"Unusual" DD nearly four, should I worry?(16 Posts)
I am worrying about my nearly four year old daughter. She is my eldest and I am really not sure how much is her age and how much is her being "different" - and if the latter, what to do about it. She seems quite unusual in her peer group - more highly strung, intolerant and nervy. I am looking for some advice as to whether this is "just" a variant of the standard pre-schooler complexity, or whether it feels like something I should be consciously managing (perhaps thinking about some sort of assessment in due course?). I am generally a fairly chilled out parent- there is just a nagging doubt that she is a bit unusual and I wonder whether she may need extra support. I should say she is wonderful - creative, funny, caring and a fab little person...but being her mum is exhausting at times. Sorry for the long post - just want to give a full picture. Some observations...
-fussy about clothes. Tends to only want to wear her current "favourite outfit" (which changes every couple of months). Tolerates nursery uniform ok. Gets stressed out if clothes get slightly wet or dirty and wants them changed straight away.
-dislikes parties. Hates entertainers. Wants to do free play with a helium balloon not sit and watch magic tricks etc. Finds parties too noisy. After a while says she is bored and wants to leave. (None of the other kids seem to be like this). Copes ok if given 121 adult company. Generally intolerant of new/busy places.
-hungry for adult attention all the time. Won't play alone at home. Won't really play with other kids at play dates unless I sit with them and "facilitate". Separates fine for nursery but at home can't bear being in same room as adults who are having a conversation not about her- comes and interrupts, more than peers do.
- very slightly "off" in social interactions - doesn't seem to have real friends at nursery (though friendly with all and seems well enough liked). Plays well with her younger brother (2 years old) though tends to be controlling and a bit selfish as I guess you would expect. Doesn't seem all that interested in her nursery peers (e.g. took a long time to learn their names). With adults makes "random" remarks that ignore conversational flow. At nursery has a tendency to interrupt/not wait her turn.
-catastrophises everything. When something isn't how she expects it is always a big problem. She gets sad/angry. For example if wrong colour mug. Can be several times a day. "Tantrums" are not terrible (just crossness/crying, no lying down, kicking etc).
-very advanced speech with complex vocabulary and adult turns of phrase used naturally and confidently.
-overall doing "well" at nursery and they haven't mentioned concerns except a tendency to interrupt and being slightly a loner. They think she is confident (?!)
-eats and sleeps very well
So... am I over-reacting and PFBing (is that even a word?)? Or is there likely to be something else going on beyond just being three years old? In many ways of course it doesn't matter, but it feels relevant to things like school choice and to how much "extra" support to give her with some of this.
Really open to thoughts of any kind. I know there are many wise heads here. Have hesitated a long time to write this post - I know I sound paranoid about her and like I am looking for problems. She's wonderful whatever. I just wonder how much to listen to the little worried voice I keep hearing in me...
To be completely honest, she sounds totally normal. But if you are worried there is really no harm in speaking to GP or HV about your concerns.
Agree with Greenifer. Is she looking forward to starting school?
She sounds fine to me too.
My ds was fairly similar. Preferred talking to adults rather than children. Didn't really have 'friends' at preschool but happy enough. Aso had good vocabulary and speech. Hated playing on his own. In fact never really played with toys, but wanted an adult to play with him.
Used to make a fuss about getting wet/muddy. Even went through a phase of not wanting to walk on (slightly) wet /muddy grass with shoes on!
He's now at school, and though can still be a bit shy and quiet at times, he's so much more confident. He has a little gang of friends and I look back and think I spent a lot of time worrying over nothing!
It all sounds completely normal to me - in fact you could be describing my DD1 when she was 4. Now she is 6 a lot of the little quirks you talk about have gone or have reduced.
If you trust the nursery, I would be reassured if they don't see any problems. They will see loads of children so should be more likely to spot something unusual.
My DD is only 9 months so nothing recent to compare it to but your DD does sound quite like me at that age! Much preferred adult company, very, very fussy about clothes and mess, didn't really like kids' play, catastrophised, etc.
If it's any reassurance, while I think it's fair to say I'm still slightly (!) neurotic, I grew up having lots of friends, did well at school, uni, etc and am a fully functioning adult!
I'm still very fussy about clothes, mind...
That's exactly the reassurance I was hoping for - thank you. It's so hard with kids this age to know what is just going to fad away as thy get older and what might "grow" into more of a difficulty. I am definitely not totally "usual" myself so I guess some of this is just par for the course!
But I do find myself looking with slight envy at parents of more happy-go-lucky kids...
Oh and she is very keen to go to school - can't wait to be a "big girl" and wants to play school all the time. Whether the transition will be so smooth in reality ince the reality hits I have my doubts, but she is definitely enthusiastic!
Honestly, it could be something or nothing. I've known several children like this (my ds2 was one of them). A couple have been identified as autistic, the rest are not. It can be hard for a parent/layman to tell at that age.
All I'd say as someone who played the is he/isn't he game for years is to keep an eye on things. If her "differences" become difficulties, or the difference bw her and her peers grows larger, then I'd recommend some investigation. Or, like my ds2, you may find the differences bw her and her peers grows smaller over time.
Ds2 is 9 now. His uncle has Aspergers and he definitely has traits. But he is nt.
It's hard to describe the subtleties that make the difference between a sensitive child or one going through a phase and a child who is on the autism spectrum.
Another complicating factor is that we can unwittingly adapt our family life to the point where the child's difficulties are less apparent but our 'normal' has become quite different from other people's.
Children with ASD tend to become more different from their peers as they get older. Starting school is often a time where differences become more apparent and also as their peers become more socially adept and demanding towards the end of primary.
You have a head start on me in that I had no idea that my DD1 had ASD until she was 12. Up until then I just thought she was sensitive, clever and not very sociable. Keep it at the back of your mind and, if she becomes very unhappy or stressed, you can ask for a referral for a neurodevelopmental assessment. That could bring a diagnosis and/or recommendations for support in school.
Whatever happens, she will still be creative, funny, caring and a fab little person
Useful thoughts. Thank you. And I definitely recognise the "accommodations" we make in the family (though for now I think they are fairly minor). One thing I wonder about is how much to push against this stuff - for example if my younger one made a fuss about a damp top I would basically tell them to buck up and jolly it along. But I am cautious about that approach with my eldest...so I wonder whether I almost encourage it. I suppose that's partly why I wonder whether there is something permanent/fundamental (ASD?) going on or whether it is a fussy patch that can be shortened/lengthened by the "right" responses from me. Perhaps the same strategies are right in either case, I don't know.
Very similar in some ways to my DD 3.5. I'm not worried and plus being an only it's possible she may always be more drawn to adult company. She does have sensitive hearing I think - we're trying to get her used to going to the theatre/cinema at the moment as she just cries when noise levels are high. No other exaggerated sensory issues really.
One thing I wonder about is how much to push against this stuff
Well that may help you find your answer.
In my experience, NT children tend to be able to learn to accommodate things that cause them discomfort. Exposure helps them learn to switch off the signals and ignore the damp top or scratchy label.
Children with ASD and sensory processing difficulties can't seem to do that. The longer they have to tolerate something, the more it bothers them. They can't learn to switch off distractions and irritations and very small triggers can cause quite a lot of anger and distress.
The other thing to be aware of is that sensory processing difficulties vary. What can be tolerated on one day might cause extreme distress on another day, depending on what other stresses are around at the same time. My DD2 can only wear a coat on top of long sleeves on good days. On bad days, she would prefer to be cold or will try to wear the coat and end up ripping it off in tears.
I have sensory issues but am not ASD. As a child this caused me enormous anxiety, knowing I was being assessed for something that was upsetting and stressful to adults. In those days (1) being a girl and not NT and (2) not being NT but not being autistic completely bambozzled all the adults. I ended up with life long high anxiety.
I have worked in various jobs with young people and the community and am now a teacher. Married. Average size circle of friends. etc.
Growing up I remember being anxious that adults were anxious that I would never do those things because something was 'wrong'.
I CANNOT wear clothes that are supposed to be dry when they are wet. I can wear a swimming costume, but cannot get water on my sleeve when washing. This is a sensory issue, specifically. I have been known to cry over the sensation as an adult.
Some noises make me frightened when logically I know they are not frightening.
I act highly strung at times and catastrophise. It's my anxiety.
Hard though it sounds, try not to signal worry to your DD.
Being neuro-diverse (IF that is the case) is a huge scale, and not just in severity but in nature.
If I had a pound every time someone has said something about inability to empathise or socialise before they know me, when they just knew about the sensory, I'd be rich and not have to work with kids, teens etc which you can only do if you can empathise!!
A lot of lay experts trot out ASD when it's not. Especially online -so steer clear of google!
This might be a wait and see.
A number of the things you describe are how my DD1 feels, who eventually ended up with a dyspraxia diagnosis. (she's 17 now).
Dyspraxia and ASD signs overlap a bit.
But she could just be a more sensitive 4 year old.
The pushing against it stuff
Does it annoy you?
Does it cause problems?
Can you manage the phase?
This has to come from you!
No DD we are talking
No DD we are staying for the party
Etc naught have an effect
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