How do you know what's "normal?"

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Chantillylace, Sep 23, 2012.

  1. Chantillylace

    Chantillylace New Member

    There are several things that my son does that I've always assumed was his difficult personality and never, ever thought they were abnormal. Now that I'm considering the possibility of Asperger's, I'm starting to wonder about some things. He's my oldest, so I don't have a great reference point as to what's normal or not. I'm an Speech Language Pathologist (SLP), and I see kids for therapy, but I don't notice these things with those kids, but then again I only see them for maybe an hour a week. Please let me know what you think of these behaviors for a 4 year old!

    He needs a warning when ALL transitions are coming. I am giving out one minute warnings all the time. "In one minute I'm going to get you dressed" "In one minute you have to get out of the bathtub." Things like that. If I don't offer this warning, then I will ALWAYS get resistance or fits. Giving the warning doesn't eliminate the resistance, but it cuts it down significantly.

    We've been working on saying "hi" when people say hi to us for about 2 months now. He still needs me to remind him to say "hi" about 95% of the time. Typically, he won't say anything at all, do something "silly" like bark like a dog, or usually with kids he'll hold out something that he wants to show them without saying anything. The other day, he and his baby sister were blowing raspberries with their tongues while we were at the grocery store. This older man walked by and difficult child looked right at him and blew a raspberry at him. The man scrunched his eyebrows and shook his head "no" as he walked away. I explained to difficult child that that's not how we say hi, and he responded with "Why?" I told him that the man didn't think it was nice, etc.

    Also, when he finds something that the other kids at school think is funny, then He. Will. Wear. It. Out. A good example of this is the word, "Booty." His friends laugh, and he keeps saying it. For a few days, when someone says "hi" he says, "Booty!" When we're in the car, he says it. All the time. I've gotten to the point now where I can recognize when he's latching onto a word or phrase early and stop it. Usually, I tell him that he's not allowed to use that word anymore... especially if it's something completely not appropriate to say to strangers (i.e. butt, I'm gonna shoot you!). If it's something harmless, then I just tell him to stop every time he starts in.

    The last thing is saying good-bye. He has to give several hugs and kisses, say "I love you" and "Bye" and then watch whoever it is leave. If he forgets to give a kiss or say "I love you" or even if he thinks he forgot, then it's the end of the world in his little mind. This happened when I dropped him off at school Friday. He gave me about 4 hugs and kisses, but when I left he was crying for me. I came back in (because I didn't want to start his day off bad and him get sent home again) and asked him what he needed. He wiped his tears and said "a kiss." I gave him a kiss and left and he was fine.
  2. Chantillylace

    Chantillylace New Member

    Oh, and I just thought of one more! When he wants something he asks with one word. Muffin! Spoon! Milk! Hug! things like that. I never, ever give it to him when he asks like that. I always make him use the full sentence, but he keeps using the one word. He can say, "Can you get me a spoon, please?" He just doesn't!
  3. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Good morning!

    Normal. Hmm. I guess I always viewed myself as "different" - but normal for ME - so I've never really been TOO worried about normal. (As in, what is normal for me would be round the bend for you, and so on.)

    If this is his "thing", then, it is normal for HIM. It bothers others - especially the repetetive garbage. Jett heard the song "Don't Worry, Be Happy" when he was about 6 - and ever since then, if someone says "no worries" he will counter with "be happy". I rarely say "no worries" anymore; so the comeback isn't as frequent. Which means it's not nearly as annoying as it was. He and Onyxx also had something they said with their bio - "love you miss you mostest" - and he ambushes her - and husband - and me with it - 20-30 times a day. I finally explained to him that, since she has passed, it was a SPECIAL thing with them, and that it was fine with Onyxx, and if husband wanted too that was OK, but it made me sad. (He gets "sad" better than "annoyed".) So now I am out of that loop - and husband is too - but poor Onyxx. She finally explained if you say something too much, it loses its meaning and had him say "bubblegum" about 100 times in a row. So it has slowed down - but still, he annoys her with it. So - I think that's probably "normal" for your difficult child and mine. (Too bad they can't find something truly brilliant to repeat, eh?)

    Bad jokes are another one. Jett cannot remember punch lines so he makes stuff up. I finally taught him the one - "2 guys walk into a bar... The third guy ducks." And then Friday he came home with one that I was prepared to roll my eyes at (lids closed of course) but - OMG it was actually groan-funny! "Why did the zombie eat the other zombie? Because the other zombie owed him lunch." (Bad, but - !!!) I was so proud, I made sure he told Onyxx, husband, and my parents...

    Is it "normal" to be over-the-top happy when your kid tells a "bad" joke?

    So... All of that said, you mentioned you only see the other kids "for about an hour a week". See, that is the problem with many of our doctors - they don't see the things we do, because they don't live with us. And a visit to their office is different for a child - so the behavior is different.

    With our kids - we have to remind them - A LOT - of what is appropriate. I'm used to, but exasperated by, this... I've been doing it with Jett for 9 of his 14 years now. He has finally learned that standing within 2 inches of someone is not appropriate (got elbowed and his toes run over by the chair, both by accident); but will invade personal space at a whim. Just now remembering to knock on my bedroom door - within the last year. (Seeing stepmama nekkid helped that one along.) Just walks in. And will follow you around if he is "bored" (i.e., no video games or TV) - we call it the back pocket syndrome. (The too close bit is from his maternal grandma, who is Japanese.)

    Another thing. Blowing raspberries with his sister, and an older guy walks by - I call the older guy a curmudgeon. difficult child is FOUR - not 14. Older guy should get over himself. (Of course, having Onyxx and Jett has made me see life a LOT differently...)

    The separation anxiety is fairly common at that age... I apparently was bad about it, according to my Mom. SCREAMED when they left me until I got to ride the bus to school for 1st grade... They made it out to be an adventure that they were not allowed to go on because they were too old. By the time I figured it out... I was used to it. (Darned parents, anyway.)

    :hugs: I think, you being the Mom AND being an Speech Language Pathologist (SLP), you have a pretty good idea... But in my opinion? "normal" isn't...
  4. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    difficult child 1 needs "warnings" all the time. I usually have to start with 10 min then work down to 5, 3, 1. If he's watching TV, it needs to be at the end of a segment (during commercials) or a show for the greatest compliance. Yup, could be Aspie.

    Add social "awkwardness" to the checklist as well as needing to know "why".

    difficult child 1 does this with commercial jingles, words that grab his attention and sound cool or interesting to him, slang sayings even when he has no idea what they mean so he uses them inappropriately at times, etc. I call these his "mini obsessions".

    He's established a routine and that can't be broken without throwing his world off kilter. It's also not uncommon for separation anxiety at that age. difficult child 1 is still somewhat like that with me.

    The more examples you give, the more you are describing my difficult child 1. I didn't see it either until I started looking at things differently.....after months of h*** at the age of 12 and finally starting to ask him "why" he did the things he did ....... because I realized after a lot of questioning him that he thinks VERY differently. I am glad you are starting to look at them now at a younger age. It will help a lot.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Well, having read your post, and having raised three kids without any autism/Aspergers, and one with high functioning autism, I think he is more like my Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) son than my typical kids. The biggest difference is that the other kids transitioned easily and well and seemed to know how to socialize with their same age peers from early ages. My Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) son did not, in fact sometimes he acted like nobody was there and we had his ears tested because if somebody talked to him, he sometimes wouldn't even look like he'd heard them. But he got over that and was quite social in his own way, but it wasn't like other typical kids and became a bigger problem as he got older and kids grew less tolerant. Like many Aspies (not all), he related better to adults, older kids and younger kids because they are more forgiving of social blights than same age peers. Same-age peers demand their own type of social norms and if you don't follow the unspoken rules, they can be very isolating, which is sad. Socializing is the key with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). If a child can not socialize normally, something is "off." Copying from the TV or what other kids/adults say (ad nauseum) is common in spectrum kids.

    There is really no way for any of us however to tell you what is going on with your dear child, whom you love so much. We also get your apprehension. I can only repeat that taking him to a neuropsychologist is my best advice to you. A neuropsychologist is schooled in childhood behavior across the board. That would be my main goal. You can see the other professionals, if you like, later on, after getting a big picture, which can be very helpful in school and with peers.

    I realize how hard it must be to understand "normal" from "he'll grow out of it" to "needs help" if you don't have much to reference from. Sonic was my third child and I had also worked on and off in preschools and had done foster care. We adopted him and from Day One, I thought "autism" of some sort. He did see SLTs (two worked with him twice a week), but they did not try to diagnose him nor did they see him enough, as you have said, to know if he had any issues beyond speech.

    A good rule of thumb is: If you look around and see most of the other kids acting differently, your child is not like most kids. Is that bad? Depends on whether it is hurting him or not. If so, use your mom gut. Get him a complete evaluation. A label will not change who he is. It WILL however probably get him a lot of help, which can never be a bad thing.

    Hugs! and take care :)
  6. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Normal is so very difficult concept. Sometimes it is very difficult to say there is that line between 'normal' and 'disordered' with neurological differences. My difficult child has always been 'bit different', 'his own person' etc. He has never qualified for diagnosis for any neurological disorder, but still he has always been clearly different When young, he had many similar behaviours as your son. Then again my easy child, who is certainly neurotypical, an easy child and socially talented, was having times when transitions were hard, 'funny' things got repeated ad nauseum and separation anxiety was bad. My difficult child is not that far from that line between 'normal' and asperger, but apparently still clearly not-asperger side of it.

    I have also known kids who had very similar behaviours as your son and who have ended up much more 'normal' than my difficult child. It is very difficult to say anything sure about so young child. Autism spectrum may be something to keep in mind. And it certainly doesn't hurt to try some things that tend to work with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kids with him. But he is also very young and it is impossible to say, how he will develop during next few years. He may end up being in spectrum, being near it like my difficult child or in fact quite typical with just little more challenging temperament.
  7. Chantillylace

    Chantillylace New Member

    husband and I were just talking about how he only plays really well with older kids and younger kids! That completely makes sense now!

    My instincts are telling me something isn't right. Do you think 4 is too young for a neuropsychologist evaluation?
  8. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    Absolutely not! That is the perfect age because so many services have better success when it's started early. Wish I'd known back then. We'd have less work to do in such a short amount of time. Yes, both of my kids do better with people that are NOT the same age as them. difficult child 1 does better with younger kids (his emotional "age") and difficult child 2 gets along MUCH better with adults (his intellectual "age") and much younger kids (he's super-responsible & babysits).
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I think that a neuropsychologist evaluation at four will give you a good idea of his strengths and weaknesses and help you figure out what will help him. Four IS young and often a diagnosis changes as a child ages and things become more obvious. It was 11 before my son got his Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) diagnosis, but because of his neuropsychologist reports he did get LOTS of help in school for his obvious differences. Since your child is already having so much trouble, I think it is better to address it now than later. Early interventions really help the overall outcome. It is far better to have something to show the schools than to be called to school, over and over again, because your son is "bad" (which is what they think if there is no report or explanation).

    Violence toward other kids WILL get the school on the phone and your poor son, who probably can't help what he does, will be labeled a bad kid, when he isn't a bad kid. He is just wired differently. I would definitely do the neuropsychologist (I prefer neuropsychs from university hospitals) and get something on paper for your school and some suggestions on where to go from there for yourself. You don't want him to be eight years old and have the other eight year olds rejecting him (it's terribly heartbreaking...been there done that).

    My motto is "Better to be safe than sorry." He may NOT have Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), but he does have traits. At any rate, he needs to get some interventions on transitioning and socializing...he should be able to get those things for free through the school. But he needs some sort of working diagnosis. My son's first working diagnosis was: ADHD/sensory integration disorder/cognitive disorder not otherwise specified. The diagnosis. weren't the REAL umbrella was Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). But they were enough to get him PT, Occupational Therapist (OT), and social skills as well as SLT. Also, some learning differences were uncovered and he spent some time in the Special Education room where he thrived. Within a year his meltdowns had almost completely stopped and he was much calmer and he loved school!

    All in all, I don't think it can hurt your son at all. He needs to feel good about himself.

    I don't know about your son, but my son, as young as four, could recite almost an entire movie or cartoon that he watched after he watched it. It was mindboggling! He had such a GREAT rote memory! He still does.

    Big huggles. Don't be afraid. We are all here for you :) You are not alone.
  10. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    An early evaluation can't hurt anything and it "could" lead you to help that will aid him in the future. Based on your thread I am also thinking aspie. been there done that. Sure wish I had been able to get an early evaluation. Hugs DDD
  11. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    At four, you may not end up with a "definitive" diagnosis... but you might. It should at least give you some direction. Definitely worth pursuing.