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Autism

Symptoms of Autism

04/01/2008

Question:

I am a mother of a 14 month old son. My son seems less active almost all the time. I am a sit at home mother and I take him to the parks and mall everyday. He doesn`t go to anybody for playing. As soon as he sees someone trying to play with him, he will try to climb on me. He is very much interested in Alpahabets. He has a book on Alphabets and Numbers and all that he is interested all day long are these books. He keeps pointing at the alphabets and asks what it is. He keeps on repeating one word every time. He does`t talk much. I even take him to a mommy and me classes but he is not very interested in that either because he is scared of other people. We didn`t have friends in my son`s first year because we had moved to a new city when I was pregnant and I didn`t get a chance to meet anybody. Now we have again moved to another new city and we dont know any one here either. Could this lack of social interaction be the cause for my son`s wiered behaviour. Or do you think he has signs of autism? I am getting really scared and I am not able to sleep because of this. Since I am a homemaker I spend all my time with him. He gets bored very soon and either keeps rubbing his eyes or sucks his thumb most of the time. I have seen other kids his age running around the house and climbing on things but my son hasn`t started climbing on things. He started walking at 12 months. I know each kid is different and they develop in different rate but it just keeps worrying me every day . My son can recognise certain alphabets like A, B, D etc. He looks at the objects when we ask ask him where it is; for instance light, fan, milk etc. But he rarely points at them. Sorry that it`s such a big mail. But I am so worried and don`t know whom to ask. Please tell me if you think my son has signs of autism after reading everything. Thank a lot.

Answer:

You appear to be a very loving and caring mother. I sounds as though you are putting much time and effort into keeping him active and wanting him to learn many things. The "scoop" on kids this age is that believe it or not, there are many kids who are not even walking by 14 months and if they are, many of them are somewhat unsteady on their feet. There are just some kids who start walking and climbing earlier and to be honest, it really doesn't make a bit of difference.  As far as language is concerned, the norm for kids his age and words/talking is only about 5-10 words!

He also can still be experiencing what we call "stranger anxiety" which usually starts around 8-9 months and might continue until age 2 or 3. Kids are known for their "parallel play" which means that they only play by themselves vs with other kids at this time. Also, the fact that you mention you are spending all of your time with him tells me that although you are trying to be a wonderful mother to him, both of you need to take breaks from each other in addition to he needs to learn how to play by himself.  The fact that he is rubbing his eyes and sucking his thumb is truly not a sign of boredom at his young age. Please remember that he's only 14 months.

Because it's very easy to get caught up in what other kids are doing and compare your son to those kids, PLEASE just enjoy who he is and when he's older, I promise you that you won't even remember any of this.  Kids are way to overscheduled as it is and they are not be allowed to just be a child.  Even though you mean  well, the best thing to do is just kick back as they say and enjoy who he is without trying to feel that you always have to be doing something with him. 

As I stated earlier, the greatest gift that you can help your son with is to learn to become independent and be able to play by himself.  I guarantee many mothers who tend to "over mother"  wish that they had helped their kids be by themselves (by this I mean you sitting nearby or doing a chore and they know that you are in the area) because believe me, there are too many kids out there who have had too many toys, attention, and overscheduling that don't have any downtime.  It's those kids who quickly become bored, are demanding and thus become high maintenance in the future.

At this time, it sounds as though he is a wonderful and gentle boy. As a mother, it's tempting to jump to different conclusions such as autism, but the mere fact that he is saying words and is wanting to climb on you at outings, fortunately doesn't raise any red flags at this time.  Because it is bothering you, I would mention it at his 15 month check-up to his doctor that you do have these concerns.

Best of luck and keep remembering that he is a very young toddler who hopefully has a very long and happy life ahead of him!

For more information:

Go to the Autism health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Susan Thompson, MSN, CPNP
Research Nurse Practitioner
OSU Nisonger Center
The Ohio State University