Autism or just SPD? How do I know...I'm just a mom

Sarah - posted on 07/30/2009 ( 7 moms have responded )

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So my DS is 17 months old. We have an autism evaluation scheduled for him in September. He has already been diagnosed SPD/SID. He has tactile, vestibular and proprioceptive issues mostly. He used to have problems with feedings, but he has been doing much better with that as of late. He has had and lost about 15 words. Some of the words have morphed. For example: Car and Quack became Goak. He prefers to play by himself, is not interested in other children, shows no reaction to emotions of others, flaps, head shakes, raspberry blowing stimming, walks on tip toes sometimes, does not have good eye contact, no words, doesn't really play with toys, no pretend play, not affectionate at all, doesn't like to be held, and I'm sure there is more. He gets speech therapy and OT 1 hour a week every other week. We just started with new therapists. Today was their second session with him. Today he did GREAT!!! He made eye contact with them, he imitated sounds, he handed them toys, he could choose the correct card when asked which was the cat, etc. They seem to think that we are only dealing with sensory issues and a speech delay because of the SPD. I think maybe they are right and that I shouldn't worry about autism so much. Granted, many of his issues are sensory, but there is a lot of crossover in autism too. I scheduled the evaluation at the prompting of his pediatrician and his child psychologist. Any thoughts??? I don't know anything!

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Fern - posted on 08/09/2009

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Here is the best website I have found the will tell you the differences and what the signs/symptoms of each disorder are: http://www.brighttots.com/Speech_and_Lan...



I am a nurse and I have had two children with dyspraxia of speech and it sure sounds like your son fits the criteria for autism. I just read some interesting info on this list today about the tomatis method. Check it out at: http://67.80.203.99:98/



Hope this helps to clarify and give you some treatment info.

Nanci - posted on 08/06/2009

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Hello. My son is now 6 years old. He was born 4 weeks premature and has always been a sick child when he was young. He has had acid reflux from birth and has always had issues with eating. However, it became worse when was about 1 year. He was17 months old when he had his FIRST surgery(had tonsils,adnoids, and ear tubes). He was not walking or talking at 17 months and he was only in the 10 percentile for children his age height and weight. His eating was very hard and upseting. He would try to eat but vomited every time he ate due to acid reflux and a "suck swallow" issue. He was seen by therapist after his surgery and they said that at that time he was on task for children his age however he did have a "sensory" issue when it came to his mouth and face. One therapist called it "oral aversion" or "oral hypersensitivity". They gave me ideas on how to stimulate his mouth so he would not be so 'sensative". That really never worked with him as he is now 6 and still have problems. He was also born with a right foot that turns inward. They at first called it a "club foot" and at the age of 6 months he wore a cast on his right leg for about 6 months to correct the inward of his foot. Well, 5 years later he still has that bad inward foot. I again took him to another Dr. and they did X-Rays and found that he has Metatarsus Adductus(it has to do with how the bones in the foot grow at angles and such) So at the age of 7-8 he will need a surgery to have that corrected. To back up a little, At the age of 5 he again had to have another sugery to remove the tonsils and adnoids as they had grown back and were causing him severe problems again. This is only SOME of the background history....I am telling people this to give an idea of what my son has gone through. Over the years I have thought that something was "not right" with my son.I thought that in some way it was my fault and that I was doing something wrong. He is my first and only child so I naturally had that fear. It wasn't until he went to kindergarten and an occupational therapist was helping him adjust to the fear of the lunch room he was having. He was not wanting to go to the luch room because it was "to loud". He was covering his ears and hated the loud noises. He has always been very "sensative" to loud noises and it very mcuh bothers him. That therapist has some knowledge of SPD. She had watched my son at luch and gave me a call and talked to me about some of his "issues" and asked me a lot of questions that I kept saying.."yes, he has that problem". She suggested that he has SPD and that he be evaluated. Sure enough, he had/has a lot of sensory issues. We all want our children to grow up and be happy and healthy but I had that feeling that my son was a "sick" child. He was always sick and had a cold or allergies or something. He has already had 2 surgeries and at least one more to come in the next year or two. He has asthma and allergies. He also has ASD(atrial septal defect- a hole in the heart that they are born with that has not closed yet). Because I have always felt that something was not right I have always done my best to make sure that my son was on track and that he was physically, mentally and socially where he should be. It was not until Preschool that things really became obvious for me. He was having touble making friends although he would find a friend or two and they became his best and only friends. He is very obsessive about his things. He is VERY obsessive about his toys, clothes, and anything else that he feels is his. He truly believes that "it's all about him" and no one else. He is EXTREMLY obsessive about me and his grandmother. We are his promary caregivers so it is understandable.However, he is so bad about it that it causes him to not want to leave me and go to school because he wants to stay at home and protect me and be with me. He has an extremly very good imagination and plays by himself very well. He plays games and when he plays he talks to his "dudes". He is VERY creative and makes up stories and plays with toys appropriatly and can even find ways to makecrative things out of toys. However he has touble making friends at school. He tells me no one wants to play with him. I watched him at school and also talked with his teachers. I have seen my son try to play with the other kids as he very much wants friends but my son wants to play WHAT he wants HOW he wants and has to be in total control. He is aware of the emotions and can read people farily well. In classic autism children do not generally do that. They seem oblivious to the emotions of other people and generally do not want to play with others. They seem to be in a different emotion world. My son is very aware of his feelings however at times he has a dificult time expressing himself appropriatly. When he is angry he will yell and scream and telll you he is angry and why but cannot control the anger and will act out. When he is not feeling well and may be sick he will tell you what is wrong but connot control his acting out by whinning and crying and being frustrated. Children with classic austism cannot tell you how they are feeling. You have to be able to "read" your childs body and movements and cries. My son also has gross motor and fine motor issuse. He has a difficult time with balance, throwing a ball, doing jumping jacks, stair stepping at for the most part seems to be "clumbsy" and is always falling over himself or something. He is highly energetic and seems to be in hyper drive from the moment he wakes up until he goes to bed. NONSTOP! He stopped taking naps when he was 1 1/2. He wouldn't "settle down" long enough to take a nap. When I did give him one he would be up until late. The nap would seem to give him even more energy. He is always climbing jumping and hanging upside down on things and loves to spin in circles. When he was 2 and finally learned how to walk he would spin around in circles for hour and would want more. He has a VERY large vocalbulary for kids his age and for the most part accademically is where he should be with the exception of his hand writing. He has a very dificult time with that. Again a fine motor skill. I can go on forever about what I have experienced.........BOTTOM LINE....from my research into this subject your child from what you have written, is showing signs of classic autism. How severe I don't know. There are levels to this Your child could also have some sensory issues as well. From my research SPD is not in the truest sense austism and the two can coexsist.. My son is not autistic however he is definetly SPD and may also exhibit signs of ADHD. He sees an occupation therapist every week and also sees one at his school so that they can help him at school as well. He is also seeing a counselor to help him with social skills to better relate to the other kids in trying to "take turns" and such. He has come a long way and has done great. He still has some major issues like the eating thing and only eats a very limited few things but for the most part because of my dedication to finding out all I can and accepting this and not being in denia, I am proactive in helping my son try to live the most "normal" life he can.He sees nothing wrong with him and is just like the other kids. My suggestion to you is that whatever the diagnosis is, be proactve. Learn all you can to be able to help your child and do whatever it takes to make sure that he grows up happy and loved with who he his no matter what he has. My prayers are with you and your son. Nanci

Sarah - posted on 07/30/2009

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We've also had trouble knowing how to determine if my son was autistic or just SPD. One of our occupational therapists told me that if the sensory issues interfered with learning, that was autism versus just SPD. While no parent wants their child to have a label, it will help your child get the help they need, which is the most important thing. With early intervention many children on the autistic spectrum are able to function very well. Sarah

Kim - posted on 07/30/2009

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My Daughter is now 6, diagnosed at 3. She has classic autism and lost allher words at around the same age. To me it sound slike autism....ESP the lack of eye contact, lack of speech and hand flapping. My girlis just gianing some words now and cannw count, read and point tothe right things. NOTHING wrong with her understanding. Most of her problems are proprioceptive. Its hard to say as he's stillso young and i'm srry to say but just through my experience he sounds autistic to me. Happy to chat anytime.....answer any questions froma parent who knows to a parent whose not sure.:)

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Sarah - posted on 08/16/2009

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Thank you so much Fern for those links. Both were very interesting and helpful!!

Nanci - posted on 08/06/2009

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Your very welcome for the encouragement. My heart goes out to you and your son. I know that it is very difficult to watch our kids go through these terrible things. I sometimes wonder if the tramatic birth and health issues of our children seem to have an influence on this autism and the spectrum disorder and SPD. To my knowledge, I have not seen any statistic regarding the increase of autism in children in the recent years and the health issues/birthing complications study. That would be interesting information to see. I seem to find a lot of other parents whose children also suffered/suffer health issues or complications with pregnancy/birth seem to have some form of autism or spd. Very intersting indeed. Please feel free to comunicate with me at any time that you need to for support. I will try my best to help guide you. I am there for you. Nanci

Sarah - posted on 08/06/2009

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Nanci, I can identify with many of the problems you encountered with your son. I didn't say anything about his medical history because I wasn't sure if it would be relevant or not. He was also born 4 weeks premature. I will give you the extremely abbreviated, nutshell version. He was in NICU for 4 days, at 8 days old he stopped breathing and turned blue. The doctors called it an ALTE (apparent life threatening episode) and said it was caused by reflux. What followed was another 4 hospitalizations, an apnea monitor, trips to specialists hours away from home, medication after medication, formula after formula, test after test. By the time he was 4 months old he had spent as much time in the hospital as out of it. Finally someone found that he had a rare congenital annomally, a gastric antral web. Only 1 in 100,000 children are diagnosed with the problem. It was essentially what was causing his reflux to be so bad, what caused the laryngomalacia, bradycardia, apnea, difficulty feeding, projectile vomiting etc. He had surgery to correct it May 21, 2008. He still takes medication for reflux and is labeled medically fragile because of his poor immune system and being especially prone to intestinal illnesses. Fortunately he does not have any additional surgeries in his future. I am sure that some of the illnesses he suffered from account for some of his delays. I'm also sure that it does not account for many of the other problems we have been seeing. September cannot come soon enough for me. Thank you for your answer and support.

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