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19 month old cries hysterically at strangers and people we know, also frightened of noises

(21 Posts)
jki1 Mon 04-Apr-16 14:08:43

I am worried about our 19 month old son and his behaviour with others. At home he's a usual toddler, gets stroppy if we dont do things he wants immediately although he can't talk yet so it's not easy figuring out what that is all the time. He has the odd tantrum too but that's normal and I can handle that. What I think is strange and worrying me a lot is how he acts with other people. He gets really hysterical and cries a lot at people who he doesn't know and people he does know. If we go out for a walk he will point at a dog but if the dog owner smiles at him he will scream. If my neighbour talks to me he will scream and cry. He hates going to the sure start groups but I have been trying to take him weekly for a few months to get him used to that environment with other children and adults but this morning he just got absolutely hysterical and I ended up bursting into tears too which is embarrassing and then I had to leave as he was upsetting other children! He has a good sense of humour and loves to play with my partner, me and my mum but won't interact with anyone else apart from my neice and nephew who he adores but doesn't see very often (they're 11 and 10). He also developed a fear of my hairdryer and has always been scared of the hoover and will cry if they are put on. Some people tell me its a phase but others worry me that it something more like autism and I am scared. I have contact the Health visitor to come and see him. Please can anyone help by telling me they are going through the same thing and more importantly anyone who has been through it and their child has got better. I am so stressed it is not helping him.

jki1 Wed 06-Apr-16 09:11:23

Is anyone having a similar problem please?

jeavcike Wed 06-Apr-16 09:24:23

I remember my dd was similar at that age. She still hates my dad!
She used to cry whenever anyone came to the house. She would cry at other people's houses. She hated going to the cafe or the shops. She was terrified on the train. She was afraid of the hand dryers in the public toilets. Dogs made her cry - she still cries and panics around giddy or barky dogs.

She grew out of it probably about a year ago. It was as though something clicked and she just developed confidence almost overnight but I don't know why. She's 3.7 now.

It used to stress me out too and I used to avoid going out because I didn't want her crying or screaming at everything. I'm sorry but I don't have any coping strategies because I didn't cope with it either. I just muddled through.

Eastie77 Wed 06-Apr-16 14:28:15

DD was the same. I still remember her crying hysterically when people smiled at her. Visiting friends was a nightmare as she melted down as soon as we walked into someone's house. Woe betide anyone who tried to pick her up. She began to slowly grow out of it (sorry I can't remember exactly when!) although she remains a bit shy to this day. She is now 2.9.

I know it's really stressful. I used to think my baby was the only one in the world who behaved like this. Try not to worry or feel embarrassed, your son's behaviour will seem much worse to you than anyone else and most of the mums at the play centre will be too preoccupied with their own child's antics to notice. I think as parents we stress a lot about behavior in our children that we think is not 'normal' and worry that other people will think the same. In reality, most people who see your son crying at a stranger will not think anything of it at all.

I'm sure the hairdryer fear is fairly standard. DD was scared of the noise too but is usually fine with it now, she does tend to leave the room when I switch it on though. She is terrified of hand dryers!

jki1 Fri 08-Apr-16 22:26:44

Thanks, it does make it easier to know you're not the only one but it's still awful. My best friend came round earlier and he screamed. It's making me a social outcast. Oh yes hand dryers are the scariest things to him too! Thanks for answering my post, at least I know there's an end eventually even though it feels far away 😭

cheapandcheerful Fri 08-Apr-16 22:35:33

My dd was exactly the same. Random hatred of some of our closest friends, used to freak out when strangers looked at her, age 2 would scream at and push any child who entered her personal space.

She is now a very sociable 5.5yo. She makes friends easily, interacts with adults (both strangers and those she knows) and despite the occasional tantrum is mostly well-behaved! Which is nothing short of a miracle considering what she was like as a toddler!

jki1 Sat 09-Apr-16 11:45:24

Thanks cheepandcheeeful, it's good to know it will change just wish it was soon!!

cheapandcheerful Sat 09-Apr-16 14:00:13

I think it slowly started to change once she was able to talk a bit more. We taught her things to say to people in specific situations, instead of screaming. Things like "Stop that please" and "Hello, what's your name?" and "I want my mummy".

jki1 Sat 09-Apr-16 15:04:31

He's not speaking yet and I definitely think he's frustrated by that so I guess that's a factor.

Caprinihahahaha Sat 09-Apr-16 15:11:02

My son had some of those behaviours and he is autistic.
The thing is though your son is probably just going through perfectly usual stages but the lack of speech is making it harder for you to help and calm him.

If these are the only concerns you have then I think just being patient will see the concerns disappear. But if you continue to have nagging worries, or if speech does not start to emerge, then go and talk to your GP.

It's better to talk to someone who can actually see your son rather than people on the Internet who can only guess because they can only go by your description.

If your son does have an autistic behaviours or has any other issues like speech delay then getting this identified as soon as possible can only help him.

My son was diagnosed just before his 2nd birthday and went to a nursery specifically for children with ASD which was an amazing support .

But it is probably nothing and you'll see these issues disappear in the coming weeks and months.

jki1 Sat 09-Apr-16 20:09:47

Thanks for your post, I agree I need to see someone so have made doctors appointment and should get health visitor coming soon. I do think that I'll have to watch and see what happens in the next crucial months regarding his development.

amarmai Sat 09-Apr-16 22:45:36

dogs and cats are not keen to be around hair dryers and vacuum cleaners as it hurts their ears. Have you had his ears tested?

lenibose Sun 10-Apr-16 06:50:54

Of my son's 4 year old friends the vast majority are frightened of hand dryers. So that's not unusual.
My son also hated playgroups/strangers etc. So we would prepare a lot. He may be non verbal but see if he can understand. So if someone was coming I would tell him beforehand, show him a photo of the person on my phone and prepare him. I would ask him to day 'Hello' and 'Bye' at the end (with gestures if necessary) and nothing else. So I would take the pressure off. My son then went through a stage where adults were fine (because they were predictable) but he was PETRIFIED of other children. He would go to a park and play by himself. If another kid approached him he would run away crying. Again we worked on it slowly. Individual play dates etc. He's still sensitive and much more so than other boys his age (ie won't let me read Sleeping Beauty because of the Bad Witch) but is a totally normal 4 year old with a ton of friends and is v social. In my son's case he has also been in childcare since 7 months and my childminder did the same as we did- introducing him to new people v gently.

Caprinihahahaha Sun 10-Apr-16 07:26:43


I think that's a really good idea - hopefully they will be able to reassure you.
I just remember the worst part of my realising that my son had issue was everyone around me say 'no, no no - he's fine!'
People think they are being kind but it just made me feel like I was going crazy and also that I must be horrible to be seeing problems with my son when no one else did.
The best support I had was in helping me to calm his fright and frustration.
I hope the appointment goes well.

mummytime Sun 10-Apr-16 09:12:26

My GPs have a philosophy that if a parent is worried, it is always worth having it checked. Ideally you will be referred to a paediatrician, maybe with hearing and other checks. It may be nothing to worry about, but it could be something where early treatment will give the best outcome.

BTW my DD was similar, and is a very sociable, high achieving pre-teen now - she is also diagnosed with Asperger's.

For now, try to reduce his stress. Get visitors to not crowd him. And try to go for short visits. Maybe toddler groups aren't going to work for you? Try short social situations, and gradually build up the length.

It will not be like this at 18, whatever the outcome. And for your own sanity, get DP or your Mum to babysit so you can socialise.

jki1 Sun 10-Apr-16 20:36:24

We had another bad meltdown today when we took him for lunch in a quiet country pub for my birthday. He got so hysterical DP had to sit in the car with him. I think it was because we met my aunt and uncle there and he didn't know them very well although he's seen them before a few times. I won't do that again in a while 😢 But yesterday he did really well when I took him to my friends house after 10 mins of crying he was interested in her baby and pets and even held hand of her 5 year old so that felt like a breakthrough.

DixieNormas Sun 10-Apr-16 20:45:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

jki1 Sun 10-Apr-16 21:33:29

Yes he's great at those things, he understands everything we say - he will take things to one of us if we ask and do what we say like fetching his shoes. He points at things all the time, claps and waves. He's really bright but doesn't say many words - just yes and dummy mainly! I asked him what cows say today and he's said moo a lot. I'm not so worried about that as I know children develop speech at different stages, it's more his interaction skills that bother me.

DixieNormas Sun 10-Apr-16 22:00:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mummytime Sun 10-Apr-16 23:13:38

Would he look for a toy that has disappeared from sight?
Would he be surprised if that toy wasn't where he'd seen it put?
If you put something somewhere odd (eg. His shoes in the linen cupboard) would he be able to show Dad (who hadn't seen) where his shoes were?
Do you spend a lot of time guessing what he is trying to communicate? Can anyone who is less used to him communicate with him? What if he can't see you? What if you can't see him?

Sltaylor1985 Mon 13-Nov-17 10:41:29

What’s your update? My daughter will be there in March and is exactly the same.

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