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Autistic Spectrum - Advice

(10 Posts)
MaryP0p1 Wed 30-Mar-05 23:30:19

I work in a nursery and we have a little boy who I have been concerned about. I have discussed it with colleagues but they do not seem to be as concerned and I thought I get some advice from those who have experience of this condition.

He is 4 and has been with us for 8 months. What I have noticed is

When he is nervious, excited or unsure of a situation he flaps a bit like a bird or puts his hands to his mouth almost like he holding everything inside himself.

He has taken some time to get him to communicate with the staff but he will do so. Initially I was the only person he would communicate with but we have slowly built this up so he will talk to all members of staff and some child.

He aware of other children and does interact with them but he seems to be unaware of how to behave wth them and takes he cue from one particular boy and copies him. Good and bad behaviour. We have to be very gentle when correcting his behaviour to prevent him from withdrawing altogether again.

Gross motor skills fine and his fine motor skills are okay but very odd coordination of it. Forexample when holding a pencil holds the pencil correctly but with the other hand supporting it in the middle.

Very little i.e. coordination.

His understanding of the world seems a little off balance. Good with mathematical concepts but social situations very little understand of them. An example of the off balance understanding would be one day he came up to me to ask why the other aunties are here. We are all Mrs X or Y never referred to as aunties and I have been there less than the other staff.

The parents have never mentioned they are concerned and would be grateful for some imput as I'm not sure weather to push my concerns any further. I would hate to think of him being unsupported when he needed it.

misdee Thu 31-Mar-05 10:26:57

'When he is nervious, excited or unsure of a situation he flaps a bit like a bird or puts his hands to his mouth almost like he holding everything inside himself'

thats my daughter your describing there lol.

coppertop Thu 31-Mar-05 10:37:12

A tricky situation. FWIW I think I would have some concerns too. Is it possible that the parents have had some concerns themselves but have assumed that he must be okay otherwise someone would have said something by now? I know that I felt a bit stupid when I first mentioned the possibility of autism to ds1's pre-school staff. Until then I'd just gone along with the "He doesn't really talk" method of trying to drop hints that I thought there might be a problem.

How does he react when it's time to finish one activity and move on to the next?

binkie Thu 31-Mar-05 10:44:16

I think you are doing very much the right thing by being concerned. It is a very tricky area, though: and I know, as my ds is also one that nursery workers and teachers have concerns about, so I have a bit of a sense of the "right" and "wrong" way to go about it. So this might be a long answer - apologies in advance.

First of all: have a look at the pdd scoresheet on It will tell you the sort of things to look for re autistic spectrum concerns, and I think the boy you're asking about is old enough for that checklist to be helpful. If those features don't "fit", it doesn't necessarily mean there's a problem - but it might help to focus your concerns.

Secondly, and presuming the pdd scoresheet does confirm your worries: how to raise it with the parents. I am sure you wouldn't do this, but on no account say anything like "have you thought about autism". Keep it to specifics: "we have found that X will not touch the sand - is he like that at home?" "X does not seem to like the fruit we offer as a snack - does he have strong likes and dislikes in food?" It opens the way for you to have a conversation, and you may find that the parents themselves start to ask things that show they have concerns - then you can join in.

Basic line is don't brush it under the carpet (as you are obviously not doing!) but create a situation where the parents can take the lead as much as possible but where they feel there is a partnership. I am afraid though that if they are bent on denying a problem (ie, you get answers like, "well you must be using a kind of sand that doesn't feel nice") it is unlikely you will be able to alter that, and in that case the best you can do is work with the child in the nursery setting - and I am sure that people here will have masses of ideas for helpful strategies.

I think he is lucky to have you thinking of him.

dinosaur Thu 31-Mar-05 10:47:12

tbh his parents might be grateful to you for mentioning your concerns.

When my DS1 started nursery at the age of 2 years and three months, I was already quite concerned about him but no-one else (including DH or my parents or sister, and our GP) was taking me seriously. So I didn't say anything to nursery about my concerns.

However, after a couple of terms they approached us about his behaviour. It came as a relief to me that other people could see it too.

binkie Thu 31-Mar-05 10:49:00

I meant to say "if those features don't "fit", it doesn't necessarily mean there isn't a problem ..." (because the problem might be dyspraxia, or something else, eg)

beccaboo Thu 31-Mar-05 11:02:19

I agree with what's been said, I think it's great that you've taken the time to watch his behaviour (and post here), and maybe you should gently sound out the parents to see if they have concerns themselves.

When my ds started nursery age 2yrs 1month, I had concerns about his development. It came to a head when he got out of the nursery and was found wandering around by the main road .

I asked the nursery manager if she thought he had any problems, and she said definitely not. But it turned out that her dd had been a late talker due to glue ear, and she has a personal issue about late-talking children being allowed to develop at their own pace. I discovered recently that Early Years have had a word them because there are two other children, as well as my ds, who have subsequently been diagnosed with ASD but who weren't picked up by the nursery.

If you say something and it turns out that this child doesn't have a problem, then no harm done. But if he does need some extra help, it could be really important to get that underway before he starts primary school - for a child who finds social interaction difficult, that sort of transition can be really stressful.

Jimjams Thu 31-Mar-05 11:13:42

be realistic about what the parents can do. ds1's first nursery raised concerns - I already had some so I spoke to my HV who referred him for assessment. When we had a meeting at nursery I told the he'd been referred and expected them to say great lets see what happens. They didn't they told me I "didn't seem to care that he wasn't talking" (of course I did but he wasn't yet 2 and he had been referred on!) and that he was "way behind child x" (a friend's dd). totally inappropriate. I ended up sobbing and they just cariied on " what if he gets stuckin a cupboard we won't know where he is" (??? wtf???). Anyway the next time I went to pick him up I found him sittin on a chair in a room all by himself whilst the other children were next door (I was told "he likes it") so he never went back.

I was very worried about putting him another nursery- but the one we found was excellent. The owner/manager was very autism aware- has read a lot- and is always honest with parents (but gentle if she thinks they're finding it hard). She always puts the child first and has big punch ups with the LEA. Doesn't mind parents sobbing on her shoulder either.

Socci Thu 31-Mar-05 13:06:48

Message withdrawn

MaryP0p1 Fri 01-Apr-05 17:23:05

Looked at the info and advice you gave me and went back to work and showed it all to them. They have agreed now that I might have a point.

I'm a bit sad though because I'll be leaving next week so I won't get to see it though to he leaves. However I can console myself with the fact I have starting the ball rolling and at the end of the day its his parents that need to push it further.

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