Moe's development up until he was about a year old seemed perfectly normal. He wasn't late on any milestones. Moe was always independent, and was (and still is) very curious about how things work. We thought these were all good things.
Moe was a late walker, and I'm not sure if that in and of itself means anything. He didn't walk until he was 18 months old, but when he started, he could just do it and gave up crawling completely.
The real clues started before that, when he was about 14 or 15 months old. Moe wasn't talking much. He had a few signs that he would use. He would say a few words regularly (like banana and baby), and had many other words and animal sounds, but his use was inconsistent. Gradually, he seemed to stop using them altogether. Moe doesn't respond to his name. These are the primary reasons we took Moe to see the pediatrician just before his 2nd birthday.
In addition, around the same time (14 months or so) what seemed to be his strengths started to feel more like odd behavior, especially to me since I was always around other kids his age. Though I tried not to compare, you can't help but notice when your kid is a different. From a very young age, Moe could occupy himself for long periods of time, reading books or playing with cars, which seemed great. But as the kids grew older, the differences became clearer. At playdates, when other kids were chasing each other around or playing side by side, Moe would do his own thing. He liked to explore the houses or play with toys by himself. Sometimes he would get fixated on doing something, like opening a sliding door. He would get very upset if someone needed to interrupt him to get through the door.
Still, we weren't sure if maybe Moe just had an introverted personality. It is hard to know the line between temperament and problematic behavior. If it wasn't for the speech delay, I'm not sure we would have been too concerned.
We would look at the autism screening checklists online and we just weren't sure. Moe did sometimes use words, and sometimes point, and sometimes make eye contact. He would point to body parts and to pictures in books. He does communicate, often using our hands to take us to things and lead us to where he wants to go.
When we went to his pediatrician (Dr. G), she didn't seem overly concerned about ASD, but suggested we get in touch with Early Start for an evalutaion for speech therapy. The evaluation was a disaster. Moe wouldn't show any of the skills that he had, but he clearly qualified for services. Our regional center, SARC, who administers the services in our area, contacted us and approved him for a center-based program. They work not just on speech, but also on socialization and self-help skills, like using a spoon and taking off shoes. He has been going to the center 9 hours a week since June 3.
Not satisfied with the Early Start eval, Dr. G referred us to a developmental pediatrician in her group, Dr. S. You can read all about that visit in an earlier post, A Diagnosis.
Although we have two more appointments with Dr. S., she thinks Moe needs about 25 hours a week of one-on-one therapies, and wanted us to contact SARC right away. So there was a lot of back and forth, and one of SARC people observed Moe at school today. We're currently waiting for reports from the Occupational and Speech & Language therapists at the center as well as the report from SARC.
So that is where we stand right now. My next post will be about the progress Moe has made since starting at the school - and there has been progress!
If you do think your child might be autistic, go to your pediatrician. There is also a helpful post called "Five Things You Can Do If You Think Your Child Has Autism" over at Both Hands and a Flashlight. Click here to see the post.