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Autism in toddler?
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An_242666 posted:
Hello. I have a 20 month old son, who I do not believe has autism, but my husband is concerned that he may. Since I have OCD, I am worried, though I think my husband is way off base. I am hoping someone may have an expert opinion for me.

My son is very social with other children and is mommy obsessed. I am with him 24/7, and he wants to spend most of his time cuddling with me, bringing me things, being read to, anticipating peek-a-boo and tickle games or getting into things and playing. He does not cuddle much with daddy though- daddy is for playing. He has always had good eye contact, responds to facial expressions and movements, mimics, and is very interested in what I am doing. He started social smiling at 5 weeks and is very loving, giggly, and excitable.

My husband is concerned because he is not talking. He babbles and says 'dada; all the time, and can also use it correctly (calling his father or myself dada). He also repeats back the word 'done', and sometimes I can get him to say 'yes'. His understanding is good I think (he is my first child). He will give me a kiss or hug when asked. Will bring me his sippy cup, a ball, my shoes, etc when asked. He does all this with excitement for the praise he will be receiving- and will often clap for himself. He loves the attention and praise of others.

My husband is also concerned because he is very hyperactive and will throw fits when we try to hold his hand or hold him when he wants to run about a store, house, etc. He does not always respond to his name or respond when we are talking to him, but that's often when something is on the tv or he wants to get into something. He gets excited by music and bounces up and down waving his arms. He definitely flaps his arms/hands when he wants something like a cracker. He will bounce up and down waving his arms going 'uhuhuh'. I think the arm/hand flapping is because he doesn't know how to communicate what he wants with words. He doesn't point, but he waves and can follow where I point.

He saw the pediatrician at 18 months and she was not concerned. My son started walking at 8 months and has been obsessed with mobility. Since I am always with him to anticipate his needs, the doctor thinks he hasn't had the real want/need to talk yet. That is how I feel.

My son definitely likes interacting with other children and will go right up to strangers and children and start babbling with them like he wants to talk, or will mimic their laughter trying to join in.

To sum up:
My 20 month son old babbles a lot and says 3 words. He arms flaps and bounces when excited or frustrated. He does not point, but he does wave bye bye. He does not always respond when talked to. He is very hyperactive, doesn't like to be restrained in any way, has short tantrums often. Constantly wants to run around and explore/get into everything

but...:
He is super affectionate and cuddly with mommy. Likes to play with other children. Makes great eye contact. Is very interested in what everyone around him is doing. Plays with a variety of toys in a disorganized way (though he is obsessed with tv remotes). Constantly seeks praise from others.Smiled early and smiles often. Laughs a lot and loves engaging games like peek-a-boo and and anticipates tickling with delight. Will bring me things when asked. Will shut doors when asked. Loves to kiss and hug when asked. Waves and can follow a pointing finger. Movement is very refined. Walked at 8 months and now runs and dodges objects very well. Is easily comforted by cuddling with mommy. Does not mind a change in routine. Does not get easily fazed by things, but will throw tantrums often if restrained from exploring.

I am looking for responses from people with experience. Please try not to be an alarmist with guesses, as I have an anxiety disorder.

Thank you so much for your time!
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fcl responded:
I know nothing about autism but think the best thing you could do is get an evaluation from Early Intervention. Then at least you'll know if there's a problem (with his speech notably) and if not their report should stop your husband worrying.

Personally, I just think he's a very active toddler.
 
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phoenix31674 responded:
It doesn't sound like it. I have an autistic nephew and at 5, he does not do many of the things your son does. Boys tend to talk later than girls. My son is 15 months and is just now starting to talk. He says 'ca' for car and 'shoo-shoo' for choo-choo. Sometimes I get a mama or he says dada, but we generally think those just come out in his babbling. He doesn't reliably use them to refer to us.

I have a 6 year old nephew who started speaking in whole sentences at 2. He never really did the one word thing.

Like PP said, call your state's early intervention office and set up a free assessment. This will give your husband peace of mind if it is indeed nothing like you and your doctor suspect. If there is something, they can get him into speech therapy.

But really, the eye contact and peekaboo lend me to think the autism risk is very low. Lack of eye contact and response to emotions are the biggest and most obvious autism markers.
 
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An_242666 replied to phoenix31674's response:
Thank you! I have considered early intervention. We are switching pediatricians because of health insurance reasons, and we have an appt with the new doctor this Thursday. I think a new doctor with fresh eyes to the situation will ease my husbands worries. I think we will be told he is perfectly normal, but a bit speech delayed. If he recommends it, I'll contact EI.

I think I mostly wanted some assurance. I've done lots of research, but I don't know an autistic child myself from which to compare.
 
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tillymay replied to An_242666's response:

I have a 30 year old son with autism. When he was diagnosed the movie Rainman had not even been released. My husband and I had never heard the word AUTISM, let alone knew what it was.

I have met a lot of autistic children through the years. Your son does not sound like he has autism. All children develop differently. Some can have different ways of showing their excitement.

It appears you and your husband are both wonderful, caring parents.

Getting another opinion is a great idea! We had one psychologist telling us my son was very intelligent and regressing, while another psychologist with early childhood education was telling us he had autism.

For a third opinion, I found a psychiatrist who had a lot of experience with autistic children. It turned out he has autism and also Gifted and Talented. If he were to be diagnosed today I'm sure it would be Asperger syndrome.

When my son was diagnosed the odds of having a child with autism was 1 in 10,000. Yes, one in ten thousand. I cannot believe not only how well known it is now but, how many children have been diagnosed.

One thing I would recommend is every time he needs help or wants something without talking and is upset or gesturing try doing this.

Example - Your son needs help getting a toy and is upset. I would say "Do you need help?" Then say, " James you need to say, "help me". and then hand him the toy. I don't mean wait until he say's it. I simply would hand him the toy. The repetition will help him to start saying it.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not talking about rewarding a child during a tantrum, and give them what they want during a tantrum. Actually, it sounds like you are using one of the methods we used with my children, If needed.


Another Example - If you hand him a glass of milk you could point to the glass and say the word "milk" then hand it to him. If he does not ask or say the word milk when encouraged that's OK. Sometimes it takes awhile.

After 12 years of in home daycare and several working in special education with my school district I have found this to work out quite well. I used this with all of my sons, and daycare children it worked great.

Example - " Say help and I will give the the toy. Some parents do worry about their child's developmental skills but, don't worry as I said every child is different. They are their own person but I do understand your concerns. Trust me, I have been their myself.

I hoped this has helped you in some way. I have never posted a comment on a community website. I happened to come across your posting by accident. Good Luck!

I will be checking to see how it all turns out. Please comment and let me and others know.
 
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tillymay replied to tillymay's response:
Please ignore my mistake on the third to the last paragraph (the first sentence.
 
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An_242666 replied to tillymay's response:
Your reply is very helpful. Thank you. I have now talked to several people with experience with autism- they all think my son is perfectly normal in his development. I have been trying to name everything for him and make him use a word to ask for things. We also read A LOT.

Sometimes he says yes or yuh. He has actually been progressing in just the last couple of days (or more likely I have been giving him more opportunities and listening better). He now says 'hi da' when he sees my husband. 2 words together! Very excited. When I ask him a question he seems to jabber back at me in a very conversational way. I think he definitely knows what he is trying to get across and there may be some words in there that I just can't recognize quite yet. It may be more an issue of loose pronunciation, which will just take some him. Some words are fully formed, so I don't think there are any physical or hearing issues. He says 'yeah!' really clearly when excited.

I only feared he may be on the autism spectrum because my husband voiced concerns, and I have a strong tendency to worry. I am now fully convinced he does not have autism. If my husband still has concerns, I am sure that this new doc we are seeing later this week will put those to rest.

Again, thank you for responding. It is nice to know there is an amazing network of mothers out there willing to help and ease the concerns of a worrying mom.
 
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phoenix31674 replied to An_242666's response:
Most kids can take a while to get those first few words out, but once they get the hang of it, it's like a floodgate has opened. I know my daughter started using dozens of words in the first few weeks that she was talking.

And I talked to SIL - her middle son was actually 3 before he started talking in full sentences, not 2. He really did not say much at all before then. Unfortunately this hurt her 3rd son (the autistic one) because the doc was being very lackadaisical about his various delays and quirks since the middle son did not start talking until 3. He was almost 4 before they got him diagnosed an in therapy. The sad thing is that after spending just a small amount of time around him when he was 2.5 I realized that he was showing autistic tendencies because my daughter 7 months younger than him was doing things that he wasn't. But at that time SIL was not in a place to hear that something may be off with her son.

Hopefully the new doc can help. Your DH also needs to keep in mind that normal is range and depending on the milestone it can be something that happens any time in a 6 month period or longer (like walking normally happens between about 9-15 months).

I know that the explosion of autism diagnoses has caused parents to look really closely at any delay their child is showing and panic that it might be a marker.
 
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An_242666 replied to phoenix31674's response:
Thanks for all the replies.

My son saw his new doctor today, who said definitively that he is not autistic. He has no concerns at all about autism or any social impairments.

He says my son is slightly speech delayed, but he is not concerned. We should just keep an eye on his communication skills and encourage them. He believes my son will progress quickly.

 
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fcl replied to An_242666's response:
Thank you for keeping us posted. I am delighted to hear that news! I'll bet that takes a weight off your shoulders!
 
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tillymay replied to fcl's response:
Glad to hear the good news! Thanks for keeping us us posted. I bet you and your husband was both very relieved.
 
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andush replied to An_242666's response:
Hi An_242666,

Just wondering how your son is doing now? I have a 20 months son and has the same language and behaviour as yours. After how long was your son able to speak?

Thanks
 
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linnaway replied to andush's response:
Talking up a storm at 3.5 years. He started doing some talking at 2 years (not much) and then his language exploded at 2.5 years, and has progressed ever since. He is not behind in speech or social skills and is doing great. Super smart and articulate. Also very, very stubborn and demanding. Tantrums galore.

He liked watching Leapfrog Numberland and Phonics Farm on Netflix. He started saying and reading numbers and letters before almost anything else.

I would not worry. I think at some point his language will catch up really quickly. My doctor said that, with boys, not talking at 20 months was common. Slight speech delay. He should catch right up. Doc also said all the other behaviors were normal for his age. He'll probably be a handful discipline wise in the future.

Talk to your doctor about everything at the year checkup and they should ease your mind.
 
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stellagonzalez responded:
Since it's a 2 year old post just wanted to know how's your son. Is he really diagnosed with autism. Keep your faith and love with him.

Your post describes that he is a very active and fun loving child. My whole wishes is with him. Do share some good moments of him.
 
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linnaway replied to stellagonzalez's response:
He is doing great. Talking up a storm. Very social and happy. No autism diagnosis. He's stubborn and throws lots of fits, but I think a strong will is a wonderful thing. He is currently having lots of fun playing learning games on his leappad tablet. He also loves watching The Muppets Mahna Mahna video online and running around. Thank you for your support!


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