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is this normal 4 year old behaviour or could it be aspergers?

(39 Posts)
fairylights Thu 25-Nov-10 23:32:29

Our ds turned 4 a couple of weeks ago and has always been what I would describe as "hard work". I have long felt that there is something slightly different about him but as he is our eldest I have waited to see really whether he evened out over time.
He is in the nursery class at our local primary where they say that he is getting on fine and although he finds holding scissors/a pen hard work they of course think its too early for this to be a "problem". I haven't mentioned my thoughts about aspergers to them, I just talked to his teacher one day about his behaviour because he was being such a nightmare at home! of course, she said he was lovely at school..hmm
we recently moved a long distance so there was a big change for him there which tbh was very very hard work for him.. but i have been reading a bit online about aspergers and it has rung some bells.
So anyway, this is what he is like:
very bright and capable with letters and numbers - can do addition and subtraction etc..he is very articulate and has language ability beyond his years.
he has always been a bit slow to grasp motor skill type things - as I said, he finds holding a pen properly very challenging and even eating with a fork is a major hassle for him.
he is OBSESSED with trains! specifically diesel locomotives.. he finds it hard to think or talk about much else at home..he could spend hours watching youtube videos of them and looking at train magazines.
He does like being around other kids and does seem to make friends where i have arranged playdates etc.. but actually he is fine with his own company and really only plays well independently, he gets too bossy and controlling to properly play with other kids..
So he is very controlling, especially at home with dh and I - to the extent that it drives me to complete distraction and tearssad Today was especially bad.. for example at the moment he will not cross a road that requires a "green man" light unless he is the first person to have pressed the "wait" button.
He is happiest when life has a routine - moving house was just a nightmare because EVERYTHING was different and he spent a lot of time at first physically attacking me when he was upset - mostly I think because he was anxious and overwhelmed. This has improved (we have been here 3 months) but we went away for the weekend for the first time last weekend and he went back to be very physically attacking and controlling.
He gets easily upset by loud noises and new experiences - eg the other day we went to see a waterfall and it totally freaked him out, he ran away screaming.

I think those are the main things (!).
However, I will just say that he is very good at conversation and social interaction and is very confident in that sense. He seems to have some level of empathy for other kids, although not so much for us, his family hmm
sorry for the endless post but I just wanted to hear some wise perspectives smile

Sazisi Fri 26-Nov-10 00:12:44

My 5 year old daughter has Aspergers. No two Aspies are the same, but she is very good at conversation (although doesn't realise it helps if she's not facing away from me when she's speaking), very affectionate and often unusually empathetic. But she is controlling, has sensory processing issues (noises, touch, bright light), has massive meltdowns and is rather clumsy.
Knowing that she has aspergers helps us to manage and understand her behaviour.

In my opinion what you describe warrants an assessment.

fairylights Fri 26-Nov-10 08:04:44

thanks sazisi, thata really helpful and really describes our ds!
we are going to phone the gp today..
i forgot to say in my post that he is v affectionate so its interesting to see your dd is.
how does she cope in school?

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 26-Nov-10 08:49:47

GP should refer you to a developmental paediatrician in these circumstances you describe (these people can actually diagnose).

Many teachers would not recognise a child with AS; they are not generally taught SEN in any great capacity during teacher training.

mummytime Fri 26-Nov-10 09:06:48

If you are worried then you should see your GP, and they should refer you to a specialist for at least a preliminary assessment. That is a general rule of thumb.

Only difference is if you have just done a course on or studied a disability/syndrom/illness; when you should wait a little while and see if it is just you seeing things. Eg. after studying ASD I did see traits in my son, but then realised at 2 that was normal.

Good luck!

fairylights Fri 26-Nov-10 09:09:28

thanks Attila - we have an appointment with the GP so thats a start! I had been wondering about whether his school would have any idea about aspergers - unfortunately I have heard some pretty negative things about howchildren with SEN further up the school have been dealt with which doesn't give me much confidence.
But we shall see what the gp says to start with..

Sazisi Fri 26-Nov-10 18:35:49

She generally copes really well at school. She was assessed, and ultimately diagnosed, before starting school proper, which helped because it meant they had some supports already in place. Her first teacher (last academic year) was wonderful, and had done a course on autism for teachers so had a very good understanding. Her school have generally been really good and sympathetic to her needs.

She has just had a very difficult week though because her teacher has been away (doesn't like change/lack of routine); she's had a few run-ins with other kids and has been visibly stressed when I've collected her each day

She has flourished academically, and is so enthusiastic about school and learning in general. The social side of things is very difficult for her to navigate though - after nearly 4 terms she only has one friend in her year (a few of the older girls have taken her under their wing though )

Sazisi Fri 26-Nov-10 18:40:29

Oh, meant to say that her pre-school teachers were quite shocked by the idea that DD2 was even being assessed - "but she's so BRIGHT!" I got the impression they thought I was a crazy woman, who just really wanted something to be wrong with my kid

woofie Fri 26-Nov-10 19:26:59

Hi fairylights- just to say that we are in a similar boat, and have just sought a referral for AS for ds1, who is 4:8. Like you, it's many little niggles that don't resolve with time. He has no real behavioural issues- although when younger he also used to get cross if anyone else pressed the button at a pedestrian crossing! + likes to be the one to activate automatic doors etc. In general, though, he's gentle, affectionate and fun. He's also very ahead with reading and numbers and will be starting school in January. With regards to other kids, he's 'active but odd' - interested in playing and making friends, but just doesn't quite know how to go about it. Likes routines, order, sameness...

sazisi - like you, preschool staff see him as extemely bright and are not concerned about his social skills hmm

It's amazing the diversity of profiles within AS, and I think your desciption of your son warrants seeking a referral. I hesitated for several months, because as yet there is no 'problem'- he's happy, confident and pretty well behaved for a 4-yr-old boy! But I was just chatting to the father of an AS 11-year-old boy today, who said that his son didn't struggle at sschool or home until year 6, when fitting in with peers and sitting still for long periods i'm class became more important. He said he wished they'd accessed support earlier. So I've decided that if we can get some help for ds with his social skills, that outweighs the 'labelling' issue that the grandparents are concerned about.

Good luck with the assessment process. We've been waiting 6 wks so far and I'm sure it will be several more months til we get an assessment, so that's another good reason for getting the ball rolling early.

It's amazing the diversity of profiles within AS, and your description I think rings enough bells to warrant a referral.

woofie Fri 26-Nov-10 19:29:03

Gah- cursed iPhone keypad- sorry for the repetition!

woofie Fri 26-Nov-10 19:30:21

Gah- cursed iPhone keypad- sorry for the repetition!

fairylights Fri 26-Nov-10 21:10:44

that is all so helpful, thanks smile
yes, my feeling is that he does get a diagnosis then at least we will be slightly fore-armed before he starts full time school next year. And I am sure his preschool teachers will say the same..!
I have met another mum at playgroups who (pre-kids) was an autism specialist in a primary school and in fact trained other teachers in dealing with it - I might have a chat with her about her perspective, although we have only just met so don't want to start interrogating her in case she thinks i am that crazy mum..

any more wisdom very welcome smile

LaydeeC Sat 27-Nov-10 11:09:59

take no notice of what school says about him being fine!
My son was 'fine'. In school. Just like yours, very able, bright BUT very challenging/aggressive/controlling/non-social etc.
He was diagnosed as Aspergers at 6 years following a referral from our GP to CAMHs. During the assessment at school, the Clinical Psych was told by the teacher that an 'AS diagnosis would make sense'!!!! ffs, they had spent years telling me he was fine and that 'it was me'!
I am not suggesting that your child is AS (I cannot possibly do that). As you know, it is a damn huge spectrum. But don't let school put you off your gut instinct. They, generally, don't have a clue unless you are very lucky.

fairylights Sat 27-Nov-10 21:24:28

thanks LaydeeC.. how is your ds getting on now?

More generally to anyone who reads this: when you initially went to the GP did you take your child with you?
We have an appointment on thurs and the GP says its up to us whether we take ds or not - on the one hand we assume the GP will actually want to see him although its not like he is going to "perform" (although he might well!), but on the other hand he picks up EVERYTHING that we talk about and wants it explaining and I think the tone of the conversation might confuse/upset him/make him anxious. What did you do?

woofie Sat 27-Nov-10 21:39:18

I let grandma look after ds in the waiting room. I feel very strongly at this early stage that I do not want to discuss my concerns with him, because he certainly doesn't think that he is different (yet, though I fully expect that issue to emerge later on in his school career) and I don't want to make him self-conscious just as he's about to enter the education system. I'm fairly confident that he'll be in his element doing the cognitive assessment when the referral comes through, so I'll try to sell it to him as doing some puzzles at the hospital.

Of course, it depends on how you think your ds will react to the assessment process as to how much you feel you need to tell him beforehand. But fwiw my GP was happy to refer based on my description of ds's behaviour, and I'd have felt extremely uncomfortable being as honest as I was in front of him. Personally, if your GP has said it's up to you, I wouldn't bring him, bit maybe someone who's already been through assessment/diagnosis will disagree?

mumbar Sat 27-Nov-10 22:02:16

Interesting thread. My DS is also identical to your DS - even down to the trains and you tube. He is 6.3 now. I spoke to ASC the other day as I have concerns but they say he's fine except...

he only likes games where he's in control.

He will often stand and watch children queuing up if he's not heard, and not think to actually join the queue.

Apparently he is great friends with (and the only one who can persuade) an autistic lad at the club to join in. (except they argue about being the boss smile).

I was very hmm the other day when I announced to DS we are going to Lapland to see santa and he wouldn't discuss this/ showed no interest but went into great detail about how to keep runways and car parks clear of ice and snow. shock (btw I'm very excited about seeing Santa).

DS is also very very literal - his latest 'quirk' is turning off lights as he was told at school they waste electricity. (he even turned one off at friends today, dining part of lounge/ diner) as no-one was at that end blush

Will be watching this thread with interest. Hope all goes well OP.

LaydeeC Sun 28-Nov-10 11:49:16

fairy, we did not take our son to the GP, I went with DH and our GP spent a long time with us whilst we gave examples of our son's behaviour etc. In isolation, some of the anecdotes were funny and we were all laughing, and then I started crying saying that in its totality, it was exhausting. Our GP agreed that my child's behaviours did seem to be outside the band of 'normal' behaviour so said he was going to refer us to CAMHs. Ball started rolling from there and he was diagnosed with AS the withing 8-10 months.
He is now 13 and it has been a long and difficult journey (and I think we had it relatively easy although our story is very similar to a lot of others on here (incompetent LEA/school etc). We have, however, been fortunate in other areas such as CAMHs and even SS and CAMHs has always fought our corner. So much so, he now has a placement in a specialist AS school. This is a double edged sword as I can appreciate the benefits of such an environment for him but I feel like I have 'lost' him somewhat as it is a boarding provision (although he does seem to be home all the time lol!).
If your child does have an ASD, it is not impossible to get provision but by jesus, you have to be prepared to sell your soul and dignity and fight for it all the way. It is disgraceful that, despite, the SEN CoP and the ECM agenda, LEAs continually fail to provide for children on the spectrum. They literally bring you to your knees in despair at times.
Anyway, don't mean to hijack - just letting you know how he is now in response.
IMO, if your gut instinct is that something is different, then go to your GP. Ours was brilliant so fingers crossed yours will take you seriously and not dismiss your worries.

LaydeeC Sun 28-Nov-10 11:53:39

^^ mumbar, my son is very literal also! His head teacher was giving a pep talk at school a few months ago and told the boys (all of whom are AS) that 'if at first they don't succeed, they should try and try again'.
Needless to say, my boy has taken this literally and if the constant questioning wasn't bad enough previously, he is now relentless in his asking for games/something he has been told he cannot have!! It is exhausting!!!

mumbar Sun 28-Nov-10 12:28:14

Laydee LOL at trying again to 'no'.

At the moment DS seems to generally be coping OK. He is quite behind his peers with regards to interests etc, for example he still watches cbeebies as finds other programmes 'scary' hmm, and often doesn't like watching a film 'in case' theres a scary part in it. He has fabulous ideas about things and can go into great detail about them so has that part of imagination, but is on the whole unable to share role play unless he is leading it.

I'm lucky that he's never been a child who has tantrums to 'no', but has panicky outbursts to children moving things that he has set up in a place for playing, it can come across as spoilt behaviour, ie 'won't' share except if he has 3 sweets and 3 children ask for one he'll give them each one even though it leaves him without iyswim.

I'm still sitting on the fence at the mo about talking to the GP as he's doing OK but I am going to have a god chat with his teacher and see if I can get the SENCo to do some observations.

Glad all has worked out for your DS laydee.

mumbar Sun 28-Nov-10 12:37:24

actually - if anyone on this thread could I have a post in behaviour/ devl on 26th NOV, about DS and his literal behaviour. May give you another insight OP, perhaps you'll see this in your DS, or those of you with children with AS does this sound familiar?

LaydeeC Sun 28-Nov-10 12:40:03

^^ my son was still watching cbeebies until about 2 years ago! Now all he does is play on his Xbox. Hard sometimes to disentangle what would be 'normal' teen behaviour from AS behaviour - I guess the difference is that my friend's sons have a boundary over which they do not step but my son doesn't.
All AS DCs present differently though and whilst my son would think nothing of giving me a punch, he wouldn't say boo at school - hence the original accusations of it being us. Good reading for us was Tony Attwood.
Finally, although currently 'working out' it only really is on the surface. My son doesn't live at home full time, we have lots of involvement from Social Services which although welcome (we self referred as I wanted him on their radar for when he is older as difficult enough getting resources for children but I would imagine it is a great deal harder for adults) and it isn't the life I thought we would live and even this number of years afterwards, I think I still grieve for that life. I find it particularly hard watching my friend's children getting older. I hate myself for not celebrating their development rather than thinking that should be my son. That said, I wouldn't swap him for the world. I have to constantly remind myself that school 'gets' him and he does seem to be happy there (at times!)

mumbar Sun 28-Nov-10 13:14:34

Ah Laydee thats a real heart wrenching and honest post.

I'm having to really limit the laptop time or DS would be glued to it through choice. His latest is google earth. He can load up my town and navigate his way to places we have visited by following roads - its fascinating to watch really. <jeleous emotion as due to my dyslexia map reading is poor>

fairylights Sun 28-Nov-10 20:27:52

thanks all. Mumbar I will look at your thread..
LaydeeC that is indeed heart wrenching sad
It is hard to contemplate the kind of life you describe but I guess we need to face up to it. At the moment ds's behaviour only seems just beyond "normal" but I guess as he and his peers get older the differences will become more obvious if he does have ASD and isn't just an awkward sod grin
You sound like you have been the most amazing mum, I hope I have it in me to be the same..

fairylights Sun 28-Nov-10 20:39:50

forgot to say too that we have decided not to take ds with us to the GP, don't think it would help anyone and he would only be interrupting and interrogating us the whole way through!

mumbar Sun 28-Nov-10 20:45:44

fairylights its a very true comment about it being more obvious as the child gets older. DS seems to be catching up with his peers when they then mature even further.

I'm very lucky not to have the aggressive outbursts, DS is just so passive at times its scary.

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