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ASD (probably) 3 year-old unable to name familiar people

(11 Posts)
MoMandaS Fri 09-Sep-16 14:11:56

My DS1 (3.10) has been identified as having additional needs. We and his preschool think his additional needs are very likely to be the result of Asperger's Syndrome; paediatrician hasn't diagnosed him at this stage but has referred him for various support services. Many/most of his behaviours can be explained either by him being three, and/or by him being autistic. However, there's something that puzzles me: he either cannot or will not name other children most of the time. For instance, if I show him a photo of his cousins (who he sees infrequently but is reminded of quite often) he won't say who they are unless he's just spent the day with them, and even then sometimes not. There have been a couple of occasions when we've run into preschool children in the park and they recognise him and call his name excitedly, but he acts like he's never seen them before in his life. He gets the names of friends he's known all his life muddled up all the time, too - it's like he assigns people a name based on their category in his mind, if that makes sense. I don't know if I'm explaining this very well, but it often seems more than just not remembering the name - he gets a sort of shuttered look if we run into children he knows (or ought to know) and seems a bit upset or embarrassed when asked casually to name photos of cousins or whoever. I suppose what I'd like to know is, is this an aspect of ASD that other parents have come across, is it just how some 3 year olds are, or could it be a sign of something else that I need to investigate? I'd be very grateful for any input.

WellTidy Fri 09-Sep-16 14:17:41

I have a 4.5 yo DS who is diagnosed ASD. He has developmental delays (possibly part of his ASD or on top of). He too would struggle with naming people from photos, certainly he would struggle with naming people who weren't part of his everyday life. A difference between my DS and yours though is that mine wouldn't seem to find that embarrassing or awkward, he just wouldn't seem to care.

My neurotypical DS, at 3.10 though would delight in looking at photos of people and reciting who they were. We would spend hours doing this and he would really enjoy it. He has always had a strong sense of identity and enjoys the structure of knowing who is who in a family though, so that helped.

MoMandaS Fri 09-Sep-16 14:28:05

Thank you, WellTidy, that's useful to know. Your NT son sounds very like my son's friends in that respect.

I should add that he has no trouble identifying fictional characters like all the Thomas the Tank Engine trains, all the Octonauts, etc., so not a memory problem or anything.

WellTidy Fri 09-Sep-16 14:35:19

I would say the same about DS2's memory, MoMandaS. He can name all of the Thomas and friends engines, Octonauts, Peter Rabbit characters etc. They interest him, and so he is motivated to know those words and (importantly) want to say them aloud.

MoMandaS Fri 09-Sep-16 14:59:36

Yes. I suppose he just isn't that interested in his 'friends'!

PolterGoose Fri 09-Sep-16 17:39:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MoMandaS Fri 09-Sep-16 18:44:51

Thank you, Polter, that does fit him actually. He does seem to take a long time recognising me when I pick him up from preschool, even though he's looking at me. It would explain why he always calls his lifelong friends the wrong name and why he never seems to recognise other children out of context.

PolterGoose Fri 09-Sep-16 18:48:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MoMandaS Fri 09-Sep-16 19:12:17

I hope so. Yet another difficulty he'll have to try and overcome. It's good to know there's a reason/name for it though.

Imaginosity Sat 10-Sep-16 21:05:58

DS is like this - but he's getting much better. He's 7 now and has high functioning autism.

When I ask him who he sits beside at school it seems like he hardly knows who was next to him all day.

It was really weird one day when we were looking at photos of his cousins who he only sees once every few weeks or months. He didn't seem to know who they were at all- he looked very blank. Then we offered him a small amount of money if he could work out who they were and it was like his brain started focusing and then he was able to name them. I think my DS switches off if he has no interest in something. If he is interested in something or is given something to motivate him then he is much more capable.

MoMandaS Mon 12-Sep-16 13:26:25

Thank you, Imaginosity. It does sound like this must be part of his probable autism then and motivation is key - DS never seems to know who he's played with at preschool and will just pick a random name if pushed. So maybe a combination of difficulty recognising facial characteristics and lack of interest in doing so.

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