Early signs of Autism — The Bump
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Early signs of Autism

I am a first time mom to 8 week old twin boys (born at 36 weeks). I also have a background in child development and have worked in Early Intervention for the past 8 years, so I am very aware of developmental disabilities, but its very different as a mom! I know that I sound neurotic, but I worry about Autism in one of my boys. I feel like he is lacking a connection with me (or maybe its me with him!), he is very fussy, has stomach issues, doesn't look at faces or seem calmed by being held or talked to. Still not smiling or making eye contact. This has just made me concerned and then curious. For those of you with children on the spectrum, if you look back at their early months, did you see any signs that you did or did not realize may be indicative of Autism? Thanks for your input!
Me: 33, DH: 33
Married since 2007

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Re: Early signs of Autism

  • Hi, and congratulations on your babies.
    My son doesn't have autism, but he did have reflux as an infant that caused him to be very fussy, very uncomfortable on his back (which affected how he tracked, smiled, because he was physically in distress. We treated him with high doses of Zantac, and once his reflux abated, he was a different baby. And, don't think a baby can't have reflux if he doesn't spit up. My boy rarely did.
    Have you talked to your pediatrician about possible reflux?
    [Deleted User]veggierollPrincess_Lily
  • I would also rule out reflux and treat if appropriate and see what happens.
    At this stage all you can do is wait and watch if it IS autism anyway.
    A friend whose daughter is also on the spectrum had some very early signs.
    Her daughter hated to be held/touched, didn't track/make eye contact, etc they started with EI at 8 months when the daughter fell below the required 25% delay so waiting and watching won't hurt anything but if it is just reflux treating it could make his life much better.
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  • Yes, we are treating his reflux - we tried Zantac, but had a bad reaction and couldn't keep anything down. He is now on Omeprazole 1.75mL twice a day. He is EBF and I have cut out all dairy. Sometimes he doesnt seem to reflux at all and other times he refluxes and burps and fusses for up to two hrs after eating.
    Me: 33, DH: 33
    Married since 2007

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  • I imagine with twins, it's hard not to compare them and notice things that are different.
    I've thought about this a lot. But I can't remember any signs at that age. DS was a really happy baby, loved being held, and made better eye contact as a baby than he does now. The first "sign" that I can remember noticing was probably around 9 months. When a lot of the other babies his age were babbling, he wasn't. Back then we thought because he developed his motor skills really early, that was the reason for his speech delay (the idea that he was focusing on climbing and running instead of talking at the time) and also the reason he couldn't stay still or focused at all in comparison to the other babies his age.
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  • At that age, even when comparing my experience with his theoretical NT younger sister (she's only 8 months, so the jury is still out), I don't see obvious signs...those came closer to six months.

    He was snuggly, as interactive as a 2 month can be. He did have silent reflux though. It presented itself by incessant screaming for hours at night and an arching back. It improved if he was held upright for a half hour or more after feedings and, of course, with time.

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  • The only signs looking back are she was content to wake up on her crib alone since she would entertain herself and she was a very sleepy, low energy baby. She was socially smiling at four weeks, made eye contact, and was very snugly and afectionate(still is).
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  • My oldest is on the spectrum. He was super pukey and seemed to just scream all the time for at least the first 6 months. Friends and family kept away it was so bad. He didn't smile until he was a year and never has smiled socially. He seemed to settle better if I just laid him in his crib than try to rock or soothe him. He had his hearing tested a number of times because he would not respond to a sound he heard before. The ear specialist determined that without a doubt he did not (and still doesn't) have a hearing problem.
    Developmentally though, he was mostly tracking where he was supposed to be. He started walking and talking at the average for most kids. It was like that until he was almost 2 1/2 and then he plateaued developmentally. He is 3 1/2 now and is finally starting to make progress again.
    His social developmental was what had us most concerned and lead to his diagnosis.
  • I have twin boys who both had reflux as babies. They are about to turn 6. One of them is NT; the other, X, is "at risk for ASD" and has hypotonia, anxiety, SPD, and delays in several areas.

    I did have concerns about X starting around 8 weeks. It *was* hard not to compare because his twin has always been so different and has been advanced with social and gross motor skills; I tried to focus not on "Is he doing what his brother is doing?" But "Is each of them in the normal range?" But I did have concerns about eye contact from early on with X and as a result I did struggle with a sense of connection or bonding with him until he was about 1.5 y/o; not that the bond was absent but he definitely didn't seem as connected to me as his twin did (and I do think I was a little overwhelmed by trying to bond with and meet all the needs of two (refluxy!) babies at once as a first-time mom). 

    He had a quirk until he was 18m that he would almost never make eye contact if I-or anyone-was within about 3-4 feet of him. Like if I was holding him or changing his diaper, etc., any time I looked into his eyes he would immediately look away. He *would* make eye contact and smile with me or others if they were 4+ feet away (once he could see that far ;) ) so I never knew what to make of it and even once we started going through evals I didn't get a solid answer for that; it seemed to be unusual that his eye contact changed so dramatically with proximity (we ruled out vision problems). 

    My husband somehow had a stronger connection with him that first 1.5 years though; he was a total Daddy's boy and he did respond differently to DH than to anyone else (e.g DH did get occasional eye contact from him at close range), and NT twin was a little more of a Mommy's boy. I don't understand that and honestly it was hard for me as a mom; I felt like I must be doing something wrong. That switched when they were getting closer to 2 and ever since then, X has had a strong preference for me while NT twin has a strong preference for his dad. This might all be irrelevant but since we have the twin factor and reflux factor in common, I thought I would share more. I don't know if X will ever get an ASD Dx; he's definitely had some red flags and did meet criteria on one administration of the ADOS but he's made great strides in the past 6 months, so we'll see. I hope you're able to get some clarity for your baby and that the stomach issues get cleared up!
    fraternal twin boys born january 2009
  • @Macchiatto thank you for your long post! It certainly makes me feel better and that this is not all in my head! J, who I do not have concerns about, is much more of a mama's boy and wants to be near me all the time. He has just started smiling in the last couple of days. I like what you said about thinking about their skills in terms of whether they are in the typical range and not comparing to each other. I am just trying to enjoy him as he is and meeting him at his level - I have a lot of connections in Early Intervention and I will be able to get him what he needs down the line. Thanks again for your input!!
    Me: 33, DH: 33
    Married since 2007

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    macchiatto
  • No problem! Keep us posted. I spent a long time questioning what my instincts were telling me about X (and our pediatrician wasn't concerned about him til he was 2). The others may be right that it's more a matter of GI issues but that's great that you have the knowledge and resources available if you need them. 
    Love your picture btw. Your boys are precious. My one regret is not getting newborn pro pics taken!
    fraternal twin boys born january 2009
  • When DS (ADHD) was a baby he was quite fussy/colic baby (0-2mo), however when we switched him to formula (2-12mo),the fussing stopped.

    Looking back, he could have been having reflux, responding to low milk production, and maybe going through a wonder week or colic... I'm not sure though. Either way, the switch to formula worked.

    DS liked to be held, but too much holding and he would cry...he was sensitive. Your LO may just be over-sensitive to touch right now, they are only 8weeks.

    Now if the behavior goes on, as you describe, to 15mo+ then I would look into developmental issues.

    Until then, just relax and enjoy those little boys. :)

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