This is Part 2 of our series “What’s Your Autistic Toddler Like Now?”, a journey through what’s happening these days in the life of our autistic 3 1/2-year-old son and sequel to our very popular original article, “What’s Your Autistic Toddler Like?”.
Note: Wherever you see “DSM-IV” below, this means that attribute is part of the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fourth Edition or DSM-IV. In medical terms, a specific combination of those DSM-IV criteria is what brings about a diagnosis of autism.
Same obvious disclaimer as before: We are not advising you on how to evaluate your child. Go get them evaluated by professionals with extensive experience with autism. Don’t just rely on some random people on the Internet – namely, people like us.
If you haven’t already, go back and read Part 1. If you have, let’s continue on!
Characteristics That Are Significantly Present (continued)
Difficulty with social awareness (a bit better but a lot to work on) – I don’t know whether this has an official meaning, but I think of social awareness in a very broad sense as being aware that there are people around you and that they can be engaged with at some interpersonal level. For some time, we referred to other kids in the room as ‘part of the furniture’ as our son didn’t interact with them much differently than any other object in the room.
School has helped him in this regard in that he has regular time every school day with the same children and is involved in activities with them on an ongoing basis. You still get the sense that he’d usually be content without them, but often the emotions of an autistic toddler are inscrutable.
He does enjoy watching other kids do funny things, but watching rather than playing with children is one of those possible signs of autism, and this is a fairly accurate description of where he is right now.
That said, it is nice to see that he’s aware that other people have names, and he can use a name to refer to a person, though usually now that’s only with some prompting.