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Autism, dyspraxia, something else?

6 replies

Bluebellsanddaffodil · 30/03/2024 19:03

I was hoping for some advice. Please go gently on me. It's been a tough week and I'm feeling pretty exhausted from filling in DLA forms for another child.

I one child who has an anxiety disorder and is waiting an autism assessment. My husband and I are both neurodivergent in one (or multiple!) way or another.

We've always suspected our eldest child is neurodivergent in some way. School have, this week, suggested we refer him...only I'm not entirely sure what for yet!

He is quite academic, but I wouldn't say he's performing hugely above average across the board. English and history are his strengths, maths is something that doesn't interest him at all and he seems to find it trickier.

He struggles with gross motor skills. He has been unable to learn to ride a bike and he's almost eight. Swimming is progressing but very slowly, despite 1:1 lessons. I've watched the children in the 2:1 lesson before him start at the same time and a similar level, but progress at a way faster rate. He struggles with hand eye coordination - not great and throwing or things like tennis. Things like handwriting is maybe behind, but I find it difficult to judge as school don't really say what is typical and what isn't so I really have no idea.

He can appear quite rigid in speech and facial expressions when speaking to others, but is more expressive to us. He has an amazing imagination and tends to hyperfocus on topics, carrying people along in his enthusiasm.

He is very disorganised. He loses things all the time. If I tell him to put his socks on, brush his teeth and put his shoes on, he will forget what I've asked him to do. This morning I asked him to get his long sleeved top to take with us somewhere, no fewer than five times before he did it! He doesn't seem to remember. Is this normal?

His teacher reports that he seems to concentrate better with no noise. She also says that when he works he finishes super quickly but he hasn't really finished - he just hasn't added detail. I wonder if he isn't remembering what detail he is supposed to add so he thinks he's finished.

A teacher also says that if he feels strongly about something he becomes quite vocal about it. ShE is concerned that in future it could be seen as defiance where as she doesn't think it is that. He is a complete rule follower otherwise, always wants to follow rules and doesn't like it when people mess around. But things like the insistence of coat wearing really upsets him. He seems to have a strong sense of justice and if he feels he or someone else has been wronged, he finds it really upsetting.

He has also always seemed more comfortable with adults. Some of the adults who help in school he had formed a class bond with and he gets very excited when one of them in particular comes in one day a week.

We are at the stage where school are saying 'refer him' but I don't quite know where to and what route to take. Where we live there is a private provider working on behalf of the NHS who we have referred one of our other children to but that is just for autism. However I'm not sure with our son it is autism or something else and I don't know where to go. School is in a different local authority so they aren't entirely clued up on our one, although they are trying to find out the information. Our GP is awful - really awful so going via them is difficult. I can't even get an appointment.


Sorry for the waffle but I guess I sort of need advice on what to do, where to go. Are we expecting too much of him?

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Headfirstintothewild · 30/03/2024 21:19

I would look at a referral for both ASD and DCD.

In the meantime, the school should be providing support. Are they? For example, do they have anyone who delivers something like Jump Ahead or Fizzy? Has DS tried using a laptop or speech to text software? Does he use noise cancelling headphones or ear defenders?

Some areas have a bike group/clinic run by OTs and/or physios for those who have struggled to learn to ride a bike. It would be worth seeing if your area does and if DS meets the criteria (sometimes you have to already be under the service to attend).

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Bluebellsanddaffodil · 30/03/2024 21:27

Headfirstintothewild · 30/03/2024 21:19

I would look at a referral for both ASD and DCD.

In the meantime, the school should be providing support. Are they? For example, do they have anyone who delivers something like Jump Ahead or Fizzy? Has DS tried using a laptop or speech to text software? Does he use noise cancelling headphones or ear defenders?

Some areas have a bike group/clinic run by OTs and/or physios for those who have struggled to learn to ride a bike. It would be worth seeing if your area does and if DS meets the criteria (sometimes you have to already be under the service to attend).

Thank you! There's some really helpful things above for me to research. I really appreciate your response.

He is doing OK in school at the moment and seems to be coping fine generally. The class teacher is fab and does seem to adjust to the individual child so she has offered headphones on occasion but I don't think it's consistent. I don't think she recognised that him not adding detail to his work might be a sign of something but rather saw it as he's rushing. I think that's her being unaware rather than mean though if that makes sense.

It was the HT who mentioned a referral and I think she's very much thinking about his next school. He is currently in a small infant school. They are nurturing and supportive but he will love to a large junior school in September.

I don't know It ADD is worth considering as well. I have ADD. I think if I was to suggest it to anyone they would be confused as so many people have a set stereotype idea of what ADD is and he doesn't fit that stereotype. But his organisation skills and ability to misplace everything is familiar to me!

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Headfirstintothewild · 30/03/2024 21:31

The signs of different forms of neurodiversity overlap significantly. Organisational difficulties and losing things could equally be well explained by e.g. DCD.

From your posts, even if you think DS is coping OK at school, there are signs he needs additional support so I would be looking at that. Particularly in respect to an enhanced transition to junior school. It is worth speaking to the SENCO of the junior school if you haven’t already.

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Ihaveleft · 03/04/2024 09:01

Bluebellsanddaffodil · 30/03/2024 19:03

I was hoping for some advice. Please go gently on me. It's been a tough week and I'm feeling pretty exhausted from filling in DLA forms for another child.

I one child who has an anxiety disorder and is waiting an autism assessment. My husband and I are both neurodivergent in one (or multiple!) way or another.

We've always suspected our eldest child is neurodivergent in some way. School have, this week, suggested we refer him...only I'm not entirely sure what for yet!

He is quite academic, but I wouldn't say he's performing hugely above average across the board. English and history are his strengths, maths is something that doesn't interest him at all and he seems to find it trickier.

He struggles with gross motor skills. He has been unable to learn to ride a bike and he's almost eight. Swimming is progressing but very slowly, despite 1:1 lessons. I've watched the children in the 2:1 lesson before him start at the same time and a similar level, but progress at a way faster rate. He struggles with hand eye coordination - not great and throwing or things like tennis. Things like handwriting is maybe behind, but I find it difficult to judge as school don't really say what is typical and what isn't so I really have no idea.

He can appear quite rigid in speech and facial expressions when speaking to others, but is more expressive to us. He has an amazing imagination and tends to hyperfocus on topics, carrying people along in his enthusiasm.

He is very disorganised. He loses things all the time. If I tell him to put his socks on, brush his teeth and put his shoes on, he will forget what I've asked him to do. This morning I asked him to get his long sleeved top to take with us somewhere, no fewer than five times before he did it! He doesn't seem to remember. Is this normal?

His teacher reports that he seems to concentrate better with no noise. She also says that when he works he finishes super quickly but he hasn't really finished - he just hasn't added detail. I wonder if he isn't remembering what detail he is supposed to add so he thinks he's finished.

A teacher also says that if he feels strongly about something he becomes quite vocal about it. ShE is concerned that in future it could be seen as defiance where as she doesn't think it is that. He is a complete rule follower otherwise, always wants to follow rules and doesn't like it when people mess around. But things like the insistence of coat wearing really upsets him. He seems to have a strong sense of justice and if he feels he or someone else has been wronged, he finds it really upsetting.

He has also always seemed more comfortable with adults. Some of the adults who help in school he had formed a class bond with and he gets very excited when one of them in particular comes in one day a week.

We are at the stage where school are saying 'refer him' but I don't quite know where to and what route to take. Where we live there is a private provider working on behalf of the NHS who we have referred one of our other children to but that is just for autism. However I'm not sure with our son it is autism or something else and I don't know where to go. School is in a different local authority so they aren't entirely clued up on our one, although they are trying to find out the information. Our GP is awful - really awful so going via them is difficult. I can't even get an appointment.


Sorry for the waffle but I guess I sort of need advice on what to do, where to go. Are we expecting too much of him?

My child and I are dyspraxic. Your child’s traits sound like dyspraxic traits. You can have traits of this condition without fully meeting the threshold for diagnosis but only a paediatrician can tell for you sure.

My child also has autism. I noticed the dyspraxia because I have it. Nursery spotted the autism.

Someone with dyspraxia (or dyslexia) has reportedly a 50pc chance of having a comorbidity. I have ADHD, child has ASD and SPD.

1st thing is go back to your GP - or change GP - and say you suspect dyspraxia and see markers of a sensory processing disorder (foods, textures as you have mentioned) and autism (rules and rigid thinking, my child is the same). Ask for an immediate referral to the paediatric service. Don’t be fobbed off by a referral to OT - rly long waiting list and OT can help but not diagnose and diagnosis is important as you will know for accessing a whole range of services and support from SEN plans to DLA to parking badges to local offer type SEN activities and clubs.

Keep going back to the GP/new GP until maybe you get a telephone appt at least with someone who is willing to refer.

Then go back to the school - this bit is crucial and they should do it - and say now your child is on the diagnostic pathway/pathways they need a SEN plan and reasonable adjustments in class. You don’t know how long you will be waiting for diagnsoses.

School best practice is to teach to need, not to diagnosis. This approach can be a fob-off, eg Senco says yes there’s possibly going to be a diagnosis but we can’t see the need/child presents well in school and is keeping up academically. Then you respond by saying you’re observing a lot of needs at home which are magnified by the extreme efforts your child has to make to keep up/regulate in school so please help them more at school as they are not functioning at home.

If you can manage this at all a report from a private ed psych asap that spots eg low visual spatial and processing IQ supports the case for adjustments in school. This got us TA support while we waited for dyspraxia diagnosis. This cost us £750.

Strap in for a long NHS wait - sounds like you already know this. My child’s referral was at age 4. Full diagnosis happened at age 9. But the above in the meantime may make life somewhat easier at school.

I’ve never experienced being referred to an outsourced private provider so hopefully that doesn’t complicate things too much.

If sth your school or healthcare provider says doesn’t feel ok, I have learned, it likely isn’t ok and it’s best to just keep asking. I have in the past felt reassured by the Senco said my child would be fine in future and then he wasn’t fine. They were running the clock down a bit and I was just delaying the next necessary battle. I was tired and grateful for the false sense of security at times. Being fobbed off and then realising I was gaslit was annoying tho so I just crack on with it now.

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Headfirstintothewild · 03/04/2024 09:57

diagnosis is important as you will know for accessing a whole range of services and support from SEN plans to DLA to parking badges

Diagnosis is important, but SEN support, DLA and blue badges are based on needs, not diagnosis. For example, a diagnosis won’t automatically mean someone is eligible for DLA or a blue badge. Rather than being about fobbing parents off, school support being needs led is based on the law and means DC can receive support from the moment they are identified as having SEN rather than waiting for diagnosis. And to ensure they receive support tailored to them because DC with the same diagnosis have different needs thus need different special educational provision. School saying DC are fine in school happens just as much to DC with a diagnosis as it does without - unfortunately, in the current climate in schools DC whose parents advocate for them get better support whether they have a diagnosis or not.

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Bluebellsanddaffodil · 04/04/2024 06:01

Headfirstintothewild · 30/03/2024 21:31

The signs of different forms of neurodiversity overlap significantly. Organisational difficulties and losing things could equally be well explained by e.g. DCD.

From your posts, even if you think DS is coping OK at school, there are signs he needs additional support so I would be looking at that. Particularly in respect to an enhanced transition to junior school. It is worth speaking to the SENCO of the junior school if you haven’t already.

Thank you. Yes, the transition to juniors is the concern for the HT when I spoke to her. Once school places come out on 16th, I'll see if I can speak to the SENCO at the juniors. It's very unlikely he won't get our chosen junior school, but I suppose it's not official until 16th.

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