A preliminary evaluation of my three year old suggested autism spectrum disorder. While further testing will be done to more accurately determine his needs, for now I’m working with him as though this is his diagnosis.
With an older child on the spectrum, I have a little experience. However, as the term “spectrum disorder” is used to cover such a wide range of learning disabilities, you’ll be hard pressed to find two children with the same symptoms/issues. For example, at three years old, my now almost fourteen year old could talk, but was unable to communicate. He either repeated the question or statement back or had a set response for certain questions based on a previous conversation stuck in his mind. He made very little eye contact. My current three year old knows only a handful of words and phrases and can use them appropriately (“Here, Mom,” “goodnight,” “thank you”). But he is very social and will come up to us and babble while making eye contact. My older child had many phobias and would literally take off screaming in the stores, malls, and such places where something triggered a fear or anxiety. Yet, he has always been very gentle and never aggressive, slow to anger or frustration and even tempered. My little three year old now is easily frustrated and will hit us or himself (never non family members, thankfully), throw things and throw himself into tantrums.
One thing that seems to be common amongst the two is the need for a kinesthetic and visual learning approach.
My thirteen year old took about three years to learn to count and two to grasp adding. The breakthrough in adding came when I introduced TouchMath. By seeing and touching the value of each digit, numbers suddenly became more than just characters.
Lots of tracing, drawing while talking about the drawing, and other true, hands on activities seem to be helping my little guy now learn new words, count and say his alphabet.
While we wait for more testing and evaluations, I’m hopeful that these baby steps will yield progress so we can begin communicating with our son.