Did anyone’s child have a speech delay but it wasn’t autism?

(10 Posts)
Tittybittybangbang Fri 09-Apr-21 20:35:04

Basically my nearly 3 year old has limited speech, he only has about 20 words and they aren’t very clear. When he was 2 he was referred to a SALT who with the SENCO at his nursery have referred him to be assessed for Autism later this year. However, whilst his speech is very delayed, he doesn’t have a lot of the other ‘typical’ traits of autism. He doesn’t have sensory issues, he’s never had a meltdown (he’s never really even had a tantrum), he doesn’t stim, he plays with his siblings and will look you in the eye and he sleeps well. He is obsessed with trains and wheels, he’s showing no signs of potty training and he lines things up a lot. He calls all animals a cow and all flying things Harold.

The nursery seem pretty convinced he is autistic and I have no problem with that diagnosis, but my reading on the subject makes me wonder, plus a few people I meet with in the park and have always known him seem sceptical. I know I’ve focussed on the classic signs and I appreciate it’s not that simple, but I’m wondering if anyone else had a child with delayed speech who was thought to be autistic but wasn’t.

OP’s posts: |
elliejjtiny Fri 09-Apr-21 20:38:59

My 7 year-old has global development delay (including speech delay) without autism. 2 of my dc have autism and 1 is being assessed but all 3 have very different needs.

Tittybittybangbang Sat 10-Apr-21 10:19:36

Thanks Ellie, I’ll have a read about global development delay.

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FeelinHappy Sun 11-Apr-21 00:14:42

My son is autistic but he has a few friends who had speech therapy and are not. I expect that a large majority of speech delayed children are not autistic.

My son's differences in play were quite subtle. I thought he was doing imaginative play but I eventually worked out he was always taking on a passive role, letting someone else lead the play, or he would replay scripts from previous play sessions, again led by someone else. Similarly with Lego, he would only ever reproduce things he'd seen someone else build exactly.

I have learned to take other people's scepticism with a pinch of salt. Neither nursery nor school believed me until he was 7 - to an observer he was just playing nicely with his sibling/peers. My mum still doesn't believe it. He is too good at masking for his own good really. He is doing very well in mainstream secondary school, he was out today with friends in the park, and he's soooo excited to be going back to his hobby again soon, after lockdown. Life is good for him in many ways. But I do think we've only been able to make this progress because we have learned about his autism and been able to adapt our approach to support him better.

MrsDuBeke Sun 11-Apr-21 08:02:49

DS, 5.5, had speech delay and is diagnosed asc. He does have sensory differences etc. Like @FeelinHappy says, we thought his imaginative play was good until we realised, he was watching others and then scripting their play. He also has no idea how to approach peers to play and join in, which were big clues for us. The thing about calling all animals a cow is interesting. I read 5hat autistic people can't generalise well so need to learn and categorise each variant of something, so it makes sense that every animal is labelled as the one already known. When DS was younger, every animal was called a cat because we have a cat, so I'd say look DS it's a dog, and he'd look very serious and perplexed. Now if we see a dog, I'll say ooh look a dog, and if it's a new breed he'll look perplexed and say how unusual it is, but I can almost see him add the breed to his internal memory folder of types of dog! While he has his challenges, DS has an incredible mind, and we think of his autism as his power.

Tittybittybangbang Sun 11-Apr-21 08:32:12

Thank you for your replies. It’s helpful to hear people’s experiences.

He will be seen by the paediatrician at some point this year so we will have a professional opinion soon enough. The play element is interesting as he will copy things his older siblings do like jumping on the bed or running up and down but he doesn’t play with them or me in the classic sense, more like alongside. I will read up on types of stimming as I may have missed something.

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LIZS Sun 11-Apr-21 09:04:32

Assume his hearing has been tested? Lots of conditions helped by slt are not autism - auditory processing for example.

Tittybittybangbang Sun 11-Apr-21 09:17:05

Hearing tested and fine. His speech therapist suspected autism, but she hasn’t ever seen him in real life, but his SENCO has and she said she suspected the same.

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FeelinHappy Sun 11-Apr-21 13:27:30

It's hard isn't it? Copying siblings is how all younger sibs learn, and playing alongside is a normal developmental stage. Any one thing in itself could be in the normal range, it's a question of degree and aggregation, which is hard to judge in isolation. There's a reason us parents aren't qualified to diagnose!

RealisticSketch Wed 05-May-21 22:45:26

My ds had a speech delay, think he was 4 before he made a property sentence, spent ages lining up his cars and doing repetitive games with them. Speech delay gave him stunted social skills so he was never involved in things. He's nearly 11 now, has an impressive vocabulary, reads above his age expectation, has friends and hobbies and is fine.

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