Is My Son Autistic?

My son is 3 years old, about to turn 4 after Christmas. There have been things I've noticed about him that make me wonder if he might be autistic like me. Just little things and only occasionally, but there are things there making me suspect it nonetheless. We know that autism is (or at least can be) genetic, so it would completely make sense for any child of mine to potentially be autistic too. Before we dive in, I'm not saying that any given traits listed here are necessarily autism-related, rather that I feel there are too many of them to not at least consider the possibility of autism.

The first thing I've seen in him is that he seems to like lining things up neatly. I haven't seen him lining things up too often in the traditional sense, but he definitely likes building huge towers out of Lego and other things, which is essentially just lining things up but vertically instead of horizontally. He builds towers as big as he can with Lego, with Play Doh pots, sometimes with cushions. And I've found him lining things up on the floor like cars and dinosaurs before.

Something else he does is that when there's a loud noise such as a hoover or a hand dryer in a public toilet he'll cover his ears and complain that it's too loud. This is the one that I'm least convinced about being an autism trait because his sister does it too, and it never seems to actually upset him as such so I'm wondering if that's maybe just a child thing, but still. The possibility of autistic hypersensitivity can't be ruled out.

Speaking of hypersensitivity, he often complains that his eyes hurt. He had his eyes checked recently at the hospital and they found nothing wrong, which for me strengthens the case of it being a hypersensitivity to light. To be honest I haven't specifically noticed what his environment is usually like when his eyes hurt, but he has told me that it's when the lights are bright. I think it's definitely worth me noting down what the surroundings are like in future when he complains. The fact that he's had his eyes checked with no problems found is very similar to how I had my hearing checked several years ago because people noticed I couldn't hear them, yet the testing found that my hearing was fine. His eye pain could potentially be a light sensitivity just like my "hearing" issues are actually auditory processing issues.

After me mentioning that he might be autistic, my wife started to notice little things like he doesn't make eye contact that much. It's not something I've noticed myself, but that's maybe because I don't tend to do well with eye contact either. There's been times when she's had to tell him off that she's told him to look at her and he never does. It wasn't until I mentioned autism that she then realised that maybe that's why and demanding for him to look at her isn't doing any good. Because of my own aversion of eye contact, whenever I've told him off I've always told him to listen to me instead of to look at me.

He can be very hyper emotional at times. Sometimes when he shows this it can easily be put down to simply being a toddler and getting upset or throwing a tantrum as toddlers do. But other times it's not quite so subtle. When he watches anything on TV that even has the slightest bit of peril or threat he suddenly decides he doesn't like it and wants it turned off. It happened with Toy Story 1 and 2 when Buzz and Woody both lost their arms, it happened at the beginning of Ice Age when Scrat struggled to get that nut only to end up getting trampled on by a mammoth, and it even happened with the TV adaptation of The Gruffalo when the Gruffalo picked the mouse up to eat him, although he soon got used to that one. I think this is a sign of hyper empathy because he is a very caring boy and is usually happy to help or share with other people.

There are a couple of things that he is/was late at developing although I don't think that he's late to the point of being abnormal or causing a problem. His old childminder suggested that we had him referred to speech therapy because he was a bit behind but we've always put that down to him being born 8 weeks premature. The speech therapist wasn't worried and from memory I think they agreed with us. With that said there are certain sounds and words that he's currently struggling with saying so he's in the middle of being referred again, although from what we can tell it seems to be more to do with tongue tie this time than autism. We've also been trying to toilet train him for a while now, and it's only in the last couple of weeks or so that he's reached the point where he'll tell is he needs the toilet or he'll go to the toilet on his own so we've been able to completely switch him from nappies to pants until bed time. If I'm honest I think the main reason for him being delayed is that I've not been able to keep on top of training him like I really should have. He had gone backwards with toileting for a while until his nursery suggested trying him in just pants for a full day and he just took to it from there.

So there are a few reasons I think my son might be autistic. I'm not a psychologist or an expert but I think there's enough there to wonder about it. It doesn't make any difference to me or his mum whether he's autistic or not so we've got no plans to get him assessed. Whether he is or he isn't autistic nothing will change, and he's still the same handsome, funny, kind and caring boy that he's always been. All it means if he is autistic is that he's like me, which I can only see as a good thing.

I'm glad to be back to blogging after taking last week off. Let me know your thoughts and comments on this week's post and do the usual - subscribe with the button at the top, and follow me on Twitter @DepictDave. Also don't forget to send me your questions on Twitter using #AutQA for the Q&A post that I've got planned next week. You've only got 1 week to get your questions to me so do it now!


  1. Very interesting!! We just had a meeting with the educational psychologist as we think my son is autistic and he does all the things you've mentioned and more. I've been pushing for help since he was 6 (he's now 11!!) But only now are things starting to effect him more at school so they're finally listening to me!!... I hope you get some answers as hes grows xx

  2. I love that you speak of the nuances of it... because they are just the smallest of details which could otherwise be missed or overlooked.


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