3.5 years old -> Not Learning Fast enough?


New Member
My 3 and half years old son is very smart from many prospective but certain things he is not developing to keep up with his age group.

1) Potty Training:

-Lately we started to work with him, and he is very good about doing #1 but wont agree on #2. I can bribe or force him to seat on Bob the Builder seat, but almost always its a failure. Especially he was not moving to the next level only because of that, but finally they moved him up (to his age group). He is doing ok but having accidents.

My Thoughts: Me and my Wife both work 9-5 type schedule and we get very short time to stay with him on that. Just weekend not working out and I am not sure if I should make him seat on the potty regardless he will go or not (so he get used to that).

2) Speech:

-He seems to repeat a lot. If you say "Say Goodby Eli" he will say "Say good by Eli" ..."Is this yours?" he will say "This yours", Also he uses a lot of "First Person" in his speech. Like "Eli wanna go to bed" rather than I want this or that.
Also lately he is strugling to say something as he repeating back to back... "I wanna I wanna I wanna .... ride em" This is becoming more than normal now.

My Thoughts:

-I honestly don't know why this is happening. I think it just gotten this way over the last few months. He used to be good at responding but now he basically repeat stuff and I am sure he is not actually paying attention.

He love watching TV -Elmo -Hi5 -Wiggles -Little Einstein and some Disney Movies. I try to keep it under 2 hours a day. He is obsessed with Animal. He knows at least 50-60 different species of animal and how almost all of them sound. In fact, when he get mad, he will grawl like tiger. And last but not least, he is way way too much attached to me. We try not to be hard on him as much as possible but he often gets into trouble like a 3 years old would.

I think he is normal but I want to know if I need to check on those (especially his habit of repeating, and also loosing trend of thought as he is talking)


New Member
Hi and welcome to the board.

I'm certainly not a child expert but will just throw some things out there for you to maybe research.

Have you looked into the Autism Spectrum Disorders? Some of what you are talking about could be found in Asperger's Syndrome such as the repeating back what you are saying to him. Pervasive Developmental Disorder (Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) for short) would be something else to research.

Has your child ever had any sort of evaluation? Does he attend any type of school?

There will be others along much more knowledgeable about these things shortly. Just wanted to give you some things to look into in the meantime and again, welcome.



Well-Known Member
Hi, and welcome. My first thought, because my kid was exactly the same with pottying and echoing, is have him see a developmental pediatrician. He could be on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum. Echoing (echolalia) is a big symptoms. Pottying late is too, however boys tend to potty late. Obsessions with certain things, and animals/dinasaurs is a big one with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kids, is another red flag. in my opinion he needs evaluating and interventions and at his age the best bet, again in my opinion, is a university hospital and a Multidisciplinary Evaluation or else a Developmental Pediatrician. If he is on the Spectrum, the earlier the interventions start, the better. And if he's just not developing typically, he still could use the same interventions to bring him to his highest potential. My son has Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified. He's 13 and doing well, but he had lots of early help that continued and still continues. This test below can give you an idea if your child is on the spectrum. I'd pursue an evaluation since he has a lot of red flags. Good luck.




Active Member
Welcome Dad4Life.

The potty training isn't of concern to us here usually at such a young age. I know it's easy for us to say because we're not paying for diapers but in the long run scheme of life it's not a big deal if they train a little late.

Some repetition is normal in 3 year olds but the fact that he's both displaying echolalia and has taken some steps backwards in that area would be a concern to me. According to the standards of the pediatrics society that alone is enough for speech/language assessment and screening for the Autistic Spectrum Disorders.

He's a little young for this, but could you look over this list of play behaviors and see if anything on the list looks familiar?

a. Favor objects for play that aren’t typically used as toys by their peers (such as wheels, sticks, magnet letters, etc.)?
b. Seem fascinated or obsessed by objects/topics that aren’t typical for kids of their age (such as numbers, the alphabet, words, math, geography, mechanical things such as air conditioners or vacuum cleaners, things with motors, etc)?
c. Play “differently” with toys or household objects (such as spin them, line them up in straight lines, set them up in formations, etc.)?
d. Exhibit weak or unusual pretend play skills (such as act out memorized scenes from books/films/TV/DVD instead of creating situations and dialogue, move toy trains around but not pretend to be the engineer/go places/pick up passengers, arrange pretend people or action figures but not create imaginary situations with them or have them interact with each other, etc.)?

Any social anxiety, general anxiety, obsessive compulsive tendencies or disorders in the family history?


New Member
Thank you all for great advise! As much I don't want to hear about these issue, I want to be aware and I appreciate your observation.

Some of these behaviors are starting to show up in recent months (especially badly in the last two months). During this time, he moved to a different class and we didn't think he like the teachers. Prior to that he was going to school hapily but not lately (as he is throwing fits when we try to drop him at school). I think they are also giving him lot of punishment as I see him repeat those at home "No Sir, not have that...go corner...stop it... do not hit...alright!...OK!" etc etc.

I should mention that we have changed his daycare (4 times) in his 3 and half years. I really think that put some stress in him, also he has gotten in trouble with hitting, biting kids for which he got timeouts (it got so bad that if I got just a little mad at him for doing anything bad, he will quickly run to the corner). By the way, that has changed to now he doesnt acknowledge timeouts anymore.

By the way, I must say I am leaving out most of the positive stuff about him as I can write a book here. He is a very good kid and many people adores him (including many people in his daycare). At a very early age, if picked up when to say "Please" , "Thank you" etc . He also very sharp with colors, shapes, surroundings, 1-10 (no hesitation) 11-15 (little weak) and sings the ABC among many other song. He act just fine always and never had any worry but lately observing this repeating behavior. Oh by the way, as I mentioned, he loves animal and has many animal toys that he would stand line by line.

He is not as interested in his other toys as much he loves his animal (though he would play with them time to time). He loves to read books and love it if we read to him. I can ask him "What is that? and he will tell me almost always correctly. Sometime he will ask me "What's that daddy?" pointing to a toy Giraffe and I will reply "Chicken?" and he will say "No, its nna Giraffe"

We do think he isolate himself from other kids often and I am to be blamed for that. I often get worried that he would hit other children and try to keep total control on him which also stresses him out and often retaliate by hitting me or throwing stuff.


Active Member
He sounds really cute. He must want to be good if he was running to the corner. How heart breaking to hear him repeat the "I'm in trouble" sequence out loud. I hope you find out whats going on with him. The earlier the better. Have you talked to your pediatrician about your concerns? He might be able to refer you to some of the other doctors mentioned above. Also, lots of people here have been helped by the book the Explosive Child by Ross Greene. Good luck and keep us updated.


Well-Known Member
He sounds like a great, bright, interesting child! He still has red flags for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). My son was similar. Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kids love to memorize facts. My son taught himself to read at two, although he couldn't hold a conversation yet. It was weird. I'd have him evaluated rather than guessing and trying to rationalize that he's like a normal kid. He has atypical development, which doesn't mean he isn't the great child with wonderful traits. but if he doesn't get interventions for his differences, he could suffer for that when he's older. Take the Childbrain test. Unfortunately, this is one thing that, if you ignore the child could pay for it forever. I wouldn't trust a pediatrician with this because it's not their field and most miss it. I'd get a Developmental Pediatrician to keep an eye on him, and try to get him into early interventions. Moving around and even a child being alone a lot doesn't cause these behaviors. These kids naturally isolate from other kids, however, and he may qualify for Early Education in your SD. Can't stress it enough. Get early help for this child. Good luck.


New Member
Ok, Thanks again all.... (After reading your posts and others in this forum, I am certain I have to make that specialist visit (even though I am in denial, I wont take any chance)....

I will keep you all updated on this.

By the way, he is obsessed with TV and his Animal Toys (so obsessed that I can't take him away from those Animal). I sorta got him into that as I love animal myself and since he was a baby, I will play with him with those animal cards. But I am thinking to hide those animal and lower the amount of TV to see if he would get involve with other stuff (which he does but not as much I would like to see him do). My Wife thinks its a bad idea and will stress him more. What is your thought? I was going to just try it for little while.


Active Member
I am going to suggest two routes for you to pursue at the same time. I was in denial too and was sorry for the time I wasted doing my homework. Kids with speech differences need to at least be evaluated.

First, do contact your pediatrician and request a full multidisciplinary evaluation (developmental pediatrian, audiology, speech/language, Occupational Therapist (OT)).

Second, contact your local public school district and ask to speak to someone in the area of early childhood intervention. Many kids who come through here benefit from early intervention preschool where teachers are trained to handle difficult behavior and you want an evaluation to see if he qualifies. The school district evaluation won't be as thorough as a private evaluation but can contribute valuable information and is necessary to see if he qualifies for any services. Very important; follow up the phone call with a certified letter as that will set certain legal timelines into place in which they need to do the evaluation. Every parent of a bright child balks at the thought of a specialized preschool setting but trust us on this--you can supplement academics at home very easily. But you can't easily help your child grow accustomed to being around other children, teach them how to interact properly with them in a group setting, etc. The evaluation and any services are free (and optional) through this route.


Well-Known Member
If he has Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), putting the animal toys away won't end the obsession/obsessions. He'll just develop new ones. It's part of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). As for TV, since they have poor imaginations, are usually allowed to watch more television than other kids because they have such a hard time amusing themselves and because they do learn a lot about socializing from television shows, and they have social deficits. You may not see them at his age, but they are glaring as the child gets older, especially with no interventions. Again, it's part of the disorder.


Active Member
Usually taking away the object of their obsessions stresses them more. If it's not a negative (ie aggressive, violent, negative imitative behavior) topic I'd leave it alone.


Well-Known Member
If it were me, I'd probably try to make home a safe and comfortable haven right now because of the problems he is encountering at school. Taking away the animal toys at this point may actually make him more anxious in the long run.


Roll With It
Well, I think you have gotten good advice here.

The toilet training is not something I would consider such a big deal. The more you make a big deal of it, the less likely it is to work. And, just as a not fun thought, if he gets upset and knows it is a big deal to you, he may just potty on something of yours. I have a cousin who did this. Tons of fun. NOT.

The onset of the echoing is a big red flag. I would see if there is a developmental pediatrician you can get an evaluation with. The pediatrician will have some ideas, but it is good to see who your insurance covers before you see the pediatrician.

At your son's age he should qualify for Head Start or another early learning/intervention program through the school district. Contact them. You may have to fight through some layers of secretaries, etc... to get the right info. Any letters should be sent certified mail as this puts special protections into place.

Make sure your son's hearing is checked. By a pediatric audiologist. It makes a huge difference. Speech testing is also crucial.

You are absolutely right to check on this stuff now. Early intervention makes a HUGE difference!

And don't blame yourself. Sharing your interests with your child is not a bad thing. It might, however, be a good idea to limit the TV a bit more on a regular basis. But for some kids this is the only thing that calms them and gives the parent a few minutes of peace. So use it when you need it, in my humble opinion!