This post has been brewing for a long time. In fact, I have been avoiding posting anything personal for a while, because I have been worrying about this, and whether or not to add it to my blog. After a chat with DaddyGeek tonight, I have decided to share it. I think Sam is Autistic, so I’m going to share and document my toddler Autism concerns via this blog. My theory being they may help someone else in the future.
My Toddler Autism Concerns
Before I go into it with you, I want to make something VERY clear…
I already feel beyond guilty that I may have caused Sam’s problems. So I am not looking for finger pointing. I know I am not Super Mum. I’m honest though, and I am holding my hands up and saying I have possibly screwed up.
What I am asking for is HELP. Have you had experience with developmental delays? Do you recognise the signs here? Am I reading too much into it? Is my Health Visitor the best place for me to go? All advice is appreciated.
Now… Here’s what’s been going on.
Basically, Batman isn’t meeting his milestones. Sam is 17 Months old today. He still isn’t walking, but he IS cruising. He runs around on his knees like he doesn’t need feet. Sam isn’t talking much either. He can say MUM and Miggy (Mickey), but he says them very rarely.
These aren’t my only concerns. I have been making a list of things I am concerned about for a while. Some of it will probably make no sense to people who don’t know Sam, but here goes…
My Toddler Autism Concerns
Firstly, Sam never answers to his name or to verbal cues. He will react to loud, sudden noises (by jumping or turning his head). He also gets excited when the themes to his favourite tv shows come on, so his hearing is ok.
Additionally, Sam never points to things. He will sit and cry, or stare at things, but he never points, and he never tries to show me stuff. Also, Sam doesn’t wave really, either. He has been trying to the past few days, so this could be progress?!
When you google toddler Autism concerns, one of the things mentioned is social skills. Sam hates playing with others – adults and children. He also gets very distressed if other children are in his space (at our house). Sam doesn’t seem too bad in big group settings (like soft play). Although he gets upset if he is at other children’s houses and they are playing with toys he wants.
I know this may well be because he doesn’t mix very much, but I am including all of my concerns, and it seems relevant to me. Additionally, I know all kids need to learn to share, but other people’s babies don’t seem to get as upset as he does.
Another thing I want to mention is that Sam doesn’t do back and forth communication. If I say “Do you want a drink?” he blanks me. Additionally, if he makes noises and I mimic them, he stops making noise. He screams quite a lot. (Even when happy, smiling, etc).
Sam also rocks quite a lot, but this seems to be a “happy” action.
Sam watches a lot of TV. Probably too much, but he gets really agitated if it’s not on. He will play happily, so long as it is on. He doesn’t always watch it, but it is like it’s a crutch. I know this is my fault for letting him watch it, but it’s done now. If I could have my time again, I’d do things differently. However, as it is, I don’t have a time machine.
I can’t undo my mistakes. I have reduced his TV time a lot by switching to channels he isn’t interested in. He has accepted this, but he still gets upset if we are at home and it is off. Sam was obsessive about Mickey Mouse. It was affecting his behaviour a lot, so I have limited him watching it. He is allowed 1 episode a day, after tea. This new routine seems to sit well with him now.
Sam also makes next to no eye contact. He will look me in the eye when we are playing, and he is having cuddles. However, he refuses to look me (or anyone else) in the eye most of the time. Sam is very loving towards me, but nobody else. (Again, I know it’s quite normal for toddlers to be like this, but the eye contact thing is concerning me).
Biting and Scratching
He also bites a lot. (Sam bites himself, me, books, paper, toys etc). I cannot leave him with anything paper or card – not even card books, as he chews them and eats the paper. Sam has been scratching like mad too, recently. I think he is getting a bit of dry skin though, so this could be nothing to do with autism.
Sam doesn’t react to pain. For example, he is forever banging his head of stuff (in frustration and by accident), but he never flinches. Additionally, he cries his eyes out if he is shocked by something. (A dog barking, a door moving when he leans on it, etc). Also, if he turns and bumps his head unexpectedly, he will cry, but it seems to be out of shock more than pain.
Sam plays happily enough by himself. He will get toys, and press buttons – he likes buttons. Additionally, he will roll and throw balls, push cars along, and spin wheels around. However, he isn’t interested in playing with others, really. If I build a tower, he will smash it down, but he never wants to build it up. Also, when I am playing with Sydney, he will try to take away the toy, but won’t really join in. If I won’t let him take the toy, he gets upset.
Making Needs Known
Sam still isn’t making his needs known. He doesn’t cry when his nappy is wet or dirty. Additionally, he doesn’t cry when he is thirsty or hungry either. I spend my days offering him drinks only to have the cup thrown back at me, or for him to spit the drink out and make himself soaking wet. Sam never managed to hold his own bottle, or to use a sippy cup successfully. He is using a straw cup now, and is fine with that. Cutlery is still not happening though.
Firstly, I know a lot of these things are probably me looking for problems. I also know most of them can probably be explained away too, but I am concerned now. Last week, I rang the Health Visitor, but have heard nothing yet. I know it may well be (and hopefully is) developmental delay. Probably brought on because he doesn’t get to mix with other kids much. I’m juggling 19 month old Sam and 6 month old Syd now. Also, because I had SPD during Sydney’s pregnancy, we had to stay at home a lot as I wasn’t up to driving.
Sam gets read to every night. I talk to him a lot, sing to him and play games. He also has plenty of educational toys, but is definitely lacking in socialising. Obviously he is around Sydney all day every day, but we don’t see many other kids. (Again, this is my fault). I can’t manage them both on my own at playgroups and soft play. Sam gets really upset if other kids come to our house. We visit my family a lot, but don’t see many other small children.
Close Age Gap
Sam’s development hasn’t been helped by my getting pregnant so soon after I had him. I know this. Sydney is also a really demanding baby, She constantly wants to be held and Sam is happy to play on his own. So, (I am ashamed to say) he is often playing by himself or watching TV while I am sorting out Sydney.
Sydney definitely gets a lot more of my time than Sam, which would definitely account for developmental delays on his part. He won’t join in our games, so it is almost impossible to give them equal attention. It is getting easier to give Sam more time now Sydney is sitting up, and can use her baby walker and such like.
We haven’t been in a position to afford Nursery fees up to now. However, I am hoping we can get him into nursery from next month, for at least 1 day a week to try to improve his social skills.
I should also mention I have 2 older sisters with Learning Disabilities, and I used to support adults with LD too. So I am aware of the signs in adults, but I have no experience with Children, diagnosis or support.
A couple of people have mentioned baby sign. I know nothing about this either. Finally, any tips for books, websites or apps for this would be amazing.
Thanks (in advance)!
Finally, if this post on toddler Autism concerns has been helpful, check out this post on our early Autism diagnosis.