My toddler doesn't usually turn to look at me when I call his name. Though I'm pretty sure he can hear (and am having a hearing test on Friday to confirm that). My toddler says many individual words in response to something--like if Dora says "Who do you ask when you need to know where to go?" and he'll say "Map!" Or he'll point out the hippo as the mouseketool in the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse cartoon. But he won't TALK to me.
And the tantrums. He'll flip out if he A) Can't do something he wants to do, B) Doesn't want to do something, C) Is unable to do something (like put a square peg in a round hole) and D) if overtired or hungry. D doesn't worry me so much. But A-C do. And the lack of speech. And the NOT participating at ALL (or barely) in his Little Gym class. So on June 21, 2011, I called New Jersey Early Intervention. They took a lot of information over the phone and an intake coordinator called me and after our phone conversation, scheduled a free evaluation. That was on July 13th. Little Man qualified.
The two evaluators, a speech therapist and an occupational therapist, found that Little Man has delays in 1) Communication, Speech & Language (which I expected), 2) Social/Emotional Development and 3) Cognitive ability. I had my first meeting with EI last week to go over the plan in general and my cost participation, as it has not been free in over 7 years and there is a copay based on annual salary. My next meeting is to set up my IFSP (individualized family service plan) and set up what type of therapies Little Man will receive. Once I've signed off on the plan, services begin within 30 days. So by the end of August.
So since then a lot of thoughts have been going through my head. Are there JUST developmental delays going on or is something else wrong? Little Man has, in my opinion, some red flags for Autism Spectrum Disorders. Though it could be typical toddler behavior. Maybe? I'm no longer sure of "typical." I've bolded the ones I'm worried about.
- The child does not respond to his/her name.
- The child cannot explain what he/she wants.
- Language skills or speech are delayed.
- The child doesn't follow directions.
- At times, the child seems to be deaf.
- The child seems to hear sometimes, but not others.
- The child doesn't point or wave bye-bye.
- The child used to say a few words or babble, but now he/she doesn't.
- The child throws intense or violent tantrums.
- The child has odd movement patterns.
- The child is hyperactive, uncooperative, or oppositional.
- The child doesn't know how to play with toys.
- The child doesn't smile when smiled at.
- The child has poor eye contact.
- The child gets "stuck" on things over and over and can't move on to other things.
- The child seems to prefer to play alone.
- The child gets things for him/herself only.
- The child is very independent for his/her age.
- The child does things "early" compared to other children.
- The child seems to be in his/her "own world."
- The child seems to tune people out.
- The child is not interested in other children.
- The child walks on his/her toes.
- The child shows unusual attachments to toys, objects, or schedules (i.e., always holding a string or having to put socks on before pants.)
- Child spends a lot of time lining things up or putting things in a certain order.
Little Man does line things up, but I wouldn't say a LOT of time. But there are a few things that worry me. I'm on a wait list with a developmental pediatrician to evaluate him fully--not just for ASD but for his development in general. Though I'm hopeful that some of the behaviors are just toddler quirks or due to his delays.
Honestly, I am becoming bitter about how "typical" (because I won't say normal) others' toddlers are. I have lots of mom friends from the internet and I love their cyber friendship and counsel. But when I see how well they are doing. Talking. Interacting well with others. Even singing songs. I feel like I've failed. I feel so worried that my son will not go ahead in life. And he's not even 2!
Little Man is still SO affectionate--even though he won't give kisses. He likes to snuggle. He likes to play with me and his father. He loves seeing his cousins. He mostly always has a smile on his face. But he's not adjusting well to new situations (ie. daycare, that I started him in 3 times a week for a few hours) and the tantrums are getting worse, probably due to that.
I know I need to get over myself. There are children with REAL special needs and this could be NOTHING but a minor glitch. But I seem to obsess over things (always have) and it's hard to get past this.
Little Man is my only child and I want the best for him. And I want him to be typical. Once he's there, then I'll look towards exceptional.