Need some advice. 3YO non verbal son...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by BRBoutofmymind, Nov 14, 2010.

  1. Hello everyone,
    I really hope I can get some advice about what to do cause I'm at the end of my rope here. I'm going to try to keep this as short as possible, here's the situation...

    My son is 3 and non verbal. We've had him in therapy for about a year and a half now and he goes to speech 3 times a week and Occupational Therapist (OT) once a week. They haven't diagnosed him specifically yet but the running theme seems to be Autism. So for the past year or so he has been on a complete terror. He's broken numerous things (toys, household items and even the house itself at times), he climbs on everything and i do mean everything (chairs, stove, counters), he hits and kicks my husband and I and he seems to be getting worse as time goes on.

    I'm not sure if I'll get flack for this or not but I have spanked him (never hard enough to leave marks, he laughs when i do it) and I'm not really sure what else I can do. He seems to understand the words no and stop but he doesn't listen. I've tried putting him in time out in his room but he either finds a way out or will stay in there till we let him out and starts up again. What can I do to get him to understand he can't be hitting, kicking, climbing on the stove or anything else for that matter or destroying everything we own?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated. I don't have anyone to talk to about this stuff really so i figured I would try here. Thanks in advance and I can answer any questions.
  2. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    First thought: Glad you found us, sorry you had to. This is a great place.
    Second thought: What is a quiet child like?
    Third thought: I wish I could help you. He doesn't verbalize, but does he respond to yes or no questions in other ways? He sounds frustrated, maybe you can guess your way to helping him before he gets really frustrated if you can pick up his early warning signs. Have you tried keeping a journal of behaviors to see if there's a connection to anything he eats, is exposed to (allergies), triggered by?
  3. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Hi and Welcome! Glad you found us, but sorry you needed to, Know what I mean??

    As far as spanking, it really doesn't help anything. I think many of us tried it at one time or another, but mostly it just teaches our difficult children that it is okay to hit if the person is smaller/younger than you. That is by and large the lesson an autistic person is going to learn from spanking. There really are other ways to help.

    Have you read "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene? It gives you a different way to parent, one that seems counter intuitive but is really really effective. I also recommend checking out the various Love and Logic parenting books. Their website,, has descriptions of all of their books so you can see which will fit your situation best. L&L truly is amazing with even the most difficult kids. It advocates using natural and logical consequences while strengthening the loving bond between parent and child. The website has a lot of info so be sure you look around all of it - even the stuff for teachers can be very helpful. I would imagine that their book for special needs kids and the Magic for Early Childhood book would be the best ones for you right now, but take a look at each of them. Go ahead and call them if you have questions - they are super nice and will help all they can.

    Have you used visual schedules and other tools like that to help your son understand what is expected of him? For the most part kids really do want to make parents happy. They don't WANT to misbehave but sometimes they truly cannot help it because of a disability. You are going to need some really in depth help with your son.

    What doctors have you seen to evaluate and test him? Have you seen a developmental pediatrician? They would be the docs I would seek out as they go through a LOT of training to learn how to diagnose and treat children like your son. I also strongly recommend neuropsychologists to do complete testing (as complete as they can given his age and non-verbal status) to try to identify exactly what the problems are. There are a LOT of resources for autistic kids but you need that diagnosis to access them. the "I think" diagnosis really is not helpful as it won't open any doors to treatment. Seek out a dev pediatrician and neuropsychologist to get a diagnosis so that you can get all the interventions possible. Early intervention is the key to helping an autistic person reach their full potential.

    Have you checked into Head Start and Early Head Start and Early Interventions? these programs should give you a LOT of help including free daycare designed to handle his problems and help him learn. Given his nonverbal status most Head Starts will find a classroom to help him ASAP - and this will not cost you a penny.

    Others here will give you a lot more info. I do want to suggest writing a Parent Report - there is a link in my signature that will take you to it. The Parent Report is a document you write using an outline that moms here created so that we could keep ALL the info about our kids organized and in one place. It makes communicaating with docs and teachers and everyone else a bit easier and keeps everything written down. it can be a real lifesaver in terms of making sure the history, etc... are correct when you talk to docs. with-o it I had one therapist who INSISTED that my son HAD to be adopted because only adopted kids acted like he did, or so she claimed. We were stuck working through her for some things so I made her boss accept the Parent Report history and tell this therapist to stop harping on adoption. We had a good laugh about her, difficult child and I, because he looks EXACTLY like his little bro and very very much like his older cousin on husband's side.

    Anyway, I am happy to meet you!
  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I want to be another to welcome you but I am also sorry you had to find us. You will get a ton of support. Dont feel bad about spanking him. I imagine you are pretty much at the end of your rope right now. Just yesterday I had to give my 4 year old granddaughter a swat on her backside because she was being a brat. She wasnt happy with me but oh Im pretty sure she will live.

    You say your son doesnt speak. Has he ever spoken? Did he babble as a baby? What was he like as an infant? Did he meet milestones or was he difficult and standoffish?

    How does he make his needs known to you now? Does he make eye contact with you or anyone else? Will he cuddle at all?

    Have you checked his hearing out?

    I might suggest complete testing with a multi-disciplinary team at a childrens hospital to really get a good handle on what is really going on with him. If it is autism there are lots of things that should be started with early intervention at his age and you can ask the school to start him now.
  5. I guess having a quiet child is a blessing in some ways. It is hard. Not knowing what he wants or whats wrong when he's not feeling well. He does yell and scream and talk in gibberish but as far as words, he's only mimicked maybe 2 or 3. He doesn't really respond, no. He does let us know what he wants though. If he wants a snack or some juice he will go to the fridge or bring me a box of crackers. I know he is frustrated, it shows. I haven't tried keeping a journal but we've picked up on a few signs he's given us. He has no allergies that we know of.

    Thanks for the reply and nice to meet you :)
  6. Thanks for the reply!

    I'll have to check out the book recommendations. I haven't have much of a chance to read since he was born. We have been using a folder his main speech therapist gave us that has different activities he can choose from but he really doesn't use it much. We put paperwork in to get him a hand held speech generating device that the therapist has been using with him. That will take a month or two to go through though.

    So far we've seen a pediatrician, speech therapist and Occupational Therapist (OT) therapist. We are working on getting a apt with a developmental pediatrician but the process is slow (state insurance). I will talk to his doctor about a neuropsychologist. We haven't done anything as far as headstart. I will contact them and see if they can help at all. Thanks for the advice, I will check out the parent report.

    Nice to meet you as well!
  7. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    I agree with the others on seeking out an evaluation. See your pediatrician who should know the best resource for diagnosing or ruling out Autism in your area.

    His speech therapist should be helping you with communication issues. Have they introduced a visual schedule (ie PECS) and worked with you on it? How about baby sign language for basic needs?

    If the running theme seems to be Autism, early intervention preschool would probably be worth considering at this point.
  8. Hi and thanks for replying! I am at the end of my rope. I feel horrible spanking him and we try not to and as susiestar mentioned it doesn't really help which i am slowly realizing. He says a few words, mama, dada and nana (his grandma) and bye bye. He has also mimicked a few words that he heard us say like baby and cookie. Other then that it's all gibberish. He was developing normally till he was about a year old then it all just kind of stalled.

    He would babble and he can walk and eat. He does indeed make his needs known for the most part. He will let me know when he wants a snack or something to drink or to play with his crayons or play-doh. He does make eye contact with my husband, his grandparents and myself (we're around him the most). He also does cuddle. He loves cuddling and hugs. He makes a lot of contact with me and his father and doesn't shy away from us at all.

    We have had his hearing checked out and it's fine. I thought it was his hearing when this all came about but he hears just fine. He just doesn't listen lol. He goes to the St. Louis Childrens Hospital once a week for speech therapy so I will talk to her about getting him diagnosed. We've discussed it before and tried to get it done (our insurance isn't that great) and for some reason they stall every time. The speech therapist has been pushing for it though. I'll bring it up again.

    He goes to the school here 3 times a week. 30 min on Monday and Tuesday and an hour on Thursdays for speech and Occupational Therapist (OT). The probably wont start him in actual school till next year sometimes as it's a small district and the classes are filled up. Nice to meet you and thanks again!
  9. My posts are being moderated so sorry it's taking me so long to reply. I am going to talk to his doctor about getting a diagnoses. We've been trying but they (insurance co) keeps rejecting and saying he just needs therapy. I am going to press the issue though. His speech therapist is indeed helping. We have a claim in for a hand held speech generating device. We have also been trying sign language (for the words eat, drink and all done) and are still working on getting him to do it.

    He goes to the local school here for therapy. IIRC they have a preschool there but the classes are filled up. He goes for speech and Occupational Therapist (OT) there. What would I have to do to push for an intervention? The teachers there seem to be helpful but they are only willing to help to a point. Thanks for your reply!
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there.
    I have a son on the spectrum who didn't speak much (except to echo) until he was four. Please don't blame your son for his behavior, no matter how hard it is not to do that. He needs help. Have you checked with the school district? My son started FREE public Early Education for children with special needs at three and it REALLY helped him. He went to Headstart in the afternoons so he really was in school all day, but he needed to be. I would get that school evaluation and get him services. You need a break and he needs to be with people who know how to teach him.
    Please keep us posted. A lot of us have kids on the spectrum and I feel we could help you and give you a lot of moral support and tips :) Welcome to the board.

  11. Hi and sorry for the delay in response, I don't get much of a chance to really be on the computer a lot with therapy and playing with the boy. He currently goes to school here 3 days a week for Speech and Occupational Therapist (OT). That's all they can do for us at the moment. They aren't equipped to deal with more and my son is actually the first who doesn't talk that they've seen. I put in a call to his doctor about getting a diagnoses and am waiting for a callback. Does anyone know where I would find the phone number for head start in my area? Google fails me when it comes to this so any help would be appreciated. Also, is there any other way we can discipline him? I want him to know that he can't hit and kick and climb and I'm not really sure what to do. Thanks all!
  12. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member


    I worked with minimally-verbal autistic kids as a teacher with Easter Seals. A lot of his outbursts may be due to (1) his inability to communicate and (2) sensory integration issues. Here are some suggestions that helped a lot of the kids in my room:

    Choose key phrases and have all caregivers use the same phrases for the same thing over and over. This will take advantage of the echolalia in that he may begin to repeat the phrase when he wants whatever the phrase cues.


    "Time to eat" : Say the phrase just prior to putting a bite of food in your mouth. If you are eating with another adult, have them nod and say "time to eat" after you (have them echo, then you echo them when they take a bite) Say it, when your son puts a bite a food in his mouth. Don't use the phrase to call him to the table until you have used it frequently with food for a few days. Then with the food on the table, start using it to call him to them table. Don't add extra words -- just the 3 word phrase "time to eat". IF/WHEN he uses it spontaneously, immediately reward him with food (within seconds).

    Create other 2-3 word phrases that key to things he likes.

    I've got to go -- but I'll post more later.

  13. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    The professionals are NOT helping you enough. Traditional parenting is not going to work for this child. You will have to learn a whole new world of parenting - and you can not just do it on your own. Sure, you could trial & error for years....but I think you want to help him now. So, learn the appropriate parenting techniques for this child.

    Try to imagine how frustrating it would be to have all these people around you that are much bigger than you, seem nice enough, but you can not connect with them or talk to them, or get them to understand you at all. Imagine being completely different than anyone else in your entire world. While you watch everyone else connect and laugh and smile and communicate. Try to imagine what life is like for him. Wouldn't you climb walls & be angry & frustrated? I would.

    So, that was a small peek into understanding what it is like to be different like your son. You have a whole new world to learn about. I guarantee in 3 years you will look back and appreciate learning what you will learn in the next weeks & months as you try to understand him.

    Hopefully, you have decided to discontinue the act of spanking or even disciplining as you would a typical child. It is not going to work. Through all previous conceptions of parenting out the window. Start over with THIS child's need for parenting. It will be completely different.

    I am trying to drive it home, because it is a hard concept to accept - and often times we need permission to sway from the norm. You have permission. IN fact, it is a requirement of being this child's mom.
  14. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    As Susie said, we've probably all or most of us tried this. I did too. I can remember times when I spanked, in anger, and felt I had no alternatives left. Susie is right, especially with autistic kids it actually is a bad idea because they then learn that if you want something from someone, you have to hit them. These kids learn by imitation.

    Now, I've noted others reckon you're not getting enough help. That may or may not be the case - I can't say. But I can tell you, we came a long way by working it out for ourselves when we didn't have any other support. A book I suggest you try to read (I know, it's difficult - I actually didn't finish the book, I took ages and only read a paragraph or two at bedtime before I fell asleep!) is "Son Rise". By the time I read it, I had already done a lot of the same sort of stuff. Basically, it's what I call instinctive parenting. As Busywend just said, sometimes you need permission to step away from the norm. I learned that it was OK to break the rules. Some kids do learn to walk before they learn to crawl.

    In summary - go back to basics with your child. Spend some time just observing him. Take notes - pretend you are a professional, assessing him. Observe, think, analyse, guess if you have to. Then test - what is it you think he is doing?

    You start where the child is and meet him there. In "Son Rise" the author describes how his infant son would spin plates. Constantly. Interrupting him would lead to raging and tantrums. So the dad sat beside his son, on the floor, and got his own plate and began to spin it. He did whatever his son did. And never forget - this is the starting point, not the end point. Your child is different, his brain works differently and HE is trying to study himself in relation to the world; he is trying to find his own way, and if you join him you are saying, "It's OK to be who you are. I am here beside you, I will help you."

    Especially in the younger autistic person, the frustration level is high. Their only method of communication is the tantrum. It's your job as parent, to read their mind! The child cannot understand why you do not understand what he or she is thinking. So you need to establish communication with him, find ways to help him. Don't try to control him; keep him safe, but otherwise step back. Discipline needs to be handled differently and frankly, you may need to simply keep him safe by using removal and distraction/deflection. Assist with communication - Compics are commonly used. But remember symbolic communication is a challenging concept for someone who has a communication disorder.

    In our case, Compics were of limited use, because difficult child 3 has hyperlexia (which as far as I can understand it, is a subset of high-functioning autism and Asperger's). difficult child 3 was obsessed with numbers and letters. Interestingly, a good friend of his (a few years younger) is also hyperlexic and had language delay. We did the same thing - we labelled everything in the house. So he's only 3 - so what? We had a two year old who was not talking, unless it was a word he could read. THEN he would begin to use the word. I also made little books for him - I got a sheet of paper out of the printer and folded it in half. Turned it, folded it in half again. And again. Stapled down one side. Taped over the staples. Then I got scissors and cit the folds so I had a little book with 16 pages. I then used this to draw a little picture and write the word on it. I chose words he needed (such as his own name; my face and my name; "stop"; "go"; "drink"; "bath" - whatever you need. We also had to practice the words, over and over. We did it like a game. Do everything like a game. All of life is a game, and games are how kids learn. Play is serious educational stuff.

    Forget about 'age appropriate" - if your child can do stuff that others can't, encourage him. Don't try to ever put him into a pigeonhole. I had a baby who could use a computer (we scavenged one off the local street clean-up - figured if the baby broke it, it wouldn't matter) and installed a lot of educational games on it. I would sit with him and play the games with him, or help him do them. A lot of the games were things like mazes, or match the letter on the screen with one on the keyboard. He also would sit on my lap when I played piano, but I had to let him take over - forget about Rachmaninov when the baby wants to play. I let him, and he did not bash at the keys like other babies do; he touched them gently, and then tried to play two notes and I could see him bending in close to listen. He would put his head hard against the piano, or the stereo speakers, to listen to music and feel the vibrations. A cousin of mine was reported to have done this as a baby also; he turned out to be a musical genius, a modern-day Mozart who later became a world-famous computer (now dead - he was in his 60s when he died). My cousin was a bit socially inept and completely obsessed with music. Interestingly, in the late 70s and 80s he did a lot of work with autistic kids using music as therapy.

    Back to your son - what I'm saying is, follow his lead.

    If he were a puppy and you were the dog whisperer, what would you do? Find something that is an immediate reward and stock up on it. If it is praise, then use it. If you need something more concrete (such as a pocket full of Cheerios) then use it. Your son is the puppy and you are Cesar Milan. That is your starting point and going back to basics can make a huge difference. You can never turn him into a normal person. But you know what? Being "normal" may turn out to be a come-down for him. These kids can end up being amazing, especially in how fast they can learn what they need to.

    It can be a rough ride, it is a ride full of surprises, and it can also be very rewarding. But you will never be bored!

    Your son is an individual, some of my suggestions probably won't work. But along the way you will find your own, and work stuff out for yourself. That is your aim. Your son will benefit. So will you.

    More reading (sorry) - "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. Check out the sticky in the Early Childhood forum.

    Anything by Temple Grandin - she was once like your child. She is now an Associate Professor in Animal Behaviour.

    Anything my Tony Attwood - he is a researcher into Asperger's and autism, and will give you hope.

    Keep posting here and let us know how you get on. Don't be hard on yourself, just learn and move on. Guilt gets in the way and slows you down. You haven't got the time to be slowed down!

    Last edited: Nov 17, 2010
  15. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    You won't be able to discipline him or parent him in any traditional way because he doesn't understand his world and can't communicate and he needs help more than discipline anyway. I'd go for the Early Special Needs Education rather than Headstart. My son was in both and he got much more out of Early Education because they worked on his social deficits and delays and the teacher knew how to deal with a differently wired kid. In Headstart, I'm afraid your son will get aggressive with the other kids, refuse to sit at Circle time, and just plain have so many transition problems that he'll be throwing fits in school. My son was ok in Headstart, but he wasn't aggressive. He got much more out of his Early Education class, which was very small with a teacher who knew how to bring him along. Also, he got Occupational Therapist (OT), PT, and speech in school so I didn't have to drive him around to different appointments.
    Once my son broke into normal speech (seemingly overnight at age 4 1/2) his behavior improved tenfold. At least he could tell us what he wanted. He is seventeen now and still not a great conversationalist, but he has a good vocabulary. He has come far, which I attribute to all the supports he got in school plus most Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kids do improve. He is not going to be ready to live alone when he is 18 (or maybe 25) unless he has supports, but we're not in any rush. He will continue getting services when he graduates.
    But your little guy is still young. Take it one day at a time and try to understand that he perceives the world a lot differently than "typical" kids. I would not spank an autistic child. That could spur on aggression. Good luck.
  16. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    You're probably not going to be very successful at preventing him doing things. You do better by rewarding him for NOT doing things. And he is young, it will take time for him to get the connection. As far as possible, keep instructions positive and not negative. This isn't just to keep things in a positive mood; it's because it is also far easier for him to understand. So if he is hitting or kicking, remove either him, or what he is hitting or kicking. Don't waste your energy punishing him; the message is actually removing what he is kicking.
    Example on the instruction - instead of saying, "Stop kicking Johnny," try "put Johnny down and come here."
    If you have something he likes doing, having it available as an immediate reward is good. Also, you can use tokens to build up rewards (and never remove tokens once earned; if he behaves badly, he simply doesn't earn tokens). Useful tokens are those little plastic roulette chips or similar, posted in a jar with slot cut in the lid. Often there is no need to exchange tokens for a reward, because for autistic kids, the tokens ARE the reward.
    difficult child 3 loves things that roll along a rollercoaster kind of race; he loves coin-sorting money boxes (I can give you the plans to make a cheap and easy one if you like); his SpEd used to give him a reward of a plastic 'crystal', the sort of stuff you buy in bulk bags to decorate the bottom of the fish tank. Around our house we have jars of roulette tokens; of plastic crystals; of cut glass crystals; we have a lava lamp; a plasma ball; a sand sculpture paperweight; lots of what difficult child 3 calls "bubble spirals" (oil and water in different colours, droplets falling through liquid). If we ever find a really well-made snow globe, difficult child 3 will be in hog heaven. He used to love blowing bubbles and when he was too young to blow bubbles himself, we bought a large bubble wand that just needs to be waved through the air (from a bucket of mostly water with a squirt of detergent in it). We also collected, from various family weddings, bottles of bubble mix that get handed out instead of confetti these days. We just refill them with detergent. We used to send one to school in difficult child 3's pocket; having bubbles to blow meant he wasn't throwing stones (because he liked to watch stones fall, but teachers didn't like any kid on the playground throwing stones).

    Where we can, we allowed the boys to indulge their Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) behaviours. As long as it harms nobody else. I don't consider it indulgence, I consider this a necessity. It actually helped reduce anxiety and increased our chances of getting something useful out of them. I used the word 'indulge' because other people observing your parenting, will be critical. We had to learn to have faith in our own parenting and to be strong enough to say, "I know it looks weird to you, but this is working for us and that is what matters here."

    Your son is young. That can make a huge difference, if you get on board now and support him. You don't have to do it all - your child is himself doing his utmost to help himself, but he is only a little kid and is not very good at it. As you show him, and as he realises that you are primarily trying to help him learn how to adapt, he will increasingly follow your lead. We work hard to help our kids, but the ones who work the hardest in this, are often the kids themselves.

  17. Mamaof5

    Mamaof5 Guest

    I didn't see anyone suggest picture cards (picture and word of the item or activity). I use them for communication with my autistic 5 year old who wasn't speaking a word until about 9 months ago (I love her speech pathologist). She's come a long way but you description of you child is to the "T" of what Wevil was, is and will always be.

    Raising an autistic child is ....difficult. It's draining, it's straining and it's amazing at the same time. Every little accomplishment for them is a huge step forward. I'll come back in a bit or you can pm\email me if you like.

    You are in a great place here, I have some autism specific resources for you as well if you want them.
  18. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I mentioned Compics, Mama. That's what they were called for me. We were given sheets and sheets of them. At the time difficult child 3 was spending three days out of five in family-based child care, and his carer was marvellous with him. We also had some help from a Speech Pathologist who showed her how to use the Compics with difficult child 3. But about that time, I discovered that he responded better to just the written word, once he had learned it from the Compic. He wouldn't respond to the picture unless it also had the word written on it. He was about 18 months at the time.
    I realise this was unusual, but that's my point - you do what works and don't use what doesn't. But don't throw stuff out, because what doesn't work one day might work at a later stage. However, for us, by the time we began to use the Compics, difficult child 3 had personally already progressed (?) to a different point, of actually reading the words. Or trying to. Mind you, he was reading years before he was toilet-trained. So sometimes you get really odd capabilities coupled with strange inabilities. You can't force learning of a skill where their brains are not ready; but the brain can be ready for some amazing things in other areas. It's called splinter skills and is one of the amazing, wonderful things about autism.

    Mama, I note the disability spread in your kids - do keep an open mind on this, always, despite what diagnosis you get given; difficult child 1 was 14 before we were finally able to identify that he had Asperger's. If one of your kids has Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) in any form, and other kids have "oddities", then chances are high that it could also be Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). In our case, difficult child 3 has autism; difficult child 1 has Asperger's. Both boys also have ADHD (which of course could simply be part of the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) manifestation in them). Their sister easy child 2/difficult child 2 is, we now believe, Aspie. But being female it is harder to diagnose. She is now 24 and is very much adapted (which also makes diagnosis harder). She has ADD, anxiety, Sensory Integration Disorder (SID), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). And an IQ in the stratosphere which nevertheless eventually failed to show much brilliance in the final years of high school.
    The oldest, easy child, does not have a diagnosis and functions normally. But there are also anxiety issues there which we used to ascribe to environmental factors. These days I'm not so sure.

    We were told that Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) symptoms will generally be found to some degree in family members, especially siblings. Another common finding is high IQ in family members. Both husband & I are somewhat above average IQ, although our testing was done through schools in our youth and at a time when the families and children were never told the actual IQ score. The most we were ever told was "above 120". Schools graded their top classes according to "above 120" and I noted every time I changed schools, even after doing badly at a previous school and being in the bottom grades, I was immediately put into the top class again. WHich told me it was probably a tad above the 120 mark. Of course, I now realise that this sort of test result is meaningless - any result that far out of the norm is not accurate. However, in the same sort of tests, all my kids (plus myself and husband) get the same sort of scores. They do say that family members tend to be within 10 IQ points of one another; I think it is partly genetic, of course, and very much living together in the same environment. Plus we select partners who match us. I found this useful information when it comes to working with the children - I always treated them as smart, even if we were told they were not. difficult child 3's first testing was very pessimistic; we were told he was "retarded". "Borderline" was the term used. We were prepared to accept this, but we did not change our dealings with difficult child 3. Ironically, if he had been given his test in writing, he would have passed it. It was a classic example of "if you IQ test a kid verbally, and that kid has receptive language delay and even worse expressive language delay, you will not get an accurate result."

    IQ testing is only as accurate as the situation. It was not developed to do what it is being asked to do these days; all IQ testing is based on a system of assessing everyone and working out where they fit in together with everyone else who was tested. And in the initial testing, certain people would not have been included. Testing was arranged through mainstream schools, and back in the 20s, 30s and 40s, kids like ours would probably never have gone to mainstream schools. I know difficult child 3 would not have; probably not difficult child 1 either. So these tests are being adapted for these "oddities" but only adapted; nothing has been completely re-done. The basis is still the same.

    So if/when you have your very different child IQ-tested, use the information wisely, but do not view the score as locked in stone. A high score cannot be faked; but a lower score than the child's actual intelligence is a common result.

    We always treated our kids as if they were brilliant. And presto! They are.

    An example - I have an adult friend, my age. She has now written a book, with my encouragement. When I met her she was uneducated and almost illiterate. But she managed to get words onto a page well enough for me to (mostly) decipher what she was trying to say. I then rang her up and got her to talk to me while I typed. Her book materialised. It was hard work for both of us. She bought herself a computer and taught herself to use it. She has done no courses, I don't think she would learn very easily doing a course, plus her physical handicaps make attending a course almost impossible for her. But she has now written another book, and this time it is easy for me to read through, it has few spelling mistakes and I can see where the sentences begin and end. She rings me often just to stay in touch and is one of the few people who rang me at least once a week to ask how my cancer treatment was going. I have always treated her as my intellectual equal and whenever she said, "But I'm stupid," I reminded her that she has achieved amazing things in her life, through her own determination.

    People become what you treat them as. And progress continues into adulthood and through adulthood.