Autism, ASD, Autism Spectrum Disorder.
You hear these words but what do they mean? And does your child really have it?
You may have heard of some of the basic and more known signs and symptoms…no eye contact, doesn’t react to their name, not social, in their own little world.
But maybe your child is not like that.
Sure they are a little quirky. They have their own thing going on. Maybe a little delayed in speech but they’re so little, they’ll talk soon enough.
Yeah, they are hard to handle sometimes and don’t do well with transitions or change in routine…but they’ll grow out of it, right?
I have been through this!
I have had those questions and concerns!
And I ignored them because I didn’t know they pointed to Autism.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a spectrum. And there is so much that goes under the umbrella of ASD. You can check out the post I wrote on ASD signs and symptoms.
I knew all the stereotypical and well-known signs but my oldest, C, didn’t have any of those! I did not believe it. I didn’t even think to get him tested early on. He was 6 years old when we finally had him evaluated and diagnosed. You can read our story.
I don’t want you to be that mom that I was. Early intervention – getting them evaluated early is SO IMPORTANT.
Get your child diagnosed.
Get them the help they need.
Do not be afraid of a diagnosis. It will give you so many answers and hope.
I want to share with you some of the lesser known signs and symptoms of Autism. This is from my own personal experience with my son. I am not a doctor and cannot diagnose. Please speak with your child’s pediatrician if you have any concerns.
Signs of Autism that seem like normal behavior
-Makes eye contact, but for short amount of time
Your child may make eye contact from an early age.
In our case, C made eye contact from an early age. Only later we noticed that it would only be for short periods of time, only for a few seconds and then he would look away.
-Speech delay is present but was otherwise verbal
This is a tricky one because people define non-verbal differently.
C was making sounds and attempted to communicate although actual words started after 2 years of age. Phrases and short sentences at 5 years. And that progress was made after starting speech therapy.
-Can recite the alphabet and count to 20 but doesn’t speak in phrases or sentences.
I think this one shows how smart these kids can be.
C knew the alphabet very well but wasn’t able to point to a picture of an apple and tell me what it was.
-The child reacts to his or her name
I thought this was a big one and we never had trouble with this area.
C always responded to his name from the time he was a baby.
-No noticeable stimming
For some children, stimming can be minor or barely noticeable.
C would stim by taking apart the bottom seam of his shirts. We went through a shirt a day at one point because he would take the shirt apart basically. He recently switched to button down shirts. He can’t take apart those seems but now plays with the buttons instead.
Signs you may miss
You may notice your child seeking certain textures. They may like tight hugs or getting into small places. There are so many different things they can seek.
C was sensory seeking with his hands. Would pick up the tiniest things with his fingers and rub them between his fingers.
Very early on when he started crawling, he put his head down on the floor and would crawl with his head rubbing the floor.
Nowadays he likes to wear a fitted sheet over his entire body with hands and feet inside. I found this body sock that he absolutely loves and it replaced the fitted sheet.
-Fascination with a specific item
This may seem like your child just really like a specific toy or object but it can mean a lot more.
In our case C really loved wheels. Not the car or bicycle, but the wheels that were attached, he played with wheels and like to watch wheels turn.
For a short time, he was fascinated with peoples feet. Let’s just say this made some people uncomfortable.
Tiptoe walking is common in children with ASD but I think it’s also a lesser-known sign.
C was a late walker and I thought his tiptoe walking was just part of the process.
-Child doesn’t play pretend
You may not notice this one as much especially if you don’t have other typically developing children to compare your child to.
I totally missed this one. C was my oldest and only child until he was almost 5. He only started to play pretend after age 6. Now he has all kinds of storylines going on with his animals and plays pretend constantly.
-Child does not like physical affection
The child may not like to be touched or held, hugged or cuddled.
I just thought this was a personal preference of C’s
-Repetition in language
Your child may repeat the same words or phrases, over and over and over. Ask the same questions many times over even if the answer was given each time.
We had so much of this when C first started speaking in words. I thought he was just very curious or couldn’t remember what I answered him.
-Hard time connecting with children their own age
The child may have a had a hard time having a connection with other kids his or her age but anyone younger or older was easier.
I feel this is still part of our life. C has a difficult time communicating with kids his age and does much better with older or younger children.
When I started doing research on C’s behavior and he got his ASD diagnosis more of his quirks made sense.
It can be hard to see any of the signs as a warning signal. Especially if you don’t have any other kids to compare your child to (my case). And if no one else seems concerned why should you be?
You have a mother’s intuition. You know your child best. Get your child screened! Talk to your child’s pediatrician. Bring in notes, dates, videos. Make them listen to you. And once you have a diagnosis there are so many resources and help out there!
You got this mama!
I missed these! Just thought they were a part of my presious boy. I’ve been trying to categorize his behaviors. He isn’t text book with any of them.
Thank you so much for this!
Hi Tina! Thanks for visiting my blog.
My son is not textbook at all in so many ways. That’s why it took us until he was 6 to get diagnosed. Let me know please if there is anything else I can share with you or if you have any questions.
I missed some of those signs also but I thought it was just normal and he would get there just like my daughter got (she’s 7 and my boy that has asd is almost 3) my husband saw the se signs and he was the one looked for EI, he mention to me that Anthony could be Austistic and I totally ignored him just like my pediatrician didn’t see the signs after I told her at 18 months that he didn’t wave or point (pretty big red flags ) we still doing therapies (10 hours a weeks) and he will be going school soon! I’m looking
For a autism’s moms group to join that we actually get together and share experiences I’m in Westfield nj … hope your boy making a lot progress! Thanks for sharing
Thank you for sharing your experience. That’s good that your husband saw the signs. We didn’t realize anything and neither did our pediatrician at first.
We just lowered the hours for therapy this week! He’s making a lot of progress, but it’s a lot of work!
We’re in Northern California but it’s nice to hear from someone from the east coast. Thanks for stopping by Layana!
Thank you for sharing this experience! I recognize so many of the things you have described. I have a 4,5 year old who was just recently diagnosed with ASD. As a baby he never had difficulties with eye contact, spoke his first words around the age of 1. When he was 2-2,5 he knew the entire alfabet, could spell his name and count to 12. At that time I could not imagine that anything was “wrong”. At the time being he is “babbling” alot but not speaking in a way that is understandable, although occasionally an entire sentence pops out. Anyhow, we are on the waiting list to see an occupatioal therapist and I have recieved some helpful tips from a speech therapist. I live in Sweden but I am forced to educate myself and can’t help but notice that the knowledege and awareness regarding autism is far greater in the US than here. Anyhow, the stories that you have shared gave me a glimmer of hope, thanks from the depth of my heart!
Hi Karen! Thank you for stopping by and sharing your experience. I realize how very fortunate that I live in the US. I think our children are so fascinating. They will keep surprising you and impressing you! That has been my experience. I hope you get the services that your child needs. Does Sweden have ABA therapy for children?
Hi! Sorry for not replying sooner!
I agree that autistic children are fascinating – a true gift to humankind. I am glad to tell you that we are now starting to get a lot of help for our son 🙂 There is an entire team including speech therapist, pediatric nurse, psychologist, special eds teacher and so on.
Answering your question, yes, we do have ABA therapy in Sweden.
Soon we will start sessions with a fairly new kind of therapy called IR (Imitation Responsive) wich has a special focus on developing joint attention. Basically it is built upon the adult imitating the child instead of the opposite. Supposedly the child is being stimulated by initiating behaviour which is then imitaded by an adult. Later on, after intensive periods of training sessions this is followed by what I understand is similar to ABA therapy. (We call it IBT, Intensive Behaviuoral Therapy/Training, not sure to what extent they are the same, however).
Anyhow, the people that we have met so far have been great with us, they are so positive, excited and truly intrested to help our son to develop the best way as possible! I am so happy that we decided to take the step to have him diagnosed since this is opening up to so many possibilities that we would not have had access to otherwise. Sure, in the beginning I was afraid of having him “labelled”, but that is not what it´s all about. It’s really a question of giving him a chance of being the wonderful person he is as well as strenthening what he is good at and building upon that.
Thanks for giving me an update Karen. I’m so glad your son is finally getting the services that he needs. I totally agree about the “label”. I was so scared at first. But you’re right, the diagnosis just opened up a lot of doors and opportunities to get the help that our kids need. Thanks for sharing!
Jerrie Smith says
I’m so glad that I’m you did this blog because my Halle is 8 years old and I have been fighting back and forth trying to tell doctors and therapists and so forth that I know that she has a hint of autism or Asperger’s I’m not sure what but I mean it’s obvious cuz we’ve been going through so many things that she was born and I just appreciate people and I was just wondering what kind of help and what more they can do for it that they don’t now and how do I make them listen to me like now I’m at the point where I’m like making them when I go to the doctor on the 30th I’m like telling her no I’m not going to take no for an answer just the way it is because we cannot keep dealing with her with just that this intellectual Behavior disability because it’s just not what it is and it’s making it harder on her siblings and myself and it’s got to be a different way but I just wanted to thank you and my name is Jerry Smith and I 37 in West Memphis Arkansas in my Holly Lynn is 8 years old and we’ve overcame so much just us in our family and me being a single parent and her Daddy finally working with us and getting out of denial and it’s just really hard to talk to people and get them to understand that your child just is not a brad in Olden it’s really overwhelming but thank you for your time and your information in your struggle God bless you
Wow! You have a lot going on! Yes this whole parenting thing can be such a struggle. And getting the doctors to listen is definitely hard sometimes. But you are your childs greatest advocate. You know what is best for your child and you know the truth of what’s going on. The doctors are not there all the time in the thick of it. They don’t see your child all the time. My suggestion is keep notes of behaviors. When and why they occur. Get video or audio if necessary. Find other families who have similar situation/ similar children. Keep fighing for the truth. With the proper diagnosis so many doors will open and your child will get the services they deserve. I hope to hear from you with an update soon!
Doctor Aubrey Nunes says
Kristina, I am lost in admiration for your work. You’re so right to encourage parents to seek help early, and not to doubt the validity of their observations. So interesting what Karen says. I am a clinical linguist and thus not centrally involved with ASD. But the issue of ASD does crop up. And I would greatly value any informed responses to the question I pose about ASD on my website Possiblewords.co.uk. It’s a real question. I am going on only a small amount of information. I recognise that I may be completely wrong. If I decide that I am, I’ll take down my question. But the issue of what many linguists call the ‘architecture’ of speech and language is crucial in relation to all of these developmental problems, including those germane to ASD. Any sort of work with children under conditions of social distancing is of course very tough. I find myself teaching parents about my own area of expertise in a new way.
Hi Doctor, thanks for stopping by and for your comment. My son has speech over zoom and it can be difficult. I hope things can go back to in person soon.