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Early signs of autism

(13 Posts)
BackOffMargery Wed 21-Oct-09 15:41:59


I am new to these boards so I hope that I am not asking something that has been asked a million times before.

Me and my husband have suspected that our nearly 2 year old son might be autistic. We forced the SALT we see to tell us her opinion without trying to side-step the issue. She agreed with us. Serves us right for asking eh? We expected her to say Nooooooo, he's fine!

She said that it wasn't an official diagnosis by a long way so it isn't confirmed. We think he's a bit young to have a proper assessment.

So, finally, my question is: For those of you who have children on the autistic spectrum, what were they like at 2 years old?


sphil Wed 21-Oct-09 15:52:58

DS2 had very little language - about 6 words. He babbled repetitively - a sort of 'dickerdickerdicker' sound. He didn't respond to his name. He was very independent and didn't seek out contact with adults or children to any great extent. His sleep began to be disrupted at about 2. He was showing great interest in things like patterns on floors and would follow them up and down for long periods. He didn't point or direct our attention to anything. He was only interested in a very small, familiar range of toys, books etc.

However, he also had fairly good eye contact, was not at all rigid or routine based and was calm and happy for much of the time. This made people (relatives and professionals) think he couldn't possibly be autistic.

sickofsocalledexperts Wed 21-Oct-09 15:58:26

I was told that one of the first signs of autism is lack of "shared attention" - ie does he point in order to show you something? Or does he look at something and then look at you, to check that you've seen it. My boy at 2 was in his own world, didn't talk, didn't make eye contact when someone came into the room, didn't respond to his name, spent his whole day doing obsessive repeitive things (eg lining up toys, or running the taps and flooding the sink) They say it's not so much just the lack of speech, but the lack of desire to communicate - he had no interest in sharing what he was doing with me or his sister/father. He also had no imaginative play, and he would flap his hands up and down and bounce endlessly, making an "eeeeeeeeee" sound. He was also aggressive if he didn't get his own way, biting and hitting. I felt like I was going mad as he NEVER EVER stopped moving, bouncing, throwing things, running taps etc etc, so I had to watch him for every second of every day. Of course all autistic kids are as different from each other as are all nf kids, so your DS might be very different to the above picture. Autistic kids can be anywhere from mild to severe on each of the three triad of impairments (social, speech and repetitive/obsessive)
By the way, much of this behaviour has now gone as we've trained him using a method called ABA - eg he's no longer aggressive and he has much more speech, play skills, reading etc. If you start teaching him early the brain is "plastic" and you can literally change his outcome. Good luck!

cyberseraphim Wed 21-Oct-09 16:11:16

Agree with the others - main symptom is lack of desire/ability to communicate at the level of his peers- unless it was his own interest which he would 'force' on you obsessively. It did not seem obsessive at the time having nothing to compare it with but now I realise it was. He had no speech at 2 which again I now know is definitely not normal but was fobbed off by 'well wishers' who insisted otherwise. Ending on an optimistic note, he is 5 now and still autistic but much more advanced/developed.

jasdox Wed 21-Oct-09 16:21:09

likewise, one word 'ello', little interest in others. went through all the toys at lightening speed (little concentration), liked stuffing things, jigsaws, car wheels, pram wheels and lights, open closing doors, pouring water, animals and mainly looking at books. never really tanturms. dragged us to everything, insisted we feed him (still does). did not understand many requests or under/over/on etc. very affectionate loves being held still does. at nearly 4 a v. charming, funny and engaging autistic.

sickofsocalledexperts Wed 21-Oct-09 17:06:34

Oh yes, I forgot the dragging us by the hand. A paed explained to me that they are essentially using your hand as a tool to get what they want, as they don't yet realise that just by talking to you they will actually achieve the same result.

sphil Wed 21-Oct-09 17:12:36

I'd forgotten the dragging too - we had that as well. It took DS2 until he was about 4 to realise that he could use language as a tool (I credit PECS with this).

cyberseraphim Wed 21-Oct-09 17:42:27

Yes - using adult as tool until around 2.6. I remember thinking 'Isn't it odd they don't mention this in baby books' blush

grumpyoldeeyore Wed 21-Oct-09 20:06:55

My son lost speech at 2. Started dragging by the hand, sort of throwing my hand in the direction of what he wanted without using words. Looked through me. If anyone cried he wouldn't look up. Stopped pointing at things. Stopped bringing me things to share the toy - but still wanted me to sit with him while he looked at it. No interest in other children. Very placid, self contained, didn't call me by name, didn't answer if I called him. Sang songs again and again. Loved VTech toys. Learnt the alphabet and numbers. Used his peripheral vision - looks at things at odd angles. Stopped caring when he was told off - just sort of tuned us out. He still had his words but stopped directing them at another person. Still very loving and cuddly though but just very happy in his own company (and the computer). Lost a lot of self help skills eg lost interest in dressing self, feeding self etc. Limited interest - books, computer, Vtech. Limited attention span. Always been good sleeper though and few of the behavioural problems mentioned - few tantrums but sometimes gets teary or laughs for no obvious reason also has relatively few sensory issues. Have you scored the MCHAT? Can download it - I found this useful for what signs to look for. Can diagnose at 18 months if clear cut. Early intervention really important - even if you don't get a diagnosis try and get portage and speech therapy in place now. Talk to SALT about PECS - often they push sign with younger children but if your child doesn't look at you sign isn't likely to work and you might be better offering choices by way of picture symbols.

mysonben Thu 22-Oct-09 00:44:56

DS is now 4, at around 2, he was nearly non-verbal with only a few unclear words to his language but lots of gibberish. He pointed at things he wanted with great difficluties, had to be constantly reminded to 'show us' what he wanted.
He also dragged us by the hand and used our hand to gesture towards the object of desire
(he still occasionally does it). DS was a bad sleeper and a finicky eater (still is).
He hardly responded promptly to his name when called. He played endlessly at 'lining up' his cars and anything he could find such as shoes, remote controls , pegs,...with no imaginary or pretend play.
DS ever hardly brought toys or anything for us to share/play with him spontanously.
He didn't join in in nursery rhymes actions, and played solely alone when at nursery.
He could watch the same dvd over and over and over... from very young he had a huge attention span for the tv (still does).
He often had over the top reactions (ie: reaction didn't match the situation).
DS was very wary of strangers, and started making odd noises (vocal stims) at around 2 if i recall rightly.

mysonben Thu 22-Oct-09 00:59:04

Yes forgot to say : he played at opening/closing doors a lot too, and taking things out of bathroom cabinet and put them back in again and again.
Like others have said , asd kids are different just as nt kids are , differents levels on the triad, different likes and you need to look at the whole picture, not just a lack of speech or a love of doors wink
DS has always been cuddly and affectionate with me and dh, but somehow on his own terms.
Now he is 4, he has come a long way, is making good progress with his speech and everyone that meets him say how lovely he is.

PerryPlatypus Thu 22-Oct-09 17:57:50

It's a while ago now but at that age ds1 had no language or babbling. He spent a lot of time sitting in the cupboard under our sink with the doors closed. He had to have particular routines or he would go to pieces. A lot of the time he appeared to be deaf.

Ds2 at that age had some single words, mostly numbers and the names of shapes. He was fascinated with anything round and also the colour red. He was very very active and had no sense of danger whatsoever. He hated loud noise and spent most of his time wearing just a nappy as he couldn't tolerate the feel of clothes on his skin.

BackOffMargery Thu 22-Oct-09 22:30:47

Hello again,

Thank you for taking the time to reply. It has been enlightening.

The difficulty with DS is that he is hard of hearing, so some of his behaviour could be put down to that.
What made us think that he might be autistic (and I think it would be mildly so) is that he doesn't like other children, he plays on his own and in the last month if they come near him he starts flapping at them, to hit them. Kind of to get them away from him.
He also has slightly obsessive behaviour, he loves doors at the moment. But you can lure him away from them eventually and sometimes quite quickly.
He has no imaginative play at all so far. We have shown him how to play with cars, offer him a car and he gives it back for you to play with and him to watch. If you ask him what to do with a brush or the phone, he will act it, but won't do it of his own accord, and won't pretend a teddy is doing it or whatever.
His pointing skills are getting better, before he used to use my hand to point at a picture in a book, now he points (not necessarily with his index finger) and now that he is nearly walking, he has been going to point to things, but he has to touch them. He doesn't do distance pointing.
He loves books and a wide selection of books, although he has his favourites.
He has no language at the moment, but does babble, also kind of sings.
He has weak muscle tone in his legs and very bendy joints so has only just started walking on his own, with lots of falling down.
Having said all this, I think he has good eye contact, he likes a cuddle and will come for a cuddle if something has upset him, or he is tired. He sleeps and eats well. He was late with all his milestones (he didn't smile until over 3 months old) so I still hope that he will "get it", but just later than everyone else.
I don't want him to be assessed too early, but I also feel like I am in limbo, waiting to see if he will get worse, or improve. i know that he isn't like the other children, even the physio said that today.

Thanks for reading and telling me your experiences.

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