Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Is my little star autistic?

This post about that I continue to be slightly worried that my son is somewhere on the autism spectrum.  But when I start to worry, I think that it doesn't really matter.  My son is what he is, and I love him; I can't really imagine him any other way.  If we find out some day that he has some diagnosis we'll work with it, just like any other parent has to do.

On friday I picked my son up at play care. As is often the case, he was playing by himself in the sand box.  (Sometimes I find him playing "with" other kids at the water table, so he's not always by himself.) He's getting better with potty training (though he had an accident today), so instead of having an accident as soon as I got there (this has been happening a lot), he got out of the very questionable squatting position he was in and sat on the corner of the sand box.  I let him play a bit and lo and behold he stayed dry.  Progress?

There were two other kids on the other side of the sandbox, kids in his class, kids who have been there since he started in December.  They were playing together making a sand castle.  One child, P, has long, almost blond hair, and is a girl who wears a lot of pink.  The other child, C is black, a boy and has short african type hair.  My point is they look nothing alike aside from brown eyes.

I asked my son who he was playing with in the sandbox.  The two kids of course heard me and P mentioned C's name.  My son then said C's name.  So I asked him about the girl.  He said her name was Z- Z is a boy who hasn't been in his class for at least a month.  This lack of knowing the kids names is typical.

We had a conversation about how C and P looked different.  The only difference that seemed salient to him was that their shirts were different colors. I asked him what color P's hair was.  He said brown... OK, sort of- its kind of a dirty blond.  I asked about C's hair.  He said brown... sort of- I mean if black is brown.  I asked who had long hair, and he figured that one out- with coaching.  He also seemed to think he had long hair.  He doesn't, but he might think so because his Daddy is always cutting it when we think its too long.  I didn't bother with the skin color. If he didn't notice that, well thats a good thing at this age.  I asked him if P was a little boy or a little girl.  A little boy he told me.  Well, I don't think kids his age necessarily understand gender yet, so I told him she was a little girl but not how he was supposed to figure that out.  I don't really think gender differentiation at a young age is very positive anyway.  Still I didn't feel like I'd really given him much help in differentiating people's faces.  Even I can't really describe how faces are different to me.  I really think he need's some professional coaching here.

And then I read this blog that had a piece on the new findings about siblings have a higher chance of autism:
"Drilling down into the things that we know are early signs of autism -- interest in people, responding to their name, responding to other people, smiling at other people."  
The quotation is cited from an NPR piece  that Ozonoff who directed the study.
NPR article

OK, I'm guessing Ozonoff means that autistic kids LACK interest in people, etc.  That's my son mostly. He does watch other kids, so I guess that's some interest, but its not like he wants to interact with them!  Sometime he responds to his name.  Often he ignores you, and it seems quite deliberate.  He's certainly not likely to respond to people other than me and my husband without a lot of effort on the other person's part.  He smiles when he's happy, but I wouldn't exactly call it smiling at other people.

And then someone suggested that maybe he had dyspraxia.  I looked it up.  Well, only a few symptoms fit him, so I don't think he has that.  You see, the person hasn't really every heard him talk except when I prompt him.  Rest assured the boy talks just fine without prompting at home and when he gets comfortable with people or a situation.  It just takes a long time for that to happen.

So really, my main concern is that if he needs some early intervention, that he gets it.  Obviously (to me) he's quite functional right now, but that doesn't mean he won't have trouble later on.

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