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Does this sound like Aspergers?

(26 Posts)
LadyDisdain Tue 15-Feb-11 11:52:09

My 2.9 year old is quite idiosyncratic and I have always put this down to toddler quirks. But lately I've been a bit worried that some of his behaviour might be symptomatic of Aspergers.

I have a developmental assessment booked for next month But in the meantime, can anyone tell me if these are just bog-standard toddler quirks?

He is obsessed with washing machines. He talks about them in his sleep. He often mimics the spinning by spinning his arm. When he tries to engage in conversation in a social context it's often "washing machine haha". Similarly anything that spins - will spin bowls etc. He also likes kettles, tumble dryers, microwaves and hoovers. But his love for washing machines exceeds everything. He will watch it every day and for ages. He makes me draw them for him.

His social skills are very poor, unless it's with people he knows very well (family usually, even though we don't see them very often). Part of this is because we have a nanny share so no creche. I used to take him to toddler groups on my mornings off. But they seemed to stress him - he would stay close to me. He often tells me to go home when we head out in the car. We do have playdates (for want of a better word) and he is okay (not great) on a one to one basis. But he is very awkward and detached at birthday parties and other social events where there are lots of children playing. I've always though that he is just shy, I was chronically shy as child but less so these days. He mostly gets on well with DS2 though can be casually violent.

He is sometimes sensitive to noise and will object to the hoover (even though fascinated) because it's noisy.

Deeply loves all kinds of music. His speech has been quite delayed and while he now has a decent vocabularly, his pronounciation is still very unclear. Seems to struggle to communicate using words.

He has extreme emotional meltdowns. Again, this is what toddlers do. But he seems to have it so much more than my friends' children. I have always just linked this to his verbal difficulties and encourage him to try to use words instead of screaming and crying. But he won't, even when he can.

This is long. Thank you if you managed to wade through. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

pinkorkid Tue 15-Feb-11 12:05:42

It does ring some bells and although under 3 is still quite early to diagnose asperger's/asd it is possible in some cases, in others professionals may adopt a watch and wait approach. I think you have enough legitimate concerns to flag it up with your gp and ask for a referral to a developmental paediatrician. If they say all is well, you'll be reassured. If not, you will have started the process of getting extra support in good time for pre-school and school.

It's useful to have a written list of examples when you go to the gp.

LadyDisdain Tue 15-Feb-11 12:13:56

Thanks. We're in Ireland, so the details will be a bit different. DS2 is due his 1 year check up next month and the paed will take a look at DS1 at the same time.

It's only just occurred to us that this might be something to watch. Will be making notes...

mary21 Tue 15-Feb-11 12:35:35

DS1 who has Aspergers loved washing machines. DS2 who doesnt loved them too! (Both adore all things train as well!!)
I think we expect alot of small children socially, but its worth mentioning and keeping an eye on things.

LadyDisdain Tue 15-Feb-11 12:44:18

DS2 is also fond the the washing machine, but less obsessively.

DS1 once spent 30 minutes slowly inching his way backwards on a tricycle at a birthday party while everyone was inside playing/parallel playing. Very idiosyncratic.

IndigoBell Tue 15-Feb-11 15:00:24

Rings lots of bells for me.... Sorry.

LadyDisdain Tue 15-Feb-11 15:15:39

Thanks Indigo.

solooovely Tue 15-Feb-11 16:22:31

I think it all sounds pretty normal!

EllenJane1 Tue 15-Feb-11 16:36:56

Sounds a lot like my ASD DS 2 when he was that age. He had tantrums but in my heart I knew they were more than normal terrible twos. When upset any communication he had went right out the window so no reasoning with him. BUT have to say it could all be within boundaries of normal or NT. Go with your instincts and get it checked out.

BialystockandBloom Tue 15-Feb-11 18:22:49

It is hard at this age because some of this can be normal toddler behaviour.

But he does sound a bit similar to my ds at that age (asd, high functioning). Around the age of 2 he went through an obsession with washing machines, when we went to other peoples' houses he'd sometimes point them out. He also loved spinning things when he was around the same age or a bit younger. He is still (3.9) overly interested in kitchen appliances though not obsessed. He has also always loved music from a very early age, and still does.

Tbh from your description of these issues and especially the social/communication difficulties I would ask for him to be assessed as this would ring a few bells for me. Sorry, this probably isn't what you want to hear (we all know exactly what that feels like), but it would do no harm to have him assessed. He'll either go on to develop normally or he won't - and if he doesn't, you've done absolutely the best thing by getting him as much help as possible.

In the meantime it's worth searching through threads on this board for advice/strategies to help with his verbal communication and language. Whether he has any diagnosable condition or not, if you can help with his language development it is absolutely sure to help with other aspects too, like socialising, reducing tantrums.

BialystockandBloom Tue 15-Feb-11 18:24:22

Sorry, just seen you already have an assessment booked. Wish you luck for this - let us know how it goes.

LadyDisdain Tue 15-Feb-11 18:50:46

This is very useful, thanks. Lots to think about. Bialystock - your DS sounds a lot like mine. He loved music even when a tiny baby and even now it's one the things that can get him out of tantrum mode. The spinning object fascination started around 18 months and he's been increasingly interested in washing machines since about 9 months. We do try to distract him from them, and keep him interested in other things.

In many ways he is very engaged with the world so this may be quirks. Or not, but it's good to know as much as I can.

But the rhythmical spinning of his arm, his running on tiptoes, finger crossing all seem to be flags, at least from what I read online.

mariamagdalena Tue 15-Feb-11 20:33:42

Be prepared for people to try and fob you off. Stand your ground, point out the key issues but don't let your fears show too much or people will be so busy reassuring you that they may ignore what you're saying.

In particular, don't mention that people on the internet said things sounded a bit suspicious grin as the dr may think you're a nutter (but you could say 'he behaves v. like the son of an acquaintance with asd/as/whatever').

BialystockandBloom Tue 15-Feb-11 22:41:51

The thing is that children with asd can be really engaged with the world - I think it's a misconception that autistic people are 'in their own world' (in the commonly perceived sense of the term). This in itself doesn't mean a person isn't on the autistic spectrum - a child can be really sociable and seem to be engaged with others, but their interaction and communication can still be atypical or impaired.

My ds is really sociable, but we've realised that much of his interaction is on his terms. We're working very hard to try and reduce his controlling behaviour and rigidity through ABA (behavioural therapy, search these boards for loads of info about this), which has been amazing.

The arm spinning things etc you describe could be stimming - self-stimulatory, repetitive behaviour, common in people with asd - can be physical movements or vocal stims.

Agree with mariamagdelena, don't tell the gp you're basing your concerns on what people on the net have said, even though it's probably the case that posters here have far more experience of asd than the average gp! wink

Whatever happens, the outcome really will not be doom and gloom. There will be lots you can do to help your ds if he has difficulties, and he will always be your lovely boy.

crazypanda Tue 15-Feb-11 23:05:27

he is very young,my ds was always different,noticable from the age of three,and because he is a twin things stood out more.it became even more noticable when he was nine,he finds it hard to be on the same level as others his own age,he is now almost 14 and has recently got aspergers dx,keep an open mind but trust your instincts,with regard to music,my son hates it.

LadyDisdain Wed 16-Feb-11 11:05:24

I didn't realise that Bialystock - I don't know that much about ASD so I need to untangle myth from reality. Which is another reason why this forum is so helpful.

Thanks also for tips on talking to the GP.

Even if it's not AS (and of course I hope that it isn't) this week's thinking has made me realise that I can do more to help DS with his social skills, his confidence and his language.

LadyDisdain Wed 16-Feb-11 11:15:38

He does make eye contact and is very cuddly - that would not be typical of aspergers, would it?

oddgirl Wed 16-Feb-11 11:30:45

Eye contact and displaying affection wont rule out AS/ASD I am afraid. My DS has never had a problem with eye contact and is very very cuddly. Absolutely no doubt he has ASD though!

flyingmum Wed 16-Feb-11 18:54:33

No another misconception about eye contact and cuddles. Mine used to be very cuddly when he was little.

Washing machines . . . been there got that t shirt. BUT one good thing is that they then turn really good at doing the washing and knowing how to work the bloody thing. Hoovers - was an obsession now he does all the hooovering in the house - really well as well!

There is an upside!

Tantrums - were awful. Will get better but might take longer than average child - say aged 8ish or 9ish to finally grow out of it. Now no tantrums. He won't be like this when he is 16. He might still be quirky but it will be a different quirky and more manageable.

Don't worry too much.

BialystockandBloom Wed 16-Feb-11 21:12:22

Hmm - difficult one. Eye contact and affection are also not diagnostic criteria for AS/ASD. Again, it's a misconception that people on the autistic spectrum aren't affectionate or don't make eye contact. I really think so many people think of autism and think of the 'rainman' stereotype - and fair enough - most people don't know anyone with asd and until you encounter it at close hand, it's one of those conditions which is really hard to understand. I'm only now just beginning to realise all the nuances of it, and how it presents itself.

<navel gazing over>

The thing is that in children with asd, things like eye contact, affection, and desire to interact might probably be different to NT children, but are often so subtle that it's really hard to see - and often comes only with hindsight. As I said, my ds is very sociable and wants to interact most of the time - but compared to my dd (15mo) his interaction is different. It is on his terms, is quite rigid, and is on his agenda. We have learnt (through ABA) how to change this and expand his repetoire of social skills, but it does not come as naturally to him as it does to his tiny toddler sister.

I remember when ds was around a year/18 months old my mum tried to get his attention, and said things like "oh he's just busy" or "oh well he's just doing his own thing for a moment". When he wanted to interact he'd be right there, but if it was someone else initiating interaction and it didn't suit him at the time, then he'd just ignore it.

Anyway, enough rambling blush

You are definitely doing the best thing by investigating this, and whatever you do to help his language development will definitely help his social development too. Good luck for the assessment next month.

LadyDisdain Thu 17-Feb-11 08:47:31

Thanks again for all the input.

skidd Thu 17-Feb-11 22:10:35

wow he sounds JUST like my DS (although swap washing machines for Fireman Sam!)who is 3 and who I have just got a referral for (started a thread in behaviour/development about him last week and got very similar responses to you). My DS also loves music although I had no idea this was associated with ASD, also cuddly and good at eye contact, and also can interact well with people he knows but really bad with peers at pre-school. Let us know how you get on..

MrsB1957 Fri 31-Jul-15 23:11:45

I'm wondering what you have learned about your child? I respond because my adopted grandson is diagnosed FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) and presents the same obsession with washing machines and dryers, as well as problems with loud noises, just to name a few. He is 10. He has been tested for Aspergers but he doesn't have that. I searched to learn more about his fascination with large appliances and his desire to reach inside the washer and spin it as hard as he can. I wondered what other children may also be deeply interested in this. If you have a diagnosis would you please share?

Littlefish Fri 31-Jul-15 23:17:43

MrsB - this is a very old thread from 2011 so I doubt the original poster will come back to it.

It would be worth starting your own thread to see if you get more responses.

shazzarooney99 Fri 31-Jul-15 23:45:30

A lot of what you say could apply to a neurotypical 3 year old, its when they dont grow out of those things thats the worry.

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