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Learning disability and autism

(35 Posts)
Heytheredelilah1987 Tue 10-Jan-17 17:37:45

Hi there

We had our first paediatrician apt for our son who is just 2 yesterday. The paed said it's very likely our DS has autism (which we expected ) and a learning disability. When I queried the LD she said he's too young to tell, but he's behind by around a year with communication and speech- obviously the full assessment will determine his exact diagnosis.

I'm just a bit worried as I didn't expect the LD. Is this a common part of children with autism?

2boysandadog9 Tue 10-Jan-17 18:06:25

Hi, my ds2 (27 months old) had a verbal ASD dx at his first appointment last month', we have another appointment next week where will will get a formal dx.
They didn't mention anything about LD But I did ask about it and the DP said he was too young to tell. He has severe receptive and expressive language delay, I may be wrong but I don't think the language part can conclusively indicate LD.
It is something that worries me too...
Ds can do puzzles and match so I am hoping that is a positive?

coffeemachine Tue 10-Jan-17 18:45:17

DD has ASD and LD and yes, pretty common. A significant proportion of the autistic population has learning difficulties of some degree as well.

I would think 2 is still too early to tell. It was pretty obvious in DD even at 4 but pard still said at that point it would be too early to tell.

Heytheredelilah1987 Tue 10-Jan-17 18:47:38

Thanks 2boys

Yes my son has decent receptive communication- he can follow basic instructions and he is also a fan of puzzles etc! I just don't see a LD but then again part of me does wonder as he is so behind in many ways... but it's largely communication wise and obviously with autism it's not really surprising.

A friend said that as they don't do levels of autism anymore in a diagnosis they will often use a learning disability level (severe/ mild) to accompany the autism diagnosis, if that makes sense? She's not a professional so I'm not professing this to be the case obviously.

All very concerning and confusing isn't it.

Heytheredelilah1987 Tue 10-Jan-17 18:48:19

Thanks coffee that's reassuring to here

Heytheredelilah1987 Tue 10-Jan-17 18:48:31

Hear * blush

zzzzz Tue 10-Jan-17 20:53:00

Did you ask what she meant by learning disability? In U.K. I think it implies an iq of less than 70??? I'm not sure 2 year old puzzler would necessarily lead me to that conclusion.

Heytheredelilah1987 Tue 10-Jan-17 21:10:17

Exactly zzz. I did ask her how she cold tell etc and as I said, she back tracked some what and said only time would tell and it'll be more apparent when he's communicating more... but the damage has been done in a sense- she's said it now and I just can't stop wondering why? Did she see something I cannot.

FiloPony Tue 10-Jan-17 21:52:14

At 3 my dd had receptive language of 12 months, at4.5 her speech is only a subtle issue, more a little disordered. She has areas of real strength, ahead even. I think her memory is poor, possibly a slower Lerner but signs are not looking LD at this stage

FiloPony Tue 10-Jan-17 21:54:04

My sister does score below 70 on iq testing, which entitles her to good support , BUT she can read/ write/ add better than a number of my friends. She's just awful at communicating what she knows to others....

zzzzz Tue 10-Jan-17 22:21:18

The vast majority of people (both lay and professional) would probably describe ds as LD ..... he is one of the most staggeringly clever and brave children I have ever met. Not in a savant way (though people often dismiss his ability in that way), in a learns fast way. He really can't talk that well and his understanding of language can be wobbly. It means he sees everything through a pinhole of understanding. I don't have a huge experience of LD, perhaps other children are the same and I just can't see the real them. I know my son though and I don't need anyone else to tell me he's in there working 50 times as hard to understand what is needed and 50 times less to understand the roots of things.

Ruby1985 Tue 10-Jan-17 22:28:00

Hi OP, was thinking exactly about this today myself. My son has HFA but was wondering about terminology such as learning disability or learning difficulty as I've definitely heard ppl say that ppl with autism have learning difficulties so not sure!

notgivingin789 Tue 10-Jan-17 23:20:20

Why did she diagnose your son with a LD? confused DS was diagnosed with Moderate learning difficulties. But when he was properly assessed by an educational physiologist, they found he is above average cognitively.

Poor speech/ communication skills does not equal learning difficulties.

2boysandadog9 Wed 11-Jan-17 01:46:23

I think it sounds your paediatrician jumped the gun a bit in suggesting LD at 2 years old. It's a tough time getting an ASD dx, and adding more worry without any solid evidence is a bit insensitive!

I remember reading somewhere that children with delayed/disordered language are very difficult to assess and as such can be considered more likely to possibly have some kind of LD.

Filopony - it gives me hope hearing your DD had receptive issues and they have improved!! Did she also have expressive delay?

Sorry if I am highjacking your thread heytheredelilah! blush

youarenotkiddingme Wed 11-Jan-17 06:32:07

Wise words by zzzzz

My Ds has asd and specific learning difficulty. Take away the asd and the spld is mostly reading and writing. But when you add the asd and communication issues it exacerbates the problems.

But his profile has only been discovered through intense prosision teaching, cognitive testing, observation and tracking progress.
I think at 2yo it's impossible to tell how he'll learn as you haven't yet got a clear indication of what skills are delayed against what skills he has.

To give you an idea - some children with autism are non verbal. But communicate fluently using communication aids (iPads) which they press symbols, words or type whole sentences.

Look at Stephen Hawking!

Heytheredelilah1987 Wed 11-Jan-17 06:37:36

Not at all 2boys ask away. I'm glad my post could have been some use to other too! smile

So thankful for all the feedback guys.

notgivinThe paed didn't diagnose my son with a learning disability as such. She stayed he is highly likely to have autism (and obviously a formal assessment will conclude this) and she then said also a LD. But when I queried this she did back track and say he's too young to really tell and his communication improvement will help with that part. I personally don't know if he has a LD or not, but I wouldn't have thought so ... if so it would be very slight. But perhaps my family and I are in denial a bit too... confused

Heytheredelilah1987 Wed 11-Jan-17 06:39:28

ruby from what I've read I don't think it tends to be aspergers / hfa witg a learning disability- but obviously they could have learning difficulties. I think this is what sets them apart from those with more severe ASD? Correct me if I'm wrong anyone !?

Ruby1985 Wed 11-Jan-17 06:57:32

Btw I just remembered that on the early bird course I attended for children with autism the SLT trainer said that a child has learning disabilities if they are behind in everything and were generally delayed with almost all milestones and are still delayed and behind with everything.. I feel the terminology isn't very clear and ppl used it differently

Heytheredelilah1987 Wed 11-Jan-17 07:51:02

I wouldn't say my son was behind on everything. He was on the late side for walking and crawling but still within the normal parameters....thanks Ruby

FiloPony Wed 11-Jan-17 08:53:33

Dd was less delayed in expressive (24 months at 3), basically she parroted a bit at 3 with good sounds but not to directly communicate or show understanding (does this far less now, but she has her stock phrases and a few favourite random ones). Think they found her hard to assess tbh, her visual spacial at 36 months was 48 months, which is quite impressive to work out every task quickly without verbal instruction! She just sad and colour matched and organised as they laid things out before they spoke.

All her early milestone were a bit delayed, sat at 9 months, walked at 18/19....but not hugely.

FiloPony Wed 11-Jan-17 08:56:29

Also DD just has far less receptive difficulties, not none. She was hugely delayed but can wing it now a lot. At 4 she can attend to conversation with a little support, group chat loses her and certainly in rception carpet time she'd be utterly lost. She struggles to understand a story, attending a page at a time. But 1:1 she can have lovly chats with you

2boysandadog9 Wed 11-Jan-17 09:41:07

Thanks Filo,
I think that's a great improvement! I'm not expecting my son to catch up with NT kids (there is always hope!) but to be able to get to the stage where he can even have a small chat would be outstanding!
DS was spot on for milestones, walked a week before his 1st birthday so that's another positive I guess....

From my understanding, some kids can start out appearing quite severe and improve loads, others may seem fairly mild but make less progress.

The not knowing is by far the hardest thing for me, but I have tried to accept that there is no way of knowing!

Heytheredelilah - We started ABA therapy for my DS in November and it has been great for him, could be something you could look into?

zzzzz Wed 11-Jan-17 09:47:47

Be wary of equating "functioning" with severity of ASD. They are not the same thing. High/low functioning implies above 70 or below 70 IQ (though given how difficult it is to test a child with autism and language difficulties that in itself is a joke). Severity of ASD is more about how easily you cope with your disability and how independent you can be.

2boysandadog9 Wed 11-Jan-17 10:42:02

Sorry zzzzz, when I said severe what I meant was severelymildly affected.
It's hard to choose words sometimes, and I agree that "functioning" (a word I don't really like tbh) implies IQ level.... but as you say assessing the IQ of an individual with ASD is hard, especially when communicating abilitiy is impaired by the inalbility to communicate in a way that will be understood by the tester.

zzzzz Wed 11-Jan-17 11:09:24

Yes the testers skill is a factor but non-verbal iq tests are often not as non-verbal as you would think grin

I strongly advise anyone with a non-verbal or minimally verbal child to actively seek out ways of demonstrating without argument your child's intelligence. It is MUCH harder to blame the child's lack of intelligence/inability to
Learn if they can already demonstrate core skills.

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