So You’re Wondering If Your Child Might Be Autistic…

So you’re wondering if your child might be autistic.  I know.  I’ve been where you are sitting right now.  Searching the internet for signs of autism spectrum disorders.  Going back up to the search bar to enter a different set of keywords, hoping to find some other site that will assure you that these strange behaviors your child has been evidencing are perfectly normal.  Telling yourself he is just a little behind.  Sharing your worries with a friend or family member, calming down for a day or two after being reassured by them that, no, it isn’t autism.  And now you are wondering if you are just being paranoid.  You’re worried that you might be borrowing trouble that you don’t need and possibly stigmatizing your child with a label that will follow him around for life.  Yep, I’ve been there – and quite recently.

What does autism look like in a young child?  Well, the important thing to remember is that, just like everyone else on the planet, every autistic child is a unique person.  There are common behaviors that they share, but a child can still be autistic and not share every common autistic behavior.  Remember that.  Because getting hung up on that can make you fool yourself.  Autism spectrum behaviors do not exist in isolation.  Just one of them won’t make a child autistic.  But you put several of them together and you’re possibly looking at an autism spectrum disorder of some kind.

The one that seems to be noticed first amongst the greatest number of parents is a concern that your child might have a hearing problem.  I honestly don’t know anyone with an autistic child who hasn’t worried about this.  I’m sure there probably are some.  I’m just trying to tell you that a concern about a hearing problem is really common.  You might notice that, despite calling your child’s name repeatedly, that he doesn’t respond.

You might also worry that he has some kind of persistent ear infection.  Why?  Because you might have noticed your child repeatedly covering his ears.  Especially if it is noisy or chaotic.  You have probably taken him to the doctor, only to be told there is no infection – perhaps more than once.

You may notice that your child doesn’t seem to know how to play with toys correctly.  Instead of rolling his little truck around (or kissing her baby doll), he just sits and repeatedly spins the wheels.  Or bangs the baby doll, over and over and over.  And over some more.  He might fixate on a toy that isn’t a toy – such as a plastic hanger, a spoon or a string, or a button on your shirt.  You’ll try to interest him in something else, and he’ll drop it and go right back to the non-toy.

You probably bought him a lovey of some sort.  You may notice that your child doesn’t have an attachment to any sort of stuffed animal or blankie.  Instead, he just might carry around that plastic hanger everywhere he goes.

He probably at one point was a good eater for you.  But suddenly, you may start worrying about all the foods he will no longer eat.  He may have once loved bananas, but now won’t touch them.  He might begin to refuse everything but dry foods like crackers or chicken nuggets.  He may consent to eat only one food period.  And withholding food a little longer to make him hungry won’t work.  He’ll just cry and stay hungry until he gets the only foods he will eat.

Your child may not show affection in the same way as other children.  You might find him squirming away or resisting being cuddled.  Or you may find the opposite.  He may have strange ways of loving all over you, rubbing his arms and legs all over you, maybe even strangely wanting to run his mouth all over your arm.  His odd ways of handling touch may also include an aversion to touching things that are wet, or gooey, or crumbly.  Or you may find him smeared all over with anything spreadable he can get his hands on, rubbing it in over and over again.

You may have noticed that your child does not point to what he wants.  This is a big red flag.  He also may not ever bring anything to your attention, like a toy or the stars.  In fact, you have may have noticed that he doesn’t attempt to share your attention, like turning to see if you saw Elmo do that silly thing.  And, if you try to point something out to him, his eyes might not follow the direction in which you are looking and pointing.

You might be losing a lot more sleep than you did with your first child or what your loved ones told you was typical.  He might not have ever settled into a sleeping pattern and may continue to wake you repeatedly each night.

The thing that might be worrying you the most is that he either isn’t talking or that he stopped saying the words he used to use.  He might not be saying single words such as mama, daddy, ball, juice, etc. by 18 months.  Even more disturbing is that he might not try to communicate with you in other ways, such as taking your hand and leading you to what he wants.  He might be delayed in other ways as well, such as crawling, walking, using a spoon, etc.  When he does walk, you may notice that he prefers walking on his tiptoes.

And, you just might have noticed something strange he is doing with his arms.  It looks a little like that hand flapping that people do when they bite into something that is way too hot.  Except he does it a lot.  Especially if the TV is on.  He may just flap away.  And stop.  And then flap again.  And maybe moan or grunt in his excitement.  (Please don’t try to stop him from his flapping.  If he isn’t autistic, he’ll stop one day.  If he is, you are trying to stop a mockingbird from singing.  It is simply how he expresses his excitement.  You’ll get used to it, don’t worry.  Flappiness?  It just is.)

So now the Theme to Jaws is playing in your head.  And you are asking yourself, “What do I do?  Should I call my doctor?  What if he doesn’t have autism?  What if everybody finds out and treats him differently?”

Here’s what you should do.

Call his doctor.  Explain to his doctor each and every one of the symptoms your child has.  If your doctor waves away your worries and says, “Let’s wait a little longer and see”?  Either convince her, insist, or see another doctor.  Even very good doctors may not recognize some of the signs.

Get an autism screening.  I’ll repeat that.  Get an autism screening*.  Even if your child were falsely diagnosed with autism-even if he is simply a late bloomer- it won’t make him autistic.  He’d simply continue to thrive, and you could throw that diagnosis in the trash.  Or get him undiagnosed.  A false diagnosis is not the worse thing that could happen.  The worst thing that could happen is that your child is autistic and would miss out on years of beneficial therapy.  The worst thing that could happen is that dark regret that would haunt you years from now that you didn’t trust your gut.  There are a lot of special needs parents out there who can tell you about that.  Don’t let that be you.

And if he is autistic or has Asperger’s?  You know what?  You’re gonna be okay.  Yes, I’m talking to you.  Don’t believe all that foolishness about it taking a special person to raise a special needs child.  It doesn’t.  It is the child who makes you special.  Really.

You are going to grieve.  You are going to grieve for things you took for granted that may not come to pass.  He might not ever play Little League, be a Boy Scout, or skateboard.  Then again, he might.  The not knowing is the hardest part.  Hope is a roller coaster.  You will need to remember that your child has not been taken from you.  This is the child you were given all along.  And no one, no one, is better suited to be his champion.  You are allowed to cry.  Try not to do it in front of him.  And then you are going to have to put on your proverbial Big Girl (or Boy) Panties.  Suck it up.  You already knew you’d walk through fire for him.  So suit up.

And I’ll tell you something else.  Autism, at its worst, can rob you of a lot of things.  But it doesn’t have to be a tragedy.  It’s still early.  Autistic children may not ever learn to talk or care for themselves.  But they will still give you joy and teach you many things about love and gratitude.  Autistic children may grow up to need support, but have happy, productive, and fulfilling lives.  Some autistic children may go on to great things, their minds uniquely suited to bring something to humanity that it hasn’t seen before.   You know about Einstein, Mozart, Andy Warhol, Temple Grandin, Dan Aykroyd, and other successful people across the autism spectrum don’t you?  Yep, they are or are suspected to be [have been} on it.  But there are a lot more people out there on the spectrum who are co-workers, friends, parents — just everyday folks who see the world from a different vantage point– than you might expect.

Then, with diagnosis in hand and therapies started, reach out.  Join a support group.  Read books.  Write a blog.  Advocate.  Join the online autism spectrum community – made up of ASD people, their friends and loved ones, doctors, therapists, teachers, and more.  They are an amazing group of people whose arms are open to you.  (I just made that discovery myself.)  And repeat to yourself:  I can do this.  This is not a tragedy.  And I am not alone.  

For you really are not alone.

Note:  Little girls can, of course, be autistic as well.  For the sake of brevity, I used a male pronoun.

*The autism screening test for toddlers is called an M-CHAT, and it’s free.  You can even print it off the internet.  Either way, your doctor will know about it.

112 thoughts on “So You’re Wondering If Your Child Might Be Autistic…

  1. Jen

    Thank you. There are alot of times I think, he’s normal, he just has (x, y, z) challenges. Then I think to myself, this ISN’T normal. I love my son more than anything (except possibly his little sister :) and I wouldn’t change him for the world. But – I just wish he didn’t have quite so much on his plate to deal with – whether he is actually autistic or not. It might sound crazy, but I am really looking forward to finally having testing done (eta to be determined) just so I know. It’s been 6 years of trying to do everything I can to help him, by treating his individual symptoms, and I just feel there is something missing, something more I should be doing, I just don’t know what.

    I am so glad I found your site. So, thank you again.

    1. Amanda Staker

      this is interesting to here. what was your son doing that you were concerned about? my son is 5 and just started school and he is very quite and alittle apprehensive following directions the first time he sometimes needs to be prompt again. he is also very well behaved and seems to be doing well academically. the school observed him and didn’t see anything wrong but now our district special ed person is going to evaluate to make sure. so im trying not to worry but its hard.

    2. Amber b

      This was a great insight !! It in some way gave we a clear understanding and I wasn’t so scared anymore !! Before I read this I couldnt sleep at the thought of my son having more challenges then he already does … But it will be ok ! Thank you for this read .

  2. outrunning the storm

    I love that your blog has gone viral because you are writing wonderful things like this and getting info out there that people need so much! Keep on doin’ what you’re doin’ it’s spot on friend!

  3. Kelly Givan

    Gosh, I love how you write! This seems almost exactly our journey with our 3 year old, just recently diagnosed. I am so grateful to have found your blog.

    1. kristina

      Where did you get your child diagnosed. I’m getting the run around that he is too young. He will be 3 in September 2016.

    2. Michaela Courson

      Yes! I was thining the exact same thing,words right out of my mouth for certain. Her style is informative yet soothing,extremely caring in multiple facets;the diagnosis,her son,our children etc. The voice,tone,syntax all of it lol I can almost hear it as if it were being read aloud,maternal for lack of a more fitting phrase.

  4. Storm Dweller

    I found you recently through a Facebook friend. I have three children. My middle child is on the high functioning end of the spectrum, and I can relate to so many of the posts I have spent time here reading. I look forward to reading many more posts from you going forward.

  5. April Carter

    You . said . it . all. :)

    You recounted the feelings we had prior to our son being diagnosed, the questions, the helplessness, the unintentional lack of support by parents, friends and relatives, the “wait and see” that approach by pedi’s that often results in lost intervention time, the grief, the acceptance, and the realizations.

    Even down to the thoughts that race through your head when you have that sinking suspicion that something just isn’t “right” about your child in that place where you recognize the developmental delay redflags but haven’t yet figured out what they mean, when you start the frantic google search for what it MEANS, usually at times like two a.m. because you are afraid that if you are thinking about it at “normal” times, then it might be more real…or others might continue to gently remind you NOT to “criticize” your child’s “differences.”

    And even down to the serious sleep issues that plagued us for two and a half years that his pediatrician tried to rule as ADHD in a one year old (imagine THAT diagnosis : /) that almost destroyed my marriage, almost cost us both our jobs, and DEFINITELY robbed us of our ability to cognitively function and emotionally heal.

    It’s a journey from “noticing,” to “questioning,” to “voicing concern with confidence where you no longer allow others to deny things FOR you,” to acceptance, validation, and the beginning of treatment which results in hope and sanity.

    And in the end, I would have had it no other way because all the challenges, the fretting, the turmoil, the ROLLER COASTER, really was an experience that brought us closer together.

    Thank you for this and thank you for allowing me to reflect. I love reading these blogs because they help me to put things into perspective–I guess that’s kinda the idea, right? :)

    Happy New Year to you and yours!

    1. cutemongoose

      My son has had serious sleep issues since he was an infant. I could NOT get him to sleep. The crazy things I had to do to get him to sleep……we were desperate. Our neighbors, our relatives, everyone it seemed thought there was something wrong with us that we could not handle this infant. Finally a friend of mine figured out it was not lullybyes he need to fall asleep…it was loud rock music. She took him in her arms, turned up the volume, danced with him vigorously and he was asleep in 30 seconds. This was at 6 months of age.

      We then rocked him to sleep to loud rock music until he was 3 yo and too heavy. Then we used a rocking chair for a while. Then at 4 yo we had to strap him in his car seat and drive around till he was asleep. Next we resorted to Benadryl and finally had to discuss it with a developmental pediatrician. From 5-10 years of age he took various medications to help him sleep. Now at 11 yo he takes Melatonin at night. Without the Melatonin he cannot fall asleep, unless he is really totally exhausted.

  6. Katie

    This post took me back to that scary time when I was seeking answers and support at the beginning. We now have a diagnosis is writing, I diagnosis I knew of all along, it doesn’t stop the uncertainty for my son’s future, or the worries about his current educational or emotional needs, but it does help. It helps me stand tall when he’s stroking all products on the shelves in the supermarket, or when he stops people in the street to tell them about Doctor Who whether they want to listen or not. I understand now why he is the way he is, I am no longer plagued with self doubt and other’s opinions on my child’s development or behaviour. For me the diagnosis brought (along with a huge whammy of grieving) certainty. A fact. My son has autism.

    1. Natalie Romero

      Hello. My son just turned 4 and is going to get diagnosed by an autism team next month. At 3 autism was ruled out although I knew he was or he definitely had something. So now a specialist said yes he might be autistic and made an appointment for evaluation. My heart broke because although I knew to hear from a doctor is a different story. I love my son and I’m ready for whatever the future holds

  7. sunnypatchcottage

    I totally agree.

    With my bio son, I wasn’t surprised, due to his being a micropreemie (born 1 pound 5 ounces), and was told to suspect delays. By 2, I had suspiciions, and when he put his head through a plate glass window from head banging just days before turning 2, he went to his pediatrician who confirmed the suspicions right after his 2nd birthday. She was sympathetic–she had an autistic child too.

    With stepson, I had suspicions, hubby didn’t. Or he didn’t want to…that’s more accurate. It’s hard for a dad to accept that his boy isn’t going to be perfect. And this is a psych RN as well!

    You’re right, it’s not the end of the world. Most days we don’t even really think about autism…we just work on keeping the sanity and going through a schedule and meeting daily needs and keeping things going. On good days we play board games and have good times. On bad, all heck breaks loose. All 3 autie kids play YMCA soccer (and are pretty decent at it when they concentrate) during the spring and fall seasons. They love swimming, 2 of them like gardening, 1 is fascinated in science, 1 loves Nascar and anything car, 1 is learning how to do more domestically inclined things, the middle one helps mom in the kitchen of his own free will, etc. They, like any child, have their strengths and weaknesses.

    The sadness, that is from our own desires and wishes for them to have had a different life. It is our own selfish desires that create our mourning. They didn’t have those dreams before diagnosis….

    The goal for ours is to help them grow and be able to live independently as adults. Maybe be able to go on to college if they desire, or be able to hold down a job. The middle one may not be able to unless things significantly change…he’s so far behind the “norm”… But if they don’t, that’s ok too…there’s organizations that work with adults with delays and they’ll be fine either way. They’ll still be our children regardless, and be there to help.

    Take it a day at a time…so what if dreams change…they are just that–dreams. :)

  8. Teri Carter Chason

    Excellent post!! I found it through a Facebook friend and will share it amongst my FB friends. Thank you for writing about each and every symptom and also sharing your experience with that symptom. I especially thank you for pointing out that if parents have any question at all they should get an autism screening. Awesome points!! I’ve been there too and urge parents to do the same.

  9. Jen E.

    What a wonderful post! When my son was 2, my gut told me that something wasn’t right. That’s so important, too – following mother/father gut instincts. I will also say that I have met some wonderful, amazing people in the autism community and have made great friends. I truly do not feel alone in this as I first did when we received the diagnosis. It’s so important to seek out those community resources because they really do make dealing with all the ups and downs so much easier.

  10. cutemongoose

    Fantastic. You have said everything in a way I wish I could have. Two points I would love to stress that I have tried to explain to people…..get your child screened for autism….it cannot hurt and you might catch it early. And….early intervention is the key. The earlier the better.

    I have lost friends when I have suggested they have their child checked for language delay or (god forbid) autism. I have not been wrong in my suspicions so far. Now I bite my tongue and tell myself it is their journey not mine.

    My son was diagnosed at 3 1/2 with HFA and I did not have a moment of denial. I grieved the loss off the child I thought he would be, but I attacked this new situation with determination. If he had not been my first child I would have noticed the signs of autism earlier.

    Now my son is 11 yo and he is amazing. I credit his amazing progress to all the early intervention he had. I have deffinately become a better parent and a better person along this crazy trip through life with a child on the autism spectrum.

  11. Kristina Brown

    Wow! I’ve read several of your posts lately (just found this blog) and I feel like you’re writing everything I’ve thought, felt, etc. And although it is sometimes a hard journey, I’m glad there are others here to share it.

    1. Profile photo of FlappinessIsFlappinessIs Post author

      Please do! In fact, if any doctor’s office, individual, therapist, etc. wants to do the same, just let me know. Parents of young kids need to be aware of autism and not let valuable time pass by.

      1. sexybaby

        I have a 2 and half boy who is not talking as yet he’s now on early intervention for speech OT and special instructor im so worried about my one and only child at this moment that every min that i think that’s something is wrong with him i break down he use to say some words now it seems like he don’t want to say them again well he use to play with hangers not no more he don’t walk on his tiptoes but he start running on his tiptoe .
        He’s now has an appointment with a neurology this month i just want to take the time to thank you for posting this info to let me have a better understanding of what could be or not be a problem with my child.

  12. Lelah

    I think this is a wonderful post. Of course, it is only the tip of the iceberg. The best line is “… a child can still be autistic and not share every common autistic behavior.” My autistic son did not flap his arms, or walk on his tip-toes, or many of the more common ASD behaviors. It was hard for me to get anyone to listen.

    I was searching the internet trying, desperately, to find a way to get people to listen to my mommy instincts. With two older boys, I KNEW something wasn’t right that went beyond personality. For three years I fought family, friends, the pediatrician–even my husband. I finally got a referral (because the specialists won’t see you without a referral even though insurance didn’t care) for a speech and hearing evaluation. That was the first person who told me I had reason to be concerned. I switched pediatricians (despite knowing I had an excellent one, despite this) and got a referral.

    When I finally got my diagnosis, I broke down and cried. Not out of grief, but out of relief. NOW, I could finally get some official help. We worked on therapies at home. I enrolled him in private social therapy and private occupational therapy (although they doubted he was ASD). Nothing–NOTHING–felt better than knowing we were on the right track, at last. High functioning autistic kids are harder to get diagnosed.

    So it is only the tip of the iceberg. If you think, if you question, if you know, FIGHT for your child.

  13. Barb Silvestro

    Thank you – I remember so much of this. Mostly the grunting, the tiptoe walking, the feeling of just knowing something wasn’t right but thinking I was probably crazy. The evaluations, the fears, the lack of sleep. My boy at 3 had this shoulder shrugging tic that wasn’t flapping but of course was his way of flappingl at 4 years old he would only wear buzz light year pajamas. I mean that is all he would wear. I had to buy 5 pair so he had a pair for each day of preschool and wash repeatedly. Shoes bothered him, they went ‘up and down’ so he would only wear crocs. At 5 an 6 he repeated jingles off the tv – um…repeatedly. We then had to deal with frustration, depression and an IEP in school for agression. More therapy. He is 8 now. We have problems. We have good days and we have bad days. But with diagnosis in hand we fight the good fight and walk through fire for him. He’s my baby boy and he is an amazing kid who will someday do great things I just know it. (he can beat just about anyone on star wars Lego for wii lol)
    Thank you again for your blog. You rock.

    1. LizM

      Hello, can you please describe the shoulder shrugging tic? How often did it occur, facial expression? My daughter is doing this lifting with her shoulders a few times in a row and then stops. Its not an all day thing either.

      Thank you for your time. I hope this finds you.
      PS You sound like a great mother!

  14. Amy

    As a speech language pathologist with my arms wide open to kiddos and parents facing challenge of ASD… I applaud this post. It needs to written on a pamphlet and put where every parent can reach out and grab it. SOOOO well done!

      1. krissy Bright

        First of all thank you for this post. I have a background in SPED and at one point was going into Music Therapy…however life had other plans for me. I just read your post and that was all of the signs I saw and told I was paranoid or worry too damn much. I am so glad I was not the only one who saw these signs and got help despite resistant from family, my husband, friends and her doctor. Now people know I was not crazy when I got a medical and educational diagnosis of ASD for my 3 year old when she was 2 and a half years old. This post should be made into a pamphlet in schools, daycares, and doctor’s offices to make people more aware they are not alone. I know of someone in my area I would love to email this to her and ask if she can print some out for me in pamphlet form. She is a great friend and neighbor who is a graphic designer and printer. Again thanks for making me feel I am not alone in this !
        Krissy Bright

  15. Jenni

    Thank you again for opening your heart to share what so many parents feel. I had to push for more than a YEAR for a diagnosis. I knew at 12 months, when the lights went out with my daughter, that she had autism. But it took the “experts” 17 months to agree with me.

    As I like to say, when you have met one autistic child, you have met ONE autistic child. They are all unique, just like a typical child.

    Remember when you think something isn’t right with your child, push until you find answers. Whether it is autism or a stomach bug, feel confident that you are doing everything you can for your child. And then smile that God blessed you with her.

    1. Profile photo of FlappinessIsFlappinessIs Post author

      I had more than one conversation having to convince them myself. I don’t mean that they weren’t open, I think they just saw a child who would make eye contact and smile and compared him to their worst care scenarios. What is scary about this – and I wish every pediatrician realized – is that you can knock back regression with intensive therapy. There’s simply no benefit to waiting. What’s the worst that could happen? A typical child might have a few fun and educational therapy sessions? In my dream world, all children would have the benefit of that kind of play anyway.

  16. Jennifer

    Just an interesting side note from our family’s personal experience. We have a 3 1/2 year old daughter that we adopted from China at 16 months old. We knew she had special needs (hearing issues, club feet) and a possible undiagnosed syndrome.
    This past summer after changing pediatricians to one who specialized in special needs children, she was diagnosed with failure to thrive and PDD-NOS (pervasive Development Delay- Not otherwise Specified). PDD- NOS is on the autism spectrum and NOS means they have no idea why she isn’t developing. We were actually thrilled to get this diagnosis since this is what we had felt from the beginning (obviously our daughter had very serious delays, not walking, talking, low muscle tone etc.) We did even have genetic testing done to make sure there wasn’t something that we were missing since she is adopted and we have no family medical history.
    That would have been the end of our search for answers – the answers we had received fit the child we saw in front of us. So we had a plan to help her and we were ready to move forward. I was beginning the journey of researching autism. And then she had a seizure. Out of the blue. She spiked a fever one morning in June, had an incredible meltdown, over the top. Wore her self out and fell asleep. I happened to be sitting next to her while she slept and noticed her start to twitch in her sleep. I am an EMT so it only took me a few seconds to realize she was having a seizure so off we ran to the ER. Fever induced seizure, no big deal, lots of kids get them. They sent us home with the standard drill to make sure she doesn’t spike a fever and to come back if she has another one. Two weeks later another seizure but no fever. That second seizure has changed our lives forever!
    Until a child has more than one seizure and or a seizure without a fever an EEG is not a standard test that is run. Because our daughter had a 2nd seizure and one with no fever the automatic next step was to do an EEG to look for signs of epilepsy. Not good news we were thinking.
    I thank God every day that she had those seizures now because what we found out from the EEG was amazing, frightening, horrifying, and incredible all at the same time. We found out that our daughter has a “rare” severe form of what I call an invisible epilepsy. I put rare in quotes because I am not so sure that it is rare, just rarely found in my opinion. Her disorder is called ESES, Electrical Status Epilepticus of Sleep. Turns out that the actual seizures she had are totally unrelated to the ESES, they just helped us find it. Basically in ESES, when the child goes to sleep instead of the brain quieting down to rest, repair, and grow the electrical brain activity in these children actually increases. Like a million little internal brain seizures. These children are getting no deep sleep. And you will never see it on the outside. These children may be very light or difficult sleepers.
    The reason I am posting this here is because children with ESES are very commonly mistakenly diagnosed with autism. Generally the same age of onset. The child may be developing completely normally and all of a sudden start regressing, losing speech and fine motor abilities.
    I don’t want to give anyone false hope that their child doesn’t have autism, but at the same time I don’t want someone to miss this in their child because ESES is treatable. The earlier it is caught, the more chance that delays or loss of function can be reversed.
    I wish I could give you links to find out more info on this disorder, but there is very little out there. Hope this might be helpful to some one.
    Our daughter is still way behind her peers in development but she has made so much progress since she has started treatment.

  17. Kayla (Keegan's Mommy)

    Had to share this on facebook! I have had some friends ask me about autism cause they have concerns about their child, and this was perfect to share with them!

    1. Profile photo of FlappinessIsFlappinessIs Post author

      Thank you! I don’t know what got me to thinking about it last night, remembering all those “does he or doesn’t he” conversations, but that post flew just flew out of my fingers. I hope it gets even one person to get a screening. :)

      1. Kayla (Keegan's Mommy)

        I’m hoping it might help too! I’ve had three friends ask about symptoms and stuff. My three year old was just diagnosed in July, but I knew he was autistic by the time he was about two. Lol.

        1. Profile photo of FlappinessIsFlappinessIs Post author

          Same thing with us. We still don’t have the official diagnosis – just “somewhere on the spectrum – come back at three”. However, he gets speech, OT, PT, and an Infant Child Development Specialist, so I’m not hung up on the label. He’ll get one of them.

  18. Jenn

    Great post. Especially the line of it is the child that makes you special. Perfect reminder. Our children remind us of what really matters in life. I have to say that hanger fixation brought back memories. Early intervention is very important. It has helped us tremendously. Wonderful post!

    1. Profile photo of FlappinessIsFlappinessIs Post author

      Jenn, I am AMAZED at the preponderance of plastic hanger adoration among autistic children. We thought it was unique to Callum. Somebody needs to fund a study. lol

  19. kerryanne

    Wow, I have not long discovered your post, but know you have answers to what I have suspected for sometime. I have a six year old daughter who has special needs she didn’t talk till she was five, she struggles every day with screaming meltdowns and flaps alot, I haven’t understood why till now. Your blog has helped me so much these last few days get a better understanding, my daughter has been under the hospital since birth, as she has had problems from day one. I am seeking answers now and am awaiting appoinment with a genetist and others to hopefully get the answers and diagnosis I have been seeking since birth. Thanks for your posts

  20. Ellie

    I’ve just found your blog and love your style of writing and your honesty when addressing special needs. Thank you!

    I knew something was different about my son from about 18 months or so. He had major sensory issues, he didn’t play with other kids as he got older, he fixated on something and obsessively stuck with it. But no one else saw these things as being anything to worry about–doctors, teachers, my parents, my husband, all thought he was “just a boy” and would catch up eventually. And he spoke fine–we understood him, he asked for things he wanted, he spoke in full sentences by two. It was the tantrums that told me something wasn’t right. The meltdowns over little things, or over something I couldn’t even spot! That would go on for hours and hours! Then as he started preschool, it was the dangerous behaviors–bolting out of the room, jumping off of or climbing up on furniture, bumping and crashing into everything and everyone. And even more meltdowns that resulted in his teachers having to call me several times a day to come deal with him (luckily, I worked at his school). I knew something was wrong, but never in a million years thought it was autism! All my Google searches pointed at behavior disorders, sensory processing disorder, things like that. His symptoms never brought up autism pages. Yet, after his diagnosis of PDD-nos, I saw that he had almost all the classic symptoms, just in his own way. He doesn’t flap, he spins. He paces in patterns. He covers his ears, and has huge sensory issues. He licks everything. At 4 1/2, he was still engaged in parallel play, and had no pretend play of any kind yet. He spoke on time and speaks well, but has a complete lack of understanding of pronouns, sarcasm, figures of speech, and an inability to appropriately answer questions.

    I love this post–I would reverberate what you’ve said about insisting that someone listen to you when you know something’s not right with your child. No one listened to me until he was 4 years old and I insisted that someone evaluate him! Regret is something that’s hard to live with.

    1. Profile photo of FlappinessIsFlappinessIs Post author

      You did the best you could. You had a lot of people fighting you. They mean well, but they do confuse things, don’t they? You did get him the help he needed though – which makes you an awesome mom!

    2. Jen

      My six year old son is similar. He had a speech delay, but I put that down to chronic ear infections for the first two years of his life. Then, there were the night terrors and trouble sleeping. Then, meltdowns – and I know exactly what you mean when there is a minor, or non-existant trigger (as far as we can see) and they last FOREVER. My son also didn’t socialize well, even though he was in a therapeutical preschool for behavior issues (ocd, adhd, anger issues, etc.) and didn’t even begin pretent play until well after he turned 5.

      Now when you look at him, he appears normal at a glance, but when you look deeper, and add up all of his challenges, it really makes me question. I’ve been trying for years to get him tested, and only after moving to a new state have I got a pediatrician who is validating my concerns and he is now on a waiting list while recieving various therapies.

    3. Robin

      I can totally relate to this, my son is obssessed over things too. Another thing is if he comes home and say sees a book left on the floor by his baby sister and I pick it up and put it away, he will go and get the book and put it back exactly where it was on the floor. I think he looks around and proccesses where everything is when he gets home and is not comfortable when things are moved, even when they do not belong there. It makes me obssessive because I try to make sure everything is put away before he comes home! My son doesn’t lick everything, but he does smell everything!

  21. theotherlion

    Wonderful post, as usual. May I add that if your child is diagnosed with autism, you may want to have further testing done for fragile x syndrome. It is a genetic disorder that, like autism, is a spectrum disorder, and they share many, many similarities.

  22. Ann Kilter

    My son played with the lights before he could reach them. Then he turned them off and on constantly. I knew something was up when he was a year old. But I didn’t know what. He didn’t flap his hands, but he did perseverate.

  23. Heather Murray

    Another wonderful post! I just connected with another mom who has a newly diagnosed son and I recommended your blog. Thank you for all of your beautifully written posts!!

  24. Megan

    LOVED this post! Our 2yr old son was diagnosed this past fall and prior to that we were pretty sure he was on the spectrum after a few agonizing months of going through exactly what you described in your post…..he is, no he isn’t (back and forth). Great advice for parents who have concerns and that sixth sense that something is not quite right with their little one. Especially, when their pediatrician tells them not worry and let’s give him/her a little more time to “catch up”. I am thankful we ignored our doctor or we would have lost valuable therapy time like you pointed out. Blogs like yours and on-line support groups have been my life line. Thank you for sharing your family’s story:-)

  25. Pingback: Deja vu all over again | that cynking feeling

  26. Deirdre Cecil Nichelson

    Thank you so much for this wonderful place to come and read about a journey so much like my own. In some ways, my journey differs because we adopted our son out of foster care and knew he had some developmental delay. The caseworkers kept telling us that he the delay was from neglect. The truth is that he is autistic and his birth home didn’t help the situation, but didn’t MAKE him autistic.
    When we were going through our adoption journey, I had many people (some of them close friends) question my sanity. Why would you saddle yourself with such a child? Will he ever be NORMAL? I mean, he isn’t even YOURS. All I can (and still do) say to people who believe that is I feel sorry for you. Meet my son………I am blessed to be called “momma” by him. He is not TYPICAL, but he is as “normal” as they come. And if you ever say he isn’t mine again…… I am likely to go totally postal on you. This boy may not have been born through me, but he was born TO me. Surely as any child was born to a mother. He is mine. Never doubt it.
    And finally, I am neither a saint or a lunatic. I am just a Mom who loves all her kids. I Love the way that you said it is the child who makes you special…………it is so true! He has taught me way more than I could ever teach him in one lifetime.

  27. Heather S.

    My oldest, now 9, did most of these things (except the flappinessis..) He didn’t talk, babble, jabber, anything… He never crawled. He cried when strangers talked to him (or even family if they hadn’t seen him more recently than a few days). I took him to gymboree for two years and he wouldn’t participate – just watched everyone else. When you asked him questions, he would just stare off. He didn’t really play with toys, and was terrified of pretend animals (stuffed, barbie horses, etc). I had his hearing tested a couple of times because I just knew he couldn’t hear or something. When he was 1 1/2 his language and comprehension were tested. They said he was at a 7 month old level, but that they weren’t really sure because he wouldn’t respond to anything. And food, forget it – he fell off of the charts because he was so small for his age. He had speech therapy twice a week and I just kept thinking he had some type of autism. Amazingly, though, at a little over two, he said his first word (oof – for dog) and by two and a half had about 6 words (all one syllable, but words non-the-less). His vocabulary got bigger and bigger! Then, at around 5, things changed. I don’t know how or why, but they did. He became very social – especially with other kids. He was able to talk now, and it seemed like he wanted to talk to everyone. He now is completely out of speech therapy. He is still a little behind in his academics, but will be completely pulled out of resource classes by the end of this year. And, although still small for his age (he’s about the size of an average 7 year old and he’ll be 10 in two months), he eats and is growing. I just wanted to share this because possibly, for some, there may be hope (not for most, I know, but for a lucky few). Yes, get your child tested. Yes, get them started in therapy because it will help! And possibly, one day, things could change. Thanks for your blog. I know you are helping people!

  28. Estella Howard

    I am the grandmother of a child who has autism. He is my angel child. My love for him is so huge sometimes it just spills out my eyes in tears of joy. I am so filled with hope for his future and I know one thing for sure…he will know he is loved.

    1. WonderWoman

      Thank you for being a grandmother who gets it! How sad for our kids who have lost ‘family’ because of this. Mine has. BUT, actually, they have ‘lost’ her by choosing to not understand. : /

  29. lifestartsnow

    i am SO glad i found your blog. 10 years ago i worked as an aupair and in my first family the boy was autistic. i wasn’t told beforehand and ended up trying to educate myself about autism thousands of miles away from my home, in a language that i was still learning.

    it was a tough time, also because the parents did not acknowledge the diagnosis and rather tried to talk things down to the boy “having difficulties to concentrate”. the boy worked with a great therapist who helped me tremendously in understanding the boy and the diagnosis.

    the symptoms you mentioned ring very true and i hope that if another au pair ever finds herself in the same situation s/he’ll find your blog and be assured that everything will be alright.

  30. Hillary

    I work for the Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Ed program in Oregon. My job has to do with helping child care providers identify kids in their care who might benefit from an evaluation/special ed services. So, I spend a lot of time talking with both child care providers and parents. I have a profound respect for the fear that parents feel, and also for what parents can accomplish in the name of loving their child(ren).
    I think your blog post is great. I would like to be able to share it (and your blog) with both families and the staff where I work. May I do so? I will be reading your blog regularly. Keep up the good work, “mistakes” and all! Hope you are feeling better soon.


    1. Profile photo of FlappinessIsFlappinessIs Post author

      Absolutely! When I wrote it, I was thinking of all those formal essays with confusing terminology. I wanted to write something that spelled it out clearly. If anyone wants to copy or print this post, just let me know. Hope it helps someone. Thanks!

  31. David's Mom (Crafter Dream)

    Thank-you sooo much for this. I found it when you linked to it in a more current blog. I am grateful I now know of your blog and am able to follow it. I appreciate your posts and insights so much. :) I also simply appreciate you and your willingness to be real. Makes this “journey” not so lonely.

  32. niftynan

    Fabulous article! Love this paragraph the best:
    “You are going to grieve. You are going to grieve for things you took for granted that may not come to pass. He might not ever play Little League, be a Boy Scout, or skateboard. Then again, he might. The not knowing is the hardest part. Hope is a roller coaster. You will need to remember that your child has not been taken from you. This is the child you were given all along. And no one, no one, is better suited to be his champion. You are allowed to cry. Try not to do it in front of him. And then you are going to have to put on your proverbial Big Girl (or Boy) Panties. Suck it up. You already knew you’d walk through fire for him. So suit up.”

    May I repost/share this on my blog? I just started it and it only has a few posts so far. Will absolutely give you ALL the credit and link back to here.

    Thank you again for a wonderful article!

  33. Christie Mortenson

    Thanks for this. Right now I am at the beginning. Doing the google searches everyday. Hoping against hope that it is all in my head and alternately thinking, “so what if he is, he is my child and I love him!” Right now, he is getting speech and OT through EI. In about 6 months he will have his appt. with a developmental pediatrician. Then maybe I will have some answers.

  34. Heidi Clark

    Great read… My son was diagnosed at 5.5yrs nearly 2 years ago… He’s diagnosed as high functioning autistic, which is even harder to get information on his specific needs as he doesnt fit any of the “criteria” mentioned above other than the lack of eye contact & requiring a little assistance with social skills.

  35. Skye

    Reading this made me cry, but it was a good cry… one I needed since I’ve been holding it in for awhile as I wait. My son hasn’t been diagnosed as of yet because he is only 18 months and the doctors have been telling me to wait it out, but he has many signs (flapping of the arms, turning in circles, fixated with spinning objects, won’t talk, does the tippy toe walk, doesn’t respond to name, doesn’t point, and the list could go on…) and I am going to find out soon enough once I get the appointment scheduled… I am worried and reading this definitely opened my eyes a little. It does hurt to think he won’t be what I wanted for him in life but I love him so much and no matter what the outcome is I still will love him as much as I do now and will do the best I can to help him along in life.

    Thank you for this article. Ive been searching everywhere for just something to ease me just a little… It opened my eyes for what I may possibly have to look forward to and it will be hard but I need to hang in there and be strong for my little man.

    So again, thank you.

    1. Jennifer

      This was a great article and so necessary! I have a 17 month old son who was just provisionally diagnosed PDD-NOS. My husband and I knew since he was around 6 months. He is our 5th child (and a twin) so we knew what was typical development and our little Beckett just was always a bit quirky. He adored his swaddle to a fault, would spin wheels, fixate on parts of toys, walk backwards, flap, tiptoe walk, he doesn’t talk, he doesn’t point and so forth. His psychologist was surprised we caught it so early because he has other traits that seem typically developing such as good eye contact, good social smile, he shows toys, plays with is brother and sister, has pretty good receptive language, can use two signs, and so forth. However, after she spent two days with him she felt confident in her diagnosis. ASD can be VERY difficult to discern. I am pretty sure my 18 year old son falls on the spectrum but we just didn’t know what it was back then. It looks so different in different children. I agree that a false diagnosis is better than waiting. Early intervention is a great help for many kids on the spectrum. The first thing we did was cut television out of their lives completely. I took an intensive workshop on the Early Start Denver Therapy model and have been working intensively with both of the twins. It has been doing wonders! Hang in there Skye! There is a great deal of support and information out there. I am a counselor who has worked with teens on the spectrum for a while as well and I can assure you that most of them have learned how to use their unique skills to their advantage and do quite well! My husband says that our son doesn’t have Autism but that he has Awesometism–it always makes me smile :)

    2. Alex

      Just wanted you to know that I found your blog during a very dark time this summer, when I knew my 18 month-old daughter likely had autism but was engaged in a desperate internet search to “prove” otherwise. I read this post late at night, and I’ll never forget the moment of utter stillness that followed: I experienced both deep despair, because you spoke the truth I had been unable to admit to myself, and the beginnings of hope, because you reassured me that my daughter would make me into the mother I need to be.

      I’ve checked your blog almost every day since then. I don’t really know many people in my same situation, and those I do know, I don’t relate to for various reasons — so for a while now, you’ve felt like my only autism mom friend. And I bet I’m not the only one of your readers who feels that way. Somehow it’s hard to find our way to each other in real life, I guess. Thanks for your generosity in sharing your experience.

    3. Tasha Kirksey

      My son (17 months) does the same exact things!! So comforting to know I’m not the only one, and there IS someone who knows what I’m going through as well… Thank you for replying. :) my son goes in next month for his evaluation. We shall see what happens!! Again, you seriously just made my day.. It may seem petty, but you really did!! Thank you!!


  36. Alaina

    Thank you so much for this post, we’re currently in the process of trying to get our 2 year old a diagnosis. He does so many of these things and you helped me to know that I’m NOT crazy. I know there is something different with my son but I keep hearing from family and friends “Oh but he smiles and makes eye contact so it can’t be autism” I think I should email this to all of them.

    1. Brian

      Hang in there Alaina. This was a wonderful article that I’ve read several times throughout the past few months. My daughter was diagnosed 7mos ago, based on my gut feelings, and several symptoms. She’s 2.5yrs old. Last week, she went to the same clinic that diagnosed her, and they took her off the spectrum as “not qualifying for autism”. Great news, right? Wrong! I’m having issues understanding why her pediatrician didn’t notice, but I did. Then the first psychologist said she was fine, followed by the 2nd psychologist diagnosing her as autistic, only to remove it months later. She’ll respond to her name 50/50 (if she’s not focused on a toy), eye contact is also 50/50, she still tiptoes when excited, stiffening up her arms to her side and humming. Occassionally, she’ll hold her hand to the side of her face and looks at it sideways. What’s promissing is we’re able to break her away from it by calling her name or asking what’s she’s doing. The dr’s said that was great because she’s not fixated. Too many opinions, by too many “experts”. Bottom line, you are your children’s hero. You should be strong for them, be their teacher, their champion, and their support. Play with them until your tired…then play some more. Turn the tv off, get on the floor and read to them. Be over-expressive when talking to them, be goofy, make communication fun for them. And the best advise I ever got….breathe!!!

  37. Klinnikka malone

    I just took my baby girl to the doctor and my fears have come true but now looking at your article has changed my perspective on everything I want to say thank you for that!

    Sincerely, Klinnikka

  38. Pingback: Fly Away, Songbird | Dmitry Laughs

  39. carol

    Thank you for your words my son is 3 he was diagnosed. At 2 with autism he use to bang his head on floor until it was red it would scare me i have different. People tell me hes not autistic and some say wow dont know how you do it. Hes high fuctioning verbal has speech probems bad behavior melt downs wakes up threw the night screaming doesnt want to be touched doesnt like to always want to hold my hand in public we take publick transportation. He wants to stand climb everything says hes going to go far away only will eat chicken nuggets and fries grinds teeth while sleeping legs twich eyes look like thete open i may get 4hours asleep each night some noises bother him not always the same noises diffrent ones diffrent times he acts like he cant hear me always says what had his ears checked nothings wrong wakes up 2 to 3 times during the night doesnt like bandaids on owies or meds is now not like showers there days i wanna just cry cause at times its over whelming especially. Being a single mom with an older child. To hes rough with the dog people grabs people to get there attention grabs there face but i was able to potty train him at two where he was sitting on toilet now he stands and now he starting to have accident in his pants im like oh no diaper time again???

  40. Andrea

    Thank you so much for writing this. This really resonated with me regarding my son and so many things he does… I always thought were cute and made him more unique. I got teary eyed but not because I’m sad he might be diagnosed with a spectrum disorder but because so much of what you described feeling is exactly what I have felt. It is a sigh of relief to read what you wrote and know it will be okay now that our son has been referred to a behavorial specialist and will be assessed after meeting with the doctor to discuss signs without my son present. Thank you, thank you, thank you! You give me so much strength :-)

  41. lp

    My son wasn’t diagnosed until 16 years old. Early on he was diagnosed with ADHD & learning disabilities in school. He had early ear infections & was never tested for ASD. The May Institute worked with him in early years due to speech & learning delays. We kept him back in kindergarden as he wasn’t ready for first grade. Issues seemed to worsen in high school & he always had clothes issues, didn’t like certain clothes the way they felt, routines were critical & social issues. He has an IEP & this test was never suggested unitl the advice of a therapist. I’ve been reading children are diagnosed at an early age & am confused how this wasn’t suggested as a test until I starated seeing someone to discuss the behavioral issues at home & needed help. He has severe anxiety issues, wears multiple layers of clothes, doesn’t hang on with his friends, sleeping issues & doesn’t do well in school. He is in treatment with a therapist & psyciatrist.

  42. lp

    1 more comment. My child is in denial of the diagnosis. Every morning is ground hog day with getting ready for school. Certain behaviors that can’t be changed. I love my child dearly & just looking for advice/help from others. It is true that you have to be your own advocate & trust your gut feelling; thankful for this person that suggested the testing because I woud not have known to ask for this test to be administered. And by the way, asking for the test to be done thru my insurance was initially denied & I had to appeal it in order for the testing to occur. Pretty sad right.

  43. biman mitra

    my daughter is 3.2 years,she is normal behaved,often stuborn in nature,read books,walking naturally,able to fast running,energetic and strong in nature.
    but at her age she did not respond always what you are asking for….sometime repond….sometime not.she has loud voice…..but when she get answered that’s the low voice.she is able to speak baba,ma and other word…..she is able to speak complete sentence but not up to mark as per his age.she is enjoying to the other people and very joly in nature.copy to the other.

    as he did not respond always..and stuborn in nature my question is is she autestic????? we r very much feared about this.

  44. sarah withrington

    My son is almost 7 and a half. He was born with a cleft palate. The cleft surgeon is saying its not the palate that is getting in the way of him talking its neurological. He says mainly one word ‘mama’ and he makes a few other sounds. He doesnt mimick. He uses makaton. He flaps, lines toys up, sleep problems etc. Reading this article is like reading my life. My son is not yet diagnosed with autism but i know he is. Doctors keep saying gdd and telling me to wait. Very frustrating as some people will understand. However i hate people saying theres always hope and that frustrates me even more. Im going to be calling his peadiatrian yet again as she said she will assess him, that was back in February and still waiting to hear from her.

  45. Caroline

    The comments I see from hero parents have brought fresh memories. My daughter almost 3.5 has always struggled to catch up with activities of her age group. She smiled late, crawled and walked late.She has been tthrough a speech therapy for nearly a year. I noticed something was wrong when she was about 18 months. The melt downs, she likes things done her way. If u turn the light on she has to turn it off then on. She has sleep problems, doesn’t make a sentence. She can say two to three sentence words like where is mommy, mommy shoes, this is mine her way of saying this is different and you have to know her to know what she says. She smells everything, tip toes n goes round and round instead of dance. Her concentration span is small and she can’t stay still. We are awaiting app for evaluation n my husband and I have been thinking this is not normal. After reading this wonderful blog my eyes are lightened up and am in fear she might b autistic. I have a 22 months old who says words so accurately so I know something is wrong with my 3.5 thanks for this blog

  46. Nichol

    Hi I just started reading this. I NEED to get help for my 12 year old son asap. We see a physchatrist who just took him off Zoloft onto abilify. He went a week with out any antidepressants and I have never seen him so out of it. Let me start by saying Aden has no concept of working, making money, he don’t understand things you tell him without screaming saying I don’t understand when your trying to explain. He has had ADHD diagnosed when he was 5 yrs and has taken a stimulant since. He has always acted 4 years younger then he is since he turned 8 years old. He don’t shake his hands but he has other twitches like he chews on his feet I know yuck! On that same note if he is eating and something falls off his plate say a roll and you place it back on his plate he won’t eat it. He has to eat cereal out of glass bowl only along with drink out of glass cup. He will eat from any plate but if you touch his food he won’t eat it. If he sees others eat he gets sick and won’t eat. If his brother hands him a fork he won’t eat off it. He take a drink out of a pop he opens then won’t drink it again in fear someone else drank it.
    Now for this I have asked him since he was age 5 to flush toilet he don’t and says he forgets. To put away milk when he gets a cup he leaves it out. I can name at least 20 things I ask him to do some life things you should do daily he don’t do it says he forgets.
    He won’t get out his own clothes. He doesn’t understand what matching clothes means even if I explain it. He don’t care what his clothes look like or if his glasses are dirty, shoes have holes. He never wants new clothes. He can’t tie his shoes or comb his hair when you try to show him he yells I don’t get it and walks off. He controls his younger brother by telling him to do all I ask him to down to telling him he can’t eat until he does. He hits me, says he hates his life. He begs for things and when he don’t get them he punishes his brother by not playing with him and telling him it’s his fault. He has no friends I hear of. I don’t know what this is. He writes horrible, doesn’t want to do homework because it will take forever to write sentences or do math. He struggles with math, reading and everything in school. He is 12 but acts mentally like he is 8. Does anyone know where I can start. Please help!

    1. Mom of three

      Many of his symptoms are ADHD. They also can have OCD, and opposition. He might need a change in stimulant and treatment for anxiety.
      There are a lot of resources on
      attitude magazine and empowering parents.
      My son is 8 and had ADHD. When his impulsivity is not fully controlled he becomes anxious and acts out.
      The eating is always an issue. We have found foods he will eat and let him eat them with vitamins, supplement shakes for calories.

  47. Nikki

    Wow I began to wonder if you were personally speaking of my 22 month old son there for a moment! He has each and every one of these symptoms and has started the testing process in which they discovered he “might” be artistic yet if so, he is at the tail end of the spectrum. He cannot speak other than eat eat which is a word to include sign language the psychiatrist and speech therapist taught him. My partner and I are becoming very frustrated as this process is taking forever and we aren’t sure how to deal with it. If he is truly artistic than we would deal with him differently than we would if he’s just a late bloomer. I’m so confused and hurt, my baby can’t even understand a simple command such as, “Get your cup” or, “Come here” *sigh I know with prayer and faith he will be OK one day!!

  48. Andrea

    I have aspergers, my first four children show my signs but I never knew I had aspergers until less than a year ago. Therefore, I never had any thought that my children weren’t of the norm. But this year I had my fifth baby, a little boy, and he’s now 8 months old. Because of my history I every so often search out one of these websites to read about any early signs to look for as I’ve never done this before. But after reading this one, I sense alot of apprehension, worry and almost a horrible fear while reading this, and it helped me to see things a bit differently now. I pray that my son will not be debilitated from autism the way that I am, but if it becomes a part of him than that part of him will be loved just as if he didn’t have it. I don’t want to worry about it because he is such a special, adorable and exceptionally happy little boy and the best and only thing to do for him is to give him all my love, attention and affection and just let life take it’s course. I think sometimes as parents we get so caught up on modern day scares fears and worries to such a degree, and are always comparing our child with the one next door too often instead of just enjoying our children and allowing them to grow at their own pace and shrug all the nonsense away. For those parents who have autistic children I pray for you to keep your strength because these children are special and close to God and He loves them greatly. Autistic children see things through a different light that we can’t imagine, but they are very smart, bright children that are capable of things that we may not be, just because on the outside they may appear to be struggling, but on the inside they do know exactly what’s going on. Love them dearly and it will always pay off on the end.


    Thanks for this amazing post. It’s exactly what’s been going on with me. I’m always online searching for other reasons and causes for her behavior. I searched 2 keywords and found this site. It’s right on the money for me.

    I’ve been told to give it time its a phase for so long until her most recent appointment when the nurse asked how many words she said. Then the doctor came in with 2 other pediatricians and did an hour long evaluation. They recommended 2 neurologists because there wasn’t a doubt in their minds that she’s autistic.

    Thanks again for your help!

  50. Mary

    I thank god for people like you even though my 17 month old haven’t been diagnosed yet I have noticed a lot of the autism spectrum disorder. He has an early intervention appointment this coming up Tuesday and I’m just praying for him to be ok and if not then I will always be here for him because there is always a reason why things happen and God only knows why he does things a certain why. After reading this even though I cried I felt much relieved to know that I’m not alone thank you to everyone that has shared their stories and just know that God will be always be here to help us and guide us in our journey next to our little ones.

  51. Marie

    My child had many of the “symptoms” you presented. She didn’t talk until she was 2, walked on her toes and never crawled, gagged loudness of any kind, gagged anything on her legs, gagged being cuddled, never responded to her name, flapped her arms and played with non toys (still plays with non toys), ate food then stopped and only ate three things until she was almost 4, and I could go on. She is NOT a child with autism. She makes almost all 100s, is in a gifts and talented program in school, had many friends with no social deficits, is very loving, and reacts appropriately to most all social cues. Sometimes children are just different, and that should be ok. Not cause for an inquisition. I have also worked with children with autism for several years now in both a clinical and educational setting and am currently working on my masters in Education for certification as a diagnostician. I have personal and professional experience when working with special needs children. One thing I hope readers understand is that they shouldn’t self diagnose using the internet. A trained professional should test the child in a controlled setting to make the diagnosis. Just because you think you see stripes doesn’t mean there is a zebra.

    1. Profile photo of FlappinessIsFlappinessIs Post author

      Marie, I listed symptoms that should make parents who are already wondering (note the title) about autism take a closer look. And then I directed them to see their doctor. I did not suggest anyone self-diagnose. As a fellow educator with years of experience in working with special needs children, I am all kinds of curious as to how you would not encourage the parents of a child exhibiting those behaviors to be evaluated further.

  52. Mike

    I know I’m going to catch flack for this, but please site your sources and the scientific studies backing the information in this article. Without legitimate sourcing you come across as propagating fear and playing the anxiety of parents in a modern age of autism. I find much of this post baseless and drawing in emotional parents who have been inundated with statistics on autism.

    1. Mike

      Additionally, much of what you point out in the first 3rd of this post is general toddler behavior. Site your sources, Google not being one of them.

    2. Profile photo of FlappinessIsFlappinessIs Post author

      With all due respect, what are you referring to? I listed behaviors that are commonly accepted by physician organizations, the DSM, the CDC, and virtually every respected authority on the subject of autism. I believe I’ve already stated that parents cannot look at just one of these behaviors and make a determination. And I believe I also directed them to have an M-CHAT eval done by a pediatrician and go from there. I didn’t write this post for Scientific American. I wrote it in an autism parenting blog. Why would you come here if you were looking for scientific studies? There isn’t anything in this post that would fear being held up to scrutiny. Perhaps you could be a bit more specific about what symptoms I referred to that aren’t identified widely as being possibly suggestive of autism?

  53. Vonda humphrey

    My friends son when ever he gets hurt he close his eyes and just runs, runs in to what ever is in his way all with his eyes closed and his Hans are on his head can any one help or have any suggestions

  54. Sathya

    Just came across your lovely blog. A big shout out to all you moms out there. I wish and pray that all of you get all the support and happiness you deserve. Motherhood is a wonderful thing. Proud and feel very blessed to be a mother myself. But u brave mothers out there u r the bestest of best. Ur children r so blessed to have u and u r so blessed to have them. You ppl are the guardians of humanity. Thanku for what u all are. Take a BOW.

  55. jose

    Mi familia y yo estamos en un gran diema con mi hijo. He visto algunos signos de autismo, pero no estamos seguros. Puede que sea desarrollo tardío. Lo que quiero manifestar es mi gran admiración por la persona que escribio este articulo. se nota que sabe mucho del tema y que tiene el don de aconsejar y calmar a las personas, pero diciéndoles que no se queden quietas, que actúen. Mil gracias.

  56. Mom of three

    You should worry if you get an autism diagnosis!!!
    Guess what? When the school system has it on record, they won’t let it go. We have had numerous evaluations by a developmental pediatrian at a large center who sees hundreds of kids every year.
    She undiagnosed him- for the past 3 yrs the school dist will not let it go. They continue to bring it up even though it was when he was 3, now he is 8 yrs old and still placed in an autistic classroom?? We have put our house on the market and hopefully changing districts soon.
    Take my advise, get the screening as suggested but ask the doctor not to make a diagnosis right away ( just have them focus on the services you need for your child, helping them is what matters to you as a parent; the school gets more money for autism diagnosis) – see how your child’s delays/symptoms manifest it will save you a lot of stress, meetings, and most importantly save your child.

    1. Profile photo of FlappinessIsFlappinessIs Post author

      I couldn’t disagree more. And I have insider knowledge of the school district. I’m a teacher. FYI – If a parent truly fears a diagnosis, you can obtain one privately and never share it with the school district. Additional FYI – Parents have the right to refuse ESE services. Read From Emotions to Advocacy by Wrightslaw. You have more rights than you know – and far more than any school district will admit to you. True story.

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