> The Beesley Buzz: The Early Signs of Autism?

The Early Signs of Autism?

This isn't at all scientific or medical - just our own thoughts about the similarities we have noticed between T (now 16 months old) and J (9 years old and diagnosed with ASD).

It's hard to think back 9 whole years and try to remember exactly when J reached certain milestones but I do remember a few 'clues'.

He would wake up from naps in a really grumpy mood for no obvious explanation at around a year old. Ditto for T. Now she seems less grumpy after naps, but a few months ago there was a definite similarity to how J used to be.

Thankfully she does seem to sleep well which is something J never did (and still doesn't do!!!) He dropped his daytime naps completely by 15 months and needed a lot of effort to get him to sleep before that for naps.

I remember he had a few words like 'duck' and 'cat' at around a year. T had very few words at a year old and still doesn't say many words T 16 months. I need to remind myself that actually babies and children all develop at a different pace so this in itself may not indicate anything. She is still young and speech can develop lots over the next few months.

She has become particularly 'shy' around other people and very wary and clingy. Now this is different to J at this age who would go up to total strangers and put his arms up for a cuddle! Again this could just be an age / phase thing as lots of children go through clingy stages and it is normal for them to do so.

We distinctly remember that D (non-ASD, now 7 years old), used to be very sensitive to being told-off or told 'no' from a very young age. From around 9 months old he would burst into tears if he was told 'no'. And he would stop doing the thing that you had told him to stop doing.

This is where J and T are very different. It is much more a case of totally ignoring their name (which I read only very recently that can be an early indicator of ASD at 12 months of age), and carrying on doing the thing they are not supposed to be doing regardless of being told 'no'.

I guess time will tell. J got a diagnosis at age 5 and a half (but we had concerns from around age 4 and a half). There were some early tell-tale signs too that we didn't realise at the time but looking back probably were a sign that things were 'different' for him... things like:

  • Always being on the go.
  • Being a bit of an escape artist - from 9 months old, no form of buckle, clip, or belt could keep him seated. He would find a way of escaping out of buggies, highchairs and car seats.
  • No fear or sense of safety - He would be able to climb pretty much anywhere and he would think of doing things that would not even occur to other children his age to try. T seems to be quite a good climber, too!
  • 'Misbehaving' when around other children e.g. at toddler groups. It is only post-diagnosis that we realise this was most probably due to sensory overload.
  • Being able to confidently do mental addition at aged 3 (plus and minus and several staged sums too!) when his peers were just learning to count numbers for the first time. This progressed to being able to do times-tables at age 4.
  • When he sent 20 Christmas cards to his friends at pre-school, he only received one back!
  • He was rarely invited to playdates when others his age were.
At the time we didn't consider any of this particularly unusual because he was our first and we didn't know what the norm was.

Our suspicions for T are just that at this stage, just suspicions and may prove to be totally wrong.


  1. Well I'd say it's completely 'normal' (ha) to have concerns about other children when you have one child diagnosed with ASD - we had them retrospectively about our older daughter. Having said that, all the things you describe about T also sound like the kind of things most toddlers do at some point. Easy to say I know, and of course I haven't met her, so I'm not making any diagnosis but of course I am trying to make you feel better :) As I'm sure you know, girls on the Spectrum can present very differently - but our girl sounded more like J at that age. If you read through your 'J' list, I'd bet lots of parents could also say that about their non-ASD chldren... I'd also say not to worry, as you manage one different child already, and you'd be fab with another. But I know several families who had a child with ASD first and have then gone on to have one 'without'!! So too early to say I would say...... x

    1. thanks Steph. I'm actually not 'worried' about her as such - I just want to notice these things in case we need to look back on them in future. There is so little 'the system' can do that we feel very much on our own with J's needs and so it would almost make little difference one way or there other if T does have it too. We try (most the time) to look at all the positives for J and love every bit of him for who he is, and so would do the same for her too. As you rightly say, a lot of it is just toddler behaviour - so we will see how that changes as time goes on. xxx


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