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Emu Egg
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Joined: 2 Apr 2019
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03 Apr 2019, 1:14 am

I have a new daycare boy who has been with me for 3 weeks. He's about to turn 4, so I placed him in my preschool class, but he's not adapting well even though he's sweet as pie. He can't hold a pencil or scissors, and is unable to follow along with any of our lessons. During our center rotation, I've been working with him one on one and trying to get him to grip a pencil and trace basic shapes like a circle, square, or even just a short straight line, he just can't do it. He'll scribble all over the paper, even though I've just done it with him hand over hand a second before.

He also doesn't seem to process what I'm saying to him. He is sweet natured, and always says "ok" after given a command, but also replies "ok" after being asked a question. It's almost as if he doesn't understand what I want at all. Example: "___, please take off your shoes." "ok"(and sits there looking at me). I'll follow up with "Shoes off" and point to his shoes, and sometimes he'll pick up on what I'm asking. This is by far my biggest concern.

Other behaviors are occurring as well. He doesn't understand why the other kids get so upset when he takes their toys repeatedly. During free play, I often have to quarantine him on one side of the room with his favorite toys so he doesn't take ones the others are playing with. He also hums Star Wars on repeat, which was adorable the first week, but I'd really like him to learn a new tune if you know what I mean. He'll often lay on the couch flat on his back and rock side to side while humming. Same thing during naptime, he rocked for an hour one day last week.

I have a developmental specialist coming to assess my entire preschool group next week (I didn't want his mom to feel I was singling him out). I am concerned how the mom will react if she hears there is a significant delay in several areas. She's very sweet, but I know it will be devastating to hear.

Does anyone have any clue as to a name for this kind of behavior? Is it autism? He makes excellent eye contact, and I thought the major symptom of autism is lack of eye contact, am I wrong? Auditory processing? Does someone have firsthand experience with a child like this?


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03 Apr 2019, 3:25 am

"I have a developmental specialist coming to assess my entire preschool group next week"


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03 Apr 2019, 4:15 am

It might be autism, auditory processing disorder, disgraphia, stress, something else or any combination of the above. We certainly can't tell it from a forum post.
Eye contact, while often unnatural or even painful for autistic persons, sometimes can be trained. Some are not as uncomfortable with it as others. It's about discomfort, not physical inability. This is the trap of some "autism treatments" - some individuals can be trained to act against self so the traits become invisible - but they are still there, in form of discomfort, stress and silent internal pain.
What you are doing right now seems relatively reasonable. I wouldn't make this kind of masquerade to save his mother bad news - she most likely already knows something is going on. Try to think of ways to tell it so it doesn't sound like her son is broken - he isn't but he most likely would benefit from some help.
With some luck, you can find here someone with firsthand experience with being a child like this. Not me, I was the "little professor" kind, but chances are someone will come and tell.

Let's not confuse being normal with being mentally healthy.


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03 Apr 2019, 4:23 am

There is no way based on one post to determine what is up with that child beyond that he probably should be assessed. A lot of autistic traits such as the humming and the rocking are present in other conditions.

What is the policy in the daycare center for contacting parents when a child has issues or something is suspected?

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03 Apr 2019, 2:10 pm

Torp wrote:
He makes excellent eye contact, and I thought the major symptom of autism is lack of eye contact, am I wrong?

The lack of eye contact of autists is often just the results of bad experiences if doing it once they were still kids.
Some kids without siblings and without contact to other children in the neighbourhood just don't learn social interactions at home. In this case it's not good to single him out it would be better to care about him a bit more among the kids. (I know that's not easy to do this among lots of children.) A diagnosis without seeing and knowing him isn't really possible. I would suggest to talk about the problems that you see with his mom. May she has an idea why he is that way because she knows him better.

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03 Apr 2019, 2:17 pm

No one here is capable of rendering a valid diagnosis based on your second-hand observations. Bringing in the Developmental Specialist is the best idea, since the child is not yours and you seem to have little or no training in the subject of Developmental Disorders.

Second-guessing the specialist before he/she even gets there is likely to adversely affect the situation, especially if you prejudice the specialist before he/she has even had a chance to independently observe.

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03 Apr 2019, 2:41 pm

Just as Fnord has said,

No one here is capable of rendering a valid diagnosis based on your second-hand observations.
But many of his traits seem to match that of autism.

I might suggest that you read a book by Jason Lu called "Eikona Bridge". It might give you a roadmap on how to help the child.

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