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  1. #1
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    Default Should we be seeking professional help for our 5yr old?

    We have a 5yr old son who has just started school a few weeks ago. He is intelligent, healthy, funny and generally happy. But we think he has behavioural issues and although he's never been assessed, I think he might have ASD (maybe Aspergers). I'm completely unqualified to give that opinion, not only because I'm not a paediatric health professional but I also don't know any children on the spectrum.

    But I've observed my son for years now around other people and at home, and there's definitely something not right. I just don't know what it is. DH and i had a lengthy chat last night about his behaviour and we aren't sure where to start now to get help if help is indeed needed. So I was hoping someone here could point us in the right direction and maybe share your experiences if you have come across these behaviours before. Are we overreacting? Is this a personality thing and will he grow out of it, or do we need to do something to help him change his behaviour? Whatever we are doing is clearly not working.

    1. Doesn't always get social cues. He more often than not, will act awkwardly or do things that upset other children. He either doesn't realise he has upset the child or he just doesn't care. Some examples are, when we did school drop off, one of his friends arrived and he ran up to them and screamed in their face as a greeting. The other boy was not happy about it but DS didn't seem to notice or care. I had to step in and tell him that people don't like when you shout in their face. Another example is on the weekend we went to a birthday party and he was playing with one of those balls that are attached to a string and you hit it with a racquet. While he went to get something to eat, some other children took over the game. He came back to the ball and held it up high above them so they couldn't play, and stood there watching (and eating) while they begged him for the ball back. I'm not sure if he was just being a bully or if he thought he had a right to do this but he didn't seem to care that his friends were upset. The boys all go to school together and know each other from preschool so you would think he would be friendlier.. as I was standing far away from the scene, by the time I rushed over to stop him, the other boys had walked off in frustration.

    2. Always has to be the boss/the winner/make the rules - when he plays with his younger brother (3yrs old) he always bosses him around and dictates the rules of the game. Arbitrary rules that his brother must stick to. Sometimes his brother doesn't want to play or doesn't understand the rules and DS1 will get extremely frustrated and angry.
    If they are playing a competitive game, he gets very upset if he loses. He hates losing. He will have a tantrum and sometimes a meltdown. The only time I've seen him ok with losing was on the weekend at a party, he played foosball with his friend and after he lost he said "well done, let's play again". I had to do a double take to make sure it was my boy. When we were on holidays recently he played foosball every day with his grandfather and whenever he lost he would throw himself onto the ground in tears.
    He always wants to be the first one dressed or the first one in the car or the first one to get served dinner, first one to brush his teeth or get in the shower etc.
    We don't always let him "be the first" because his brother gets upset, but it does mean lots of tears.

    3. He often doesn't pay attention. It's not always an issue but it often is. He will be off with the fairies unless you shout his name to get his attention. When he was at soccer practice yesterday he kept looking off into the distance instead of listening to the coach's instructions. We feel like we're always having to "get" his attention often by raising our voice, which makes him feel like he's always in trouble. His hearing has been checked and it's perfect.. and he knows how to listen when he wants to. But when we talk to him he often loses eye contact and stares away or sometimes will even walk off while we are talking to him.

    4. Sensory issues - when he was in childcare 2 years ago, the carers told us that they thought he has a sensory processing disorder. The examples they gave us at the time were completely bizarre to us because we hadn't observed them at home at all, and he was only at childcare 3 days a week. But now I'm starting to think there is some issue there, although it might only be mild. He had a huge meltdown yesterday when we were walking to the car because his shoes were off and he didn't want to walk barefoot on the grass. Sometimes he cries or screams when he hears loud sounds and says "my ears are hurting". It rarely happens but I'm mentioning it for context. It's maybe happened 5 times in the last 12 months. Usually when he is Trying to watch TV and I'm making a smoothie for example - so it could be a case of having a tantrum because he can't hear the TV. He's also not very touchy-feely/affectionate. If he's in a cuddly mood he will say "I love you mummy" and want cuddles but it's not often, especially compared to my 3yr old who is super affectionate. Maybe because we compare them, he seems to not like being touched, but he will happily hold my hand and he will let me hug and kiss him. He just doesn't seek these things out.

    I'll have to add more as I think of them..

  2. #2
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    I would not say alarm bells are ringing loudly after reading what you have described, however there's enough there to warrant exploring the possibility of SPD or high functioning ASD.

    It is much better to try and get the ball rolling on some assistance while he is still young. My DS has ASD (moderate), however he has come a long way over the last 2 years thanks to early intervention therapy. It truly does make a difference.

    Best place to start would be to get him a GP referral for a paediatrician and go from there (it can be a few months wait at most paeds, so it wouldn't hurt to act sooner rather than later). Perhaps you could ask your DS's former day care director if they could do up a letter for you to describe some of the behaviours they found concerning? It helps to have these kinds of observations from people outside of the immediate family. If possible, film some of his concerning behaviours on your phone so you can show them to the paed.

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    witherwings  (21-02-2017)

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    I don't know, I'm certainly no expert, but I would have done most of those things as a child.

    I always had to be first at everything (my parents even started saying "Don't worry, you can be first second" which apparently appeased me lol). I definitely would have done the holding the ball away from people, not allow others to play with toys, not care if they got upset, I absolutely had to be the boss at EVERYTHING. If my brother and I were sharing chips in the car I would instruct him that he had to take one chip, eat it, then put his hands in his lap and count to five, then he could have one more (while I scoffed as many as I could) Stupid bizarre rules like that.

    I was off with the fairies a lot because I had a great imagination - I was always just making up stories in my head. I wasn't a cuddly child either, compared to my brother who was. I still don't particularly like being touched now by people other than DH (massages, facials etc are totally out of the question because it just creeps me out).

    It was all just my personality. I was just a bit of a selfish, bossy kid. I became a well adjusted teen and adult who has no social awkwardness and finally learned to share and let others be first sometimes.

    So, there could be an issue, or it could just be personality traits he'll grow out of I guess!

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    witherwings  (21-02-2017)

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    A lot of that, one at a time, isn't an indicator to me.
    I have seen so many 5, 6 and 7 year old that don't listen to their coach; don't understand that younger kids don't get things the same way (my 11 year old struggles with this); don't maintain focus; don't like to lose; etc.
    However, all of it together could make me think about it- mainly the needing to be first, yelling into people's faces, and sensory issues.

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    witherwings  (21-02-2017)

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    Thank you so much for your replies. It's really hard to accept it as a personality thing when we don't see any other children behave this way. And if it is personality does that mean we should let him get away with acting like a little a-hole? Punishments don't really work on him (like time outs/time in, taking things away, not allowing certain things), rewards don't work well either, it might help get the immediate desired behaviour but he won't repeat that desired behaviour later on his own. Also the fact that our middle child is so very different despite us parenting him the same way, makes us feel like we're at a loss with DS1. It's very sad, especially when he says things like "how come you're never angry at DS2?" Or "why am I always sad" .. things like that.. the truth is, he isn't *always* sad, most of the time he's happy but he gets into trouble all the time.

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    I'll start with GP referral to a paed. We already have a paed for our baby, should we use the same one or try to find one that specialises in behavioural issues?

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    Thank you hilldweller for your anecdotes, it does make me feel a lot better - and also gave me a good giggle haha!

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    HillDweller  (21-02-2017)

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    @witherwings a number of those things, particularly numbers 2 and 3 ring true for our DD as well. DD is a super friendly kid but I watch her sometimes and her interactions with friends where she is all screamy or too touchy feely and in people's faces and just not aware that her little friends are uncomfortable

    She has a couple of little friends that are similar as well.

    I've been talking with her teacher about it and she thinks with the paying attention thing in particular its just maturity at this stage. She's going to keep an eye on her and see if she's ticking any boxes for anything else.

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    witherwings  (22-02-2017)

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    Quote Originally Posted by witherwings View Post
    Also the fact that our middle child is so very different despite us parenting him the same way, makes us feel like we're at a loss with DS1. It's very sad, especially when he says things like "how come you're never angry at DS2?" Or "why am I always sad" .. things like that.. the truth is, he isn't *always* sad, most of the time he's happy but he gets into trouble all the time.

    It was exactly the same between my brother and I. We were just very different kids. He was so sensitive and I wasn't. My parents could yell at me and I'd shrug my shoulders or yell back. If they yelled at him, he'd burst into tears. So, although they 'parented us the same' they ended up having different approaches to dealing with us, just because we were different kids. I used to ask why I was always in trouble and my brother wasn't. The answer was 'because he doesn't do the things you do' which was right.

    Quote Originally Posted by witherwings View Post
    Thank you hilldweller for your anecdotes, it does make me feel a lot better - and also gave me a good giggle haha!
    Anytime haha

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    Quote Originally Posted by witherwings View Post
    I'll start with GP referral to a paed. We already have a paed for our baby, should we use the same one or try to find one that specialises in behavioural issues?
    I would ask your GP if they can recommend a paed that has a special interest in behavioural issues. If they're not sure, perhaps try and get into the one you've seen for your baby?

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