View Full Version : Toddler on the Spectrum vs School Age

12-11-2010, 08:34 AM
DH and I are really struggling with DS right now. I really think I am in denial about his behavior. I wrote a post about DS's two year well visit and that the doctor wanted DS to have a full evaluation. All the questions that she asked were directed towards DS being on the spectrum. I sort of chalked it up to the doctor being overly cautious and put DS on a waiting list to be evaluated.
Yesterday he started biting at daycare again and the director observed some behaviors that concerned her. She also agrees DS needs to be evaluated.
DS just turned two and went into the two year old room two months earlier. He does not talk. He often never says a word at school. The teacher says sometimes she hears him singing. He also prefers to play be himself. I keep looking at the Autism checklists and thinking some of these behaviors are typical of a two year old.
I am a teacher and work with school aged children who are on various ends of the spectrum. However, I am not a Special Ed teacher. I am clueless what to look for in a toddler. Can anyone share behaviors that their child on the spectrum does and at what age you observed them? Thanks!!!

12-11-2010, 10:02 AM
With your DS being 2, the best advice I can give you is to call your local early intervention program as soon as possible and ask for an evaluation. This typically doesn't cost anything. It is worth it to have him checked out even if the answer is going to be no he's not on the spectrum. Early intervention is so important. Dr Sears (of the Vaccine Book, the Autism Book) has a strict policy at his practice that children who are not speaking at 18 months need an evaluation. I think it's a good policy.

My experience with my local early intervention was that had I not pushed very hard for a true autism evaluation at the beginning, it would have been months possibly before they got around to it. With autism I believe that time is of the essence. If you are stalled by your EI group or they are super busy, I would consider outside evaluation. Where I am in the DC area, people typically go to Kennedy Krieger for that.

The autism test my son was given is called the ADOS. I asked for it specifically.

For what it's worth, at 26 months I thought my son was speech delayed. I picked up The Autism Book by Dr Sears, read the first few chapters and knew instantly it was autism. I recommend the book.

I think to answer your original question - I'm not sure comparing behaviors is the best way to look at it, since autism is a spectrum and manifests differently for different kids. For example, my DS has never bit. I guess some of the big red flags are - speech delay, not answering to their name, not pointing, lack of joint attention.

12-11-2010, 11:47 AM
Yep, time for an eval with your local early intervention program (ours was through the county). Also contact the local school district. Many times once our child turns 3 they can receive services through the school.

Your child may very well not have autism. He may have sensory issues that once address he won't bite anymore and his behavior will improve. Along the line of sensory issues, it may be very overwhelming to him to be in such a large room with many other children. It is easier to play by himself than engage with the other children.

Autism isn't a death sentence. It is just another path in life. The important thing to remember is that early intervention is the best defense against autism or sensory/behavioral issues. Remember that there are many successful and wealthy individuals with autism in the world. An autistic adult can and does have warm and loving relationships. They go to college, they work and they marry and have children. Not all autistic children grow up to be wards of the state. A positive attitude is the best outlook to have. I have three autistic children. All three are at different levels on the ASD scale. I know in my heart that my oldest will at one point become a ward of the state when I am no longer alive to take care of him. He is severely autistic. My other two I expect to live on their own (or possibly in assisted living), have jobs and I pray families of their own.

You and your DH can get through all of this and come out the other side better. Get the evals and find out first what you are dealing with and then move forward with therapy (if needed). :hug:

12-11-2010, 12:44 PM
Here are some links:
Mchat questionaire: http://www2.gsu.edu/~psydlr/Diana_L._Robins,_Ph.D._files/M-CHAT_new.pdf
Scoring key: http://www2.gsu.edu/~psydlr/Diana_L._Robins,_Ph.D._files/M-CHAT_score.pdf

12-11-2010, 01:26 PM
I'm a big fan of the two prong approach: Early Intervention and medical evaluation by a developmental pediatrician. EI is great for identifying what delays a child has and providing needed services, but in many areas (such as mine) they cannot give a medical diagnosis. For us the process of getting the medical diagnosis took about six months, not counting the four month waiting list to see the DP. The DP ordered medical tests to rule out known chromosome disorders, metabolic disorders, seizure disorders, hearing problems, etc. DS also had a full eval by a child psychologist. The official diagnosis of autism was not given until everything else had been ruled out.

As for what behaviors we saw at age two, the most obvious was that DS was still non-verbal at that age. He also had hard time understanding what we said to him. He couldn't follow verbal directions unless it as something we said frequently.

Shortly after he turned two, DS started using his ABC blocks to spell four syllable words (helicopter, motorcycle, etc), but he still did not talk at all. At that point we had to face the fact that his development had taken an unusual turn. (DS has Hyperlexia as feature of his autism.)

Additionally, DS had fine gross motor delays, although we didn't realize it until EI pointed it out. I knew that he was behind in fine motor skills, as I remember telling the doctor that DS still couldn't take his socks off, I just didn't realize that he had real delays in that area. Also, DS did a lot of stimming: staring at ceiling fans, waving his fingers in front of his face, making odd noises, etc. He had sensory issues including fears of certain noises, dislike of getting his hands dirty, a need for certain types of movement.

:hug: This is a really hard stage that you are in, when you are trying to figure out what's typical for the age and what signifies a problem.

12-15-2010, 03:37 AM
Thanks so much for the responses. I totally don't look at being on the spectrum as a death sentence. Gena, really nailed my frustration that I just don't know what is being two and what is a behavior I should be concerned about. DS is on a waiting list for a full evaluation by our state intervention program.