Crikey what a question but one I’ve been asked many times over the last month or so. I made a cake once but I’m not Mary Berry, please remember this.
Children with ASD don’t all have exactly the same symptoms and children that do have the same symptoms can differ in severity massively.
Reilly developed pretty typically sitting, crawling, walking all at the usual milestones. He even had a few words at around 16 months then the words stopped pretty much overnight around that time.
Reilly never babbled as a baby. I remember saying to people he’s so silent. Literally not a sound. He didn’t respond to his name either. I could say Reilly 20 times and he wouldn’t turn his head once. These were my biggest red flags.
Since I started the blog I must have had a dozen ‘do you think my child has autism?’ questions.
I could never answer that! Ermmm I gotta run is my normal response. What I would say is I have 2 neuro-typical (not autistic) children and they both displayed some of the signs listed as a nod to autistic behaviour. Just because your child lines up his/her cars or trains (- all 3 of mine did this) doesn’t mean they will get a diagnosis.
It’s way more complicated and you must meet the 3 main criteria as shown in the chart.
So I thought I would do a comparison between the common signs and how Reilly measured up.
No babbling as a baby – Reilly was a silent as a mouse.
Poor eye contact – fleeting glances but rare to hold a gaze upto age 3. He’s much better at it now.
No response to calling name – I could shout 20 times and he wouldn’t turn his head until turning 4. Now he does most of the time.
Speech regression – Reilly did have a few words around 16 months and they stopped almost overnight.
Lack of empathy – I have seen Reilly only twice show concern for someone. Once when a friend was upset and he spontaneously got on the chair behind her and gave her a cuddle. The other was a lady sitting with her feet in the sand pit at Morpeth park, she looked sad and deep in thought. He crossed the sand pit and stroked her hair. Incredible to see for us.
Uninterested in making friends – We went on holiday with our friends when he was 2. Not once did he initiate any type of play or even acknowledge that little H was there. Heartbreaking for us – for Reilly just another day at the office. Alex my oldest used to stand on his own in the playground nearly every day dropping stones down the drain, he’s not autistic.
Doesn’t like cuddles – Couldn’t be further from the truth. We nickname him the guppy as he comes at you with his lips in sucker mode and attaches to your cheek. This is a red flag for many other children on the spectrum.
Spontaneous laughter – This used to freak me out but not now I love it. Sometimes he will burst into laughter at absolutely nothing. Really big hearty fits of uncontrollable giggles. They stop as quick as they start.
No pointing – Reilly does point at pretty much anything and everything – planes, the big yellow M of McDs, cats, birds, food. Many autistic children do not.
Repeats exactly what others say without understanding – I wish. Not applicable as he doesn’t talk.
Doesn’t use toys or objects in pretend play – yes he does but not until age 3. He loves a play in a little kitchen or making car crashes with the cast of Cars 2.
May have a good memory – exceptional he remembers roads etc and often surprises us.
Rocks, spins, walks on toes for a long time or flaps hands – Reilly doesn’t do any of these.
Likes routines, order, and rituals; has difficulty with change – he likes things the same I only wish this applied to the mountains of cars and train tracks strewn all over my conservatory.
Obsessed with a few activities doing them repeatedly during the day – He loves trains they are pretty much his everything but I feel this could apply to most small children. Alex was obsessed with watching Winnie the Pooh, it’s all he did. Ellis loved electricity pylons took us months to work out why he shouted four-four when we passed them. It was from the old channel 4 adverts (go figure).
Plays with parts of toys instead of the whole toy – Nope!
Doesn’t seem to feel pain – He’s rock! Rarely cries through anything physical.
Sensory issues – Reilly has big issues with certain noises, he also likes rough textures and loves cold.
Meltdowns – Not to be confused with tantrums just to get their own way. I’ve seen plenty of tantrums over the years from my oldest two and a meltdown blows it out the water. A meltdown is relentless, its sometimes violent, can be dangerous and its extremely upsetting.
There are many more signs but if you really suspect your child, grandchild, etc has autism then you already know this as you’ve already googled it and watched the youtube videos.
TRUST YOUR PARENTAL INSTINCTS.
I absolutely knew Reilly was autistic well before his diagnosis. When Ellis was very ill as a baby I knew there was something they were missing and I was right. Don’t be fobbed off if you aren’t satisfied.
If you are concerned cold hard evidence and facts will help massively. Take photographs, video behaviours that you are concerned about, keep a diary of what happens before, during and after meltdowns.
They sometimes have an awesome ability to behave in the exact opposite manner you’d expect them to when with the professionals that are monitoring your child thus making you out to be the biggest liar in liar town.
Be prepared time is everything the quicker everything is set in stone the quicker the right interventions can be made. We got a diagnosis at 3 and were very lucky to get one so quickly.