How did you know your child was on the autism spectrum?

(20 Posts)
mumofboys21 Mon 25-Feb-19 01:19:18

Il keep this short and brief I've become just a little bit worried of my 18 month old son I'm picking up on things he's not doing at this age and it might be nothing but I would like to know how did you know your child was on the autism spectrum? Any clear signs that show even when they have it ever so slightly? Much appreciated if anyone could help! smile

OP’s posts: |
openupmyeagereyes Mon 25-Feb-19 06:33:23

Walkie Talkie speech therapy on YouTube has a series of videos on autism red flags.

At 18 months I wasn’t concerned my ds had autism, that came at around 2 onwards. At 18 months I had concerns because he didn’t seem to enjoy the same sorts of thing other children his age did, such as baby groups, rhyme time etc. As soon as he was mobile he’d spend the time cruising round the room, looking at plug sockets and switches and was just not interested in joining in. At play groups he’d want to leave after 20 minutes or so usually. From a milestones perspective he his the early ones fine but was on the later side for crawling (12mo) and walking (16mo). His speech started ok but did not explode in the way other children’s did. He still has some social communication difficulties now but is improving all the time and is very verbal.

In hindsight there were some red flags. When he was maybe 9mo he learned to wave, did it for a weekend and then didn’t do it again until 2. When he turned 1 all of a sudden he refused to look at the camera for photos and this lasted for quite a while. I remember we took him to the zoo when he was quite young and he didn’t look at a single thing we pointed out to him. Things like that.

What are your concerns?

BlankTimes Mon 25-Feb-19 10:15:43

Any clear signs that show even when they have it ever so slightly?

sorry, but there's no "slight" autism, it's not a sliding scale. To be medically diagnosed someone has to show symptoms in line with the diagnostic criteria below.

" a person will usually be assessed as having had persistent difficulties with social communication and social interaction and restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours, activities or interests since early childhood, to the extent that these "limit and impair everyday functioning

More info here

MargoLovebutter Mon 25-Feb-19 10:36:46

BlankTimes I thought that autism was a spectrum? My DS has a diagnosis of "high-functioning autism", which I suspect makes him different from someone who may be at the more severe end of the spectrum.

mumofboys21 for me, I knew that DS was somehow different. He was a really tense baby, if that makes sense. Screamed a lot for the first four months and was so difficult to settle. He spoke ridiculously early, but in a very different way to other babies. I initially thought he was a genius, but then realised that he seemed to be processing stuff differently. He was really taste, touch and smell sensitive. He hated loud noises. He had to sleep in the pitch dark. He didn't play the same way as other babies / toddlers. He had no imagination at all and found role play almost impossible. Ideally, he wanted to play alone in a fairly repetitive way - so arranging things in rows, or constructing structures but having no interest in 'playing' with them.

As he got older the differences became more noticeable and he found peer to peer interactions difficult. Despite having a vast vocabulary, he had to have his hand held to do anything other than scribble, he hated parties and would rock in the corner, he flapped his limbs when he was stressed or over-excited. He walked toe first. He was obsessive about things and could talk without drawing breath on his specialist subjects. He was 100% literal.

However, he had good eye contact and has a cracking sense of humour, which aren't always associated with people on the autistic spectrum.

mumofboys21 Mon 25-Feb-19 11:07:06

Sorry if that came across wrong I ment it as I know some children have more severe cases then others and I didn't know if it was all different or they have to have the same signs to be diagnosed with weather it's a severe case or not, I know looking on the internet is great I just wanted to hear it from other mums and what they went through and how they knew sort of thing Thankyou for all responding, I've noticed little things nothing to unusual and he dosnt seem to have the problems you all have explained so it may be me just worrying to much but I appreciate all what you have said to help mesmile

OP’s posts: |
BlankTimes Mon 25-Feb-19 11:45:20

* I thought that autism was a spectrum? My DS has a diagnosis of "high-functioning autism", which I suspect makes him different from someone who may be at the more severe end of the spectrum.*

It's not a linear scale, it's much more complicated. See this explanation.

LightTripper Mon 25-Feb-19 11:50:41

I didn't notice anything with DD but others noticed that she didn't point to things that she wanted or to draw our attention to them. That came much later.

The spectrum thing is confusing. I do think that it can make some sense to talk about "more" or "less" autistic, in the sense that some autistic people obviously struggle more than others with the way the world is set up (e.g. people with particularly strong sensitivities to sensory inputs will find going out and about more difficult). But people now increasingly think of the spectrum less like a line and more like a graphic equaliser with thousands of sliders (e.g. a slider for noise sensitivity, a slider for light sensitivity, a slider for ability to read facial expressions, a slider for noticing your name being called). You could think of neurotypical (i.e. non autistic people) as having most of their sliders set more around the middle, whereas autistic people will tend to have lots of their sliders set to "maximum" (causing sensory avoidance) or "minimum" (causing sensory seeking).

This doesn't really explain all of autism (e.g. autistic people also often like to focus on one thing very intensely for a long time, rather than having "butterfly minds" that race over lots of different things and never settle on anything for long). But I think it's a good way to think about why a linear scale doesn't really explain autism and why functioning labels aren't very useful. E.g. somebody could be very "high functioning" until a fire alarm goes off or until they are in a shopping centre, and then be unable to function at all.

There is a great comic strip by Rebecca Burgess which explains it better than I have just done confused

MargoLovebutter Mon 25-Feb-19 12:22:31

I think maybe we are saying the same thing BlankTimes. Your link (and LightTripper's) explains better than I could the point I was trying to make, very badly. It is hard to keep up with the terminology sometimes.

LightTripper Mon 25-Feb-19 13:47:02

Sorry I jut noticed BlankTimes posted exactly the same link blush

AladdinMum Mon 25-Feb-19 15:31:32

@mumofboys21 - there is no specific thing that a baby must do/not do which automatically means autism, it needs to a be handful of behaviours at the same time. However some behaviours are more concerning than others and can be fairly reliable. The is also a lot of misinformation, and a lot of nonsense in YouTube like toe walking, name response, etc which is either plain nonsense or hard to measure. Broadly speaking the consensus seems to focus on joint attention and communicative pointing to be the best markers. For example, not pointing to BOTH request (e.g. to a biscuit which is out of reach) and to share (e.g. plane in the sky) by 20M nearly always means autism, by 18M it would be considered to be late. For joint attention, by 18M an infant should regularly be engaging using a 3-point gaze, use eye contact to request/protest/seek praise, demonstrate social referencing, etc.

I recommend you take the MCHAT questionnaire (Google it), it is the gold standard in autism screening, it's only 20 questions and takes 5 minutes to complete, but it is a very good predictor. It is designed to be taken between 18-24M of age. A score above 2 normally means that the infant should be referred for assessment.

SpringerLink Mon 25-Feb-19 17:02:43

Often, I think we notice things in retrospect. Looking back, my DS had odd or limited eye contact that was noticeably different from 8 months. Didn’t point to ask or show. Didn’t wave. Was late to smile and with social smiling (so was different by 8-10 weeks).

I first thought he had autism when he was 2 and a half, I was certain by the time he was 4 and he was diagnosed at 9, when the differences started to really impact his ability to function.

Allforall Mon 25-Feb-19 19:59:01

"Often, I think we notice things in retrospect. Looking back, my DS had odd or limited eye contact that was noticeably different from 8 months. Didn’t point to ask or show. Didn’t wave. Was late to smile and with social smiling (so was different by 8-10 weeks)"

What @springerlinks says. Retrospect and hindsight helped me see so much of my sons ASD since a small baby (zoned out and limited babble and eye contact, compared to his Dsis)

Some stuff that was notably concerning st the actual time was : biting himself, many meltdowns, hated music or singing and crowds and had a bug speech regression.

Allforall Mon 25-Feb-19 20:01:47

Another CLASSIC, (I work with kdos with autism too and hesr this all the time)

We thought he may have hearing problems or be deaf. Nope, he wasn't. He was just immersed in his own world and not registering speech like others may do. So for example, wouldn't always see the point in turning to someone if they said his name like other kdos do innately...

SleepyDibillo Mon 25-Feb-19 23:07:48

DC1 - her teacher told me!

DC2 - around age 2 when I realised he didn't understand what we were saying to him, and his speech was very odd / echolalic.

BlankTimes Tue 26-Feb-19 01:07:54

Margo and LightTripper

Much better to share a good link a few times on a thread than not to post it at all, loads of people skim-read, so if it's posted more than once the likelihood is more people will see it smile

The terminology used in any discussion about autism can be very confusing and unfortunately it can be very misleading, particularly for people on the main boards who don't know about autism and there have been a load of posts there lately.

No-one who has a diagnosis of autism has a 'mild' condition. The limits to their everyday functioning may not be obvious to a casual observer probably because of masking, but they are there.

High Functioning Autism is often assumed to mean 'can pass for NT most of the time so needs no help' whereas in reality it means autism and an IQ over 70. It's not a helpful term to use.

We see so many misinterpretations, people arguing their child couldn't possibly be autistic and they'd never want them labelled (aarrgghh I hate that word, how many other medical diagnoses are called that?) because they just need to behave in a better way and because the have empathy, a sense of humour, can make eye contact and all the other commonly held fallacies.

It's such a shame that autism is still so misunderstood sad

Allforall Tue 26-Feb-19 07:15:05

@BlankTimes indeed it is. Even people who work in the field of SEN can be SO naive. I've had all sorts of outlandish comments when I tell people about my autistic son:
It's the injections!
Oh, but is he super clever, like rain man!?
My brother was mentally - retarded too... (wtf!!!)

I generally don't get too hung up on language, if the person is genuinely not to know, however it irks me a lot when people are so ignorant who work in the field.

I think the most common misinterpretation is everyone with ASD is the same, and the mass generalizations are really unhelpful.

Allforall Tue 26-Feb-19 07:15:57

Sorry OP, don't mean to hijack the thread by any means...

Confusedaboutvouchers Tue 26-Feb-19 11:09:21

Around 17 months I realised that DS was showing no signs of speech. Researched it a bit, found the MCHAT online test. DS scored highly at about 8 out of 20. At this stage he was not pointing, showing much joint attention or non-verbal communication. His receptive language was poor. He didn’t share his experiences with me and I felt we weren’t very connected. He also enjoyed spinning round a lot.

DS has just been diagnosed at 3 years old. He does now point, speak (although has significant delay). He is constantly showing me things. He would ‘pass’ MCHAT now but is too old for it to count.

MapLand Tue 26-Feb-19 16:37:54


That description of neurotypical as sliders set to medium, and autistic as some sliders set to high or low is really helpful. Helps me realise why children can have noticeable difficulty in some areas but not in others

Marshmallow09er Tue 26-Feb-19 17:34:21

Here's my first ever MN post from when DS was 21 months (I was Flook76 back then!).

21 month, speech delay, other behavourial issues

DS is 10 now and very definitely autistic; also extremely funny, loving, intelligent, interesting, and kind.

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