Foreigner's kid with signs of autism

AlkaA - posted on 10/18/2014 ( 7 moms have responded )




Hi to everyone,
Me and my husband are foreigner here in the US and came here as students. In the course of our studies we were blessed with a beautiful daughter. everything was fine for a year and then my husband had to graduate and I started taking online classes staying at home. So we end up not interacting a lot with our dd and in turn she was exposed to more TV and ipads then human. We lived in small town in Iowa and we rarely had anyone come visit us and we didn't have any family members here in the country so basically had almost no playtime with kids.
We became worried when our daughter didn't start talking until 2 and we visited her pediatrician who was also a foreigner and said it was common among us and her daughter didn't speak until 4. To be honest thats what we have seen and heard about kids from our community.
At 2.5y we visited another pediatrician and she told us to take the MCHAT and there she said our dd showed red flags and her red flags were all related to communication and language. we then started speech therapy and OT. now at 3.5 she got into school and has begun to use words to ask for things and learned a lot of words but only few sentences. She speaks english but understands our native language.
Here's the thing we are concerned, Is it autism or lack of interaction with parents and other people that our dd had difficulties in her language development? I wanted to see developmental pediatrician but my husband is trusting the school's evaluation which let her into the school system. Also, she is showing great improvement once she stated playing with kids.

here are some things that points toward autism
she pointed to show things till 1.5 and then on we dont remember her pointing.
she knew abc's color when she 2 but thats about it. she babbelled a lot but hard to understand.
plays by herself although when she was 1.5 she liked kids and would follow them around.
does not respond much to strangers

here are some things that suggest that may not be autism
very responsive and playful from 3 months
very smart and quick learner
quick in imitating others
never threw a tantrum
checks parents face before doing silly things
gets excited when accomplishes anything and runs to mom to hug as if done something great
not any classical autism symptoms.

I would be thankful to all the moms out there if they share some of their experiences.


Sarah - posted on 10/18/2014




I agree with Jodi. bilingual children tend to take a bit longer in developing language, but once developed they have the ability to speak multiple languages. Autism is much more then language. What you have described in your post is lack of interaction with people teaching her how to interact. Getting her involved in preschool was a good thing, but it is also important that you also take the time one-on-one with her. Limit the amount of TV and ipad usage. Once that time limit has been reached then you need to focus your time on raising her. She needs this interaction with you both to learn and develop, but also to bond with you. Make sure you are spending one-on-one time daily with her. Also seek out play groups where you can meet other parents with children her age. Your schooling is important but that is always going to be there for you. Your child will only be the age they are that day for that day......once that day is over they will never be that age again. That is something you can never get back. School is something you can always do no matter what age you are.

Jodi - posted on 10/18/2014




It is incredibly common for children who are bilingual (which your daughter is if she understands both languages) to have delayed language development. They do generally catch up with other kids with their language skills, it just takes them a bit longer. My nephew was raised in a bilingual background (English and Greek) and he was about 6 before he truly caught up with other kids in his language and speech. But his language ability now is absolutely normal and he is fluent in both languages.

Chet - posted on 10/18/2014




Your daughter does not sound like she is on the autism spectrum. Being playful, responsive, imitating others, checking faces, showing affection, playing with other children at school, getting excited and giving big hugs - those aren't things that kids do if they have a social disability. It sounds like she is just language delayed, and that she's catching up.

Lots of kids point when they are babies and young toddlers, and then they stop. As long as they continue to communicate it's not worrisome. The problem would be if she stopped trying to communicate with you at 18 months.

It's normal for kids to be wary of strangers, or to be shy, or ignore people they don't know. How your child acts in an unfamiliar environment or with unfamiliar people is not a good indicator for autism.

Lots of screen time probably didn't help your daughter's development, but delays are rarely the result of one thing. It's often a complicated interaction of factors. Exposure to multiple languages can appear to slow kids down, but it's good for them in the long run. Many kids develop language late naturally because their brain is busy working on other things. I have a nephew who spole late, but who has extraordinary spacial abilities.

It's also a good sign that your daughter is responding so well to interventions, and gaining skills so quickly. This is another sign that it is not autism.

I would try to read, sing and recite rhymes with your daughter as much as you can. Talk to her about what you do and things you notice (I'm opening the door, I see a dog, your coat is blue). Ask her lots of questions.

Limit screen time as much as humanly possible. Get rid of it completely if you can.

Lastly, it's fine to talk to a developmental paediatrician if you want. I'm always felt that you can never have too much information about your child. I've signed our kids up for a lot of research studies because the kids think they're fun and I find the assessments interesting.


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Anurag - posted on 05/20/2015




I have been through the same situation. We came here as a PhD scholar and we had a child. For first 3 years, we didnt have a lot for time for our son. So he wasn't communicating with words. We took him to the pediatrician who recommended a developmental psychologist. She (psychologist) said my son has autism. I asked how. And she said he was not communicating. I checked their test. in 3 areas of the diagnosis she passed sensory and self stimulation but not communication. I asked how does being a foreigner exposed to two languages, lack of society and few interactions with parents affects children. She said she was bilingual herself and never had a problem. There was no point on discussing with her. we took the diagnosis and started his early intervention. we put him to school and now he is really making a great progress. Being in a structured environment helped him lot. He is very affectionate and likes to play with other kids in school and parks. He is definitely hyperactive but at the same time he is a quick learner both visual and what he listens to, knows what upsets dad and mom and checks with us by looking at us if he sees something he wanted to do. If we say him no he is more of less ok.

Now the question is does he has autism? I look at him and I see me. Yes, seriously. But do I have autism? The only part I can think of having autism is that I am a scientist. But as a childI was hyperactive and less attentive. That could be my autistic part and so my son does have that part of me. We come from place where we get therapy from dads not from professionals. My dad was a very strict person. So basically I got a lot of therapy from him (I hope you know what I mean). Now I have a loving wife, a child, a society that I can fit in without being awkward (I guess depends upon who you ask). Life teached you a lot and my dad made sure I'd welcome all the teachings that I would come across. One important thing that I have learned from life is no one is perfect and if you think you are good then there's a disorder in you. if I sit down and try finding flaw sin some one I can find more flaws in him then he can find in me. But thats not being social and so I dont do that.

Back to -does my son have autism, the answer is no. Just because i cough and I have running nose does not mean I have a flu. I never had a speech delay because I was raised in a joint family in a big colony and with tons of relatives. you cannot be unsocial as a child. If you sound disrespectful as a child everyone older than you will smack you and so you get your social therapy there. My kid did not grow with lots of people like i did.
And I guess there is a saying for a reason " it takes a village to raise a kid".

Lastly I am not trying to justify that corporal punishment is what my son needs. I had that a lot and I sure dont want my son to go through what I have been though. Back in battle days people had no education and understanding of child psychology. They say early intervention helps so I have my son on that.

Moreover in this fast growing world parents dont have a lot of time for kids and that a fact in my opinion. And not all kids are the same, some need more stimulus then other. But just because my son need more social stimulus to learn language does not mean that my son have a condition that will make him unsocial and he may not be independent. I hate how professionals feed fear in people to prioritize their existence. 20 years back if you went to a doc with elevated bp your doc would be like do some exercise and come back in 3 months. Now they would be like Oh you will dye in few years if you dont take medication. But I guess we have to take medication because we trust them more. And so my son is in early intervention even though I dont believe that he has autism.

Peter - posted on 10/20/2014




Autism is not a single disease, but as spectrum of developmental disorders whose cause is not known. Likely what's today clump together and labeled "autism" will in the future become many different disorders with various cases and treatment.

It is extremely unlikely that the amount of stimulation your child received caused any developmental disorders. She still has received much much more that milions of children around the world get. She may not have been gotten enough enrichment to develop to her full potential at this age, but to so little that it would cause problem severe enough to be similar to symptoms of autism.

I am very surprised that your pediatrician has not given you this information.

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