Monday, July 6, 2009

Our Warning Signs...

I say "Our" warning signs as everyone is different!

The old adage of not comparing children is so true; as no two are exactly alike. People are more like snowflakes, they are similar categorically, but still each individual being uniquely different. This is true for all people despite being on or off the Autism Spectrum.

The Autism Spectrum is generally defined as a grouping of three main diagnoses...Autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger's. Although all three have so many similarities there are also so many differences, for instance, a child on the Autism side may be non-verbal where a child with Asperger's may have an above average vocabulary. Also it is important to note that you can not even compare two children with the same diagnosis as the severity of their symptoms can vary greatly from child to child. For instance there are children who cringe at the thought of being touched and then there are children like my son who loves bear hugs and can accidentally hurt someone by loving them.

Being a parent brings on so many fears for both typical and non-typical developing children. Everyone is concerned about whether their children are developing on target but sometimes parents see other signs - things that you questions secretly in your head but don't want to say them aloud. These nagging thoughts that keep you up at night wondering if there is a problem or not are the ones that you should not ignore.

We had our son evaluated at 18 months at the recommendation of our pediatrician but he was deemed not eligible for services at the time as they felt that his skills were emerging and at a little after the age of 4 he was diagnosed with PDD-NOS.

We thought we were looking at ADHD but with the language pragmatic issues, lack of social skills, lack of play skills, aggression and sensory issues, we are where we are. His neurologist originally was leaning towards Asperger's but since he was speech delayed he said that they usually do not go hand in hand.

The reason for this post is simple - although my son is high functioning, he is on the spectrum nevertheless and a lot of his early signs of difficulty could have easily gone unnoticed or realized much later delaying treatment and early intervention is key!

Here is a list of my son's early signs that may not have been so "textbook" but kept me up at night wondering whether or not we were facing a problem or if my son was just a little quirky:
  • No exhibits of anxiety or aversion to strangers - can be an early sign of a social problem
  • Drooled excessively with no awareness (much more than the average child and continued way after the typical child stops) - can be a sign of an oral-motor problem
  • Walked on his toes - can be a problem and may not
  • Loved to hold and smell hair - sensory issue
  • Would not touch grass - (we originally thought it was pretty funny and didn't even realize at first but this was his first sensory aversion) - sensory issue
  • Fear of loud noises (i.e., had to put him in another room to vacuum, microwave and kitchen timer, white noise on television) - sensory issue
  • No play skills even as small baby and engaged in little or no spontaneous pretend play (just banged and dismantled everything, his idea of playing was just to throw everything out of the toy boxes not actually play with the contents)
  • No pointing at things he wanted
  • Started to babble at around 10 months of age but stopped as quickly as it started and than nothing else for a very long time
  • No mimicking of sounds or facial expressions
  • If tickled he would laugh than bite you -sensory
  • Commando crawled - not sure if I personally agree with this but according to the Autism Source Book this may be an early indicator of gross motor issues
  • Zero frustration tolerance when doing fine motor tasks such as a 3 piece baby puzzle
  • Could not color
  • Never listened to the word "no", defiant is an understatement

Don't get me wrong, I am not a Doctor or a trained professional, nor do I claim to be - I am just a mom of a really sweet boy who has some troubles and at the time was a new mom who had a hard time distinguishing what was typical development and what was not.

My main reason for starting to blog was to meet people and gain resources to help my son learn and I hope that this list will help one parent seek some help sooner rather than later.

1 comment:

OceanDreams said...

I hope you gain more resources and learn more about autism. Wonderful blog and welcome to SITS!