This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
Advice please: Toddler speech delay and Autism?(13 Posts)
I’m so so worried about my little toddler, I feel sick and I’m driving myself crazy. My lovely little girl is 2.4, and has very limited speech. She can say the odd word, but not consistently, and never puts words together. These words are often repeating what we say rather than saying it unprompted (Although this happens occasionally). She also used to say a bit more, sing a couple of nursery rhymes etc, but seems to have stopped this in the last few months. I’d kind of been vaguely concerned, but figured she’s really well developed in other areas - great motor skills, eating great, sleeping great, tall for her age etc, and was telling myself toddlers develop at different rates with different things etc and this was just something she was a little behind on. Anyway.... we took her for her two year check up last week, and the HV seemed really concerned: not just about the speech, but about as she called it “speech regression”. She then started asking questions about lack of eye contact, noise, etc etc. To be honest, she wasn’t that polite about it. Me being so naive, it was only when we got out of this meeting and reflected on it that I realised she was asking a lot of questions about autism. It had honestly never crossed our mind before as her behaviour apart from this seems so (hate this word) normal. She said she wouldn’t refer to a SALT yet as it’s too early, but we are getting her hearing checked and she wants to see her again in 3 months.
I’ve since been googling signs of autism in toddlers and I’m worrying myself sick. It’s hard when googling things as you kind of then look out for stuff that fits (like if you google any illness, you end up thinking you’ve got it don’t you!!). As well as the speech delay and speech regression, I’m now worried about the following in addition:
- often doesn’t respond to her name
- eye contact: great when she’s on my knee or right next to me, but when she’s playing she doesn’t look around for me/ try to engage me. Very little eye contact with anyone outside our immediate family.
- she doesn’t follow my point, just looks at my finger
- she’s not great at pointing to things to communicate to me (although will gesture towards food she wants/ try to grab it/ gets my hand and puts it on something she wants me to open etc, so whilst she doesn’t actually point she does do some non verbal communication and I kind of figure out what she wants)
- I do try and engage with her lots on the floor when she’s playing, and sometimes she’ll play with me (roll a ball to each other, stack cups together, put things on my head and laugh etc), and other times she won’t and she’ll entertain herself and not really acknowledge that I’m there (generally when she’s looking at a book, playing with a toy etc). It does sometimes feel like she’s in her own little world
- I have seen her walk on her tiptoes, although the majority of time she doesn’t.
But then, I’m not sure it is autism as I don’t see much/ any of the following:
- Tantrums: she’s quite chilled out and generally quite smiley (a lovely little girl) and tantrums are quite infrequent
- Textures: she’s great with different textures, food/ touch etc, I’ve not noticed anything unusual at all
- Cuddling: she flipping loves being cuddled by me or her Dad (Although will wriggle out of it if she’s not in the mood) but mostly loves it, and initiates it a lot herself too, always coming for a cuddle, likes to be cuddled to sleep and stares at us smiling (my favourite part or the day)
- Rituals: I’ve not really noticed anything like this, lining things up or whatever. Also we have quite a loose routine which changes loads and she seems fine with that
- Stims (is that what they’re called?). No hand flapping or anything like that. She does run around in circles a bit, but not for long periods, and I figured that was just a typical toddler thing?!
- She copies off gestures like will high five or will clap when I do. (Although I’ve been trying to teach her to point and that’s not really working!)
- Noises: she’s fine with loud noises
- This sounds ridiculous: it feels like she understands everything. She’s not staring blankly into space, more that she just seems engrossed in things/ whatever she’s looking at.
I’ve totally worked myself up by googling all this stuff, and I’ve been crying a LOT (I think more than I’ve cried ever). She’s gorgeous and healthy and happy and that’s all that matters to me, it doesn’t make any difference to me. However, I do worry for her future happiness if she IS on the spectrum (ability to make friends etc) and that’s why I can’t stop crying.
Argh, I’d soooo appreciate any advice! What do you guys think? Should I be worried or is any of this just standard toddler behaviour?! Could it just be a communication delay or do you think it definitely points to autism? Any tips? I love her so flipping much! Xxx
Nobody can diagnose at that young age. All you can do is keep an eye out for the signs as she develops.
My nephew is on the verge of diagnosis for Autism and it only began to be obvious there was a problem when he was about 5. Suddenly he seemed very different to his friends.
My daughter is behind too. Turned out she had glue ear. Her speech rocketed after we pushed for the operation. She has words for everything now and can string a sentence but her pronounciation is still unclear at 3.
Has yours had a proper hearing test?
Sorry, just seen that you are getting her hearing checked. This is def the first port of call! Don’t sit crying over how hard her life might be, plenty of Autistic children have friends, even if it is just one or two trusted ones. It doesn’t have to be a terrible thing!
Thanks for your answer! (And for reading my super long post!). Yes she’s having a hearing test, we are just awaiting the appointment letter to come through. Ah I’m so glad your little girl’s speech has improved :-)
I know logically that she’s very young and I’m guessing we need to give these things chance to resolve themselves, as at this point it could simply be just a communication delay. It’s just the more I read the more I think some early signs are there, and it’s so hard not to worry.
It sounds silly but I don’t know any autistic children so it’s difficult for me to be reassured on her ability to make friends etc if she does have it, if that makes sense?! Would be lovely to hear from any parents who’s children are on the spectrum and are doing well/ talking great/ making friends etc :-) How is your little nephew getting on? Xxx
I'm not an expert on autism but I have a son with a profound hearing loss. Your description sounds very much like there is some level of hearing loss to me. She sounds like my son except that he was born with hearing loss - yours sounds something more like glue ear. Does she startle to loud noises or turn to any sounds?
My daughter was practically the same as yours at that age. Her hearing was tested and she had and still has glue ear and is on the waiting list for grommets. Her speech has improved (she is now 2 years and 10 months old) but there are many things she says that I can't understand and that she can't say. She wouldn't talk to anyone except me and her sister but I started her at a playgroup and she plays in the garden with her sister now and has one out of her shell. I think it was a mixture of shyness and her hearing problem
Thanks Bunty and Lyssie for your answers, found them both reassuring!
It could be her hearing, my partner and mother-in-law both think it is. We’ll find out in the next couple of weeks when she has her hearing test. I’m not so sure, as if I put Peppa Pig on in the lounge she’ll run in from the kitchen funnily enough. I’m not sure if she’s just kind of more in her own little world and has selective hearing?! How did you both find out your children had glue ear, was it through the hearing test? In a way, it would kind of be simpler if it was that - I know that sounds silly but at least there would then be a reason for her speech delay and it would be sort of resolveable.
Ahhh Lyssie it’s interesting that your daughter has improved since playgroup. My daughter is currently with her grandma and granny (half a week each) whilst we are both at work full time, but we’ve decided to put her in nursery 2 days a week to try and improve her speech and her socialisation, as she’s not really spent much time with other toddlers really. Hoping that will make a difference with her speech, fingers crossed!
I’m so so worried, feel like I’m putting 2 and 2 together and coming up with 100, need to stop stressing but it’s so much easier said than done xxx
I would say from your posts there is a chance your DD may be autistic. Obviously, she is still very young and a lot depends on how she develops ( a lot of normal toddler behaviour can seem autistic).
It is good that you are having her hearing checked and I would push to be referred to the Community Paediatrician for assessment as well. You can check with the HV to see if they can refer you, if not your GP can do this. Waiting lists for assessment are long, so it is not a good idea to take a wait and see approach. If your concerns resolve then you can drop off the list, if not you have saved valuable time to get the right support in place.
My little boy is autistic and concerns were first raised at his 2 year check. I can remember feeling exactly the same and crying lots too. So many questions and no answers! Be kind to yourself, it is a lot to take in. If I could give myself any advice from that time it would be try not to think about the future too much, focus on next steps i.e hearing test and enjoy your DC. DS is now 4 and has developed so much over the last 2 years and continues to be the same wonderful little person he always has been. A diagnosis of autism really isn't the end of the world
Magicroundabouts- Ah thank you so much for your post! I guess I need to just wait for the hearing test first and look out for any behaviours in the meantime. Good advice about one step at a time, I kind of feel like I may have jumped a few steps ahead. Although a good idea to discuss a referral with the HV due to potential long waiting list.
Awww thank you so much for your advice, it’s really reassuring. Are you getting a lot of support? I’m so glad to hear your little boy is getting on well! Is he having any treatment or therapy or anything, and if so have you found it useful? Did he ever see a speech therapist, and were they helpful? :-) xxx
I don't understand why they wouldn't refer to salt? My daughter had her 2 year check in the November and they referred straight away. She was only saying maybe 5 words at that point. We had to wait until Feb for her initial assessment with them. She then had her first hearing test in April which is when they found that she has glue ear. I was sort of half and half that it was her hearing because I felt like she could hear me sometimes but then a lot of times she didn't answer to her name. I could be standing behind her saying it and get no response and with her lack of wanting to socialise I was worried about autism too but she was cuddly and would play with her sister sometimes. She liked to play by herself mainly though. When she started playing out with her sister in the garden with her friends if someone talked to her she would stop playing and just stare at them. I think maybe it was because she didn't know what they said to her but she didn't know how to ask them to repeat themselves. She is getting alot better now though. At her last SALT appointment they determined that although she won't say alot of the words yet she was able to understand all of their tests just fine and knew what the toys were. Such as they'd ask her to pick up a dog and then a pig etc and put them in the bag and she did them all just fine. They will see her again closer to 3 years old to see how she's coming on.
This might help you www.asdinfowales.co.uk/resource/asd-a4-poster_pre_school.pdf
My dd is 3 and when she was 1-2 her nursery had concerns but then said she is improving, I changed her nursery and from 2 and 4 months she has dramatically improved, her speech is so much better but only really started at 2 and 6 months with words, then by 2 and 9 months went into v small sentences and now at 3 it’s really good, still not as good as others but improvement wise... she talks when she wants to though. So give her some time you could ask for a speech and language therapist or if she’s at nursery assess if it or the key worker can do better. My dd had a mobility delay and is still behind in jumping for example. She has a lot of tantrums, but only with us and not nursery! She is fine but when she’s tired and we go somewhere she will go crazy and look like there’s a big problem screaming, just acting strangely too. So I wonder too if she is on the spectrum. But I do know two kids with it, and one of them goes to a standard school is doing okay, just doesn’t like large crowds etc. And the other goes to a special needs school so he can get more support so it really varies. I would say don’t worry just put more work on to get her on track and only think about when she’s older and your not seeing any improvements, and even then it doesn’t mean it’s going to be that bad with the right help and support.
mommybear my 3yo is exactly the same. She still naps and is a nightmare if we are out and she gets really tired.
She has always had good speech. But my suspicions are because she would run in circles at a singing group. Could be distracted though. She hand flapped a bit but only when angry (so not a stim?)
She was fine with clothes but took against an activity outfit and refuses knickers.
She screams very loudly a lot. But i think is just a very determined child and it is not a meltdown however she isnt really distractable.
But we do have dc1 who is older and she does intentionally wind dd2 up.
Vitamins might help with the glue ear with omega 3.