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Suspected autism/aspergers in two year old boy - can you help?

(22 Posts)
studentmummy Thu 23-Jul-09 18:05:19

Whoops – started this one under child health but redirected here!
My DS of two and a half has always been a bit different. Some of his tendencies may be an inherent part of his personality but others appear more symptomatic such as severe speech delay and no infant babbling, obsessions with household appliances such as the washing machine and preference for turning on and off taps and lights exhaustively, opening and closing doors etc. He has also been prone to making and repeatedly following circuits since he was a baby. He has episodes of facial passivity and can be inclined to disappear into his own little world. Apart from all this he is very affectionate and loving and does have episodes when he is more sociable. Hearing problems have now been ruled out. He also has a chronic dairy allergy. Has anyone experienced something similar and has it been diagnosed as autism or something else?

silverfrog Thu 23-Jul-09 18:13:40

sorry for abbreviated post - have BOTH dds on my lap grin

what is his shared attention like?

does he bring you toys/books to share together?

have you looked up the CHAT test, and read through? it is aimed at children around 18 months iirc, but you could answer for how he was then, iyswim?

pointing to things is also quite important - to share info, refernce stuff, etc.

sorry, got to go as WW3 is breaking out and I'm in the middle!

nikos Thu 23-Jul-09 18:18:00

What's he like in a group situation? Does he go to preschool?

studentmummy Thu 23-Jul-09 18:47:27

Thanks to you both for responses

Nikos
nursery referred him to educational psychologist for lack of eye contact, facial passivity and speech difficulties. He is a bit more settled now and all areas are improving although still problems with eye contact. For example, he will follow a verbal instruction but without making any eye contact at all.

Silverfrog
He didn't point until very recently - certainly never as a young baby or toddler. Initially no interest in books or even TV.
However, he will now bring me books to read with him which is encouraging - still absolutely no interest in TV or DVDs etc.
Shared attention varies - can be attained for brief episodes but other times he is very antisocial and will go deliberately away from myself and siblings/peers and play on his own for hours.

sickofsocalledexperts Thu 23-Jul-09 18:53:35

Apparently one of the most reliable signs of autism at a young age is the lack of what they call I think "protodeclarative pointing" - which basically means, does he point at something, then turn to look at you to see if you are sharing his interest in that thing. Does he want to let you know about things that interest him or is it really irrelevant to him whether you are seeing it or not (as with my son)? We have had to teach my son painstakingly to point and he still doesn't quite get it, as he will say "I want pointing" - by which he means "I want the thing I'm pointing at" (only often he has forgotten actually to point at it, so you have to be a mindreader!)

nikos Thu 23-Jul-09 18:57:07

There certainly sounds enough there to start investigations. My ds wasn't showing anymore signs than this at this age. We got a dx at 3 and he has improved so much from the help that brought. So well done for facing this head on, you really are doing the very best thing if there is something there. This is a great board for advice so stick around.
Good luck

studentmummy Thu 23-Jul-09 19:26:42

Thanks Nikos and Sick...(is there a respectable abbreviation for this? for your help and support. I will stick in there!!

cyberseraphim Thu 23-Jul-09 20:04:03

I agree the CHAT test is as good a place as any to start. It's not infallible and is meant to screen out children not at risk not to diagnose autism. But I found it gave a good general idea of what you should expect in a typical child and can give a gut feeling that something is wrong if there are deficits. I am the odd one out with pointing I think as DS1 was and is good in this area (though can see impairments/differences with DS2's pointing skills at the same age). It was totally on his own terms though at 2.6 ish and had to learn that others' views/pointing mattered too. Lack of speech at 2 and a half needs to be investigated too Apart from the allergy I do see similarities to my DS1 but only an expert on the ground could give you accurate guidance. Following directions is a very good sign though. Try to extend his shared attention, whenever you get it, make it fun for him and follow his attention to join in.

studentmummy Thu 23-Jul-09 20:06:40

Cyberseraphim - cool name by the way - Thanks!!

cjones2979 Thu 23-Jul-09 20:51:39

Your DS sounds very similar to my DS1 at the same age. He had severe speech delay (could only say mama, dada, nana & baba), was obsessed with the washing machine, but was very affectionate.
Nursery picked up on the fact that he was a bit "different" to his peers when he was 2, and he was eventually diagnosed with autism at 3.2.
He is now 5.8 and although his speech has come on leaps and bounds, you still can't really have a conversation with him, although he understands what is being asked of him & can make himself understood.
I would definitely advise you to see your GP and ask for a referral to a Paediatrician.
Good luck.

studentmummy Thu 23-Jul-09 21:07:51

Hi Cjones2979
Yes, this washing machine thing is very funny - DS has to eat next to toy washing machine and carries it up the stairs to bed/garden/play etc with him!! Needless to say he also likes the real thing.

cjones2979 Thu 23-Jul-09 21:20:53

Hi studentmummy
My DS1 has always loved the washing machine, even as a little one he used to take his milk and lay on the floor in front of the washing machine & watch the whole cycle!! He has 3 toy washing machines (2 ELC ones and a mini Hotpoint one), and even has one he can use in the bath with mini clothes in it!
He now only watches the real thing when it is spinning, and will run to the kitchen when he hears it.
He now also likes to sort the washing (this has actually become a real obsession!!). He gets home from school & goes straight upstairs to look in the washing basket to see if there is any washing. He will sort it out into the correct colour piles, carry it downstairs, put it in the machine, add the washing bubbles & softener & turn it on!!! He will also empty it, sort out what has to hang up to dry and put the rest in the tumble drier. Shame he can't use the iron though!!! lol grin

nikos Fri 24-Jul-09 08:19:58

cjones- I would say even being able to pick clothes up off the floor was very unusual behaviour in a three year old wink. He sounds a very handy boy though!!!

Frasersmum123 Fri 24-Jul-09 08:33:00

Student Mummy,

My DS is very similar to yours in that he loves our washing machine, it calms him down so I have been known to pit it on a rinse cycle with nothing in as he is so fascinated it stops him being upset blush

My DS is 2.5, still doesnt point and only has a few words, though he babbles constantly. He is also extremely affectionate to the point where sometimes all we do is cuddle for an hour or two. He loves to have his hair stoked.

I want to know where you get one of these washing machines from - DS would love one envy

cjones2979 Fri 24-Jul-09 12:29:17

nikos - my DS1 is actually 5.8, not 3, although still pretty unusual for any boy to pick clothes up off the floor, regardless of their age !! lol grin

Frasersmum - Early Learning Centre sell toy washing machines for £12.50. See: www.elc.co.uk/toy/washing-machine-1/

or Toys R Us sell a mini Hotpoint one for £19.99. See: www.toysrus.co.uk/Toys-R-Us/Learning/Role-Play/Hotpoint-Electronic-Washer(0012034)

or, lastly, Argos sell one that comes with mini clothes & can be used in the bath, but you'd have to hurry as it's now in the clearance stuff as the new catalogue comes out tomorrow. It's £10.99. See: www.argos.co.uk/static/Product/partNumber/3495351/c_1/1%7Ccategory_root%7CToys+and+games%7C12107734/ c_2/2%7Ccat_12107734%7CClearance+Toys+and+games%7C14992814.htm

HTH's.

nikos Fri 24-Jul-09 19:21:09

Actually I've found the older the male is the less likely they are to pick clothes off the floor grin

amberflower Fri 24-Jul-09 20:06:47

cjones can you send your DS round to teach my DH (never mind DS!) to pick clothes up off the floor? As he hurtles towards 40 he has yet to master this skill! grin

My DS also went through a bit of a washing machine phase, was never that bothered about watching them spinning for long periods but the first thing he'd notice about any new house visited was where the 'heen' was, and one of his favourite activities for a while was popping up to the local Curry's to 'look at heens'. I'm sure the staff thought we were bonkers, but he enjoyed it smile

lingle Fri 24-Jul-09 20:16:29

Oh yeah washing machines! Have a photo of my DS1 attempting washing machine penetration during spin cycle stuck up on the kitchen wall.

What's not to like?

studentmummy Fri 24-Jul-09 21:43:18

Funny - washing machines don't see the attraction myself!!
However - hey ho only another three years until my son can do it for me ref CJones - yipee! Brilliant training -should be mandatory for all sons.

Thought you might like this article I found last night - a bit dry and not as much fun as this discussion but very interesting I think -
'Obsessions in children with autism or asperger's syndrome' Simon Baron-Cohen Journal of Psychiatry 175 p 484-490
found under the autismresearchcentre.com website when goggling paper title.

It explains that children with ASD perform lower in folk psychology (i.e. understanding how people work) but higher in folk physics (i.e. understanding how machines work) compared to general population and control group with tourettes. Obsessions range from washing machines to vacuum cleaners and burglar alarms! Also a great article on this website entitled 'talent in autism' about superior systemising skills and attention to detail in children with ASD - always knew my son was a genius (albeit a silent, door banging one!!)

nikos Sat 25-Jul-09 07:34:22

My ds is a huge systemiser. Each child in his class is in a group so whenever you ask about a particular child, when he says her name he'll say 'Sophie's in the green group'.
Or just about anything he will try and fit into a system. Quite amazing to watch actually and strikes me as a very scientific brain (am a scientist myself but not on the spectrum).

studentmummy Sun 26-Jul-09 20:48:59

Nikos - very interesting future scientist in the making I would say!!

fatslag Sun 26-Jul-09 21:16:25

Does your little one pretend play? Vroom vroom with cars, choo choo with trains, play with dolls/action figures/tea sets?

What does he do with his toy washing machine? Pretend to use it "like mummy" or just watch it spin?

Lack of spontaneous pretend play is a big red flag.

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