I think my step son is autistic

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  • #4739

    Anonymous

    My partner of 2.5 years moved in with me last summer. She has a 9 year old son, the same age as my eldest boy, and the more I get to know him, the more convinced I am that he is autistic. I have brought it up with her, both in a sensitive way, and unfortunately, during frustrated arguments. She has admitted to me that a teacher wanted him assessed when he was 6 but my partner refused. Sometimes she is very tearful as she feels like she can't engage with him, and gets very frustrated with his behaviour, and other times she is very defensive and God forbid if I should comment on anything about him! Here are a few things that have rung alarm bells for me:He is obsessed with computer games. He would NEVER choose to get off the computer if he wasn't told to. And telling him to get off results in tears, arguments, and aggressive back chat to my partner. He has no interest in anything else really. Buying Santa presents was so hard as all he wanted was a WiiU, and has not been interested in anything else he got.I frequently see him stimming. I didn't realise what this was until I started looking into autism symptoms. He always stands when he plays computer games, and every few seconds he jumps and flaps his arms. He also does this if he is excited about a tv show, and the other day I noticed him do it at the beach when he was excited about playing with the dogHe does everything in slow motion. Getting his uniform on for school takes about 20 minutes. His whole school routine in the morning is so precise in routine. My children only live with me 4 days a week, and on the days they are there, my step son is very challenged by the change in routine and distraction of other children.  He sees the world very literally. I am a very sarcastic person! Even my 3.5 year old gets sarcasm. My step son does not. He does not get sarcasm or turn of phrase. Whatever you say to him, he takes every word literally.He speaks with a very odd accent that is neither his mother's or his father's. It can be quite robotic in nature sometimes. Sometimes his language is extremely formal, and other times he makes up words and speaks in a very immature way. When he doesn't know how to engage, he starts to narrate what he is doing, or starts reading labels on food. His other habit at the moment is to say 'caution' before he says a sentence when he's getting excited about something. He moved school in september and has coped very well with this. He is very good at spellings and times tables and rote learning. Twice a week he gets comprehension homework - a short book to read and 10 questions to answer about what he has read. This causes him great anxiety and often results in tears and frustration, and takes him a good 2 hours to do. He finds it so difficult to think outside the box, and my partner virtually ends up spoon feeding the answers to him. He has one new friend at school, although his teacher says he is a popular boy. But he only ever talks about this one boy, and says he only plays with him. This friend has been to visit on 2 occasions and is clearly autistic. They seem to love each others company but do not seem to play as such, but spend their time together playing on different technology alongside each other. He finds it very hard to make choices - what to wear, what to play with if he's told to get off his computers, what he wants to eat, giving his opinion on somethingHe can talk for hours about Minecraft and Super Mario, but very hard to engage on other topics, and it is often a one way conversation. He either doesn't answer questions when you interject, or his answers are not appropriate to the question.He is very specific about food. He will only eat Kelloggs rice krispies, Walkers ready salted crisps, Magic Stars chocolates, and will only drink water. He eats other hot meals fine, but he is very specific when it comes to these 3 foods and overly expresses disgust if you offer him any other chocolate etc. He has at times refused to eat breakfast because the rice krispies have all gone!When I am out with him in the car, he constantly reads the road signs and tells me how far away places are, and always points out places like his school like I've never seen it before.He has very little awareness of his bodily needs. He would never take himself to bed and would stay up all night if he wasn't told to go to bed. He doesn't express hunger, but will get very grumpy when he is hungry. He is very sensitive and disgusted by smells, but cannot find a pair of shoes under his nose! In the summer we all went to England to see my family. It was a week full of new places and people for him. He had his mobile phone and DS with him and was obsessed with frequently announcing the battery charge left on each one, and became very anxious if we were out and the battery was starting to die. He does play well with my 3 boys. He has found it very hard to share but is getting better at that, but then he has been an only child for 9 years. He gets very anxious when my boys touch his stuff, and is very preoccupied with what is 'fair', and because he isn't interested in their toys, he doesn't see why he should share his. I have also noticed that he 'mirrors' my 9 year old on school mornings when they are there. I think their presence throws off his usual routine and he constantly seeks prompts from them. I could go on, but I think you get the picture. He is a sweet and kind boy and can be very empathetic at times, but also extremely blunt as he doesn't seem to possess social etiquette of complimenting peers, or keeping a derogatory comment to himself. I want to be a support to my step son and help him re his social issues, and problems with his homework that are clearly evident. I can only see these issues becoming more of a concern the older he gets. But I feel at a loss as my partner doesn't want to acknowledge there is a problem, so I now keep my opinions to myself. But this is very hard when I am trying to also have some sort of parenting relationship with him, or I see him distressed, or I feel protective towards my own boys because of his behavior. Any advice please? 

    #5701

    Anonymous

    thanks for writing and sharing; in line with my own AS tendencies I'll be blunt: Glad you want to support him – follow his mother's example and do wht she suggests. He seems to be getting on ok. There is a lot to be said for not having a label if it can be avoided. Have a look at Sam Craft's work in the US and the Aspieprof blog from Salford. They may inspire you. My take is: We are all on the spectrum of human experience and the biggest problem so-called neurotypical people have/create is – not beng able to see that. I wish you and your partner and her son well, and if you wnat to discuss further, I'll be less blunt. 😉

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