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3 year old not interacting at nursery

(24 Posts)
susan198130 Mon 08-Feb-16 21:23:59


My son is 3 years old (3 years 7 months) and started nursery in September. He goes every morning for 2.5 hours.

He's always been quite a shy child. Today when I went to pick him up, the nursery wanted to have a chat with me about him. They said that if I'm happy for them to do it, they would like to refer him to a speech therapist as they are a little concerned about his interaction with other children. They said that he is such a good boy but so quiet, to the point that if they didn't pay him attention, they wouldn't even know he was there. She said that she thinks his language skills are ok but has concerns because he is due to start school in September and feels that he could be completely forgotten about if he continues like this.

She said he doesn't interact with any of the other children, will sit and play on his own and just goes into his own world completely, sometimes to the point where it's hard to even get his attention. They said that he can sometimes be like that even when he's not playing with anything. He does apparently skirt around the other children but never really engages with them.

I have friends with children of a similar age, although mainly girls and, apart from the more tomboyish ones, he isn't fussed with playing with them at all. If they come round, sometimes they'll play, chasing each other round, giggling and screaming, thoroughly enjoying themselves but other times, he'll just do his own thing.

I said that I'm happy for them to refer him if they feel that it could help as I have worried about his interaction with other kids myself but then just this Sunday, we went to the park and I saw a little boy who is in his nursery class. This boy kept looking at us and then him and my son went off playing on their scooters, giggling and chatting. I said to my husband that it made me really happy to see that as I haven't seen him interact with any of the other nursery children before.

He has a younger brother (he's 2) and they play together all the time, he also has cousins who he plays with.

We generally go to softplay every week or 2 and sometimes kids will approach him and he will play with them. To me, it seems that he retracts into himself when he's with a big circle of children.

I have wondered about his hearing at times but if I were to whisper to him "do you want some crisps", he'd hear that. He responds to his name and generally interacts really well with people he's close to, like family and close friends who he sees a lot of.

Do you think this is just shyness or do you think that it could be something a little more? I keep thinking about autism and asperbergers but everything else with him is fine. He makes good eye contact, talks ok (his speech isn't up to the standard of some his age but you can understand everything he says, he just sometimes gets stuck on what word to use in sentences). He's just a normal boy, aside from this socialising thing.

susan198130 Mon 08-Feb-16 21:26:29

Just to add, he does sometimes zone out when he's with me. To get his attention, I sometimes literally have to go face to face with him as he just gets so absorbed in what he's doing. I've joked to my husband that it's a man thing where he just can't multi task and clearly talking to me is far less interesting than what he is doing.

StuffEverywhere Mon 08-Feb-16 21:35:00

My son was like this, I think he has Asperger's traits but this is not confirmed (we've not done the assessment yet although we are considering doing it). He is 11 now and in some ways is much better (he has friends for example), but in other ways we have some new problems like biting nails and chewing jumpers (at 11y old!)

I think you can write your observations down and see whether at some point there are enough reasons to ask for Asperger's assessment. Nursery staff might not be clued up enough about it (you might get lucky and come across someone who is, but generally speaking they are not trained to know this stuff). GP or SENCO in school would know better.

susan198130 Tue 09-Feb-16 09:34:05

My son has started chewing his jumper!! Mind you, I used to do that as a child actually. Well his nursery are referring him for speech therapy and I've got an appointment with my health visitor about it at the end of March. She said that she can refer if she feels he needs any other help but then she was saying it can be a bit of a nightmare to get children seen. I described the issues my son is having and she said she has children that do have severe learning difficulties and really do need the help but some of them are being rejected as not needing help - which she says they most definitely do. So we'll see. I guess if we get the help sooner, the better the outcome but I'm just hoping it is a case of shyness.

Lweji Tue 09-Feb-16 09:42:48

He sounds a lot like my DS. He is 11 now.

I wonder if your DS really needs speech therapy. It sounds a bit like a cop out by the nursery people not to address his peculiarities. To me he just has a different personality and is probably more introverted than most children. Not necessarily a bad thing.

I also don't think he'll be forgotten in primary school. Not unless the teacher is crap.

My DS is quite happy to be on his own and his little world. What it has meant so far is that he is quite capable of concentrating in class and on what he is doing at school or other tasks. He gets good grades and enjoys learning.
Is doesn't make friends easily (i.e. within the first 5 min) but he has made friends and seems well liked by them. It just means that you have to be deserving of his friendship. wink
People tend to say he's very quiet, and he often needs reminders about answering people in social situations. That, it seems, stems from some anxiety, but exposure helps.

Lweji Tue 09-Feb-16 09:45:36

On the chewing, make sure to check his hearing first. DS used to chew everything. He still does it a lot, but it's better.
He has some glue ear, which can also affect his hearing and may explain how he's able to zone out better. It can also affect his speech, as with my niece, but not DS. With my niece it was noted much earlier on as she couldn't pronounce some sounds properly.

susan198130 Tue 09-Feb-16 11:02:24

I'll make a note to speak to my health visitor about this hearing or maybe I can take him to the doctors for this. He's only just started the chewing of his jumper.

There is a big part of me that thinks it is just his personality, that he's shy. I mean surrounded by 30 other children in a small environment when you're not used to being with that many children, I think I'd find it daunting, especially if he can't communicate as well as some of the others. We'll see I guess. It just makes me feel really sad to think that he doesn't have any friends but he's obviously quite happy as he literally runs into nursery, always the first one in. So that's the main thing I guess. As long as he is happy but anything I can do to help him I will do.

Lweji Tue 09-Feb-16 11:20:58

There is a significant difference between being shy and introverted.

Shy people would like to be with people but find it difficult to approach them.

Introverts choose not to be with people and only interact when they want to. If this is the case, you shouldn't be sad for him. It seems more this case, as he is happy to go and if he seems happy to do his own thing. Forcing him to interact with other children when he doesn't want to could, instead, make him unhappy.

susan198130 Tue 09-Feb-16 11:59:55

But I'm not forcing him. You can't force them to interact with other children. He does play with children though but he just seems to prefer one on one or when it's in a home environment.

Lweji Tue 09-Feb-16 12:12:18

Not saying you are.

Just saying that, for example, a shy child would probably welcome being introduced into some group activity by the nursery staff, as it would mean interacting with the other children, but they wouldn't have to approach the other children first.
Whereas an introvert would not necessarily enjoy it at all and might actually hate it or avoid it, being happy playing on his own most of the time or with minimal interaction.

susan198130 Wed 10-Feb-16 20:58:47

It just confuses me because shy or introvert, whenever I observe his interaction with other children whenever I'm with him, I'd have absolutely no concerns. Yesterday, we went to softplay with my friend and her little girl. My son needed to the toilet and my friend asked if I'd mind taking her little girl at the same time. So me, my son and my friend's little girl went to the toilet. My son and her daughter were running to the toilets both shouting "running running running" and giggling away, they played together at softplay. Not all the time but they still played. Then today, I took him to another softplay and he was in there playing with other children, I saw him approach one child who had some cars that he was playing with along the edge of the soft areas at the edge and my son was talking to him. He pretty much seemed to play with every child that was in there. He absolutely loves softplay so I'm wondering if he just doesn't have a connection with any of the children at nursery because they're not doing anything that he finds as fun as softplay or going to the park.

I'm just going to try and get him out more in the afternoons after nursery in social environments where he'll be around children he doesn't particularly know and see how he gets on.

Lweji Wed 10-Feb-16 23:13:56

It just confirms my impression that the nursery staff are not that great and have not taken the time to actually know him.

But, it may be worth to keep talking to them about everything and understand exactly what they are worried about and if they should really be worried or not.

NotNob Wed 10-Feb-16 23:27:42

Hello Susan.

Just place marking for now. I shall reply tomorrow as am currently experiencing an almost identical situation as you with my DS (3) with v similar thoughts.

Chislemum Thu 11-Feb-16 10:02:49

My son is similar too and only has "issues" in his nursery and is very scared of his teacher. I have started a similar thread. Hugs to you - I know how worried you are.

Sallyhasleftthebuilding Thu 11-Feb-16 10:06:50

If he has glue ear in one ear - it would explain the sometimes hearing sometimes not -

He may hear the pattern of your sentence and get what you mean -

susan198130 Thu 11-Feb-16 17:12:54

Today I went to my son's story time at nursery (they sometimes invite the parents along) and I just didn't get it. Ok, so he wasn't participating in all the actions to the story like the other children were (clapping their hands, clicking their fingers, making shushing noises) but I did hear him call out a few times in relation to the story and I could see that one of the staff there was acknowledging him but the manager there, who flagged my son's "issues" and said that he was so quiet, didn't even look his way and she must have been able to hear him. I heard him and he had his back to me. So a part of me now wonders if the staff spend too much time with the other louder children and it's the staff that almost forget about my son. Surely a child who doesn't interact and is so quiet to the point that you wouldn't even know he was there, wouldn't call out during story time?

I always find when we're out if he's reluctant to do something, a bit of encouragement usually helps him.

susan198130 Thu 11-Feb-16 17:15:07

Oh and I must ask about the glue ear when I see the health visitor. I think they can check the hearing, or I may just book a doctor's appointment in the meantime.

Lweji Thu 11-Feb-16 17:23:51

It seems like the staff are the ones with hearing problems and attention issues, then.

susan198130 Thu 11-Feb-16 18:29:20

There is a little boy at my son's nursery who everyone knows because he's a bit of a monkey. Nothing bad but he's just very loud, bossy, likes to be centre of attention. I think from speaking to friends, every nursery has that one child and the nursery manager seems to love him. The amount of times when I pick my son up that I see her come out and speak to this boy's mum to tell her what's done that day. I NEVER EVER see her do that to any of the other mums. So now it has got me wondering.

They said that my son is so well behaved and no problem whatsoever so maybe they don't spend enough time with him because they have other more boisterous children to sort. I guess I'll never know that for sure but the more I think about this, the more I think he's just shy at nursery.

NotNob Thu 11-Feb-16 19:58:18

I hope this works as have never tried to link a thread before. This is my current situation which is remarkably similar to your OP here

Oly5 Thu 11-Feb-16 21:05:02

I have a son who is 3.7 and enjoys both playing with others (as you describe your son doing with his siblings/some pals) and other times he much prefers to be on his own. Your son doesn't sound that unusual to me! l Also have to get on his level and look in his face when he's absorbed in something... He's oblivious to everything else! Isn't this just being 3? My son also chews his clothes a lot. He's a lovely, happy little boy. I'm not sure the staff on your case sound that great. It's ok to get him referred though as they will soon tell you if he has speech problems. But I'm not sure I would worry too much

susan198130 Thu 11-Feb-16 21:40:24

NotNob that sounds very similar to my son. I think he does have some sensory issues. Like yours, my son will only eat his dinner when it's practically cold. My youngest likes to copy everything my eldest does, so he'll often also tell me his food is too hot but then proceed to eat it. I just think he's so young. I'd feel a bit intimidated being surrounded by 30 other children at such a young age. It's like in adult life, some people are shy, others are extremely confident. There's nothing wrong with either.

Observing him today at nursery, ok so he didn't participate in the actions at story time but he spoke up a couple of times. He socialises with other children when I'm around (as far as I can see). To be honest, as I said before, I would have no concerns about his interaction. I know he's a bit shy sometimes and I know he likes his own company a lot but he seems to thoroughly enjoy playing with other children he's never met at softplay, especially if they have a toy car with them (he's always loved cars but then surely most 3 year olds do? I know my 2 year old is a bit obsessed with them and I have no concerns with him whatsoever, he is very sociable and is very much a leader when it comes to play).

But yes, I think that speech therapy will definitely do no harm so we'll see how that goes. I just can't help but wonder if his nursery need to show him more attention. They say they do but how do I know that? If he's so well behaved and no trouble, perhaps they feel he's the easy child that they don't need too much help with.

The nursery manager just said that she doesn't want him to fade into the background when he starts at school but surely it'll be different then? At nursery, they learn through play so just basically seem to play the whole time, whereas at school, it'll be structured, he'll be sitting next to someone so surely he'll form a bond? I just hope I'm worry about nothing but I'm going to express all my concerns to my health visitor as maybe they are more qualified to see any red flags in a child. But then, again as I said before, it seems like everyone is so keen to label a child who doesn't do everything they expect of a child their age. I mean my friend's little girl was eating with chopsticks at 18 months old! I still can't do that now and I'm 34 years old!!! She is one of those children that I'd consider almost abnormally advanced but they'll all catch up.

I know from what my mum tells me that I was very advanced. I remember being able to read at a very good level at 6 years old whereas my cousin who was 2 years above me in school had special needs in reading. He is now a journalist and highly intelligent. Far more intelligent than myself!

NotNob Thu 11-Feb-16 21:51:49

My DS also appears sociable when at soft play, more so than DS1 was at that age, it's odd, I do not feel in my gut that there is something fundamentally 'wrong' with him. I think he may have some sensory issues (oral fixation and temperature sensitivity) and he has a few quirks. But I could be completely wrong.

When nursery initially mentioned their concerns I was rather defensive. However, I am now convinced they just want to ensure he is supported if required. He has 18 months left until he starts school and any finding by the development team could be translated into plan which, should make his transition to school easier. Does that make sense?

susan198130 Fri 12-Feb-16 21:52:40

See my son starts school this September. I just think that all kids surely have their own little traits that might not be the norm for most kids of the same age. Like my son will NOT under any circumstances have a cover over him. If we're sitting downstairs, I generally will always throw a blanket over me (I'm one of those people who are permanently cold) but if I even put it over his feet, he'll kick it off.

I'm hoping that at school, it will be different. You will have to sit next to someone and surely they'll form a bond then? At his nursery, I assume it's the same for most, they learn through play so it's pretty much "do what you want" until tidy up time - which he does - and story time, for which he will sit down and listen. His nursery is rated by Ofsted as "outstanding" but my issue with them is that they don't provide any feedback unless it's concerns they have. He'll often come out with a sticker saying "well done" or "good behaviour" or something similar but I have no idea why he's got the stickers. And his nursery have such a tight turn around time - they have a morning and afternoon session (with just an hour in between each) so there's barely any time to speak to the staff.

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