For the most part I?ve stopped worrying about the diagnosis and am focused on treating deficits, but I do still wonder about whether or not DS is truly on the spectrum. He was evaluated by EI at 12 months and was 2 standard deviations below the mean for language skills; however, his social/personal skills were rated a standard deviation above the mean, and the evaluators gave their non-professional opinion that ?no way does he have autism?. I wasn?t convinced though, and had him evaluated by a developmental pediatrician at 14 months. She gave him a PDD-NOS diagnosis (which he met criteria for, for sure), though she was honest that she wasn?t totally sure what was going on with him, but that he clearly needed services. She stated that his presentation was complicated by the fact that he?d had multiple ear infections that resulted in hearing loss, affecting his language (hearing issue now resolved). Social issues also appeared to be present, though so hard to judge at this young age.
Fast forward 6 months, with pretty intensive daily ABA, and DS is doing great. He is at age level for his expressive language, and while his receptive language still seems a bit behind, huge progress has been made. There still appear to be some social issues. DS?s eye contact isn?t always great; when someone comes up to him when I?m holding him, it takes a while for him to look at their face. He also doesn?t really look up at me when we?re playing with him, and generally plays independently with his toys. He does not say ?hi? or ?bye? without prompting. However, DS seeks us out for games (hide-and-seek, running games, etc), for singing songs, and for reading books. He is in daycare 3 days a week, and his teachers there says he interacts well with the other kids, sometimes playing peekaboo and sometimes copying things other kids do and laughing, and he participates in circle time without a problem. I wouldn?t say he?s a very affectionate kid but he does seek me out for hugs and cuddles. DS did not point until recently and then only with ABA, though he does now occasionally point out things to me.
DS has never engaged in repetitive or unusual play, and generally plays appropriately with toys. He is very redirectable from activities he engages in. He also seems to have no difficulty with change or transitions; in fact, I would describe him as fairly easygoing, even mellow. He does have tantrums when he doesn?t get what he wants, though they?re relatively mild and he?s easy to redirect. DS does not have any sensory sensitivities, is an excellent eater, and is a good sleeper. He has age-appropriate adaptive skills. So hard to judge intellectual skills at this age, but he is learning so quickly in therapy and has some skills above his age level (e.g. knows all his shapes), that his therapists believe his intellectual skills are at least average.
I?m just curious on your thoughts, diagnostically and otherwise? I know he?s very young and a lot can change, and I think in my heart I feel that he is somewhere on the spectrum. But I?m curious about your opinion.