Help - What is wrong with my son?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by leslieg, Nov 16, 2007.

  1. leslieg

    leslieg New Member

    I've been worried for a while that something was not right with our new 28 month old son - from reading through this site it looks like I need to have some type of evaluation but I'm interested to hear opinion(s) on what could possibly be wrong.

    I'll start with my main concern - my 2 year old, who has always been an intense and demanding kid, has started having the most out of control fits you can imagine - some for small things (not reading the book he wants, not being picked up by Dad, whatever) and some for no reason at all. He throws himself on the floor and is screaming and crying and very upset and nothing can console him. After 20 - 30 minutes of this finally you can distract him - often by putting him in the car and taking him somewhere. Because of his limited communication skills he can't tell you whats wrong other than a tearful "help?". It breaks my heart and really concerns me at the same time. This is NOT the normal "terrible twos." This is happening once to three times a day. But only at home - not at pre school and usually not with the nanny.

    Some other obvious areas of concern - he is severely speech delayed. We've had him in speech therapy for 4 months - now he is up to about 20 words - but he still does not really use them to communicate (other than "help"). Other words he just knows if you ask him (mama - but does not call for mama - boat, apple, elmo, woof woof, etc.). He has definitely shown great progress here since starting therapy but is definitely very behind.

    He lines up his toys (I didn't realize this was a red flag until reading the site), is very picky about textures and food, and now freaks out if you put an unfamiliar type of clothing on him. He has obsessive tendencies towards toys. AKA - he gets into a phase where he has to have his toy hammer with him at ALL times. Lately he's also obsessed with the swing. He goes into a trance and looks like he's going to fall asleep almost as soon as you put him in it. I'm thinking this is some sort of sensory issue - maybe autism?

    Anyway - there's more dtl but those are the basics. I'm wondering if any of you are thinking some type of obvious diagnosis. I want to know what to tell the pedi when I ask for a referral. Thanks for listening.
  2. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Hi Leslieg,

    I do think you need to make an appointment with your pediatrician and request a referral for your son to be assessed, including evaluation for Autistic Spectrum Disorders. We are only parents here and obviously can't diagnose but your son is showing some red flags (speech delay, lining up toys, obsessive tendencies, possible sensory issues). Prepare in advance for the appointment--bring in a list of specific concerns. If your doctor won't listen and immediately refer you, I'd find one who will.

    You already have speech in place but you will want to have an Occupational Therapist (OT) evalution for sensory and motor skills. Additionally you will want to have him seen by a developmental specialist--often that would be a developmental pediatrician, pediatric neuropsychologist (although he's pretty young for that specialty), Autism Clinic, etc.

    The tantrums that you have described are totally exhausting for mom and little one alike. I would tell his speech therapist about the tantrums and see if s/he would work with you in getting a PECS communication system up and going (and/or adding baby sign language for the basics). PECS is a visual system and is very helpful in situations like helping the child to understand what event/activity is coming. It's very frustrating for a child who is struggling to communicate and often tantrums are reduced once the verbal speech is functional.

    Yes, I suspect the swing is sensory related. Use it to your advantage. We have a swing in our basement because it's so beneficial to my difficult child. A good book to read on sensory is Carol Kranowitz's on The Out of Sync Child.

    A been there, done that tip from a mom on the clothes battles: find the softest, most comfortable clothing you can and buy multiples in the same color and style. My son wore navy blue Healthex knit pants every day of the week for years. Striped t-shirts in two colors for years. Navy blue nylon shorts with no trim for years. Socks all the same color. Underwear the same color. It got incredibly boring to look at but the clothes problem was significantly reduced because he didn't have to adjust to a new assualt on his skin and flexibility every day. When he was ready for variety he let me know. Gymboree is good for soft cotton shirts and we've done a lot of Land's End because they're fairly consistent in pants styles over the year. The clothes cost more up front but it sure beats wasting money on clothes he wouldn't wear at all.

    You also might want to check out the Autism Speaks website.

    Good luck with your research and please feel free to ask whatever questions we can talk you through.
  3. leslieg

    leslieg New Member

    Thanks - it is very nice to hear some advice on this. Everyone (except my mother) keeps telling me its normal 2 yr old stuff but I know its not. A mother knows.

    One thing I forgot to mention is that he is extremely musical - he can't talk but could sing twinkle twinkle little star since he was about a year old. He can remember and carry a tune of a song he only heard once. He loves to dance.

    He is also strangely smart with letters and numbers. Again - he can't talk but he can count and recognizes and can say almost every letter in the alphabet. This just came out of nowhere. One more thing is that he has always tried to eat inappropriate things - markers, pencils, diaper rash creme, shampoo, paint, etc.

    Does all of this paint a picture? I am very confused.
  4. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Listen to your mommy instincts. If all of here would have listened to our mothers or mother in law's, we would still be operating in "just give him/her some more time" mode instead of seeking out diagnoses and interventions.

    Yeah, this is all fitting. Eating inappropriate things can be sensory seeking...although it can easily be 2 year old curiosity. Mine ate a whole green crayon once.

    The musical ability and early letter and number recognition can fit right in with this profile. My spectrumy kiddo fell in love with the alphabet starting around 18 months and started spelling his first words at 28 months. The letter/early reading thing is called Hyperlexia and is strongly associated with the Autistic Spectrum Disorders.

    Again, learn how to use these two your advantage. If he's not speaking well or picking up on your speech, try making up little songs to fit a difficult situation. It will help if you can use the same tune, same words each time the situation arises.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I'd take him to a Developmenal Pediatrician. He has lots of red flags for autism spectrum disorder. At his age, he may not get a diagnosis., but he can start early interventions, which are priceless.
  6. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    I agree with SRL. Write out the symptoms you've listed here and take them to your pediatrician for a referral. The proper interventions done early enough can make a world of difference for a child.
  7. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    I agree also.

    Kids with-language delays experience so much frustration. The same with sensory issues.

    I found Kranowitz's book very helpful.

    Welcome to the site.
  8. leslieg

    leslieg New Member

    Quick question for everyone - what are some examples of "early intervention?" I'm wondering if he is diagnosed with something what they can actually do to help him?
  9. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Depends on the needs of the child but could include speech therapy, occupational therapy for sensory and/or fine motor motor skills, physical therapy for gross motor skills, social skills training, Special Education preschool (often extremely helpful for kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)'s), ABA (applied behavioral analysis). These would be the most common, most traditional early interventions or therapies.

    Some parents advocate dietary interventions such as gluten and or casein free diets and/or various supplements.

    The earlier that therapy is started, the more likely it is to be effective.
  10. Jere

    Jere New Member

    It looks like you posted this a while ago but I wanted to let you know my son has been in ST since he was about 1.5 yo. He is now 3.5 yo and still get ST from the school district now. he is about 1 year behind. You can understand 30 out of 100 words. He can understand you but we just can't get what he is saying. He too with explode pretty quick and I have always thought it was cause of his speech. I feel bad that I am his mom and can't understand what he says. He does 3-6 word sentences but sometimes I can't figure out what he said. Anyhow he has gotten better. It will take time and ever kid is different. Just keep on truckin!