Our kids all develop at different rates, the milestones are a guideline and not set in stone but after noticing some developmental delays with Archie, I started to get worried.
After having a few conversations with other mums who went through something similar with their child development, I wanted to share our story of when should you be worried & what to do.
Archie has had a few issues from birth, from his milk allergy to his congenital curly toes, basically where his second toe on each foot is protruding and overlapping his big toes, therefore when other ‘issues’ started coming to light a lot of people thought I was being over concerned over nothing and that he would catch up in his own time.
Archie’s allergy was pretty extreme, he had severe reactions to my breast milk and ended up having to have milk prescribed from the doctor but even then he was never much of a crier. He was very alert but wasn’t very responsive and even as a baby didn’t like to be touched by anyone other than me. He was never a good sleeper which we put down to his feeding problems but as he got older his sleeping worsened rather than got better until he was waking on average 10-12 times a night.
As he got older he seemed to be meeting the usual milestones such as sitting and holding his head steady, even a little baby babble but by about nine months old he was completely silent. No one else seemed to be concerned about this but me, I left it for it to ‘come naturally’, when the affection, cuddles and kisses never came I really started to get that niggly feeling that it something just wasn’t quite right.
By around ten months Archie was really being to start being aware of his surroundings and his toys, he would astound us by sorting toys by size, lining them up and by 12 months he could build a tower like nobody’s business, even using his toys to create patterns like the above. Everyone was telling me how clever he was and how he was hitting all his milestones, I knew he was advanced in some areas but very behind in others.
His issues around textures and smells really started to come to light at this age, especially round food. He was barely eating anything and just refusing food or throwing it on the floor. Again being a ‘typical boy’ or ‘fussy eater’, I should be stricter with him, he’ll eat when he’s hungry etc etc but this just didn’t happen. he would rather starve than eat something he doesn’t want, he’s now 31 months old & is pretty much only eating toast, mashed potato & yoghurt and much prefers to ‘lick’ rather than eat with a fork or spoon.
By twelve months his lack of responsiveness was the biggest worry for me, he would sit & line up his toys and no matter how much you called his name, clapped your hands etc you just couldn’t get his attention. There was no gesturing, waving etc when he saw people or when they left. Even when Daddy came home from work he wouldn’t even notice and if he did he wouldn’t seem bothered that he was home. Every now & then you’d get a little glimpse of affection but there was no cuddles or kisses, he just might sit on your knee but in the way you would on a chair not the snuggly way you expect from little ones.
He would respond to some noise on occasion, like the sound of aeroplanes going overhead so everyone else just said he was being a typical boy with selective hearing but I just had to do something, I was so worried for his hearing and thought this was why he was silent and wasn’t developing any speech. After leaving a few voicemails with the Health Visiting Team I ended up walking into the clinic and insisting someone come & chat to me about my concerns. The Health Visitor tried to get Archie’s attention but he was having none of it and wouldn’t even look at her. She immediately referred us to Audiology at the local hospital for hearing test.
Two tests later his hearing was confirmed to be absolutely fine but she raised some concerns regarding his interaction and suggested a referral to Speech Therapy due to him still having no speech whatsoever at 18 months
He had some pretty extreme reactions at the Speech & Language Assesment, even hitting her which was very out of character but as he got older he got more distressed he got around people. He wasn’t social at all and would even turn his back on other children if they wanted to play with him. The Speech Therapist was amazingly patient with him but after the initial hours assessment she suggested it was something more, she said she wasn’t going to suggest labels at this stage but he needed further referrals.
This then lead onto other specialists getting involved with Archie and after more assessments he was initially being diagnosed with a severe developmental delay with Autistic Tendencies due to his young age, he was only just 24 months at this stage. We’re still awaiting his ‘official’ diagnosis of Autism as he’s still so young and not quite three yet, although all the specialists involved in his care have agreed it’s Autism and he is now registered as disabled.
If I had of listened to everyone telling me not to worry and that he would ‘come along’ in his own time then Archie wouldn’t be getting the specialist support he needs, he wouldn’t have his Special Needs place at nursery, he wouldn’t be getting his Speech Therapy and who knows where we would be in regards to his developmental delay.
Don’t worry if they are not hitting one or two milestones, they will progress at their own pace but if there’s a few things you are concerned about then go and speak to your Health Visitor. I’ve spoken to other mum’s who went to their Doctor first who was pretty dismissive, the Health Visitor should be the first point of call.
Have a list ready of your concerns, it’s easy to forget things when you’re worried or flustered, and don’t be fobbed off. Stand your ground about your concerns and why. Our family have agreed that if I hadn’t have been so concerned and pursued it then Archie would probably have further issues now.
I’ve not included all the little traits & issues that lead to the concerns about Autism as this could fill the whole blog and I’d rather not focus on what he can’t do but what he can, but you can follow Archie’s Autism Journey to find out more.
I hope this has helped but feel free to ask any questions if you’re concerned about your little one & I’ll do what I can to give you my advice.