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Autism Symptoms and Early Intervention

Autism Symptoms and Early Intervention – In this entry I discuss symptoms, red flags and warning signs my son exhibited well before his ASD diagnosis.

These symptoms were the launching board to early intervention. This was one of the first articles I wrote regarding the subject of autism symptoms and early intervention. I’ve been approached about reposting some of my early “Autism Diary” posts in hopes they can help someone new to Oakland County Moms.

The following article is from January of 2010.

Part of the apprehension I’ve always had discussing my situation as it pertains to the autistic spectrum (ASD) is that there are so many that know so much that I wasn’t sure if I would be able to help. I’m going to try to approach this endeavor from the mindset I had when I first started noticing things were “different” about my son when he was a year old. I’ve learned so much since then (6 years ago) but there is still so much to learn. Even though he has come a LONG way, there are still issues. Another frustration is the realization that the ASD spectrum is so broad that I feel every child’s situation is different. I guess I only feel comfortable in discussing my personal situation with it in hopes people experiencing similar phases can seek solace in trying new things to help their children. Hopefully people can learn from my mistakes (and triumphs) and teach me new things along the way.

In hindsight my son’s early Autism symptoms look like huge red flags now but at the time each individuality seemed like a cute anomaly. My husband noticed that he didn’t have the mimic reaction when it came to sticking out his tongue. You could try to do cute motions and he would sit quietly and smile. He sure seemed fascinated by technology. He began watching Baby Einstein videos endlessly and would get cranky when we would “cut him off”. He wasn’t merely watching the videos, he seemed to be trying to memorize the sequences.

Once, when my father in-law came over to fix the DVD player, my son sat slack-jawed while my father-in-law took it apart to fix it. I had never seen an infant (or a 10-year-old for that matter) try to memorize the parts of an appliance. I thought I had a little engineer on my hands! The neatness and order of everything became a huge concern along with the typical obsession with “stacking” and lining things up. He would sit for hours in my in-laws’ kitchen and reorganize the cupboards just how he wanted to. And once we took him to Chuck E. Cheese and he was more entertained with stacking all the table tent cards into a neat row rather than playing with the other kids. While all this was going on, he became overly fascinated with the ceiling fan in his bedroom. He would stare at the ceiling fan all the time and would become visibly upset if it was turned off. We left the ceiling fan on 24/7 for 18 mos.

My son was brilliant in so many areas yet we had a hard time getting him to progress in the area of speech. Basic things were also difficult and more delays became apparent. He taught himself to crawl using only his arms. No matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t get him to crawl using his legs as well as his arms. He just seemed unable to mimic people. He didn’t point or clap until well after a year old. He never even said “Mommy” until he was 26 months old. When our son finally did learn to speak, we began to notice many new differences that set the wheels in motion toward us making calls to doctors for evaluations. One example is how he was strongly set in the echolalia ways. This is where a child repeats instead of responds. So, when I would say, “Hi Jayson” he would say “Hi Jayson” instead of “Hi Mommy.”

My husband and I were thrilled when Jayson finally began communicating. He was still “way behind” in terms of other children and the level he was “supposed” to be at but we didn’t care. When he began to speak we noticed how intelligent he was. I know this finding isn’t a curse but Jayson was freakishly smart. He began using his voice to repeat the order of scenes and memorize the soundtracks to his Baby Einstein videos in their entirety! He memorized patterns of all of his electronic gadgets and began even memorizing the colors and order of all the different flags hung on the lightposts of downtown Rochester by sequence. He wouldn’t recite them, he KNEW them! It was about this time (2 years old) that he began regularly counting to one thousand and he had the ability to spell or read any 3 (sometimes 4 or more) letter word you could give him. I remember being stuck in the doctor’s office waiting with Jayson at his 2-yr checkup. To keep him entertained, I began writing words, that he knew how to read, on the paper lining of the examination table. Among them was library and flower. The doctor came in and asked why I wrote those words. I said he liked reading them and I was trying to keep him occupied. She was quite surprised. The problem with all of this (I know it’s weird to use the word problem here) was that Jayson wasn’t even remotely capable of communicating his intelligence to people. He knew all of these things, he could say them but he had no apparent ability to process anything socially. I had all these blessings in my son but I always wondered why he was nowhere near the other children socially. All of these “cute anomalies” were adding up big-time and family members were wondering the same things I was. At his current rate, there would be no way we could socialize him enough for Kindergarten because his delays in speech and in other areas were so intense. It was time to take him to a specialist.

Sometimes autism symptoms are right under your nose and you don’t even realize it. Jayson was well on his way to an Aspberger’s diagnosis. We caught many of these autism symptoms early for early intervention and took quick action. To a parent, it’s never early enough though.

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