normal, but superior to other children. I don't think 2 year olds have a feeling of superiority!

bump6 Fri 28-Jun-13 22:55:10

sending hugs to you. I work in child care, if I hadn't or hadn't had friends with children in the spectrum, I would have been clueless, so I I guess that's where your dh is.
is there a different healthcare person you could talk to?
if not try gp. Or even the autistic help line.
you are a fantastic mum to be aware that you feel something isn't quite ok. At the end of the day, us mummy's do know best, despite what hv tell us!
If you think all is not as you think it should then simply make them listen.
Hope this is of some help. X

CreatureRetorts Fri 28-Jun-13 22:59:07

Have you tried him on playdates? My ds didn't play with kids at playgroups - I found them horrid. But he was better in smaller situations. He didn't play with kids until a bit older (3 ish) which is normal

bump6 Fri 28-Jun-13 23:02:17

Creatureresorts, you say you found the kids horrid? Not being funny, but if your ds wanted to play with them, then surely he would have.•

LastOrdersAtTheBra Fri 28-Jun-13 23:34:49

The trouble is that a bunch of strangers on the internet aren't in a position to judge, sometimes that niggling feeling is the first indication something is wrong, sometimes it's just mummy paranoia.

Your DS does sound similar to my DS1 at the same age (he's just turned 5 now), but more sensitive to noise. DS1 didn't really have much interest in playing with other children, we spent a lot of time with one of my friends and her little girl, DS1 would play with her when it was just the 2 of them, but always seemed a bit lost in big groups and if a 3rd child was around was always the one left on the sidelines.

He never really seemed to enjoy preschool and by his second term at school we had an educational psychologist meeting because there were a list of concerns (which could have read as a list of symptoms of autism - avoidance of eye contact, lack of organisation, panic if he couldn't find something or wasn't sure what to do next, lack of interest in other children, etc). We don't have any definite answers yet, but if he is on the autistic/aspergers spectrum he is at the very high functioning end. He is starting to make friends and play more with others, his teacher has been brilliant at encouraging him socially and giving him coping strategies for the things he worries about.

I think a lot of people will immediately say your DS shows obvious signs of autism or that he's just a sensitive soul who will be a late bloomer socially, based on their own experiences. I've had both extremes when I've asked similar questions about DS1 and the truth is probably somewhere in between. DS1 certainly isn't quite 'normal' but he is an amazing and interesting child, he moved on from letter/number obsession to geography, loves flags, maps and facts about countries.

LastOrdersAtTheBra Fri 28-Jun-13 23:37:54

bump - I think creature is saying she found playgroups horrid, not the children at them! Playgroups can be noisy and overwhelming even for an adult (we go to one which is in a very echoey hall, it's great when it's quiet but deafening on busy weeks) and it's easy to see why quiet children can find them a bit much.

CreatureRetorts Sat 29-Jun-13 06:26:56

Sorry - Playgroups were horrid. They are really for the parents to socialise. Chucking a load of kids in a room and not quite enough toys they all want to play with is not great.

Children don't play with other children properly until 3ish.

JellyMould Sat 29-Jun-13 06:38:41

Good post LastOrders! My boy was pretty uninterested in others till about 6 months ago, and I'm pretty certain it was an age thing rather than an autism thing. Impossible for us to know about your boy though OP. ask the GP for a referral.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Sat 29-Jun-13 08:41:42

I do agree about the Mother's intuition that lastorders mentions. HOwever....I would be cautious. My DD is now almost 9 and she had a couple of red flags for Autism as a toddler.

She was extremely articulate, could speak in long sentences at 18 months...she was very, very quiet around other playing side by side at all when she went to toddler groups. She also had the sensitivity to noise nd would freak out at hand dryers and hoovers.

I sent her to a small private school as a way of dealing with her fear of large groups, I just could not see her in our local 2 class state.

At private school, there were only 15 in her class and the HT did share some of my concerns but she was of the mind to let things be for a while as DD wasn't struggling academically and had made some friends,..this was when she was 4.

It took that her first year there from the age of 3, she spoke to not one single adult...only children....and then she was very passive.

By the time she was 5, she had flourished...still quirky....but very popular and happy.

I moved her when she was 6 to a different local state and now...she's coming up 9, her state school listened to my story when they took her in and watched carefully (this is an outstanding school with excellent SN provision) and they came to the conclusion that she's very bright and absolutely fine.

The SENCO said "If she is on the Spectrum then it's right at the edge....and it's not affecting her at all."

And I agree.....she needs no help at all. Good at sports, great at Literature and art...happy kid all round. I think if she had gone to a state nursery and preschool they would have been on her like a tonne of bricks...and she MAY at that time have met the criteria for HFA....but she doesn't now.

I suppose a DX could have been withdrawn...but it depends on whether a child will benefit from a a busy state a DX could be very useful as most state schools don't have the time to dedicate to a child that DD had in that small private school.

nancerama Sat 29-Jun-13 09:25:32

That's the thing, he's only 2 and children develop at such different rates and toddlers can all be strange, fussy little creatures. I don't want to seek out an unnecessary label for him, but I do want to make sure he gets effective help if he needs it.

Years ago I did some work with children with autism and children with special needs in care, so perhaps I am being over cautious and spotting traits that are normal(ish) in a 2 year old but that wouldn't be normal in the 9 year olds I was working with.

To cap it all off, our GP surgery has just been outsourced to a private company by the NHS. All the GPs have left and the replacements don't seem to be too great. I suspect I will indeed be told I'm a paranoid mum.

Startail Sat 29-Jun-13 10:11:23

DD1 didn't/doesn't do other children even at 15 she has a few very special friends and that's it.

At toddlers/preschool she wandered of to be by herself, do her own thing.

Never had many friends at primary and was always the outsider.

She's not autistic, she does empathy and total chaos perfectly happily, she certainly isn't afraid to break rules.

She just doesn't care about fitting in. Partly this is because she really doesn't care. Partly it's because she doesn't know how to.

She's dyslexic and I suspect that carries with it difficulties in recognising faces, noticing body language and remembering names, just as it does remembering spellings.

I suspect she doesn't react to other children quite as they expect. I guess there's a touch of the dyslexic/dyspraxic cross over in this. DD1 is hopeless at running and catching, but rides a bike and swims like a fish.

Her writing is awful, but her sewing and soldering (geeky house) are beautiful.

At two all you can do is watch and wait. You can't jump to conclusions or be totally complacent either. I think you just have to enjoy your DS and not stress too much.

Diagnosis are useful at school, but you need the right one.

( DD1 didn't get hers to Y6 when it was oblivious from Y1, but that's a whole other thread.)

LastOrdersAtTheBra Sun 30-Jun-13 22:41:01

To some extent it doesn't really matter if your GP is rubbish as all they can do is refer you on to a paediatrician, a supportive GP does help but they don't really do much more than pass you on. Even the ed psych we saw wouldn't attempt to diagnose anything, but would refer you on to someone who could, if necessary (which so far it doesn't seem to be).

It's worrying having that niggling feeling that something is wrong but not being certain. A lot of perfectly normal 2 year olds have issues with sound, texture and sociability, or it can be a sign of other issues. It's so hard to tell at this age, particularly when it's probably borderline anyway (playing peek-a-boo etc sound like good signs that if there are issues they're likely to be at the higher functioning end).

Can you do things your DS might find easier, like just having one child round to play, or going to a fairly quiet park instead of noisy playgroup? See how he gets on in situations which are easier for him.

totallynaive Mon 01-Jul-13 06:04:41

Your son sounds very much like mine, and I don't think mine is at all likely to be on the autistic spectrum. I'll explain why in the course of drawing some comparisons with yours, so this may sound like a paean to my DS, but I think it's important not to overlook the good stuff.

Mine is very sensitive to hoovers, hairdryers, handdryers in public toilets, things that beep in hospitals, etc. We had to stay in hospital for a week after his birth and all the staff commented that he was extremely alert and very sensitive to his surroundings, especially noise (e.g. unpleasantly startled if spoon dropped in distant cubicle). But he started to smile, make eye contact and laugh very early. He had real tears from the off.

He tries to wrangle guarantees out of me that no children will be there before we go to the playground. He has always, even since being a newborn, screamed his head off if I tried to take him to an NCT coffee where there were other babies. I've had to take him out of baby swimming, baby drama, baby singing, baby everything, after only a few terrible experiences (for me and the other parents) at each. Like you, I do persist in trying to socialise him with playgroups etc., but it no longer bothers me that we have to leave early when it's clear to him he's expected to take part in anything organised. I just trust him, as he is genuinely upset if forced into a social role, and there's really no benefit to him developmentally in this; he'll have plenty of time, and doesn't have to be the perfect team player pre-school. He has reached an accommodation with other children, but does see them as a different species. He's kind by nature, but now knows that they are liable to want to play with all the same stuff as him. There is the occasional toddler he gets on with just about, but his preference would always be for adults.

He has started to get worried about mess on his hands and want to wash them much more. This is a phase I've seen other toddlers get to at his age, and I don't think it means anything. I leave a tub of water next to the sandpit so he can clean his hands and his toys. He doesn't want to do fingerpainting, but loves painting with a roller or a thick brush. He adores splashing bathwater all over us.

My DS is bright too, in similar ways to yours. He is also very emotionally expressive, very loving and very sensitive to my feelings, particularly the ones I've tried not to show him. (Overheard by my DP just after I got some bad news the other day and thought I was acting normally: DS going downstairs, making me a pretend meal and saying: "Mummy, you alright? Don't worry, Mummy. Here breakfast".) He loves to play peekaboo, do animal noises, turn himself and the rest of the family into the robot/duck/penguin family with appropriate noises/body actions. He has a special growly voice he uses when he's pretending to be a builder and fix things (generally by banging them very hard). He has been into imaginary play since he was about 15 months old and loves giving his animals tea, tucking them into bed, etc. He interacts well with adults he trusts. He is very inventive and makes up in-jokes and has us in stitches. So I have absolutely no worries there.

What gave me a lot of confidence in him from early on was googling all of this and discovering that a proportion of children just have this personality type. It has been labelled as "highly sensitive child" ("HSC" for short if you're putting in a search term) and you'll find lots of references on MN to parents who have an HSC (some from me, I imagine). It does not mean that your child is autistic. Children like this do have a tendency to be bright (though they need the right educational setting to let them be themselves or they can get crushed because they're pretty emotional and can take criticism badly). They're often stubborn and individual and seem to like being this way, and may seem demanding and difficult to others, but that is just part of the package of being overall a very charming, kind, empathetic little person.

I would highly recommend reading "The Highly Sensitive Child" by Elaine N. Arun, if only because it will help you find the patience to just let him be himself, and the confidence to like him without worrying about his not being "normal" as his personality unfolds with age. It also gives tips about what you could do instead of doing the stuff that works with other people's children, which is particularly important at this age as everyone around you starts doing things based around rewards and punishments, which because of your DS's sensitivity and intelligence may be a blunt instrument.

FrustratedSycamoresRocks Mon 01-Jul-13 07:16:48

Hi OP, I think it is very hard to see things that are "different" in your child and have no help from health visitors.
And the best people to diagnose are the triad of professionals needed to make a diagnosis.

I have 1 child with autism and 2 without, i could pick behaviours up in all of them that are traits, and other behaviour that are definitely not.

From your posts, I would be hard pushed to say "yes that is clearly autism" or "no that's not autism at all"

He does sound like he is hypersensitive to sounds, and has some issues around food.
Although at 2, I wouldn't be worried about social interactions or wanting to be part of the crowd as it were. I know plenty of reception age children who struggle to play with others and they don't have autism.
I could describe my dc with autism to you and we'd both question whether our dcs were or weren't.

Autism is such a big spectrum and no 2 children with autism are the same. I would recommend that if you think your ds does have autism (and you know your child the best) then push to get answers from medical professionals.

FrustratedSycamoresRocks Mon 01-Jul-13 07:59:11

totallynaive my dd with autism is almost the total opposite to your ds, she loves being dirty, would happily paint herself rather than the paper, has no food issues, no noise sensitivities. at 2 she would verbally stim - repeat the same noises over and over, was non-verbal other than these noises. And would line things up when stressed.

Had, and still does have amazing imaginative play, but only on her terms, and often very repetitive. She would play alongside other children, but only as long as they didn't enter her "bubble" but she could invade theirs.
She can be very self insulated and entertain herself for hours.

Everything had to be on her terms, and she would refuse to engage with anyone who didn't agree to her terms. Which, despite her being very bright, lead to her completely failing her 2 year check, and every other "traditional" developmental check since.

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