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3yr old behaving badly at nursery/Autism

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CarrieB2004 Mon 13-Nov-17 19:22:24


My son is 3 years old and attends nursery full time. Some days he is very well behaved there and other days when I pick him up the staff say he has been pushing, grabbing and being very aggressive towards the other children. I’ve seen him doing this myself at soft play. He is a very loving, well-behaved little boy at home, but he has never had any interest in playing with other children. He likes to play alone. He is an only child but has been in nursery full time since he was 10 months old. He has good imaginative play and his speech is ok but I think could be better for his age. He has no problems with facial expressions and does not speak in a monotone voice. He has recently started refusing affection from my husband but will initiate it when he wants a cuddle from his dad. Today his nursery teacher suggested we go to the doctor and that he may have Asbergers syndrome. Her son has it. Should I be worried?

OP’s posts: |
Imaginosity Mon 13-Nov-17 21:55:47

My 8 year old has aspergers.

I think I'd definitely follow up on what the nursery have advised. They see many children year after year - and they see how your son operates in group situations - and they have spotted something that is standing out about him.

If he doesn't have autism you'll have peace of mind if that's confirmed - and if he does then you can get help for him that will make a real difference.

My son is doing very well now in school but does need help as he sometimes misunderstands social situations or has trouble controlling his emotions. He has improved hugely though.

My son's behaviours were more noticeable in a setting like nursery or school. At home we found him very easy to manage - and because he was our first child we assumed the way he behaved was 'standard'. In nursery /school he was overwhelmed at times by sensory issues and a bit confused by the behaviour of the other children. He had trouble reacting calmly when he felt he was under attack. When children were playing chasing games with him he didn't get it was just a game and thought they were trying to hurt him and would lash out at them. His behaviour looked like simply bad behaviour at times.

My son plays imaginatively very well - as do several children I know with autism. He can also read facial expressions very well. Many things like lack of eye contact, monotone voice etc can indicate autism but are not requirements for it. So I wouldn't rule it out as a possibility.

I found this book very good for understanding sensory processing issues - your son might be a bit young for it now but when he goes to proper school it might help.

CarrieB2004 Mon 13-Nov-17 22:23:11

Hi Imaginosity,

Thank you for your reply. I’m glad that your son is doing well. I know you’re right that we need to get him checked out and get him help if he needs it. I don’t know much about it all. Sorry if this is a stupid question but, can people with autism/Asbergers lead a relatively “normal” life if they have the right help? Can they get jobs? Have relationships etc? I’m so worried about what it will mean for his future.

OP’s posts: |
Imaginosity Tue 14-Nov-17 12:10:17

I can't speak for all people with autism as they are all very different from each other - but I would say my son has a very 'normal' life and is very happy.

There are differences with him and others his age. He finds it harder to make friends but connects with people who are on his wave-lenght. He doesn't like football like a lot of boys in his class - but has many other interests. He does have a different way of viewing things which I love about him.

He still sometimes finds it hard to control his emotions but is getting much better at this as he is maturing and learning ways to cope other than crying, shouting or hitting. Now he often recognises when he is stressed and asks for a break to calm down.

He is getting on well with his schoolwork and we just had a very positive parent-teacher meeting.

I went through a very bad time when he was diagnosed as everything I read about aspergers on the internet was so negative and full of gloom. I thought my son was going to have a terrible life but things haven't turned out so bad at all.

It would be a more straightforward life for him and us if did not have aspergers though as we have to make a bigger effort to help him learn social skills and things like that. His little brother naturally knows how to talk to people and how to behave in a group of other children whereas my child with aspergers needs things explained more.

I would say the help he got through school after being diagnosed has made a significant difference to him. Also, people (like teachers) understand he is not being badly behaved but struggling to cope at times.

There are adults with aspergers out working and married but they might not ever have been diagnosed but are somehow managing or struggling with some parts of having aspergers.

I find these videos uplifting even though they acknowledge the struggles these people with autism had growing up:

A friend of mine had issues with her son's behaviour in nursery and they thought he might have aspergers but it turned out to be dyspraxia - maybe consider that too.

Your son might not even have aspergers and could be going through a difficult phase that will pass but I would definitly get him checked out just in case.

GlummyMummy Tue 14-Nov-17 19:21:41

reading with interest...I just wondered OP, what do you do when he's aggressive at soft play etc? How do you discipline him? I have a three year old daughter who is very similar and I'm finding it hard to manage her behaviour. Time out hasn't worked for us, and she has lost interest in reward charts.

Imaginosity Tue 14-Nov-17 20:10:36

Glummy - your daughter is still so small - maybe your only option would be to shadow her closely at softplay - or else avoid it. Its a chaotic environment that might be a bit confusing and overwhelming even if the child seems to enjoy part of it.

Outdoor places like playgrounds, parks and beaches might be less stressful? We got all-in-one rain suits so we go out for big walks or on scooters no matter what the weather.

My son loves softplay but because he is that bit older now - 8 years - I can talk to him beforehand about what behaviour is acceptable. I can tell him not to hit anyone no matter what happens but to run back to me instead. It is easier nowadays - he has more awareness.

Imaginosity Tue 14-Nov-17 20:14:04

Glummy, just on the discipline thing - it is important to be firm - but the child may be reacting negatively to a stressful situation that they don't have the tools to cope with.

GlummyMummy Tue 14-Nov-17 20:49:00

Is it best to avoid too many social situations with other kids then? I've stopped going to groups where my daughter was aggressive with other kids but didn't know if I was doing the right thing or whether stopping her socialising was making her behaviour worse!

Imaginosity Tue 14-Nov-17 23:24:09

Glummy: Maybe socialising in a smaller group in a calmer environment? Maybe meet with one other child and do an activity together like baking or crafts? Every child is different though so I don't know what's exactly right for your child. Does your child have a diagnosis or do you suspect something? 3 can be a difficult age anyway regardless of a diagnosis.

GlummyMummy Wed 15-Nov-17 07:02:51

Hi Imaginosity, thanks for this. No diagnosis nope, but I do wonder. We've just contacted the health visitor for advice so very early days. As you say, a lot of it is normal three year old behaviour, exaggerated because she's pretty hyper anyway. But she's REALLY standing out from her peers now in her behaviour and interactions with others.

She tends to be better with other kids if there's a focussed activity certainly, but I just have to shadow her constantly as shes so unpredictable. Kind of running out of friends to ask to do things cause she's ended up being rough or shouting in their face!

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