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Easygoing toddlers and autism(22 Posts)
I've been lurking for a while on these boards and found everyone's posts incredibly helpful.
I have a 2.5 year old who is going through assessments for possible autism. The main symptom is speech delay (he has no language) and pottering around all day doing his own thing without much interest in others although he can initiate interaction when he wants to. He doesn't have any sensory or routine issues. We're doing various stuff to encourage social interaction through play and really just waiting to see how things turn out.
I am however curious about one aspect which is that he is incredibly easygoing (unusually so for a 2 year old). We've never had any big tantrums. If I say it is nappy change or nap time he takes my hand and trots along quite happily. It seems to me that this may be linked, in that he may not have realised yet that there is a conflict between his desires and those of other people.
I have read some old threads on here where posters mentioned unusually easygoing toddlers who turned out to have ASD. I was wondering (a) is this likely to be linked and (b) what to expect. I appreciate there will be a range of outcomes as the more I read, the clearer it is that all children with autism are different, but I just wondered whether he may go through the tantrum stage later when he is a bit older. I'm not sure in what way this will be useful but it is just something I haven't seen answered elsewhere and I guess I want to know what may lie around the corner.
My best friend's son is now 5 and has autism and he was one of these easy going children too.
His language delay coupled with some incidents of "zoning out" were what prompted investigation and he was diagnosed at 3.
He is still very easy going....not the sort of child to have meltdowns...he has developed language very well though and is at a mainstream school and doing well with support.
He began with a one to one and now that's been reduced as he copes fine.
I can't answer your A and B questions so this is just anecdotal.
He has always been very polite, very "good" too in that he will do as his Mum asks...hold hands, get dressed etc when asked.
At school he has made friends and is now learning to play in couples and in group games more....he loves running around with the other little boys and chasing but equally, he likes playing in the sand and toy kitchen area with his best friend.
My dd is the easygoing type you described and she recently got diagnosed. She has always been a happy smiley girl, easy to take care of, never really bothered with change of routines - we had a few long haul flights with her since she was a baby and she was always the first one to cope with jet lags - adapted well to new environments and quickly, happy to do things on her own, and loved by all key workers at different nurseries as she's so easygoing. She can have emotions but get easily calmed down and as you said no real big tantrums, sleeps and eats well generally unless sick. When she was a baby of course we were thankful that she was so easy - she didn't need night feeds before she was a month old you can imagine how grateful we were. But, as she grew, the lack of speech became evident, and only then we realised it is a big problem. The speech and language therapist said she doesn't understand or see the need to request for things, and I think that was why she was so easy to take of.
Now she is a bit older not much has changed but I feel that she's more aware of her needs and her emotional outbursts are less easy to calm down compared to when she was younger, also more alert to change of environments, more sensory issues observed too. If she continues to struggle with communication things probably would get more difficult and I'm telling myself to get prepared.
Hope everything goes well with your ds!
Thanks both for those super speedy replies! It is interesting to get some stories as most of the published autism literature appears to relate to children who are more prone to meltdowns.
Violetbam - it sounds like your friend's son is doing amazingly.
Brightbelle - do you mind me asking how old your DD is now? And how long did it take to get your diagnosis? My Ds is similar re coping easily. Best wishes with your DD.
I could have written your post myself - got a 2.8 year old boy who is super easy going but has very little language and we are waiting for our first SALT appointment. He plays happily alone but is not very interested in other children, no meltdowns, no issues with food/sleep etc. I think he is probably autistic but on the milder end of the spectrum (at the moment). It's been hard for us to come to terms with this possibility.
Yes - Willow Kitten was a very 'easy' baby and toddler in that he made few demands and appeared to be low maintenance compared to what I know now were NT toddlers.
"he may not have realised yet that there is a conflict between his desires and those of other people.'
Yes - very true ! I wish I'd had your insight and judgement at that stage
Hello Biscuits dd is almost 4 and it took us less than a year from referral to diagnosis, which is quick compared to what I've seen here. I think people generally link tantrums to ASD because some children have stronger demands than others but fail to communicate, or are more impacted by sensory overloads that lead to meltdowns.
Dd was about your ds's current age when the hv suggested going through M-chat and I was shocked as I didn't have your insights to link an easygoing child with ASD though I know speech delay can be a telltale sign. For some reasons hv ruled her out for further referral maybe at the time her autistic features were not as pronounced so we ended up wasting time. I remember I mentioned that to my mom as I needed to speak to someone for support before M-chat screen and she said it's just impossible as dd was so happy smiley and affectionate, a contrary picture of what our belief of ASD is.
Anyway best wishes to your ds - no language doesn't necessarily mean autism and it's really good that you are so knowledgeable and start intervention so early. How I hate myself for not spotting signs and take things seriously earlier.
My ds was an absolute delight as a toddler. He'd been a nightmare baby thoigh! For him it all fell apart once he starred school, though the autism signs had been there for yonks, it just wasn't problematic.
From the other side- my ds sounds just like your DC (particularly brightbell ) but nobody has any concerns about asd , one of my older DC was similar in temperament and had a language delay (barely spoke until nearly 4) and is now 10 and no issues which would indicate asd.
Thanks all for your messages. Makes me feel less alone! Thank you for your kind words. I have mumsnet alone to credit for any insight. I've read lots of threads on autism and a couple of posters (including I think Poltergoose) mentioned having easygoing babies/toddlers and it got me thinking.
Outoftime - good to hear your story. We also went through similar with DS1 so I guess I am still partly in that 'is he or isn't he' stage. With DS1 there were big concerns over him being very behind in language and social interaction aged 3, but he had glue ear (unlike DS2) and I think that was the cause. He had 2 incredible explosions of language just before he turned 4 and it wasn't until he was 4 that I could have a proper conversation with him.
I am very much hoping No. 2 will be similar but from our home movies the difference at the same age is striking. Eg there is one of me saying to DS1 aged 2 "Hey, look at that car you're playing with" and he immediately looked at me and repeated 'car' and then kept looking back up at me to check my expression as he carried on with the game. DS2 would not react at all, just ignores.
We're trying not to let it dominate and to enjoy all his wonderful cuteness.
Biscuit I could have also written your first post. My DS has just turned 3 and his main issue is that he has no speech. DH and I always say that if he talked then we wouldn't have any concerns about him. He also does ignore people and struggles with social interaction but once you've got his attention he is an absolute delight. He is so happy and a funny little guy, loves to laugh at us. He is so easy going, no behavioural issues, no routines, no obsessions, sleeps well, eats well.
We also thought that there was no way he would be diagnosed because of all this but he was. We knew he struggled with speech and interaction but even during the assessment process they were struggling to find things to tick the 'repetitive behaviours' box that would indicate ASD. They were really clutching at straws with even the tiniest thing....eventually they put down that he jumped repetitively once when they saw him and he was excited .
At 2.5 yo my DS was the easiest toddler in the world. Very content indeed, and so easy to take places. I could get on with jobs at home, within reason, and he slept well and ate well.
It was all good. Except he had no spoken language, and despite having been ahead of the curve developmentally until he was about 1.10 yo, he just stopped developing. He didn't regress, just stopped developing.
I knew that something wasn't right, and pursued speech and language therapy, and then later social communication disorder. We had already ruled our hearing issues. He was diagnosed with ASD at 3.5yo. He scored very significantly across the triad and he is severely affected by ASD.
He struggles a great deal now, and is very rigid and inflexible which cause behavioural issues (though he is not aggressive) and we are much more limited in what we can and cannot do. We seem to be going through a particularly trying time, after seeing huge improvements for months. DS has had a lot of success with ABA.
You sounds really aware. Please enjoy your lovely sounding DS. I'm sure you love him very much and will do everything you can for him, if it does turn out that he has difficulties.
Thanks for the further messages. It is clear what a big range of possibilities and outcomes there is.
Laurajay84 - my DS sounds very similar to yours. He is a funny sociable chap (despite the ignoring) e.g. this evening he was in his elder brother's bed pretending to be his big brother pulling the duvet up to his chin and giggling like crazy. But its like windows of interaction amongst lots of not making eye contact and not responding to us.
Welltidy - thanks also for sharing your experience. I'm sorry that you are having a hard time at the moment. It sounds like you are working very hard to help your DS.
If only we all had a crystal ball to see how they turn out. And if only it was clear what we are meant to do to help them realise their potential.
I read the Neurotribes book over the summer holiday which was harrowing reading in terms of how autistic children were treated in the past but also helped me to understand a lot more about the condition.
In young children (toddlers) , autism is usually dxd on what the child cannot do rather than what they do The so called 'red flags for autism' are actually absences of green flags for normal development. My ds had no routines or obsessions or melt downs when he was dxd I think the presence of behaviours might be looked at more in older children.
It depends OP. There are some, if not, most toddlers with ASD are easy going; but as they get older, become more away; the social demands increasing... You may find that they may become an inflexible/ frustrated child.
williow your spot on. DS doesn't have an ASD diagnosis and has been assessed multiple times. But time and time again; the people who are assessing child for ASD; don't look for what they can do; rather than what they can't do.
The "easy going" child with ASD may mean that the child is not very socially aware... Doesn't seek out a lot of interaction with peers, prefers to be by itself, has no major behavioural difficulties.
I think Autism gets more obvious when the child is around 6 plus, due to the typical social demands and expectations.
laura you may find that as your sons speech develops that it won't be your only concern, trust me. DS has a social communication disorder and verbal dyspraxia (but I didn't know that at a time) DS had no speech and I naively thought that once his language develops all will be fine. I was wrong wrong wrong. Yes developed language skills does lease the frustration and it happend with my DS. But as DS if getting more aware, has the language now.. I think he is getting even more frustrated. Despite having good language skills, he still has issues with social communication and interraction. This will always be there and will never be cured as it's the Parce of parcel of his diagnosis. But it can get better and children can learn strategies.
My DD was a very placid baby (except when it came to sleeping). She didnt speak or walk at all until she was 3 but was smiley, maintained good eye contact was happy to be wherever I was etc but she did need an awful lot of holding/touching.
She was diagnosed with passive autism (google Dr Lorna Wing). She was also diagnosed with significant speech delay, moderate learning disabilites and hypermobility.
My DD will talk when asked a direct question but she doesn't initiate conversation. She will follow play but not direct it.
She is now seven and things are starting to change, her vocabulary is increasing and her willingness to talk with it. However all the other children's language is so much more advanced that she struggles to keep up. She needs extra time to answer questions and whilst the adults may let her do that other children dont.
We've had a lot of SALT, she now has an EHCP and I have to spend a lot of time in the evenings going over school stuff. She's in mainstream at the moment but I am on high alert for signs of stress - we may move her to a SS in the future. I worry ALL the time - but at the moment she is actually pretty happy with her life.
I have a passive autistic son too. He is a real sweetheart. Diagnosed shortly after his 2nd birthday with ASD and severe speech delay. He didn't start speaking until 3.5 but was talking beautifully and reading fluently a year later, lots of SALT!
When small, the world passed him by. We moved him from place to place and he observed, calmly on the whole, but at nursery was going without any food or drink for extended periods because he wouldn't even interact with his environment enough to pick up snacks from an accessible snack table. I had to pull him out as staff wouldn't support him.
He still largely fails to interact with people and his environment, although conversely loves cuddles and playing with his favourite adults. However aged 5 he is rigid and inflexible in regards to routine, and by god if you try to force him to break the routine, you need shin pads and ear defenders. He has no concept of time, or time passing, so freaks out big style if his routine takes longer than the time available and he misses out on something he wanted as a consequence (even with continual reminders that he's going to miss it if he doesn't hurry up or stop the routine). If left to his own devices he is absolutely no trouble though! He is so blissfully unaware and good natured that even when he's going nuts I still find him adorable, a bit like very young children as you know it's not malicious they just don't understand.
Dd was a nightmare baby and very easy happy toddler. He spoke very early .
Primary school was difficult . Secondary was great
He's now 19 and is a lovely human being
Yep difficult moments as a baby but the worlds easier toddler.
Unfortunately he hit toddlerdom at around 8yo!
Love of routine can also include things like 'nappy change' 'nap time' because they are predictable. He understands what they mean so is compliant over them.
Very interesting - I'd never heard of passive autism before (but have now googled it) and it's definitely a perspective that one doesn't normally get in the mainstream literature.
Yes - nap time is predictable so I can see that children with autism may actually like that !
Will be interesting to see where we end up with my DS2. He does interact to a certain extent and particularly so when we initiate a game. The main thing we now notice is the lack of reciprocal social interaction e.g. looking up when you enter the room or say his name and checking in for our reactions. The consultant's first words after playing with him were that "he's not socially motivated" which immediately rang true.
Once again I'm grateful for all the insights and sharing of experiences
My DS (12, Aspergers Syndrome) was very easy going too, no terrible twos, no tantrums, nothing like that. His speech was slightly delayed but not outside the normal range. The signs were definitely there from early on though, poor eye contact, not always responding to name, getting fixated with things, especially anything that spins, playing alongside rather than with other children.
He has stayed pretty easygoing, he is very compliant in school and other non-home settings, never been in any trouble, adults tend to really like him, no meltdowns but he has significant difficulty with friendships. We have had bad behaviour at home from time to time but many of my friends NT children are worse behaved than him. He does get stressed out by a lot of things that wouldn't bother most children, but we are so used to this that we are very adept at avoiding these situations as much as possible.
Another one with a very easygoing ASD boy (aged 4). Its terrible to admit but I like him so much more than my NT children or indeed any other child I have ever met (love them all the same of course just find DS such lovely company).He rarely tantrums and if he does its very shortlived. He smiles all the time, is very affectionate to close family members and generally seems to enjoy social interaction. His language is good but he is quite disordered, seems to have some memory issues, doesn't understand time at all, his recall of things that have actually happened is very poor but his recall of stories/films is fabulous, he has difficulties talking about reality in general and will often just chat about something made up. He often doesn't answer questions or to his name. He is quite anxious about school/strangers but is gradually getting used to it. He is coming on fabulously and I am very proud of him, although he doesn't yet have any friends his own age I am hopeful that he will make some as he is such great fun whilst being lovely and gentle. No rigidity yet and I obviously hope it doesn't come. Good luck with your DS OP.
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