Thursday, January 10, 2008

Depressing news from the pediatrician...

I took the twins in for their 3-year well checkup yesterday... Devin is measuring a perfectly balanced 75th percentile for height and weight and is doing just fine.

Kieran is measuring 75th %-ile in height and 95th%-ile in weight (my big boy!). I mentioned some of our concerns about Kieran showing possible early signs of ADD, as well as ongoing concerns about his speech delay. After listing some of the issues, the pediatrician said we need to have him evaluated for Autism. WHAT?!?!

She gave me some info on local docs to schedule an assessment with, and then I left to take them to school. I was crying in the van after the news finally sank in... thinking about his future and what this might all mean for him. I told his teacher about it and then went home in a daze (my rx cough syrup didn't help that part).

Anyway, as you all probably guessed, I immediately got online and did research and made phone calls to schedule appointments for him. After reading some detailed symptom lists, I know exactly why the pediatrician suggested this. Although Kieran doesn't have the more commonly known symptoms of Autism (like not talking at all, not making eye contact, not liking to be touched/cuddled, rocking, violent outbursts, etc.), he DOES have almost every other symptom listed. If you know Kieran well, you can see this. These are the symptoms he DOES have:

Social Interaction Difficulties:

- ignores when called, as if deaf, but responds immediately to a favorable words (e.g. "snack time!" or "the movie's on!")

- in his own world; lacks curiosity about surroundings

- random, intense temper-tantrums, overreacting

- high pain tolerance

- hates crowds, gets upset over loud noises

- inappropriately anxious/scared (age-inappropriate separation anxiety)

- no interest in forming friendships with peers (as reported by his teacher)

Speech and Language Delay:

- lack of ability to imitate (mispronouncing words)

- voice louder than required

- frequent gibberish (i.e. Kieranese)

- difficulty understanding basic commands

- difficulty expressing needs/desires

- little spontaneous initiation of communication

- inability to initiate or sustain a conversation

- repeats heard words, e.g. TV programs, songs, other people talking

- uses language inappropriately (wrong words or phrases)

Abnormal Symbolic or Imaginary Play:

- clumsy body posture

- arranging toys in rows (pool balls, soda cans, cars, blocks...)

- interest in toy parts, such as wheels

- obsession with certain objects/subjects (planes, trains...)

- fascination with spinning objects (wheels, fans)

- restricted interests (TV!!)

- Difficulty stopping boring, repetitive activities (hyper-focusing on one thing forever)

- Attachment to unusual objects (have you ever tried to take his shoes off???)

- Stubborn about rituals/routines (potty break = emotional breakdown)

- skills superior to age group (memorizing books and movies)


- lack of interest in learning new skills (shapes/colors, POTTY TRAINING)

- sleeping poorly (trouble falling asleep, waking up to play in the middle of the night)

- random bursts of hyperactivity

Of course, any of these "symptoms" can be written off as "normal" in any child his age, but the fact that they are ALL occurring in the SAME child is what is cause for alarm. In general, Kieran is a happy, sweet, playful, active, easy-going, compliant little boy (really our little angel), but these combined behaviors mean that there may be an underlying problem that could adversely affect him for life.

I have researched the different Autism Spectrum disorders, and I don't thing he will be diagnosed as Autistic, simply based on the lack of the most common symptoms. Rather, I believe he will get a diagnosis of PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Non-Specified), based on the number of symptoms he does have. PDD is on the Autism Spectrum (as is ADHD, by the way), but is not nearly as severe, although it will still require some therapy and specialized attention. We won't know how it will really effect him until he's in Kindergarten. But no matter what, he's still our Kieran. <3

I have him on a waiting list for speech therapy, which I think he will respond very well to, and he will be seeing a psychologist for evaluation and testing next week. I will update everyone as soon as we know anything.

Like we needed this now, so close to Connor's birth. And now I'm worried that HE will have problems too, since it is 4x more common in boys than in girls. :(

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