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ASD in almost 4 year old?

(5 Posts)
Swearwolf Tue 20-Sep-16 21:08:09

I'm just hoping for a bit of advice or reassurance about my boy, who'll be 4 at the end of the month. Since he was born I've been loosely keeping an eye out for signs of aspergers or similar as there's a lot of it in my male relatives, so I may well be reading too much into his behaviour.

He's a very bright boy (I know everyone on mumsnet seems to say that, but he really is), has been reading fluently for a while now, was counting quite early, good grasp of some of the more complicated children's games etc etc. He does have lots of energy and is very physical, he loves the preschooler sport club we signed him up to but it's difficult to get him to pay attention.

He's always been happy playing alongside others rather than with them, he'll then go home and talk about how much fun he had playing with his friends. He does play with other kids, but is often happier doing his own thing, even though he's always desperate to see people. In big groups it's especially noticeable, as he gets a bit nervous and would rather play on the edges than join in, at parties and suchlike.

The thing that gets DH is that he gets obsessed with certain tv programmes, characters, toys or games and will want to play them all the time. I think this is just how 3 year olds play, but he thinks we should be discouraging it. He also doesn't seem to be too creative, he'll get ideas for games from other children or things he's seen on tv, rather than inventing them from scratch himself.

I was talking to his preschool teacher earlier about his reading and she was saying how remarkable it was, and I said that I just hoped it wasn't a sign of anything else, and she said that actually she had noticed a few things and that she'd keep a closer eye on him and maybe we can talk about it. She's an experienced teacher and I guess I trust her judgement.

I guess my questions are, does this sound like he could be on the spectrum? If it does, how should we approach things like his obsessive playing and behaviour? I guess if it is, I want to make sure we can help him as early as possible, or not help him exactly, but know how to respond to him in a way that helps him understand other people and socialise, I would hope with early intervention we might be able to avoid the kind of experience my poor brother had growing up.

Sorry this was long!

ThatsWotSheSaid Tue 20-Sep-16 21:15:09

This probably doesnt help but he could be on the spectrum and equally he could just be advanced in some areas (literacy, IQ etc) and a little behind in others (socially etc). The only person who can make it any clearer is a professional. They will ask you questions about his sensory profile, his social skills and his flexibly and imagination. So if he was my boy these are the things I'd be making a point of observing.

Swearwolf Wed 21-Sep-16 10:31:09

Thank you, that does help, it kind of ties with exactly what I'd been thinking. I think his flexibility is good, something that had made me think it was maybe just his personality, he's always been very adaptable and flexible with routines etc. Sensory-wise, he is terrified of hand dryers as they're noisy and surprising and he doesn't know the noise is coming, and bouncy castles as they're quite overwhelmingly noisy. But lots of preschoolers and toddlers hate hand dryers, so it's hard to know.

Do you think I should try and get him assessed in case he does need a little specialist help?

Kleinzeit Wed 21-Sep-16 19:46:44

Like that’swotshesaid, I agree that it’s hard to tell at this stage if it’s an ASC or just academic abilities that are a bit ahead of age and social development that’s a little bit behind age and that will catch up. Sorry if that’s not very helpful!

My DS does have an ASC (diagnosed age 6) and one thing I’m fairly sure about: your DS should play in whatever way he enjoys. That’s equally true whether he has an ASC or not. Your DS’s “obsessions” are his relaxation and his fun. By all means introduce other things that he might not think of doing himself, simple role play or ball games or whatever, but keep them short and if he doesn’t enjoy them don’t push them. Let him be himself, trying to stop him will only cause stress and behaviour problems.

Your DS may struggle a bit with things like turn taking and accepting ideas from other kids on how to play. Those are skills you can - gradually and in very small steps - encourage and practice with him as he grows up.

Might be worth waiting a bit to see what the teacher says before trying to get assessments. The school would probably be asked to report as part of the assessment anyway, so it would be good to know what she thinks before you go ahead.

ThatsWotSheSaid Thu 22-Sep-16 13:12:58

The thing about ASD is there isn't a blood test. It basically comes down to a group of experienced people deciding if he meets certain criteria. I don't think I've meet anyone who doesn't have some sensory/flexibility/social issues. When a child is boarder line it can be very tricky to diagnose and it may not always even be necessary. Mostly a child will be given therapy and additional support based on deficit. If he has a lot of social problems you could get specialist SALT if he has sensory issues that interfere with his daily living (attention in school etc) if your very lucky you may be able to get OT. If he is having melt downs and behaviour problems you may additional school support in school. But its usually hard to get these things even when a child has a very high level of need.
Saying that I would always fight to get assessment and therapy. It can be a postcode lottery so you could get lucky and then if he doesn't meet the criteria to get a diagnosis the advice and help will be beneficial.

You could look up sensory processing disorder for ideas and strategies to help him with sensory integration. I would encourage him to socialise with children who are more like him. Is there a group where there are older children that might be more on his level?

It easy to say but try not to worry. The world is a far more autism friendly place than it used to be. There are many many successful people who have autistic traits. Some times in a society full of neuro typical people having the ability to think differently can be beneficial. As he may already proving with his fantastic literacy skills. I'm not diminishing the genuine struggle of lots of people with ASC but it isn't always all negative.

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