Could it be Autism or just a delay?

Em - posted on 11/13/2010 ( 36 moms have responded )

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My son is almost 3 years old. He was born a healthy full term baby, but spent his first year with lots of ear infections, and at 1 1/2 just slightly failed a hearing test. He had tubes put in place a year ago, and has been working with speech teachers for about 4 months.He still is starting to use sentences(at least that we understand) I have recently been told he has characteristics of mild Autism.He can be very lovable but is not a big on cuddling. He lines things up alot, doesn't always respond to his name, has a hard time making(he does occasionally make it) and maintaining eye contact, he gets very angry often, he throws things and hits, and is overactive. He also does not play with other children(even my daughter who is 2 year older than he is) He also has a great imagination and loves I spy books(and is really good at them) and is a definite visual learner.He's never been in daycare or anything other than home with us. I'm not sure what of this is important when asking for others opinions, but I'm curious what other moms of Autistic children think. I don't know anyone with Autism so have nothing to base anything on. If anyone has any insight I would appreciate it, until we can get in with a developmental pediatrition. Thanks so much!

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Sheila - posted on 11/14/2010

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Hi Em,

A big difference between Asperger's Syndrome and Autism is the communication factor. Children with classic autism (for lack of a better term) are usually communication delayed. Children with class asperger's syndrome often are characterized as sounding like "little professors." Speech/language is often advanced....very formalized and specific.

I have taught children (used to be special education teacher) on the spectrum before having my son (who is living with autism...six years).

The lining up of toys is a huge red flag (sorry). It crosses all ethnic/cultural groups with children living with ASD. As well, in terms of expressive language, at three a typically developing child should be understood 80% of the time (by anyone), making 3-5 words sentences (e.g. My soup is hot mama).

Children with autism do not fit cookie cutter stereotypes. Each child is very different from the other; however, they often have traits in common. Delayed speech, lack of sustained eye contact, lining up of toys, a-typical tantrums, self-regulation issues, and often obsessive attention to detail are considered red flags.

If you can, I would look into accessing a speech and language pathologist (often frustration/tantrums will be alleviated when expressive language becomes understood). I would begin the speech and language as I wait for the referral to the development ped to kick in.

As well, praise is great, but it has to be very specific. Good job, or aren't you being a big boy, etc...too general. So, You did a great job putting the toys away, or your hands are nice and clean, good job washing your hands! Be specific to the event.

I do not mean to frighten. I know I can sound clinical, or even cold, but I believe in being very specific and "taking the bull by the horns!" Too often parents of young children allow themselves to be calmed by the well meaning words of friends and family....(not you Em, clearly you are seeing areas that worry you and you are taking action...). But with ASD, the earlier we seek intervention, the better a child's quality of life will be. It is all about our children and we need to be aware of the red flags and take action.

Good luck to you.

Sheila

Angela - posted on 11/27/2010

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this is what i did-i contacted Babies Cant Wait. they did at home assessment of phillip. then they started working with phillip at my house. then we officially had him diagnosed with classic autism. i hope this is helpful.

Kathy - posted on 11/27/2010

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Hi there, I am the "lucky" mom of four children all under the umbrella of autism. Two have aspberger's for sure, and the 2 others are autistic. All four are high functioning, and with the right supports in place it is AMAZING what progress they can make. Seperately,the behaviors you described would not be particularly alarming, but when so many things seem "just not quite right" thn it is time to go to a dr. for a visit and a possible referral to someone who can diagnose. Best of luck!!

[deleted account]

Em,hang in there! I live in IL and we have a 3 /1/2 yo boy on the Autism spectrum,diagnosed at age 2 by a developmental pediatrician. We had him in EI(Early Intervention)through the state where he had Speech,Occupational and Developmental therapy till he was 3,then evaluated by the school district and placed in special ed preschool which is awesome as there are 8 students w/3 staff,plus volunteers,and they change diapers! Our little guy talks a lot more,better eye contact now,but has a ways to go.

Diane - posted on 11/16/2010

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My son was diagnosed with mild-to-mderate autism back in 2001, two weeks before his third birthday. he was non-verbal and significantly delayed. However, with early intervention and continual supports over the years, he is doing extremely well in Middle School with minimal supports, and most people would not be able to pick out the student in his classes with an IEP.



What I would recommend is that you may wish to evaluate the DSM-IV criteria used to determine if a child is on the Spectrum and identify with your husband as a team the issues your son may or may not have. This link will give you all the spectrum criteria: http://www.talkaboutcuringautism.org/aut... .



Many families will print this list out, cross off any item that is NOT an issue and write additional notes of concern in areas that may or may not be an issue for your son.



Another thing to consider: Take the ATEC (Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist), which was developed by a panel of doctors to help parents to get an idea of where he stands developmentally, and consider having him evaluated by a Neurologist.

ATEC - http://www.autism.com/ari/atec/atec_form... ; General info: http://www.autism.com/ari/atec/atec-onli... (We used it to gauge where our son was developmentally. Helped us get a better idea of where he was compared to typical development.) BTW, his first ATEC score was a 96 (zero is neuro-typical). My husband also took the ATEC and came up with a score in the 50's, but he was at work all day, and did not see many of the signs that I did being with him all day long. Either way, the scores were significant enough to help us decide to consult with a professional.



Based on the results of the ATEC, you may wish to consider having him evaluated by a Specialist. If you do not believe in the answers you are getting, get a second opinion. Go to a facility known for treating Autism, so that you will have access to professionals who are familiar with the signs and treatments. I AM NOT SAYING THAT IS WHAT YOU ARE DEALING WITH. Use your parental gut instinct. You know your child better than anyone. The Doctor Specialist only sees him for a short time, and may not be able to get a full picture. But if there are symptoms pointing at possible Autism, a second opinion should be considered.



Also understand I am not a big fan of neurologists. In general, they tend to miss out on subtle things such as sensory integration issues and will “blow these symptoms off” unless they are something extremely debilitating or require long term care (such as seizures, brain abnormalities, etc.) Again – these are my personal feelings. You most likely will get a better picture on addressing your son’s day to day needs through a neuropsychologist or child psychologist that specializes in the developmental delays INCLUDING  but not limited to: autism spectrum and sensory integration issues.



Some additional reading on this topic:



- Diagnosis Editorial: http://www.talkaboutcuringautism.org/aut...



- Interviewing questions and things to look for in para-professionals: http://www.tacanow.org/resources/art-of-...



- Why you do independent assessments (as apposed to just listening the early intervention or school district folks) http://www.talkaboutcuringautism.org/res...



2) Finding a knowledgeable medical doctor in your area:

Regardless if your son is on the spectrum or not, finding a knowledgeable doctor that understands autism or sensory integration is key.  There is a good list of doctors at this link to consider: http://www.autism.com/dan/danusdis.htm  or off the TACA web site http://www.talkaboutcuringautism.org/res...  These doctors are Defeat Autism now (DAN) doctors that can provide help in the area of allergies (which can greatly exasperate sensory issues and test for other biomedical issues that are treatable) and other related issues that only a doctor can help with. Many of these DAN doctors do not like medicating children and will try to take the time to problem solve and find a natural solution if available.  They also provide good insight on recommendations and can work with the para-professional team on these important “what to do next” steps. 



3) Assessment & Services for sensory integration issues and speech as a first step:

For many kids with delays getting a complete assessment and working with a good occupational therapist (OT) and speech pathologist (SLP) can greatly assist in helping mitigate and manage issues unique to the child. Currently – have you had an OT assessment? Or Speech Assessment? I would highly recommend starting here.



Diane in Middle TN, just a mom who has been on the autism journey for nearly a decade and firmly believes that Autism is Treatable and Recovery is possible for many kids with early intervention.

 

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36 Comments

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Annam - posted on 03/31/2012

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Hi! Have him assessed by a paediatrician; jus to be on the safe side. Sometimes it could be a mild form of austism that is not detected till much later. Take care and be strong!

Alicia - posted on 03/30/2012

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My oldest son has Aspergers Syndrome, as well as ADHD with anxiety. I was on bed rest my whole pregnancy, then bad things happened when I was in labour; the doctor on call was a twit, I kept saying something was wrong, and that I needed a C- section, she kept telling me I was just being lazy. He went into fetal distress and died. They revived him, and he spent a week in the NICU. As an infant he had colic that never went away, seriously, he stopped crying once he hit a year old. He also never slept, no naps, not even when he was teeny weeny. I used to call it his "I might miss something syndrome". It wasn't supposed to be this way......

When he was 2 I knew something was wrong; he would twirl a straw over a piece of paper and make up stories out loud for hours on end. He had a very apparent social deficit (even for that age) and was freakishly sensitive to light, sound, touch, and texture. It took years of me pushing for testing; no one agreed with me that there was a problem.



Autism is such a struggle; no one understands why your child acts the way they act (even you). They can be cruel and judgemental, and make you think that you suck at life. I was determined to save my son, and did everything I could to do so. I spent countless hours researching everything I could, started behavioral therapy, occupational therapy,physical therapy, and sensory therapy. I found a DAN doctor, changed his diet, started taking him to a chiropractor, did anything I could think of. Our second son has a neurological disorder (not Autism) and a severe speech delay. It's hard, it sucks, it's confusing, it's heartbreaking, and it's exhausting. It cost me some friends, and it started the ice cracking in my marriage, which is now ending. Through it all, he is the most amazing child, they both are, and I love them with everything I have.

Mariella - posted on 03/27/2012

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Hi

My son is 3 1/2 and he's been going to pre-school since the age of 2, but still not much interaction with other children. His speech is 2-3 words and is very difficult to let him follow instructions, his first reaction is "no" to everything

I live in London and my son has been assessed by a CDT (child development team), but I'm still waiting for their report to come through although they've anticipated a general delay, of 2 to 2.5 years old.

I'm really worried that this delay gap it will grow over the years and I would like to hear if any of you has some advice on the matter.

thank you so much...!!

Diane - posted on 11/28/2010

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On lowering yeast, know that it's not just yeast itself, but things that feed yeast (like sugar, corn, rice, beans, potatoes, etc.). These foods turn to sugar, which is a big yeast feeder. Doesn't mean these need to be eliminated completely, but used in moderation. Fresh corn is of course preferable to Fritos corn chips. Diluted fruit juices in lieu of full strength. For sugar in baking, we haven't used processed white sugar in years, but rather pure maple syrup, honey or stevia.

Lots of info on parenting children with autism on the TACA website at www.tacanow.org

diane in TN, mom to a 12-yr-old boy with autism

Martha - posted on 11/27/2010

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My son is 11 and has Autism. My son is very happy go lucky and he stays in his own little world.He does line things up. Does not acknowledge peers.Sounds like to me that he may have some autism too!

Annam - posted on 11/27/2010

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Hi! I have a 13 year old boy who is autistic - Aspergers Syndrome. You would need to get your son assessed by your paedtrician. He would have to go thru a series of tests and assessment. It is much easier to teach and cope with an autistic child when you know what to expect and what you are handling. You would need a lot of help for yourself and also for your son to train him with day-to-day living. An autistic child is very set on routine. So, as a mom, you would have to show him a route to follow that would make life a lot easier for him as he grows up. They all have their moment of joy, frustration, anger and so on. You will find yourself at a turmoil of what next, what do i do and so on. Take each day one at a time. Children, autistic or otherwise, all have their moments of joy, frustation, anger and so on. As a mum its our job to find a balance for them. It gets tiring and never ending but when that child responses with a smile or with an unexpected answer or something you didnt expect, its truly a joy and a blessing. Its no cruise but a total roller coaster, hang in there and go with the flow. The wait is worth the effort. I wish you all the best and God bless you. Thank you and take care. ALWAYS KEEP SMILING :)

Kristen - posted on 11/26/2010

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Hi Em
You have gotten some great advice here and it sounds as if you have started taking steps to help your son. It does sound as if he has some classic spectrum symptoms and so early intervention is absolutely key. One thing you mentioned re: ear infections - my guess is that he was on a lot of antibiotics prior to getting the ear tubes? If this is the case, he may have some digestive issues, allergies or yeast going on that will absolutely affect behavior, such as tantrums, hyperactivity, lack of focus, poor sleep patterns, etc. You might try implementing the GF/CF diet. Think about his diet. Does he prefer carbs? Does he prefer eating cheese, mac and cheese, pizza, gold fish crackers, milk? How are his bowel movements? When antibiotics are taken, they deplete the good bugs in the gut, making way for bad bugs, such as yeast. And yeast feeds on sugar, carbs - which leads to more yeast. It's a vicious cycle, but ultimately the gut is then "off balance" which can then lead to food allergies and digestive issues, whereby getting any good nutrition, vitamins, minerals into the body, becomes difficult. If it were me, I would try eliminating dairy and gluten (wheat) and see if you notice any improvement in behavior. It doesn't work for everyone, but if it is going to work, you should notice some improvement fairly quickly - and if so, stick to it. It is much easier to do on a younger child - although the first week, isn't much fun. I would also begin supplementation of probiotics, cod liver oil and some good vitamins and minerals. You'd be amazed at what symptoms yeast can cause and lack of good nutrition actually getting into the body.As for the rest of the issues, it sounds as if you are on the right track. Do some research, and if you'd like to contact me further about the diet, supplements, etc., please feel free to contact me privately. I have been where you are and my daughter is completely recovered and thriving. Best wishes, Kris

Melissa - posted on 11/26/2010

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no matter what it may turn out to be, the fact that you are reaching out is a great start. Join all the facebook groups and ask questions. My son who i thought was autistic, ended up having an autistic like issue that is sensory processing disorder. I treat each day the same as if he was autistic because on so many levels it is. Autistic is a buzz word that scares a lot of people. Be prepared to do a lot of education for people who might not understand. Just remember that no one understands you child like you do and try not to get upset at peoples stares, words or mild reactions.

You will do wonderful and if you are already getting help then you are a step ahead of most parents just finding out. Good luck!

Heather - posted on 11/20/2010

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There are a lot of red flags but I wouldn't jump to any conclusions until the testing is final. It's a long journey, you're in my prayers.

My son was born perfect and hit all his developmental milestones then regressed at 18 months. His diagnosis is regressive autism, CAPD, SID. He is also listed as vaccine injured by the CDCs VAERS.

Best Wishes,

Heather

Angela - posted on 11/20/2010

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I have a son with Autism and all I could suggest is ask your school district to come and do a special ed evaluation. Then when they come make sure you say everything you said here, personally I think it sounds like autism, but I am NO expert in any way just a mom. I have been through 4 yrs of evaluations, plans , doctors, specialist and other moms. I will tell you for me the best help I have gotten from other moms. But make sure you ask questions. I was scared of the diagnosis at first but I learned I had to be the voice for my son. You are on the right track just by asking. And you are starting early. There is so much help for kids these days. Even if its not autism I am sure they will be able to start you in the right direction for any help you may need. Good Luck and remember you are not alone.

Em - posted on 11/19/2010

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I took him for the evaluation with the school system...they are going to do a 3 week evaluation, to better assess him and his needs....they did mention a special placement in an autistic class-(for lack of better words) so they must too be seeing some of what I am seeing.....so hopefully we will have a better idea in the next month!! Thanks for everyones advice it is very much appreciated!!! :)

Valeria - posted on 11/19/2010

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You can take him for a school evaluation in your district. They do a good job evaluate children on the Autism spectrum. I do not mean to say your kid is on the spectrum, but it is always good getting him tested if you are feeling that something is not right. The public school system does have screening and evaluation services and it is very helpful. The evaluation is done by a team of profissionals such as a speech pathologist, psychologist , special education teacher and sometimes an OT( occupational therapist). They are pretty good to give an early diagnose. I hope it can help you! Good luck!

Diane - posted on 11/18/2010

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While you are waiting, document anything slightly off your child does, any evals on your child, & bring notes on write down his milestones. We started a Development binder because they are going to ask. Your school system also may need to test him for an IEP. My son is in his 2nd yr pre-K. We now suspect Asbergers & only have 10 wks til the next appt. He was originally diagnosed with Global Developmental Delay. His special needs preschool teacher is a gift from God! Hang in there.

Em - posted on 11/17/2010

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Thanks guys!! I called today to get him in to a developmental pediatrition but it takes months :(..... so now we wait I guess...I just wish I knew already!! lol

Dianne - posted on 11/17/2010

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Talk to your pediatrician about your suspitions and suggest that you be referred to someone that specializes in autism disorders. Sounds like your son may have aspergers syndrome which is a very mild form of autism.

Lynn - posted on 11/17/2010

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Just through a conversation with a peadiatrician while I was at a wedding while on holiday in Arizona.He was explaining to me that any child with autism on any level has a build up of yeast in their gut.
Anti yeast drops can't have a negative effect,so it is worth anyone trying.
My son has asperger's and we put him on the Nystatin,3 years ago and got positive results,he absorbs information better and responds in a more organised way.

Lynn - posted on 11/17/2010

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I agree with the advice you have been given,but I would also say try and lower your child's yeast intake.
Children with ASD get a build up of yeast in their gut,so the signals reach the brain in a muddle.If you can reduce the yeast,the signals travel towards the brain in a more organised route.
My son has Nystatin, anti-yeast drops twice a day,it has made a noticable difference to him.

Julie - posted on 11/17/2010

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hello Em..just thought i'd let you know my 1st son also lined toys up and did jigsaw puzzles back to front (picture down) he didn't want cuddles and wasn't interested in other kids preferring the company of adults. He is now 14 and an average stroppy teenager, no autism or any social problems. I think the trouble is with asd beginning to be better documented we automatically start ticking off the symptoms for an asd rather than looking into any other possible difficulties. Saying this my second son was talking and walking at expected age,a loving child who has a great imagination and loved playing on his own but would play alongside other kids happily, he has Aspergers syndrome. it won't hurt to get you're son checked for an ASD but problems with hearing at such a young age can cause a child to be slightly more withdrawn than the average kid and obviously will have a knock on effect with speech and general social interaction. My mother is Deaf and has been since a child she has told me how she felt isolated and didn't want to join in to what was a very vocal environment. But either way all my family are living full happy lives even if your son has an ASD or any other difficulties with your help he can lead a brilliant life and be whatever he wants to be. xx

Karna - posted on 11/17/2010

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Hallo Em... I agree with everybody. So not going to repeat anything they said - just one thing: Always, always, always trust your gut feeling.
Even when you get to a paediatrician or neuropsychologist (or who ever you choose to evaluate your son), once they give you a diagnosis - if you are not sattisfied, or feel something is still amiss - trust that gutfeeling and get more opinions.
My own son was misdiagnosed three times! And instead of having the advantage of getting an early diagnosis at 3 (when we first had him tested), we only got the right diagnosis at 7! I am angry at myself for not trusting my gutfeeling, but that of the specialists.
So if you still have that nagging feeling... get more opinions! This will empower you to help your child as soon as possible in the best possible way.

Em - posted on 11/16/2010

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Thanks to everyone....his hearing is perfect now, with no long term damage thank goodness, and we just did an evaluation for preschool it too is a special needs mixed with "peer model" class so they will work with his speech social behaivioral and sensory issues. (But he can't start til jan.) So all in all thanks to all ur guys help we know we are moving in the right direction it just seems to be moving slowly. I really appreciate all ur guys' help what a great support system uve all created!

Gia - posted on 11/16/2010

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As a parent of an autistic son (who is now 13) and a preschool teacher, I strongly encourage early intervention. Check with your local school district to see whether they do evaluations. My school district will evaluate a child (who lives in the locality) for free if a teacher or parent believes that the child is need of some type of service -- like speech or occupational therapy. The school district I live in even has special ed preschools. Early intervention is key in helping your child obtain the services he needs to make progress.

Madeline - posted on 11/16/2010

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I'm in the States and I have four children, two girls and two boys. Both the boys are autistic.

We can all offer our support here and nobody thinks you are being over fussy.

From what you have written, and it's always going to be an approximation, I would say it's always better to err on the side of caution, especially as you mention he's had a lot of ear infections and has a slight hearing impairment.

I'm sure you can find a local specialist pediatrician to discuss your concerns - or get a referral from your GP.

Early intervention is key when it comes to autism and it's important to remember that it is a spectrum disorder which means it can be very mild and almost unnoticeable or much more serious.

One reason to ask for specialist advice is to rule out a lot of other disorders, i.e. not autism.

For example dyspraxia - you may have heard that Daniel Radcliffe has [Harry Potter actor ]

Then there sensory processing order and that's only two of many that are not so commonly known.

If it should turn out that your son does have some form of any of these many different conditions you are then in a much better position to help him - knowledge is power. There are a whole host of different tricks and tips you can learn that will help him grow and overcome his difficulties.

Rosie - posted on 11/14/2010

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Here in Australia, we have our maternal health nurse, who picked up delays in my youngest daughter. Even though she was at home with me 24/7 I didn't see any signs because she was sick all the time. Just get your child checked out by professionals. My daughter showed showed most of the signs that you have written. Good Luck and hopefully you get the answers you need so you can deal with it appropriately.

Em - posted on 11/14/2010

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Wow...Firstly I would like to say thanks for making me not feel like a crazy over worrying mom. I really appreciate all the responses, especially since you all see it from a inside perspecitve. We have been doing speech therapy and in just 4 months he has gone from 1 word to 3 word sentences!!! I have wondered if just the speech is because of the ears and the rest from some sort of Autism, so now I am seeing that may in fact be the truth of it.. I really appreciate your help and am going to find a doctor to get us in for an evaluation. Alot of people have said, no he's fine...but something in my gut keeps bringing me back to this point, thats how I knew it was time to ask people who really know what I am talking about instead of just anyone. I let his ped. talk me out of having his ears looked at when he was 2 months old so I'm not letting that happen again!!! Thanks so much to all of you!!!!!! And any other words of advice will be greatly appreciated.

Jennie - posted on 11/14/2010

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I would also add that if your pediatrician doesn't give much help (ours didn't until after we got an educational diagnosis) you can go straight to the school district and ask for them to be assessed. This differs from state to state, but you as a parent have the right to ask what is going on.

I have to agree that your son sounds very much like my children did at his age. I have three with Aspergers and various other diagnosis that contribute to an interesting life.

Please don't feel like this is going to ruin his life. It's a change from what you may have envisioned, but many children with mild autism are very bright.

Hang in there, and try to find a local parent support group. You can find a wealth of information at the meetings!

Jackie - posted on 11/14/2010

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While you have him in Preschool see if you can get a day to day of his activities and talk to the teachers often to see how your son is doing in school and is acting towards the others. Any documentation you get from the preschool can help when you get him evaluated

Em - posted on 11/14/2010

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Thanks so much to both of you. I just got him lined up for preschool and he will start in the next month. I have been doing the praising alot when he does well, glad to know that was the right thing to do though. I appreciate all the inside opinions and welcome any others who have any thoughts on this. Thanks again!

Jackie - posted on 11/14/2010

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Em, Your son sounds like mine. My son has been diagnosed with Mild Autism without a spectrum as he fits criterias of different ones. Your best thing to do is take your son to his Ped and tell them how you feel about things and ask them to refer you to a place that does testing on children for this type of disorder. I know its scary to have to have your child tested but in the end its better to know whats going on and learn ways to handle and respond to situations. Having a child with Autism and not know what it means, or what it is or even how to handle things can be extremely frustrating. I have a 6 year old Son that is my son by marriage and I have a 15 months old daughter and they play nice from time to time but then something happens and he doesn't play nice anymore. I have to remind him all the time that she is a baby and he needs to be gentle. I do get a lot of the mad, anger etc from him alot when he is being called on something.

One thing you need to work on is praising him alot when he is doing something right. It helps alot. I know this is hard. I have been married to my husband a little over a year but has been in his son's life going on three years and I am still learning how to handle different situations.

I would recommend that once you get him tested if not sooner to atleast put him in Pre-K to get him used to be around other kids and learning school rules. It will help with the transition when he starts regular school.

I hope this helps. If you have any questions I will do my best to try and help. My email is jacquelinebraun1@gmail.com

Best of luck to you

Jacqueline

Katherine - posted on 11/14/2010

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I don't have autistic children, but I have worked with many.
It does sound like maybe Aspbergers Syndrome. I am no expert by ANY means, but everything thing you said fits into the criteria.
He sounds like a very sweet little boy. I'm sure he will do wonderfully with a little help!

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