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Nursery teacher thinks DS has autism....

(22 Posts)
MrsBrendanCole Fri 09-Oct-09 14:39:13

I just cant believe it. I know he has he strange little ways and cant talk well at all but i had no idea i was walking into this today.

Got appt with GP on monday, can someone please tell me what happens now. I just cant believe this.

Hes my little boy and hes my world and i know that wont change but oh god...i dont know.

Can someone help me please?

unfitmother Fri 09-Oct-09 15:34:09

Very sorry to hear that.

It seems strange that the Nursery teacher was suggesting a possible diagnosis and quite unprofessional.

Don't panic, he's only young yet, keep calm and get professional opinions. DS' paeditrician asked me if I thought he was autistic at about 6 and told me it was too soon to tell.

He was, but he was 11 before he was diagnosed. It was difficult but he's still the same boy, I love him just as much and wouldn't change him for the world.

I'm sure you feel the same.

Good luck! smile

BunnyRabbit Fri 09-Oct-09 15:49:53

Don't panic!!

Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder is exactly that. It's a very wide spectrum of lots of different disorders, some of them very mild some not. Some are just difficulties with social communication, or intgration. It sound like she has noticed that your DS acts slighlty differntly that's all, and that may be some of that behavius is something that might be exhibited by a child with ASD. That doesn't mean that's what he has. It may be he has a higher IQ than her and she's not used ot that!!

Best to have a chat with the GP, but don't worry. They all develop at different rates and in different ways that's all. If every child was exactly the same how boring our lives would be.


notfromaroundhere Fri 09-Oct-09 16:02:22


Did the nursery teacher explain why she thought he may be on the autism spectrum? And what the nursery where going to do to help your DS with the difficulties she has observed?

I don't think it's right for the Nursery teacher to have said she thinks he may be autistic - as she is in no position to diagnose. That said if your DS is having difficulties the earlier you get appropriate help for him the better.

Do you think your son would benefit from some extra help? Is your GP helpful? I have to say although 1 GP at my local surgery is good, she still wouldn't be my first port of call for development issues. (but then my HV was very helpful). You can ring the Speech and Language Therapy and get him on the waiting list directly if you are concerned about his speech and communication.

I feel for you, I was the one who initally raised concerns about my DS1 and got him into the system, but having it confirmed that he did have difficulties was very hard for me, so it must have hit you like a tonne of bricks for the Nursery Teacher to approach you.

unfitmother Fri 09-Oct-09 16:30:50

My HV was my first port of call, she refered DS to the Clinic Doctor (a community paediatrician).

thinkingaboutdrinking Fri 09-Oct-09 18:37:29

Just wanted to say to OP - this happened to us - a call from nursery - they sat me down and said we think your DS has autism. As far as we are concerned he has quirks but nothing like ASD. However, we are going through the full assessment process because I spend the whole time worrying about it.
BUT when we told the health centre that nursery had said this they were really cross and said that nursery have no right to make what is essentially a medical diagnosis.
I have calmed down a bit now, but just wanted to let you know you are not alone - and big shock, stress, and anger are all normal to be feeling. Whatever happens - he is still the same child and whether you get DX or not - maybe the health professionals will be able to give you some advice. hth

Marne Fri 09-Oct-09 18:46:31

Just thought i would say hi,

First you will see the community paed, if they feel they need to they will refer him to the Autistic diagnostic team.

As others have said the Autistic spectrum is huge, i have 2 dd's on the spectrum, dd1 has Aspergers and is getting on well at school and you wouldn't know that she is on the spectrum. Dd2 has Autism (not sure where she is on the spectrum but we suspect HFA), she's only just started talking at 3.5 years old and has a lot of communication problems a long with a few sensory problems.

I wouldn't worry too much at this stage as there is also a chance that the nursery worker has no idea what she is talking about, wait and see what your GP has to say.

4nomore Fri 09-Oct-09 19:07:33

Sadly there's every chance the GP will have no idea what they're talking about (re.ASD) but at least they'll be able to refer you to the people who do know

VicarInaBooTu Fri 09-Oct-09 20:02:45

try not to worry to much - but i think personally that the sooner you know what your dealing with the better

my son wasnt dx until he was nearly 8, and it was a battle from the age of 5 to get him dx and help/support put in place.

i wrote to our community paed, who helped us get a dx.

and remember - whatever name they give his difficulties - he is just the same little boy he was before you knew anything.

my son is 17, its not all doom and gloom. he is doing A levels and holds down a part time job, and plans to go to uni. x

likeacuppa Fri 09-Oct-09 20:58:02

I'd definitely agree that you need to get a proper assessment to know one way or the other, and that it sounds as if nursery didn't handle it very tactfully -- or, from what you say, professionally.

This sort of happened to us too, we thought DS1 had lots of behavioural problems but absolutely didn't see dx of ASD coming. The shock when it was first mentioned out of the blue was awful. If it does come to a dx (which obviously no one can say yet) you will need to give yourself some time to grieve for the child you thought you had. I remember saying at the dx meeting 'everything's different, and everything's the same'. It's a very hard time, and you can feel totally devastated and overcome with despair, anger and love for your DC all at once.

You are right that he is still the same child and he'll always be your child. That's the main thing to hold onto.

ki28 Sat 10-Oct-09 14:09:30

hi,big hugs from me.

i had the same experience,we went to a routine teachers morning to look at his work and got told that they belive he is on the spectrum. he is 4 and half

This was just ten months ago,and things ahve not changed much since apart from assements everywhere and with everyone.

my best advice is that your son is still the same boy as always,he hasnt changed,so dont treat him any different. It just other peoples understanding of your child changes.

Accept all help offered and remember that you know your son best.

best of luck

MrsBrendanCole Mon 12-Oct-09 10:44:00

Thanks everyone! He has got a speech delay and has had one session of Chatterbox (which as its based on sign, didnt really help) but since starting nursery 3 weeks ago(!), his speech has come on and he's trying a lot more sounds.

My HV is next to useless and GP is ok so going down the GP route.

I cant express how angry i am at the school for telling me in this way and when or if this is over, i would like an apology.

She didnt say why, just that he has "unusual behaviour" for a 3 yr old, they have some bottles or something and ds turns them so they are the right way around and if hes playing with bricks, he sorts them into colours (which i taught him to do!) and he doesnt have a long attention span - yet at home, he will sit and watch a DVD but his favourite thing to do is a jigsaw, surely that takes concentration?

So he has a speech delay, doesnt concentrate (which i dispute), sorts things into colours and is just particular about things being neat! All characteristics of my DH when he was younger and to a certain degree, in the way of neatness, even now.

He is an extremly loving and affectionate child, will (most of the time) do as i ask and will always bring whatever i ask him to bring, he is fully aware if he upsets me or DH and has no emotional problems.

Sorry ive rambled a bit, thanks for listening

pagwatch Mon 12-Oct-09 12:32:14

can I say...
don't focus your anger on this issue.
the nursery teacher may not have handled this well but she is not trying to make you think your child has autism - she is flagging a concern which, if true, may be a help to your child.

Children who are identified and helped easrliest have the best chance of getting positive support and results.
If you bitch slap the school then next time a child is in need of special support and care they may be reluctant to talk to the parents.
By all means go in and talk about improving the way they raised this but truthfully - how do you raise this in a way that is not upsetting.

My DS is 13 and I still have no idea how I would approach a parent if I saw anything that was of real concern.

You are angry and frightened. Don't fire that at someone who is actually trying to get your child the right help - however badly they went abvout it.

The way I was told was like a slap in the face but all these years later I am very grateful that she just said it. Otherwise I would have been tiptoed around by people too scared to say what I now know many thought.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Mon 12-Oct-09 12:44:17

Yes, I agree, they are just concerned and want to make sure he gets help IF he is on the spectrum.

If he is on it it sounds like it would be mild anyway, from your description.

My DD clearly IS on it somewhere and possibly not mildly, and her playgroup staff couldn't care less and insist on treating her as normal and just disobedient, I would much prefer them to be aware of ASD and a bit more sensitive about it.

They sound clumsy but well-meaning.

However I know it IS a terrible shock, I remember the first time anyone mentioned it to us, and even for a while after, it felt like being repeatedly punched/slapped when it was mentioned. I don't think people who haven't been through it can understand, really.

MrsBrendanCole Tue 13-Oct-09 08:19:11

Well, I took Ds to the GP's last night and she has dismissed autism and is not willing to pursue it because she feels its unjustified! (BTW, GP has known DS since birth, its a small village surgery).

She said he does have a lack of speech but not a lack of communication as he demonstrates other ways to get his point across and she think some of his behaviour will go when he learns to speak, for example, he covers his ears when he hears a sound he doesnt want to hear, not because its too loud and hes oversensitive to hearing, if he could speak, hed say "i dont want that one, i want that other one".

Im obviously pleased but also a bit wary of how dismissive she was, so we're being "optimistically cautious" for a while.

She said his other traits, lining up cars, sorting bricks into colors etc were simple personality traits and owing to the fact that my DH is /was the same, she was "certain" of that.

I am angry at the way i was told, not at the fact i was told, of course i would like to be told again if someone else suspects something or someone else but there are definitely more tactful ways of doing it and thats what im angry about.

Thanks for listening and i will continue to 'lurk' x

jasdox Tue 13-Oct-09 12:39:30

Hi MrsBrendanCole,

Wow that must have been some shock.

Just to hello, and that your description sounds just like my ds, and he is under assessmente and I know he is. My sis diagnosed him at 18m, but did not tell me and let me work it out myself, about 9ms later. But he is very mild on the spectrum, he did not start talking till 2y9m, at nearly 4 he doing incredibility well, if not a little repetitive sometimes. Before he could talk, he could still communicate his wishes, take your hand and guide you to the desired object/need (this is also an autistic trait). Always been clumsy.

He is very affectionate, loves hugs, and follows requests, infact always likes to help. He also knows when we are angry, sad and gets upset if we are and likes to make us happy.

He lines things up, colour sorts, currently into Ben 10 as his friends are (although still prefers his cars etc) and stuffing small items into larger ones.

Also friendly, likes people, but does not know how to interact with his peers, plays along side them, unless it chasing games, his v. good at that!

He has only fairly recently (well since the beginning of the year) develop a hearing sensitivity. He covers his ears to noises - baby crying, drill, hair dryer, liquidiser, motorbikes, lawn mowers. Hand dryers one of the worst and as he tells me everytime 'mummy do not use the dryer, dry your hands on your trousers' his idea. we are trying to work on this one.

This my still not be the case for your son, but it might be worth keeping a check on things. My son is my wold and a i would not change him at all. My ds is on IEPs at nursery and has come on hughly with a little help from staff (language and interaction), they have been fantastic and v. supportive and he loves them. If help is offered I would seriously consider it.

Good luck

BobbingForPeachys Tue 13-Oct-09 12:43:35

Wow- a nursery teacher with a Paed or Psych qualification, golly...... hmm

Gp and get refereed to people who know what they re talking about, and have a gander at the NAS website (esp. google NAS triad for starters).

The spectrum as others have said ranges so widely,please don't be scared- a great people with higher fundtioning ASD wouldn't stand out to you on the street at all. And with the right info, regardless of where they start off, they can progress far better than without appropriate help

Good luck

MrsBrendanCole Tue 20-Oct-09 13:37:04

Thanks everyone, Jasdox, it sounds like you have described my son! Almost all the traits you have described he does, with the exception of one or two, so i am definitely not ruling it out.

His speech is coming along really well but still very much below "the norm"!

What are IEP's and how does that work?


jasdox Tue 20-Oct-09 14:06:33

IEP is an individual education plan. I meet with the ds's keyworker at nursery and the inclusion worker and we discuss 3 tasks to be put into action over a 6 week period and then review and see if progress has been made or not and then modify depending on needs. For example one IEP was taking turns initially this was with an adult, then next IEP was taking turns with a peer with adult assistance and several IEPs later now with just peers, this would not have happened without the intervention. Also IEPs have been about lang, again initially, working on two words together, then three, etc the last one was on 'what' questions to see if he has understanding and listening. Also there are been playing with peers, also his need to hug people. They are all very little steps but with the right support his has been hitting his tasks and progress has been great. grin

MrsBrendanCole Wed 21-Oct-09 09:31:50

Thanks Jasdox, it sounds like your DS's nursery is great and hes coming along really well!

Im not sure what to do now to be honest, the GP said she will try to get him one to one speech theapy to help progress his speech and see if that "puts to bed" any autism doubts we or nursery still have, so i guess ive just got to wait for that.

Im still lurking though on this thread!

jasdox Wed 21-Oct-09 11:09:19

Now you have had time from the initial contact from the nursery staff, i would chat to them again, and if they have these concerns, what they feel what be appropriate to help, say you are hoping to get SALT and if inclusion/IEPs would be useful. To me these cannot do any r harm to your child and if helps can make real differences in the early days.

linglette Wed 21-Oct-09 12:05:15

Hi Mrs Brendan Cole,

My son is 4.2, the SALT mentioned the possibility of ASD to us at 3.2 because of his language delay and withdrawn behaviour at nursery. At 4 he is blossoming in every way. I'm actually looking forward to parents' evening. I have spent a lot of my time in the last eighteen months working with him to improve his language.

The trouble with your situation (mine last year) is that you can get paralysed by the "is he or isn't he?" debate. But there is no real difference between communication problems and ASD, ASD is just what you call it when your differences are great enough to be affecting your everyday life. It's not like making a medical distinction between a virus and a bacterial infection. Everyone has their agenda, and most websites present a simplified picture (I find the best quality discussions are actually on this forum).

I think that GPs are good at seeing a "whole child" with strengths and weaknesses, and at seeing the "apple doesn't fall far from the tree" thing about family resemblance, but they don't know much about the simple ways you can help your child cope with any little "wired-in" differences he may have. I think the specialists, on the other hand, have more knowledge of things that can help(though only sometimes - I'm now frankly way ahead of both my speech therapist and paediatrician thanks to this forum) but can unfortunately also tend to see the child as a "problem", or as "an autistic child" not as what he is - a child. You want your nursery staff to understand that, and to help him. labels are only necessary if they need more help than they can get without one.

It's critical to recognise that, for whatever reason, there is enormously useful information out there that's aimed primary at children with ASD but can help children with language delays and "little ways" as well (and frankly is useful for nearly all children). Whatever you do, don't turn down the chance to look at practical guidance for you and for school merely because they may use the "A" -word. The publications of the Hanen Foundations ( are superb quality and very optimistic/non-scary and I simply cannot recommend them highly enough.

I have declined diagnosis for my child with the full support of school, but
(i) most of what I learn is from experts in ASD (parents and SALTS on here and the publications of the wonderful Hanen organisation (
(ii) I've accepted that I have a responsibility to figure out (though it's a moving target!) what DS2's challenges are, what information and help school and I need to help him and whether we need a label to get that help (no, in our case).

Best wishes, try not to be angry with the nursery staff, they shouldn't have used the word autism, they should have just told you of the behaviours - but at least you know what is on their mind and so you can start to educate them about your son.

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