Resources for understanding Fear on the ASD/Autism Spectrum
November 29, 2011 10:37 AM   Subscribe

Looking for resources for understanding low-level (or is that high-functioning?) spectrum disorders related to children/toddlers.

I'm trying to understand why my son is being recommended for testing due to being afraid of various items. That's the only reason I've been given -- he is a few months from 3 years old and two teachers who have had him for half days have stated he has unusual fears to certain objects or occasionally situations and that I should get that evaluated.

I'm perfectly fine with the evaluating and resources for overcoming the fears, etcetera, I'm just at a loss trying to discern where fear of objects falls in terms of a developmental disorder.

He has exhibited fear of: Sand (Beach), and the rare item or toy. Toys have not had the same shape or composition or style, just say 1 in 50 or 1 in 75 have produced anxiety and he backs away asking to be held or comforted.

I've been told his verbal communication is spectacular and his social peering/facial relations are all great. We know of no repetitive behaviors that last for any particular length of time. I'm googling a bunch and I can't seem to find what else represents "spectrum disorders."
posted by cavalier to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What?? Two of my three kids were scared of the sand at the beach at that age. My daughter's friend was terrified of leaves. One of them was terrified of bubble baths and driving on bridges and driving anywhere where she couldn't see houses. They stopped being afraid of those things as they grew up.
posted by artychoke at 11:14 AM on November 29, 2011

I work with kids on the spectrum and it sounds like your son is...being an almost-three-year-old. Sometimes if kids are afraid of objects, it's because they look (to them) like a scary face. It's really, really common for kids his age to be afraid for reasons they can't yet articulate.

Maybe the teachers are concerned that he has sensory processing issues? Which...something isn't necessarily a problem unless it's a problem, and by that I mean that if his fear of certain toys filled him with such terror that he couldn't be around toys at all, then that would be a problem. Tiny little kids are afraid of all kinds of things and the fears usually go away in time.

I would talk to the teachers again and ask them for more details and why specifically are they concerned. FWIW, autism spectrum disorders affect communication, socialization, and play skills.
posted by corey flood at 11:39 AM on November 29, 2011

This website from the CDC has some nice resources in terms of signs to watch for in infants/toddlers that might suggest some kind of developmental concern including ASD. Corey Flood is right on, ASD is characterized by problems with socialization with some associated difficulties with either repetitive or restricted behaviors and with communication difficulties.

I agree that it would be helpful to talk more with the teachers to get an idea of what exactly is concerning them. You are right that fear of objects is not a diagnostic sign all by itself. It will be important to clarify with them how exactly they see this is getting in the way for him or for his learning. If they have other concerns, it would certainly be helpful for you to know so you can communicate this to his pediatrician or another provider. This could be anything from a kiddo being 3 (it's the new 2!), to some kind of developmental difficulty.
posted by goggie at 12:20 PM on November 29, 2011

Wanted to revisit this months later to say thanks! And.. testing found no diagnosable (or is that criteria matching?) issue. The specialist felt he would just naturally grow out of (or into more! lol!) anxieties, and, you know, don't worry about it.

Thanks for the comments :).
posted by cavalier at 12:51 PM on May 23, 2012

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