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Anxiety in preschoolers?


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#1 highspirits

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 12:18 PM

I need some perspectives/ reality checks/ advice on my preschooler (4 in August). He is a sweet sensitive child. He loves me to read him and we have great conversations about the world around us. He's curious and attentive, mature and even really reasonable for a 3yo.
But I think he has anxiety. I'm not talking about being scared of certain things like loud noises or dogs (though those are definitely things he is scared of!), but a kind of underlying withdrawal/ inability to approach the world around him. He's obviously an introvert (we all are so far in this family) but I think with him we are seeing something a little more than that.
I think the biggest thing I'm seeing is that he consistently doesn't do things that he wants to because it is too overwhelming/scary/new. I have a ton of examples but these are some of the biggest things I've noticed:
New places and experiences are hard for him. He's the kid that will sit on my lap for 2 hours at the park. Like this week we had been talking about going to the strawberry patch and he's so excited. When we get there he wants to try a strawberry and holds it but can't quite bring himself to put it to his mouth. He then wants to leave. We talk excitedly about the strawberry popsicles we are going to make when we get home, but after we've made them, he won't eat them. (There was also mud at the strawberry patch, so he couldn't walk anywhere by himself).
Food is obviously another big source of anxiety. We never put pressure on him to eat or try anything but he has big meltdowns over food. He eats very little and doesn't try new things (and I'm not talking broccoli, but any ice cream flavor that's not vanilla).
Sleep has been an issue since birth. He's not my only kid and I feel like I'm pretty good with helping kids learn to sleep gently, but he still cannot be alone. I remember when we decided enough was enough and would walk him back to his room instead of staying with him while he fell asleep - it was weeks with no progress, just hours of walking him back calmly. My husband sleeps with him in his bedroom now.
He never answers questions from strangers or acquaintances (or makes eye contact, or acknowledges there existence). He very rarely will interact close family friends. It's not unusual for him to just completely ignore questions I ask (not quizzing, just "do you want to...") because I don't think he wants to deal with deciding. He actually does have great social skills - he has a couple of safe friends that he feels very comfortable with and he has fantastic interactions with them. He has never approached a child he doesn't know to play, and actively ignores someone who attempts to do so.
He doesn't do things for himself. He never went through that "I do it!" stage. He has never even attempted to dress himself for example. He never runs off, which is kind of nice. He's always cautious with his movements and worries about safety a lot - he gets so anxious if another child goes near a road!
Playtime in our own home can be difficult. On a good day he can direct his own play if I am playing along side him (he gets really freaked out if I stop digging with the trucks in the sandbox for example) but on bad days he just wants me to 'help' as in do the thing he wants FOR him while he watches. I've never really done this for him but it's a behavior that has persisted.
The other biggest thing I see is how difficult it is for him to operate under any kind of expectations or pressure. Or if there environment becomes a little overwhelming/ He goes to this kind of manic place internally (constantly testing boundaries in a way that shows how uncomfortable he is inside).

There's lots more but this is already kind of long. I know these things are not unusual in 3.5 year olds, it's a difficult age. I'm really pleased with how I've patented him; lots of connection and very low pressure. But with everything together, my gut tells me he has some extra vulnerabilities. I think we are dealing with some definite introversion (we are all introverts in our family), perhaps some sensory over excitabilities and anxiety? I need more ideas and resources and I just don't know where to go from here. I don't need any form of diagnosis particularly, but I know the more I understand him the more I can reach him. Where do I start? Any red flags to be looking out for?



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#2 OneStepAtATime

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 12:24 PM

He may have sensory integration issues.  There could be other things as well.  You might consider getting preliminary screenings.  It can take weeks to months or even a year or more to get in so starting the process now may be a good idea.  If these things smooth out between now and the appointment you can always cancel.  If there are issues then starting in on targeted therapies while he is still little may net more than letting this become ingrained.

 

Do you have a reliable pediatrician you could discuss your concerns with?  Have you done any research on sensory issues?



#3 highspirits

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 12:46 PM

He may have sensory integration issues. There could be other things as well. You might consider getting preliminary screenings. It can take weeks to months or even a year or more to get in so starting the process now may be a good idea. If these things smooth out between now and the appointment you can always cancel. If there are issues then starting in on targeted therapies while he is still little may net more than letting this become ingrained.

Do you have a reliable pediatrician you could discuss your concerns with? Have you done any research on sensory issues?


Thanks for this. I would say that's there is definitely a sensory component, not least because the more I read about sensory issues the more I realize I think I have them too. I've always been super careful with his environment and keeping him from getting overwhelmed, but I'm just not sure how to get anything more specific to help with that. I know there are lots of different types. Do you have any good resources for me? How would I get the ball rolling on this?
I really like our pediatrician but I've never had to have a really serious discussion with him. We previously touched a little on sleep and eating issues but he's growing well so he didn't have much to say on that. I think that's one of the reasons I'm posting here, to try and get an idea of "normal" and know how to talk about his issues if I needed to


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#4 prairiewindmomma

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 12:50 PM

I think you've got enough to push for some evaluations. Some pediatricians are well-versed in dealing with these issues and some are not. I think even a meeting with a good child psychologist could be helpful to you; anxiety can be a multi-faceted thing, and an outside pair of eyes is helpful.



#5 OneStepAtATime

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 01:04 PM

Talk with the pediatrician.  Like schedule a time to sit and talk through everything.  Write it all down first.  Start a journal of anything and everything that seems it may be related or even not related but a bit off.  Bring the journal with you.  There are enough red flags here that a pediatrician should be willing to listen.  If you don't get any useful feedback look into getting a referral to a developmental pediatrician (if there is one in your area).  Maybe also a referral to a child psychologist that is good at dealing with child anxiety.   You may end up with an Occupational Therapist but I don't know if you should be seeing out an OT yet.

 

FWIW, I loved our pediatrician but she had next to no experience with the areas of struggle my kids had.  We had to seek more help elsewhere and are still in that process actually.  You are asking the right questions.  Hopefully your ped can point you in good directions for solid answers.


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#6 Hilltopmom

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 01:04 PM

Yes, start some evals. Lots of sensory red flags & some others. Lots of that sounds like other issues, not necessarily anxiety, & not caused by bring an introvert.
Evals can take a long time to get, but basic ones to start can be quicker, you can start with your school district through their "preschool special Ed eval" system. Even if they don't offer services (such as OT for the sensory stuff), they can give good advice for activities to do with him. You don't have to use what they offer, but you can. In some places, at age 4 they'd still get therapists to come to your house, others at preschool or private outpatient places.

It'll be ok. More info is better, do the evals.
(I waited way too long for one of my kids, because I was able to structure their lives so that "most everything" worked for them, but it was totally un sustainable after the preschool years)
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#7 highspirits

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 01:26 PM

It'll be ok. More info is better, do the evals.
(I waited way too long for one of my kids, because I was able to structure their lives so that "most everything" worked for them, but it was totally un sustainable after the preschool years)


This really resonated with me! I spend so much time and emotional energy working through these things with him!

I really appreciate the feedback and responses. Part of me just keeps saying "he's so little!" and "some kids are just shy" and it's hard to have confidence that I'm not just going to be laughed out of a pediatric office as an over worried mom. It's hard to talk this through with anyone in real life because it feels like no one really gets it. I'm going to make an appointment with my doctor, and not wait for his well check in August


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#8 coastalfam

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 02:12 PM

I have a son like that. He is now six. Just for reference, we had him in a wonderful University run preschool with a very experience teacher, and before she knew our intention to homeschool him starting in Kindergarten, she suggested to me that he skip Kindergarten in lieu of another year in preschool... he is just so, SO sensitive. 

 

When I read your description of your son, a couple things stood out to me. I would wonder if he has sensory integration issues. That is something that is sometimes very difficult to have assessed depending on your area, but I would start with your pediatrician. Another idea that we are kicking around for my son is getting him into some kind of play therapy with a psychologist. You kind of see the writing on the wall at some point, and know that it would be really good for your child to have a comfortable, on going relationship with mental health professionals. At least that is what I am feeling for my son. Also, we just never pushed it. If he needs to be in my bed, we let him, if he needs to be in my arms, that's okay, if he is too overwhelmed to tell me his feelings, we just comfort him without pushing it. He is 6 now, and some of these things are improving on their own. Others are not. He really shuts down if he ever gets in trouble from anyone other than my husband or I. He avoids things he's afraid to fail at. He's fearful of new foods often times. Is taking a long time to be independent with toileting. Anyway, I don't know how helpful this is, just that I have had similar issues with my youngest, and like you, I believe it is anxiety, or just extreme sensitivity. I do have an older child who is diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, but his is expressed so differently, and he is older and has Down syndrome, but I think my youngest probably has the same. I wouldn't think of medicating him just yet, though.


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#9 Storygirl

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 02:31 PM

I agree with what others have said. Anxiety might be part of what you are seeing, but your description includes a lot of sensory related issues, as well. It's a good idea to have a separate appointment to discuss this with the pediatrician. I used to try to roll these kind of questions into our well-visits, and I think I just didn't have enough time to fully explain my concerns so that the pediatrician could tell it was more serious than an over-concerned mom.

 

I will point out one thing. You say that he doesn't have problems with social skills, but then you go on to list things of concern that are in the area of social skills. Not interacting with strangers or even some family members. Not answering direct questions. Avoiding eye contact. The play issues you mention. All of those are related to social.

 

So I would not tell your pediatrician that you don't see social skills problems. Instead, give him or her the list that you typed in your initial post.

 

:grouphug:  It's good to pay attention to your own sense that things aren't quite what they could or should be. What you describe really isn't about introversion, so I don't think that personality trait explains everything you see. Getting early intervention can make a big difference!


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#10 Lecka

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 03:17 PM

Be an advocate at the doctor. If you go in like "I think it's nothing but i have a tiny concern" then you might not get taken as seriously as if you say you think you need a referral.

The thing that jumps out at me is sometimes not responding to questions.

It really loses kids a lot of opportunities for learning and interacting with others, that are so valuable at this age.

He sounds like an adorable kid!
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#11 OhElizabeth

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 04:22 PM

You have a list a lot of things my ds did, and he got a spectrum label. Not saying it is, but like the others I'd say it's time for a bee line to the doc and to INSIST on evals. Don't be blown off.

 

Also, he's just young enough you can still call EI. That would be your absolute fastest way to make something happen, and frankly I'd do it immediately. Our #1, first, big dumb huge mistake was thinking we'd just do it all privately and not calling EI. There are doors that open up with EI that you want to open.

 

Go Mama go! It's gonna be fine. It's just a new journey.  :grouphug:


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#12 wendyroo

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 04:35 PM

 

 

underlying withdrawal/ inability to approach the world around him

 

This really resonated with me...it described my oldest at that age to a tee.

 

Peter was always braced, ready for the world to throw something unexpected (aka bad) at him.  He was also so, so worried.  Worried about the garbage truck he heard in the distance, worried about the other kids going down the "big" slide, worried about any event that was even slightly out of the normal routine, etc.

 

We had seen the writing on the wall from the time he was a baby, but early intervention, play therapy and a visit to the developmental pediatrician got us nowhere.  Well, the developmental pediatrician recommended Peter go to special ed preschool in order to benefit from the high staff to child ratio, but the school system said there was no way they were putting a three year old who could read in special ed preschool, and that he would first have to fail out of their regular preschool.  We put him in preschool mid-way through the year, and it was a complete disaster.  By then, though, we were all so traumatized that we had no interest in trying to get him into the special ed preschool.

 

At his 4 year well child visit, the pediatrician recommended a full evaluation.  There was a 9 month waiting list, so we finally got a diagnosis when he was a couple months shy of 5.  He was diagnosed as autistic with moderate-severe generalized anxiety disorder.

 

The upside to the story, is that shortly thereafter we started him on an anti-anxiety medication, and it changed his life.  He started to go in the water and ride a tricycle and answer when strangers asked his name.  He started enjoying going to parades and dying Easter eggs and playing at the park and visiting his grandparents.  His thinking became just a little more flexible - enough that he could cope with unavoidable deviations from the routine.  His food and sleep issues became manageable...not easy by any means, but manageable.  In short, he started to engage with life.

 

We saw my parents a couple months after Peter started on the medication.  My mom commented that it was the first time in his life that she had ever seen Peter relaxed.

 

Wendy


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#13 OneStepAtATime

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 04:37 PM

Agree with up thread, please don't go in downplaying what you are seeing.  You may get blown off completely.  Don't act like you are in a panic, either.  Make your list.  Work on careful observation.  Write down time of day, circumstances, frequency, etc.  Keep a clear record.  Sometimes in the moment you can get rattled and forget something that might be important.  Write it down.  Walk in with that record.  Then just tell the doctor what you are seeing.  No bias.  Don't downplay or freak out.  Stay calm, stay clear in what you are saying.  You want solid accurate answers from experts and to get that they need to see what you are seeing and hear what you are saying with clear eyes and ears.

 

If the pediatrician blows you off, then get firm and insist on a referral to a developmental pediatrician.  Don't let them dismiss it.  There honestly are quite a few red flags that something is going on that he may need help with.  

 

And don't be afraid of labels.  Look at potential labels as simply additional pieces of information to help you be the best parent you can to your wonderful little boy and to help your wonderful little boy have a wonderful life.   He will always be your same wonderful little boy.  You just need a little help understanding the details of your wonderful little boy and how to help him.  :)


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#14 Pegs

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 04:41 PM

Like OhE, I'm recognising a lot of my wee DS in your description. We started at a paed for feeding problems (selective eating turned into pretty severe food avoidance), and he referred us on to an autism assessment team. Findings: ASD-1 and "significant anxiety".

We'll be off to an OT for support with sensory stuff, self care, etc.

Having a diagnosis has opened some doors already, and I'm glad we went through with the evaluation, even though the spectrummy stuff wasn't foremost in my concerns at the time of the referral.

If there's a neurological condition underlying the anxiety, you want to know about that. IME, knowledge is power in this regard.
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#15 HTRMom

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 04:42 PM

I have a boy of the same age, and I know a lot of boys this age.

Sitting out at a new place for 15 minutes is normal, two hours seems long. Not eating new foods or walking in mud seems like a sensory issue that should be evaluated. Sleep is also unusual.

It's so hard to say about the social stuff. Shyness with strangers is typical, especially refusing to answer questions. Having good friendships is reassuring. Does he try to get you to sit with him, read to him, play with him? We had an ASD eval recently and the psych said that he was not autistic because his social issues are limited to strangers, and he readily converses with me.

My child is also very cautious; I think that is a not abnormal character trait. Will he try to be independent if you invite him to do something? Does he feed himself?

The "you do it" thing and the clinginess can also be typical to a point. A 3.5 year old should be able to play by himself for at least twenty minutes though. And lots of kids do the manic behavior under pressure. That's a great way to describe it! I observed that at our Music Together class, for example.

It's possible based on this description (not that I'm an expert) that he is a very sensitive personality. Those borderline ASD/SPD diagnoses seem to be a bit subjective. My child had an eval and no diagnosis because I went to a conservative doctor. I have heard of other kids just like him getting a diagnosis. Anyway, you have enough concerns that at least a screening is in order.

Early intervention in my county SUCKS. I'd try asking around about local experiences.

Edited by HTRMom, 11 May 2017 - 04:45 PM.


#16 highspirits

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 06:04 PM

I have a son like that. He is now six. Just for reference, we had him in a wonderful University run preschool with a very experience teacher, and before she knew our intention to homeschool him starting in Kindergarten, she suggested to me that he skip Kindergarten in lieu of another year in preschool... he is just so, SO sensitive.

When I read your description of your son, a couple things stood out to me. I would wonder if he has sensory integration issues. That is something that is sometimes very difficult to have assessed depending on your area, but I would start with your pediatrician. Another idea that we are kicking around for my son is getting him into some kind of play therapy with a psychologist. You kind of see the writing on the wall at some point, and know that it would be really good for your child to have a comfortable, on going relationship with mental health professionals. At least that is what I am feeling for my son. Also, we just never pushed it. If he needs to be in my bed, we let him, if he needs to be in my arms, that's okay, if he is too overwhelmed to tell me his feelings, we just comfort him without pushing it. He is 6 now, and some of these things are improving on their own. Others are not. He really shuts down if he ever gets in trouble from anyone other than my husband or I. He avoids things he's afraid to fail at. He's fearful of new foods often times. Is taking a long time to be independent with toileting. Anyway, I don't know how helpful this is, just that I have had similar issues with my youngest, and like you, I believe it is anxiety, or just extreme sensitivity. I do have an older child who is diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, but his is expressed so differently, and he is older and has Down syndrome, but I think my youngest probably has the same. I wouldn't think of medicating him just yet, though.


Thank you for this. They really do sound similar! I've have learned to pull back completely, we don't stress the sleeping things or the toileting or anything because pressure of any kind backfires completely. And we definitely don't do getting into "trouble", he melts down with the slightest disapproval. I think I jump to anxiety because I have anxiety - it manifests very differently then his but I recognize some of the thought processes


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#17 highspirits

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 06:08 PM

I agree with what others have said. Anxiety might be part of what you are seeing, but your description includes a lot of sensory related issues, as well. It's a good idea to have a separate appointment to discuss this with the pediatrician. I used to try to roll these kind of questions into our well-visits, and I think I just didn't have enough time to fully explain my concerns so that the pediatrician could tell it was more serious than an over-concerned mom.

I will point out one thing. You say that he doesn't have problems with social skills, but then you go on to list things of concern that are in the area of social skills. Not interacting with strangers or even some family members. Not answering direct questions. Avoiding eye contact. The play issues you mention. All of those are related to social.

So I would not tell your pediatrician that you don't see social skills problems. Instead, give him or her the list that you typed in your initial post.

:grouphug: It's good to pay attention to your own sense that things aren't quite what they could or should be. What you describe really isn't about introversion, so I don't think that personality trait explains everything you see. Getting early intervention can make a big difference!


Good point about the social skills! When the environment is just right (and the person is an accepted person) I see amazingly mature social behavior in him (great problem solving and creativity) so I guess I meant he knows how to interact with people if he's comfortable enough. Hmm... I guess he's a little asynchronous socially. Makes it harder to figure out what's going on!


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#18 coastalfam

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 10:23 PM

Thank you for this. They really do sound similar! I've have learned to pull back completely, we don't stress the sleeping things or the toileting or anything because pressure of any kind backfires completely. And we definitely don't do getting into "trouble", he melts down with the slightest disapproval. I think I jump to anxiety because I have anxiety - it manifests very differently then his but I recognize some of the thought processes


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I have anxiety, too, and I feel like I'm raising a couple carbon copies of myself. <3



#19 Canadian Mom of 2

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 11:07 PM

You have already received lots of advice so I'll just say that in our case, I had to know first, before deciding on what to approach a doctor about. If you are that type of person as well, seek out resources on sensory processing disorder, anxiety, and autism. For me, autism immediately made sense for my two.

The criteria found in the DSM is something that might not be as meaningful to read at this stage. I went to the source, personally, reading resources from people that were on the spectrum. I read books by Temple Grandin at first and went from there. For sensory you could take a look at Kranowitz and Biel. I like Biel but I have several books from Kranowitz and others that I have found useful and have also recently ordered more. In any case, for anxiety you could take a look at *Overcoming Anxiety in Children & Teens* by Jed Baker. I have found it incredibly useful.

I wish you all the best on this journey. I hope you find the answers and solutions you are seeking in order to help your boy! We all want the best for our children. Evaluations and labels can serve the purpose of helping us identify more clearly the kind of help our children need.

Edited by Canadian Mom of 2, 11 May 2017 - 11:08 PM.


#20 Canadian Mom of 2

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 12:25 AM

You might also find this article useful.

Kids with Autism, Sensory Processing Disorders Show Brain Wiring Differences
https://www.ucsf.edu...es-brain-wiring

In the study discussed, they also describe some of the differences they found between SPD kids only and kids with Autism and SPD.

#21 Canadian Mom of 2

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 12:44 AM

Here's another resource you may find useful.

Ultimate Guide to Occupational Therapy Resources For Kids
http://www.growingha...#_a5y_p=3682754

#22 highspirits

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 04:25 PM

Thank you for all the responses! I'm trying to get through them one at a time and respond. But, you know, kids... they are taking all my time :)


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#23 highspirits

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 07:58 AM

Be an advocate at the doctor. If you go in like "I think it's nothing but i have a tiny concern" then you might not get taken as seriously as if you say you think you need a referral.

The thing that jumps out at me is sometimes not responding to questions.

It really loses kids a lot of opportunities for learning and interacting with others, that are so valuable at this age.

He sounds like an adorable kid!

He is so adorable! He's the nicest, sweetest, most helpful child. And then sometimes it's like he gets out of sync and it's awful. My husband and I sometimes joke it's like a Jekyll and Hyde thing going on :)
He gets good social time with other kids, but thinking it through I realize how much effort I have to put in to design the social experience so it works for him. Has to be a "good" day, not too often, the right person etc. I think that is what I'm worried about, him missing out on opportunities that he actually does want! I was just reading something about SPD disorder and one thing stuck out to me: it said these kids are not getting to have normal childhood experiences. It's seems very fitting, it's like I can't really take him to birthday parties, or go swimming, or have him just play with kids at the park ... because he just can't cope. Poor kid :(


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Edited by highspirits, 13 May 2017 - 07:58 AM.


#24 highspirits

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 08:02 AM

You have a list a lot of things my ds did, and he got a spectrum label. Not saying it is, but like the others I'd say it's time for a bee line to the doc and to INSIST on evals. Don't be blown off.

Also, he's just young enough you can still call EI. That would be your absolute fastest way to make something happen, and frankly I'd do it immediately. Our #1, first, big dumb huge mistake was thinking we'd just do it all privately and not calling EI. There are doors that open up with EI that you want to open.

Go Mama go! It's gonna be fine. It's just a new journey. :grouphug:


Thank you! I've never even considered a spectrum label, but from what I've been reading these things don't always present in the same way, right? It will be good to get some input from some professionals. I'm going to look into early intervention too, thank you for your support!


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#25 highspirits

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 08:07 AM

This really resonated with me...it described my oldest at that age to a tee.

Peter was always braced, ready for the world to throw something unexpected (aka bad) at him. He was also so, so worried. Worried about the garbage truck he heard in the distance, worried about the other kids going down the "big" slide, worried about any event that was even slightly out of the normal routine, etc.

We had seen the writing on the wall from the time he was a baby, but early intervention, play therapy and a visit to the developmental pediatrician got us nowhere. Well, the developmental pediatrician recommended Peter go to special ed preschool in order to benefit from the high staff to child ratio, but the school system said there was no way they were putting a three year old who could read in special ed preschool, and that he would first have to fail out of their regular preschool. We put him in preschool mid-way through the year, and it was a complete disaster. By then, though, we were all so traumatized that we had no interest in trying to get him into the special ed preschool.

At his 4 year well child visit, the pediatrician recommended a full evaluation. There was a 9 month waiting list, so we finally got a diagnosis when he was a couple months shy of 5. He was diagnosed as autistic with moderate-severe generalized anxiety disorder.

The upside to the story, is that shortly thereafter we started him on an anti-anxiety medication, and it changed his life. He started to go in the water and ride a tricycle and answer when strangers asked his name. He started enjoying going to parades and dying Easter eggs and playing at the park and visiting his grandparents. His thinking became just a little more flexible - enough that he could cope with unavoidable deviations from the routine. His food and sleep issues became manageable...not easy by any means, but manageable. In short, he started to engage with life.

We saw my parents a couple months after Peter started on the medication. My mom commented that it was the first time in his life that she had ever seen Peter relaxed.

Wendy


Thank you for you encouraging post! It's amazing that he started to answer strangers! I would love for my son to be able to to that if he wanted :)


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#26 highspirits

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 08:12 AM

Agree with up thread, please don't go in downplaying what you are seeing. You may get blown off completely. Don't act like you are in a panic, either. Make your list. Work on careful observation. Write down time of day, circumstances, frequency, etc. Keep a clear record. Sometimes in the moment you can get rattled and forget something that might be important. Write it down. Walk in with that record. Then just tell the doctor what you are seeing. No bias. Don't downplay or freak out. Stay calm, stay clear in what you are saying. You want solid accurate answers from experts and to get that they need to see what you are seeing and hear what you are saying with clear eyes and ears.

If the pediatrician blows you off, then get firm and insist on a referral to a developmental pediatrician. Don't let them dismiss it. There honestly are quite a few red flags that something is going on that he may need help with.

And don't be afraid of labels. Look at potential labels as simply additional pieces of information to help you be the best parent you can to your wonderful little boy and to help your wonderful little boy have a wonderful life. He will always be your same wonderful little boy. You just need a little help understanding the details of your wonderful little boy and how to help him. :)


Yes, thank you! I need to do better record keeping. I've been writing things down as i notice then, but haven't really been focusing on frequency and circumstances. That would be helpful. In some ways I've been finding it difficult to make a record because I'm so careful not to put him in a situation that will set him off. Like being careful not to pressure him to eat, being so careful of his schedule, and staying near him at home so he can feel safe. I think maybe I'm masking some of his issues by doing this...


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#27 highspirits

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 08:27 AM

I have a boy of the same age, and I know a lot of boys this age.

Sitting out at a new place for 15 minutes is normal, two hours seems long. Not eating new foods or walking in mud seems like a sensory issue that should be evaluated. Sleep is also unusual.

It's so hard to say about the social stuff. Shyness with strangers is typical, especially refusing to answer questions. Having good friendships is reassuring. Does he try to get you to sit with him, read to him, play with him? We had an ASD eval recently and the psych said that he was not autistic because his social issues are limited to strangers, and he readily converses with me.

My child is also very cautious; I think that is a not abnormal character trait. Will he try to be independent if you invite him to do something? Does he feed himself?

The "you do it" thing and the clinginess can also be typical to a point. A 3.5 year old should be able to play by himself for at least twenty minutes though. And lots of kids do the manic behavior under pressure. That's a great way to describe it! I observed that at our Music Together class, for example.

It's possible based on this description (not that I'm an expert) that he is a very sensitive personality. Those borderline ASD/SPD diagnoses seem to be a bit subjective. My child had an eval and no diagnosis because I went to a conservative doctor. I have heard of other kids just like him getting a diagnosis. Anyway, you have enough concerns that at least a screening is in order.

Early intervention in my county SUCKS. I'd try asking around about local experiences.


Thanks for your input. I think you are right about the whole borderline thing. He's really so high functioning, but I think I'd like some professional input at this point.

To your questions, He interacts well with me mostly (eye contact etc), with the only exception being the sometimes just ignoring my direct questions. I think if I asked him more direct questions (like quizzing him on what happened in the book) he'd ignore me a lot more :) we have a great connection. He is always wanting me to play/ read/ talk to him, but from my observations it's not from a social need particularly, it's just he doesn't feel comfortable doing it by himself. Like he won't draw/ color if alone, but if I'm sitting next to him and drawing on the same paper then he consents to help me, as long as I don't stop moving my pencil! Because then he'll get upset. Sometimes he'll get upset because I can't come sit with him (like we are all playing in the living room and I don't want to come sit at the table with him just then) and is sad because then he can't draw. He just won't do it alone.


He does feed himself. He insists on help for dressing and toileting. If I'm not available to help at that moment he gets really upset. Any kind of pressure or suggestion to do something on his own makes him upset. Once he put on his socks by himself and he was so proud. He's never done it again since :(


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#28 HTRMom

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 09:10 AM

Thanks for your input. I think you are right about the whole borderline thing. He's really so high functioning, but I think I'd like some professional input at this point.

To your questions, He interacts well with me mostly (eye contact etc), with the only exception being the sometimes just ignoring my direct questions. I think if I asked him more direct questions (like quizzing him on what happened in the book) he'd ignore me a lot more :) we have a great connection. He is always wanting me to play/ read/ talk to him, but from my observations it's not from a social need particularly, it's just he doesn't feel comfortable doing it by himself. Like he won't draw/ color if alone, but if I'm sitting next to him and drawing on the same paper then he consents to help me, as long as I don't stop moving my pencil! Because then he'll get upset. Sometimes he'll get upset because I can't come sit with him (like we are all playing in the living room and I don't want to come sit at the table with him just then) and is sad because then he can't draw. He just won't do it alone.


He does feed himself. He insists on help for dressing and toileting. If I'm not available to help at that moment he gets really upset. Any kind of pressure or suggestion to do something on his own makes him upset. Once he put on his socks by himself and he was so proud. He's never done it again since :(


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Yes, that sounds like there may be a problem. That thing where you can't stop moving your pencil or digging or whatever sounds exhausting!

A lot of 3 year olds ignore you if they don't like what you're saying or don't know how to answer. Actually I had just posted a thread about teaching a child who hates being quizzed.

I hope you find a professional who meets your needs. You might see if there's a mom group or especially a special-needs group where you can find the right kind of person. Like, do you want someone strict with giving a diagnosis or liberal? Do you mostly want help and advice with no diagnosis (that's what I'm doing) or a diagnosis that may give you access to state services? (I mean those as rhetorical questions.)

#29 highspirits

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 12:18 PM

Just an update: Met with the pediatrician today. He's got us a referral for a child psychologist who will help us figure out the next step, whether it's play therapy for anxiety or OT for sensory concerns. I'm feeling so grateful today that help is on the way and that we might be getting some answers. I cried on the car ride on the way home because things have just been hard and it was very validating to talk to the doctor. I've been writing down my observations and the more I do the clearer it becomes that we need some help. I know there might be lots of obstacles ahead but I'm just excited to be getting started. Thank you everybody for your input and support :)


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#30 Canadian Mom of 2

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 01:36 PM

Honestly, both play therapy for anxiety and sensory integration therapy can be useful. The sensory may be just part of what is causing the anxiety and play therapy alone will not target sensory issues. But, that will get sorted out along the way. Glad you got the referral :) and kudos for taking that first step :grouphug:

All the best,

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#31 Storygirl

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 02:29 PM

I'm glad your doctor listened to your concerns and that you have a plan for moving forward!! When we worked with a psychologist, she was very helpful, and I hope yours will be, too.


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#32 OneStepAtATime

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 02:37 PM

Just an update: Met with the pediatrician today. He's got us a referral for a child psychologist who will help us figure out the next step, whether it's play therapy for anxiety or OT for sensory concerns. I'm feeling so grateful today that help is on the way and that we might be getting some answers. I cried on the car ride on the way home because things have just been hard and it was very validating to talk to the doctor. I've been writing down my observations and the more I do the clearer it becomes that we need some help. I know there might be lots of obstacles ahead but I'm just excited to be getting started. Thank you everybody for your input and support :)


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:grouphug:  :hurray:  :grouphug:  :thumbup1:


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#33 Pegs

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 05:46 PM

What a great update. All the best moving forward through this.