signs of ASD or just a language delay? — The Bump
Toddlers: 12 - 24 Months

signs of ASD or just a language delay?

Hi all- I didn't see much activity on the special needs board so I am reaching out here to see if any of you have any insight into our problem.

My son is 23 months old. He has a severe language delay- only knows a handful of words "mama, dada, hello (pronounced "aya" only when using a phone) and our dogs name). Occaisonally he will make an animal sound. He has made almost no progress since 18 months, in fact I feel he has regressed. He knows "more" and "all done" gestures and uses them very appropriately.  When he wants something- for example a snack out of reach- he will go to it, reach and look at me, and grunt/moan until I get it for him. If he wants to be picked up he walks over and puts his arms up and looks at you.  He does make great eye contact and seems to have humor, does look to us to see if we are watching when he's doing something fun, or turn around to look for us if he is walking somewhere. He will occasionally bring a toy over to play with us but not frequently. If we are doing things such as tickling or making him laugh in other ways, he will ask for more using his more sign. The two things he doesn't do well are respond to his name (however he does turn, look up at me and smile when I enter a room if I just start talking to him) and he rarely points unless its something he wants. In other words he's not saying "hey mama look at that plane" by pointing.  He follows commands (go get your shoes, etc) pretty well even without nonverbal cues. He does some pretend play- brushes a dolls hair, feeds his toys.  Sometimes I feel like he tunes me out, but its usually when hes doing something he's very interested in, for example if hes very hungry I will have to ask multiple times to feed me a bite. if he's watching sesame street its almost impossible to distract him. We like to say that he's just being "rude" but I don't want to make excuses if there is something wrong. 

In terms of other typical ASD behaviors he doesn't seem to have- he doesn't line things up or have trouble with changes in routine, is a good sleeper/eater. He is appropriately scared around strangers. He doesn't have major tantrums and is good with transitions. I don't suspect any sensory issues.  He DOES jump up and down and flap his arms but its a very predictable behavior- only when hes very excited/happy. I don't think this counts as stimming but I don't know. He's started randomly cupping and pulling his ears in the past 2 weeks. Its not in response to sound. Its almost like he's just playing with them. I don't know if its normal or not. No ear infection as he was seen by his doctor last week.  

 We had an early intervention evaluation and they felt he had language and social delays. He will be starting speech and occupational therapy soon.  I am now freaked out about possible ASD but nobody will give me an answer and we have to get a formal eval by a developmental pediatrician which will take months. We are also giong to get hearing checked but I feel he can hear me well b/c he follows my verbal commands.   I'm wondering if any parents on here have experience with developmental delays and can help me better understand what we are possibly dealing with. Thank you. 





Re: signs of ASD or just a language delay?

  • My DS1 and DS2  have ASD. My DS3 has speech delays but does not have any social issues. You are already doing what you can with seeing your pediatrician about it and getting an evaluation with early intervention. The process is slow because they want to be thorough and not rush to put a label on a child. My DS3 does speech therapy. He's slowly making progress. I'm definitely no expert but you can pm if you want.
    crsanchez87
  • I know this might sound silly, but have you had his hearing professionally checked? I know you said that he responds to you sometimes and ignores you other times. It could be as simple as a hearing issue. My husband struggled with this as a child. He's almost deaf in one ear. It just kind of gradually happened, and his parents had no idea. They thought he was just ignoring them, when often, he didn't hear them. He was always more of a thinker than a talker though, so I'm not sure how it affected his language skills early on. 
    TexafornianTunieBee
  • I know this might sound silly, but have you had his hearing professionally checked? I know you said that he responds to you sometimes and ignores you other times. It could be as simple as a hearing issue. My husband struggled with this as a child. He's almost deaf in one ear. It just kind of gradually happened, and his parents had no idea. They thought he was just ignoring them, when often, he didn't hear them. He was always more of a thinker than a talker though, so I'm not sure how it affected his language skills early on. 
    I agree with the advice to get a formal hearing test.  I had some concerns with how slowly my son's speech was advancing when he was about 18 months and our pediatrician recommended that as a first step we get his hearing tested.  I was doubtful going in because I too really had no concerns with his hearing and felt he was hearing fine - we were shocked to discover that due to persistently having fluid in both ears he had "moderate hearing loss".  He ultimately got tubes to correct that issue and it has made a tremendous difference.  Every situation is different, but I would definitely not rule out checking his hearing just in case.  Hope this helps a bit!
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    crsanchez87
  • TunieBeeTunieBee
    500 Love Its 500 Comments Second Anniversary Photogenic
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    edited March 2016
    This all sounds on the continuum of normal to me but I am not an expert. I absolutely agree you should have his hearing formally evaluation, they can easily to a tympanogram. 




    wintersong
  • My son is having some of these same and or similar issues. My son had to have tubes in his ears as well and we noticed a huge difference in his crying but so far not his speech. My son is only 16 months old and he moans and grunts as communication and he has done this grunting now since he was born. He even growls and grunts to show he is excited about eating. He too zones in to mickey mouse and will not look up sometimes. My son does not want to walk on his own yet either and that concerns his father and myself. There are some things that make me feel that he is very smart but is having these developmental delays. I have also made an appointment with EL program here and thy are going to come out and assess the situation. It sounds like you are doing all you can do and though I do think it could be his hearing, our doctor has assured me now his hearing is fine and it was tested right after his tubes, so unless they are messed up again I just do not know. Good luck! 
  • My daughter's speech was similar. Only a few "approximations" of words at age 2. She does not have ASD, but she has apraxia of speech. In my daughter's case, we were expecting it because she has a metabolic disorder where apraxia is a very common side effect. However, apraxia can occur for unexplained reasons. There are some supplements that can help sometimes (adult dosages of fish oil and a few others - I can give you more details if you're interested). Early intervention is key with apraxia. It's good that you are taking it seriously. I don't know a whole lot about ASD but it doesn't sound like that to me.
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