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Need some advice for a friend
chey_low32 posted:
She is concerned as I have brought it to her attention that her son ahs some symptoms of Autism. He is 18 months old and had tantrums that he throws himself down and hits his head on the floor and throws himself backwards. He bangs his head on the walls. He hates clothes and does not like to wear them. He has problems eating certain foods and still wakes at night at least once. He seems disinterested in playing with other children. He has also been hitting recently. He also dances to the sound of running water and other sounds such as vaccume cleaner and dishwasher. She is planning on talking to her doctor but appreciates any feedback that you could give. Thanks in advance..
pmw68 responded:
Hello chey_low32,

What a wonderful friend you are. First and foremost, please keep supporting your friend. If (in fact) her family begins this journey, she will need you just to be there for her.

In regards to your message, it is really hard to tell whether or not your friend's son has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Some of the tantrums and banging may be due to a sensory integration dysfunction (SID) and nothing more. SID is a piece of autism behavior but also can live on its own in some children (without other behaviors indicative of autism). Though there has been some changes recently in the DSM-5 (diagnostic criteria), generally 3 consistent behaviors present:
  1. Communication challenges: either the child isn't verbal or has problems communicating. My son didn't actually say his first word until 4 years of age. Other children have been noted to talk, then lose the language.
  2. Repetitive behaviors: Individuals with autism participate in "self-stimulating" behaviors. It can be abnormally lining things up, spinning, flapping arms etc. Running water may be classified as such but its hard to say. These behaviors are a survival mechanism that is used by the child/person with autism to help regulate themselves when either over stimulated or excited. It is a coping tool (similar to biting nails,shaking a foot or playing with hair). It sometimes allows an escape from the anxiety and stress of all their overactive senses.
  3. Social awkwardness: There are developmental milestones such as smiling and sustained eye contact that can be noticed at an early age. Pointing at an object (like an airplane in the sky) is a developmental milestone. It is connecting. Most children at 18 months are in parallel play mode. These other areas are what a pediatrician will ask. Does the child play appropriately with toys (like Thomas the train - saying choo choo - as he/she pushes the train)?

I hope this gives you a beginning. Please tell your friend to try to assess what her instinct/gut feeling is, then follow that through. My instincts have never been wrong with my son. It is only when I don't follow them that I usually move in the wrong direction.
Other resources your friend can look at is:
Autism Speaks or a local advocacy non-profit group. I'm not sure what state you are in, but most have great resources and are only a click away.

I hope that helps. Warmest thoughts to you and your friend,
undefined responded:
Hi Chey_Low32,

I see this message is 2 years old and thought of checking to hear from you on how your friends son is. I got a 18 months who is in similar condition. Thanks.

Hoping to hear that everything is set back on track.

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