Sensory issues don't mean Autism!! right?!

by Devon A.
(Pittsburgh, PA, USA)

My 20 month old son was just evaluated by an o/t and s/t and was found to have a sensory issue and a speech delay. They kept saying he didn't seem autistic, a little shy with full eye contact with strangers but that's not that odd with toddlers. From early on, we knew he had some weird little quirks.


For one, he hated grass. He would scream and cry just standing in it. He would "check" the surface before walking on it, if he decided to walk on it at all. It took us months of work to get him comfortable with it, but still the doctor thought it was nothing to worry about.

After the early intervention case worker spent the afternoon with us, she noticed other things I never even knew were a problem. The pacing and running while watching a show, the constant jumping in his crib or on the couch, the stuffing his mouth full of food and insisting on crunchy foods only, things like that. I had thought up excuses on why each of these things were totally normal but after hearing them and other things all put together, it was hard to deny that he did seem "off."

My husband has had a fear of autism since he found out we were pregnant, because of a family friend's child who isn't very high functioning. So looking up the sensory issue and seeing questions like what spectrum does he fall in got us worried. But after finding another post on here, I'm that much more reassured that he just has the sensory issue and speech delay NOT autism.

He had a sedated hearing today and passed with flying colors so thankfully that's not an issue at the moment, his ear infection days may be behind us. I should also mention he was NOT a preemie and his birth was totally normal. and with the exception of a few bad ear infections this past fall he has been incredibly healthy, he's never even had a fever.

I know people mean well but once they hear about the issue they jump on the he must be autistic and tell me I need to get a second opinion til I hear autism, four experts have seen him and they all say the same. I had a nurse tell me today, at his hearing test, that he was autistic, (keep in mind he was coming out of full sedation, so not an ideal time to display your "expert" opinion)because a friend of her's child was just like i described him in his records. She also mentioned an article she read where they thought autism was linked to an environmental cause that the mother came into contact while pregnant and the baby didnt have antibodies for... my husband asked her where she got her phd? She got the hint. (love him!!)

I'm trying very hard to understand what this all feels like to him and how this issue affects his speech and communication issues. Its all a little overwhelming to call it a "problem" but when i look back my husband and i have been doing everything the therapist is suggesting all along. So i think a lot of the stress is in the label of a "disorder."

I want to do what's best for my son. I know that he's a gift from God, as all children are, and that we were matched up for a reason. He has already taught me so much, i just want to help him the best i can.

Comments for Sensory issues don't mean Autism!! right?!

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Feb 04, 2013
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clarification for any future readers
by: Devon A

I should have stated that it was more than just the sensory issues that lead them to the nos diagnosis. after research, more evals, tons of other opinions its pretty clear that therapist were missing some stuff that psychologists notice. Things like his flapping, his social ignorance (he pretends no one is there even after months of being around kids his own age) his complete lack of personal space (sitting on top of not only me but babies and other children), unwillingness to allow any kind of interactive play, overreactions to other kids development (little friends of his have become very chatty and he reacts in anger, sometimes physically) his continues comprehension and speech delay and his ability to be so distant that he seems on another planet at times. It sounds silly to say we didn't notice these things but that's just how he has always been and we were in a little bit of a defensive denial.

But I wanted to come back and say that any parent reading this seeing that 10 months later the kid really is autistic and worried bc it doesn't fit the whole spd without autism theme of the original post, it can be like that for others it just wasn't for us. But definitely read the other comments and know that the two aren't always paired.

Feb 04, 2013
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update about my son.
by: devon a.

Well things have developed a lot since this post. He was diagnosed just after he turned 2 with PDD-NOS. They haven't formally labelled him with spd or anything but they address his sensory issues in all of his therapy. He is now getting ten hours of wraparound services a week with a tss and bsc. Two hours a week with a speech therapist and one hour on ot as well as a nutritionalist. I think in this case it does all stem from atypical autism but I do believe there's spd without autism bc I've seen it in others we've met in this journe. Thank you all for taking the time to comment.

Feb 04, 2013
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My son is special too
by: Anonymous

So when reading your story it sounded just like my little man. He is now 3y 4mo old. All the same experiences. I feel ur pain. We call him Z. Z has been in speech and OT is since about 20 mo. He definitely has SPD and everything else is yet to be discovered. We have great days and frustrating days. People have asked me if he has autism. His only diagnosis so far is increased intelligence for his age. I've been keeping a log and aM going to see a developmental pediatrician. I suspect ADHD as well but I am no expert. My neighbor has an Autistic son and I definitely see some similarities. On the other hand, Z is so friendly and social it's hard to wrap my head around the possibility of autism. When I read about some Asbergers kids I think that's my Z. Ugh, so difficult. Question, does your child stim or repeat things from tv shows. Do u feel like he is smarter than he should be. Is he hyperactive. Z has a hard to time slowing down at night. I feel like his poor brain never shuts off. How does your son sleep? Sorry for all ?'s

Apr 17, 2012
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spd no autism
by: mommy of 2

people get it mixed up. ALOT of autistic kids have spd NOT all spd kids have autism. its that simple so take a step back and relax.

Apr 14, 2012
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A child with SPD doesn't always have autism
by: Logansmom

Hi! My son who is 5 and 1/2 was diagnosed with SPD about a year ago. He does not have any form of autism. Although my son was not born with SPD, he did begin showing syptoms of it within a couple of months after a very traumatic car accident. He had hit his head, and the trauma caused all the confusion to begin inside his little brain. It has been a huge challenge for us to deal with. However, along the way, we have learned many things about SPD and how to help him. It is great that you have been able to catch it early. One of the things that we have learned is that an autistic child will have SPD, but a child with SPD will not always have autism. I have also learned this in many of my early childhood classes! I hope this helps your mind rest a little better.

Apr 10, 2012
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sensory issues
by: marjory glasgow scotland

Hi you both sound like great parents. My now 8yr old son[ also perfect pregnancy]. Walked talked infact never stopped talking, especially to adults. A perfect child. Started nursery at 3yrs was told very bright but liked his own company. Didnt like loud unexpected noises ie;ambulances,fire engines. WE where told that he hadnt decided which hand he preferred right or left, this being the reason he wouldnt draw write exc. Started school at 4yrs and was very talkative, had trouble changing for P.E. His primary 1 teacher said to leave it and i said no. Their was an O.T. in the class to visit another child who immediately noticed my child and his difficulty changing. He was seen and reduced proprioception was his first evaluation. I was kinda left to it with an excercise plan.

I phoned my health visitor who deals with babies up to 5yrs normally. I explained all my concerns. She referred me to everyone 18months later we where given a diagnosis of aspergers syndrome. I put my head in the sand for around a month then pulled my socks up and got on with it. I am so glad, that is what my son has. He attends mainstream school, he is clever, but with all aspergers he has to be taught social interactions and skills. He still has exercise prog.at school and is doing well. Autism aint so bad, you should look into it more and you will then know one way or another yourself, no one knows a child better than its mum. I had never even contemplated autism, didnt know anyone with it, and prob didnt want too. It is wonderful, he is wonderful. Good luck and keep in touch.

Apr 10, 2012
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response
by: Anonymous

I have never commented before this, but just know that sensory integration issues can occur with ADHD not necessarily autism. It sounds like you are a great parent.

Perhaps an occupational therapist who specializes in sensory issues can help.

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