August 15, 2016

Could Your ASD Child's Sibling Be Autistic Too?

Over the past couple months, baby B has been diagnosed with a speech delay and has shown symptoms of autism spectrum disorder. M2 was the same age when she was diagnosed with a severe speech delay. While baby B's delay is different, he's definitely delayed. He's also showing more red flags for autism each month.

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Speech Delay
Right now, he is showing receptive and expressive delays -- a fancy way to say he isn't understanding everything we say and he isn't able to communicate what he wants/thinks. It leads to frustration for all of us, with him screaming, hitting and upset because we can't figure out what it is he's trying to communicate. I've talked before about the truth about having a speech-delayed child. It's a horrible feeling to not be able to figure out what it is your child is trying to say. I try guessing, asking if he wants a hug, food, water, sleep, a story -- but he gets more upset every time I'm wrong, spinning more out of control, while I'm helplessly trying to calm him down while being hit hard or having things thrown at me. B has an arm, too, it's not a light toss when he throws something or a tap when he hits. It HURTS.

Unlike M2 at his age, he does say words and will try to imitate. He has to be promoted, however. He won't usually say words on his own and won't answer questions. You have to say it first for him to try to repeat it. That doesn't help when he's trying to express how he is feeling or what he needs, since you have to guess what it is before he may tell you.

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Signs of Autism
B is also showing red flags for autism. The symptoms are different than the ones M2 showed (no two ASD kids present the same), but they're obvious. More and more autism symptoms in toddlers are appearing. Even if it isn't ASD, we know he has sensory issues at this point. Walking on his toes, becoming violent when frustrated, banging his head repeatedly (he's often up much of the night head banging), rocking, issues with food, sensitivity to sounds, trouble sleeping, hours of meltdowns, shrieking, seeking behaviors, not interacting with others typically: the list is adding up.

Whether or not it is autism as well remains to be seen. My gut tells me that it is, the same as I knew with M2 once we realized it was a possibility. We'd been told he is at much higher risk of having autism since he has a sibling with it and is a boy. We're watching closely and have spoken with his doctor and therapists. Since he's still young, we are planning on an eval next summer. At that time, he'll be the age M2 was when she was diagnosed. With her, the symptoms built until it was impossible to explain away. B seems to be going in the same direction.

It is difficult to think that we may have two kids with autism. Facing having a child with special-needs is hard. I'm still grappling with all the feelings it stirs up. I keep thinking of the day M2 was diagnosed as a toddler with autism. In my heart, I think that day is going to come again in a year with B. After that, I know we'll again face the know-it-all people that question whether my child is autistic.

Getting Help
For now, we had him evaluated for the speech delay and have set him up with speech therapy. The same therapist M2 had, whom we love, will be working with him.

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  1. I also have an autistic son who is now 15 years old. Boy, puberty certainly has brought on some challenges.

  2. Ughhhhh this is def a fear of mine!!! My daughter struggles bug time with speech. Our days are filled with therapy sessions and she's even in a special Ed preschool classroom. I'm scared if I had another kid I would have to do all of the therapy over again.


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