Defined as autistic because of not talking

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Defined as autistic because of not talking

Postby danchapman91 » 13 Dec 2010, 18:32

My son has been deemed to be autistic because of the fact he doesn't speak when he is almost 3. He doesn't have any other symptom of autism but, yes, he ain't talking. It is a little weird because they define him as autistic but then say he will be ok with special classes within 6 months to a year. In the course of visiting various hospitals they have also said different things like he is not really autistic just has a speech issue.

Anyway, I am asking because I am still in a couple of minds about a couple of things:

1) So is it really a big issue? I am interested in any other parents who might have had the same situation, decided he would shake himself out of it and the child did.

2) Should i just let him go to a normal school and assume stimulation from other kids will motivate him to speak. He has lacked a fair degree of interaction over the last year and I believe that just messing around with other 3 year olds will do him alot of good. The doctors, however, insist he has to go a special school and get one to one attention, but then ironically the special class has more than one kid. They also are not using any miracle methods to teach him and it appears the only real difference between them and a good pre-school/montessori is perhaps two less kids in the class.

Maybe a parent who has been through this or an experienced teacher could give me some insights.

Thanks,

Dan
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Re: Defined as autistic because of not talking

Postby NonTocareLeTete » 13 Dec 2010, 18:46

I'm not a parent but I worked with autistic children for 3 years. If speech is his only issue they should not be giving him that label, in fact, as far as 'diagnosing' him, do not let that label follow him to another country because they tend to take it a little more seriously and it could limit his opportunities.
Ask them to go over the DSMIV (or five? I've been out of the loop for a while) indicators of autism and ask which ones he exhibits. It's really ridiculous for them to be throwing that word around.
How is he socially (does he interact with other children or just play side by side?) does he stim (do a repetitive behavior over and over that seems to calm him, such as spinning a small plate or block) how's his eye contact? Again, autism is a hell of a lot more than slow speech.
My nephew was a slow starter with speaking, we were all worried about him and he ended up in a special pre-school program. Now he's at the top of his little reading group and doing fine. Being slow to begin speaking is not necessarily a terrible sign, in fact a lot of really intelligent people don't speak when expected.
As far as the special school vs. normal preschool, I say go for the normal preschool. There's a lot of pressure for 'inclusion' in America and there's a reason for that. He's more likely to mirror 'normal' behavior if he goes to a normal kid school, and he's less likely to suffer from learned helplessness which comes from teachers over compensating for his label.
Get him to a reputable children's doctor. Autism is not something you 'grow out of' with several months of special classes.
sorry don't have much time to respond because writing this between bites of dinner.
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Re: Defined as autistic because of not talking

Postby housecat » 13 Dec 2010, 18:54

What is the language situation in your home? Has your son been primarily with care givers that speak more than one language? Sometimes, kids growing up in multilingual households will have delayed speach, but then begin speaking multiple languages with very few code swiching issues. It's simply an issue of longer processing time.

You mention he has had a "lack of interaction." Is this TOTAL, or just with peers his own age? Lack of other three year olds should not make a difference if he has plenty of stimulation from other caring adults--but his peers could also help because most three year olds are at a developmental stage that makes them want to be able to do what their peers can do, or to "co-play."

If there has not been adequate stimulation, or interaction, then what he has is likely more similar to failure to thrive, in my unquaified opinion. But this could lead him to become so introverted that he could be labled autistic--just because he's learned that his attempts to interact will get no response and so he's quit trying.

You are the parent. Hopefully you are involved and in a position to know what is best for your child. Just so you know, they cannot make a diagnosis of autism before three years of age. And autism is a "spectrum" of disorders, or a broad term that can mean profound inability to communicate or to learn, or mildly introverted and uncommunicative and you really may not know enough to make a good judgement this early. Go with your parental gut. And be THERE for your son. Pay attention to him. You will begin to "here" or "see" if things are okay or not.

Good luck. (I'm a teacher, and the parent of a healthy boy.)
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Re: Defined as autistic because of not talking

Postby urodacus » 13 Dec 2010, 19:05

Brilliant post, HC.
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Re: Defined as autistic because of not talking

Postby housecat » 13 Dec 2010, 20:06

Thanks, Urodacus.
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Re: Defined as autistic because of not talking

Postby piwackit » 13 Dec 2010, 20:09

Speech is not one of the defining characteristics of autism but lack of eye contact, aloofness and unflexability are a few.
Check out this link
http://www.autism-society.org/site/Page ... hatis_char

I've had several friends who's kids didn't speak until after three and then they started telling stories!

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Re: Defined as autistic because of not talking

Postby ironlady » 13 Dec 2010, 22:05

This is probably too simple, but has his hearing ever been checked? In small children, a hearing problem can often affect speech.
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Re: Defined as autistic because of not talking

Postby divea » 14 Dec 2010, 01:24

piwackit wrote:Speech is not one of the defining characteristics of autism but lack of eye contact, aloofness and unflexability are a few.
Check out this link
http://www.autism-society.org/site/Page ... hatis_char

I've had several friends who's kids didn't speak until after three and then they started telling stories!

If something is wrong, you'll know, I promise.

I am one of those parents.....my 3 year old now interrupts MY story telling but at 2 years he was not talking, not making eye contact and had gone mute as in NO sound at all, not to mention he lined up everything in the house, in order. He didn't sleep much, and threw his head backwards all the time. It had gotten eerie, and EYE suspected autism not they............followed my gut, took my son to a Occupational therapist and speech therapist. The speech lady recommended tests and we did all the hearing tests. All clear. I knew my son could hear, because eerily every time a plane flew over, he would go brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.......then the Occupational therapist spent an hour with us, told us he is NOT autistic, very independent, there is an obvious delay of speech and it was good I followed my 'mommy meter'. The Occupational therapist gave us some tips, like being animated,( which I am always)so I did it more. The speech therapist had also mentioned, that a rocking motion, is good for the boy. He did have a rocking horse and we went to the park daily, but then I began focusing on play as therapy. So took the kid on slides twice a day, made sure he was on the rocking horse as much as possible, massaged his gums, and believe me it helped. Thing is, he was already doing those things, we just became conscious of certain motions calmed him.

To answer your question, my son did shake out of it, on his own. I am glad that he did, but if he hadn't, then at least, we had done all the tests and we would have begun treatment at an earlier stage and age.
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Re: Defined as autistic because of not talking

Postby Petrichor » 14 Dec 2010, 05:23

This is a pretty common phenomenon amongst boys of that age. My own youngest had us worried about his lack of speech at age 3, but, like most kids that go through this, now we sometimes wish he wouldn't talk quite so much! In my experience anxious parents are not the only ones who overreact to kids being a little unusual in their development, health professionals can be overzealous too. A friend of mine has an autistic son but he had a few other typical traits as well as not talking: he also used to wring his hands and was very slow to crawl, walk etc., although his eye contact was good. Like others, I'd say if that's the only symptom put off doing anything for at least another six months or so (assuming hearing is checked, of course).
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Re: Defined as autistic because of not talking

Postby danchapman91 » 14 Dec 2010, 10:10

Dear All,

Thanks for your responses.

Lack of interaction/stimulation - We sent him to a kintergarten with his older sister where they performed a baby sitting service. He was not really part of a class therefore didn't really have a program of stimulation aimed at him.

2nd child - I don't know about others but with the 2nd child you care less about developmental goals because the 1st one worked out fine. You cut them much more slack and if they don't seem to be interested you deem that is just them. One thing leads to another and they are older and not talking. If he had been the first I would no doubt have been on to him - in a good way - to speak.

Housecat - I like your term, 'failure to thrive'. I will research more.

Household - Typical two-language setup. Daughter in the same situation simply learned to speak chinese and listen English. Only when older started to speak English well.
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