How early did you discover autistic traits in your kids?

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Sea Gull
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19 Dec 2008, 11:19 am

Ana54 wrote:
Someone commented that my 3-week-old son (who was then about 2 weeks old) didn't make eye contact... his father and I never noticed anything... with that or with anything else... it's probably way too early to see how autistic he is.

Um, typ 3-week-olds don't really make eye contact. They may or may not turn towards sound/voice, usually they do.
But I'm curious about what you discovered about your kids and how old they were when you noticed it.

Day 3, the day he came home from the hospital, I knew he was "different". He was switched on like no infant I'd ever seen before or since. He was looking around the room, and at people like kids usually don't do till they are 3-6 months old. He was looking at people and their faces (so there was at least the appearance of eye contact). He also would happily stay awake for 8-9 hours at a time and never slept more than about 12 hours TOTAL in a day, which is not in anyway typical of a new born. Keep in mind he's of the very high seeking/low registering mode of autism. What have your parents said about your early childhood?

The real tipoff to autism came later. First the not so obvious at around 15 months where he'd pull off cushions from the couch and run back and forth shoulder checking the arms. Then came the climbing and leaping. We didn't get that. Our autism knowledge was very low and ADD/ADHD runs in my family so I think I chalked it up to a very exaggerated version of that (there still could be some truth in that). It was about 19 months I think when we first started to have an inkling about autism. Beside the nonverbal (other than counting to 10 over and over when in his crib instead of sleeping), and some lack of responsiveness to his name, and lack of eye contact (not sure if we understood the lack of pointing to be a symptom), the big one for us was when he covered his ears and ran screaming from the room when we first played a Dora The Explorer DVD. I recall that moment very vividly (other than the actual date :oops: ). I remember thinking "Ooookay...I've got to talk to his Dr. about this". He loved movies, many a late night/early morning was spent with him watching Spirited Away because it calmed him when he wouldn't sleep, and he learned his alphabet (phonics first) prior to age 2 via Leap Frog Letter Factory. But there was some [poor] singing that would really set him off, off-key singing still does. Also he'd do the same thing when a jet flew high overhead, it was so faint us adults wouldn't notice it but something about the sound really set him off.
If he's NT I'm going to raise him to grow an autistic extension to his brain so that he can understand us and be one of us as well as being NT!

Him just being around you is going to help him acclimatize and understand you somewhat. Then when he's a teenager he'll hate you and be embarrassed by you and swear up and down you don't understand him at all and he'll drive you batty. ;)

If he's not AS you don't really expect to make him "part AS"? That'd be like me expecting to make my son "part NT". But he'll likely understand you more than the average NT (it wouldn't be surprising if he shared some ASish traits anyway). Especially if you explicitly explain stuff to him. Just like with an AS kid and an NT parent. Maybe, if you watch closely enough, he'll help you better understand NT. :)

Please be kind and patient with the tourist. He comes in peace and with good intentions.


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19 Dec 2008, 2:23 pm

If he's AS I'll also raise him to grow an NT extension on top of the AS... because it's handy.

As for my early childhood, my mother said I didn't point and show her things (even though I did it with my father) and that someone commented that I didn't make eye contact or something. I also played with a string, folding it in half and waving it in front of my eyes and following the movement. I did this to stimulate myself. She also said that I was mopre interested in my toys than people. There was probably some other stuff too.

Pileated woodpecker
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27 Dec 2008, 11:04 pm

My sone was 23 months old when an early childhood community educator at a class we had signed up for pulled me aside and recommended an evaluation.

She had seen him since birth as a regular teacher for that type of thing.
Before then we had known he was different than people told us to expect since birth. He cried a lot, wouldn't tolerate the presence of anyone but his mom or me. He also barely slept.

The parent discussion sessions always seemed surreal, like are these other kids the same age as mine?

We now have a second son who is 13 months and I believe is NT. If we had had him first I probably would have suspected autism much much earlier. Of course since then I have gotten quite an education in autism so who knows.

I think a couple weeks is too early to get concerned. Just watch the milestones, and try keep an open mind.

Yellow-bellied Woodpecker
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30 Dec 2008, 3:07 am

My son sounds similar to what RudolphsDad mentioned. Also, inability to handle "organized chaos" of preschool was a huge tip-off as well.

Some of this I noticed early on, but connected the dots in retrospect. At just a few days old, he was very, very interested in water falling from the shower or the sink. All babies study things, but this was early and intense, and lasted a good 3 months. A very "easy" baby. If he was fussy for some reason - we just had to run the sink and he was calm and happy as a clam. Once at a family dinner, when his older sister was across the table and he was on my lap, his grandpa made a sudden move toward his sister's plate and play pretended to grab something, and he was inconsolably crying. We thought - he couldn't have noticed that - he's only 2 months old.

He had a Mr. Potato head that had batteries at 6 months. Press a button, and it would say a phrase and all the face pieces would pop off. When he first saw this - he cried inconsolably. He then cried whenever he saw that toy in true and total terror.

From 6 mons to 18 mons, no babbling AT ALL. No sounds except giggles. He was a happy kid, but wouldn't make any sounds. At one year, we put out a floor puzzle, turned around and were shocked that he completed it. Kept doing it over and over and more quickly each time. We were thinking genius - but wondered why he didn't make any sounds. He also stacked cans at age 1, and liked opening and closing doors... that caused our radar to go off big time.

He didn't point, didn't wave bye-bye, couldn't say "ma-ma".... but he WROTE HIS NAME at 23 months... we knew something was up, but never guessed AS or autism because we didn't know what it really was back then.

When he did start to speak - first words were "things" more than usual first baby words like "ma-ma" "buh-bye" etc... He said "octogon". Then, it seemed like he could read before he could really talk. One time going to a store with him, he read off all the prices on the shelves and noticed they all ended .99 --- couldn't tear him away from numbers or letter for a time. BUT - he didn't really acknowledge people. He loved to laugh and giggle and was loving, so early on, we ruled out AS because we incorrectly assumed you had to totally be in your own world. He was engaging... in his own way.

Started walking at 11 months - and started kicking a soccer ball around (very well). When he was 3 - he seemed to be a different kid if there was a crowd. He was fine one-on-one, but would chase his own shadow if too much was going on around him. He was also putting things in his mouth way longer than normal babies do. He would chew on sand - yuck.

He has a very NT outgoing relative that he couldn't stand because she got right in his face. Other kids adored her, but she was very surprised that he didn't respond as expected (he ran away). She told us she thought he didn't like her, but really, she was too much for him to take. He seemed to communicate best when we used slow, Spock-like (or Data-like) correctness in our speech. We knew he understood us - he just didn't want to talk. We could show him a chart of pictures, and say for example "where is the fruit bat?" and he would immediately point and smile.

He fooled everyone with "language processing / executive function" problems, but did not get his PDD-NOS until age 3.5.

One thing I noticed that really put me on notice. We let him watch a few of those baby einstein videos - not too often, but once in awhile. Then one day, I put on just the music track in the car, and in my rear view mirror, my silent kid was "acting out" the parts just as they appeared in the video for that particular song... I thought - he's a visual kid. I'm going to throw those out right now - it looked like he was staring into space and somehow visualizing the show right in front of his eyes. It looked very strange.

So I guess the first things I noticed is that he was very "visual", had sensory issues, didn't make many sounds but understood, was drawn to shapes/letters/patterns with an unusual intensity, and was not that interested in social things like waving bye-bye.

In reply to the question in the post - I think 3 weeks is way to early to say anything is a concern because of "eye contact" alone.

Flash foward to today - he enjoys playing pretend at age 6, has a great sense of humor, can read way above grade level, do math amazingly well and in a self-taught way... but don't try to get him going in team sports, it's like he's a different kid in group settings, although it's getting better all the time.

Tufted Titmouse
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30 Dec 2008, 10:33 pm

but looking back through a LOT of denial, confusion, and hard times I can put the pieces together and see the whole picture starting from day one. She came into the world hardwired. NEVER slept, ALWAYS cried and had her eyes WIDE open. At three months she would distinguish and scream with anything the color black. She was desperately afraid of windshield wipers, certain sounds, textures, people. It was definitely out ot the realm of "normal" but she was my first and I was somewhat isolated so I didn't quiet understand. Everyone said she was just "colicky" and hypersensitive and I ofcourse was the exhausted single mom so that must have been the major problem! I went to a behaviorial ped at about two year who said she thought everything was fine and that my DD was just "alittle sensitive". There was no attachment issue. She made me cry and feel guilty that I "held her too tight" and I was anxious and upset. Looking back it took us to age almost 11 to make this diagnosis but there's been signs all along the way. It just took me a while to get here. Better late than never, right? Good luck to you and us all! I love my DD more than my own life. I wouldn't change her or my experience with her for a second, just want her to be happy in her own right.