Things have been a little quiet on the blog recently as things have been a little crazy at home, especially in regards to my little man. He is 23 months old now and there’s concerns that he’s not hitting his milestones, with the question ‘does he have Autism?’ raised from us as parents but also from his nursery.
He doesn’t say a word, not even baby babble. He has said ‘Daddy’ once and ‘Mama’ a handful of times but that was months ago. Now the only communication we get from him is screaming or ‘oooh oooooh’s’ which is so frustrating for him that he can’t tell us what he wants, you can see him getting more & more frustrated. Friends and family mean well when they say that it’ll come in his own time, or that their little ones didn’t speak until they were three etc, however with the other concerns that we have I’m just not willing to wait and see. What if he gets to three and still hasn’t made progress with his speech, we have then lost a year of potential help for him.
The Speech Therapist is now involved and we’ve had her first visit. After spending over an hour with us she’s agreed that he definitely needs assistance so I’m so glad that I didn’t just wait to see what happened with his speech. During the time she spent with us playing games with Archie to try and encourage speech she made a number of observations and asked so many questions regarding his development in other areas, this then led onto the conversation of Autism with the suggestion that we get the Health Visitor involved. I’ve got to admit that my heart sank & I just didn’t know what to say or think, my anxiety went into overdrive and I’ll be honest I was devastated.
The week waiting for the Health Visitor appointment felt like the longest week, especially as I spent hours reading about Autism online. The more I read the more Archie’s ‘funny traits’ seemed to click into place. I don’t want to be one of the people that makes symptoms fit a particular diagnosis but reading the signs and symptoms of Autism is like describing my little man.
SIGNS OF ASD IN PRE-SCHOOL CHILDREN – via wws.nhs.uk
The features of ASD that often develop in pre-school children are explained below.
- delayed speech development (for example, not speaking at least 10 different words by the age of two), or not speaking at all
- frequent repetition of set words and phrases
- speech that sounds very monotonous or flat
- preferring to communicate using single words, despite being able to speak in sentences
RESPONDING TO OTHERS
- not responding to their name being called, despite having normal hearing
- rejecting cuddles initiated by a parent or carer (although they may initiate cuddles themselves)
- reacting unusually negatively when asked to do something by someone else
INTERACTING WITH OTHERS
- not being aware of other people’s personal space, or being unusually intolerant of people entering their own personal space
- little interest in interacting with other people, including children of a similar age
- not enjoying situations that most children their age like, such as birthday parties
- preferring to play alone, rather than asking others to play with them
- rarely using gestures (such as pointing) or facial expressions when communicating
- avoiding eye contact
- having repetitive movements such as flapping their hands, rocking back and forth or flicking their fingers
- playing with toys in a repetitive and unimaginative way, such as lining blocks up in order of size or colour, rather than using them to build something
- preferring to have a familiar routine, and getting extremely upset if there are changes to their normal routine
- having a strong like or dislike of certain foods, based on the texture or colour of the food as much as the taste
As I mentioned, my little man doesn’t speak at all let alone ten different words by the age of two. He also has little or no response when you call his name or try to get his attention, because of this he’s had to have two separate hearing tests three months apart to rule out any problems with his hearing. He had his second test today and thankfully both have come back fine so his hearing can be ruled out as a cause of his delayed speech and response. He’s also not the most affectionate of children, which is hard as my eldest was a proper Mummy’s Boy when he was younger. He’s happy to have cuddles on his terms when he wants one, mainly when he’s tired but even when he hurts himself if you pick him up to try and soothe him he just pushes you away. He did this when the Health Visitor was here and just cried in the corner, every time I tried to soothe him it just resulted in more crying so I was told to let him soothe himself. It feels awful as a parent to just watch your child cry as trying to help makes them more upset, its just heart breaking.
He struggles with other children and much prefers his own company, even in nursery he doesn’t like to play with the other kids and just sits in the corner building towers with his blocks. The staff have been great with him trying to coax him out and play with the other children by moving the blocks to other areas in the nursery room but this has ended up with him smacking the kids that do try and play with him. Play Groups & sessions at the library have also been a big no-no as it ends up with him getting really upset & trying to run away from the group, crying and having major tantrums. He does like going to the big soft play such as Wacky Warehouse & Slide & Seek but won’t go in the same area as other kids. Just last weekend we went to a friends BBQ and had to sit in the lounge with him so he could eat on his own away from the other children.
At the end of the Health Visitor appointment she said she didn’t want to label him as he is still so young but at the same time she can’t ignore that fact that he is showing clear signs of Autism, plus I have a cousin with Autism & Aspergers, my Uncle has learning difficulties which means at 36 he has only just been able to move out of supported housing & into his own flat, although he can’t manage his own finances etc. My nephew has also just been diagnosed with ADHD so there’s clearly some hereditary aspect too. The next stage for us is to wait to see the Consultant who will decide if he needs to be formally assessed for a diagnosis. This is just so hard on us a family at the moment, my husband & his family are in complete denial and due to the family history on my side, my family have just decided he must be Autistic and are telling me to prepare for the worst. I’m stuck in between the two, hoping he hasn’t got it but also trying to mentally prepare myself just in case.
Either way he will be loved and cherished by all of us but it doesn’t stop me worrying about his future…
*Update – you can now read more about how Archie’s Autism Journey has progressed*