Question: My son is 3 years old and he is not communicating to us. He shows us what he wants by pointing and pulling your hands. He does not know how to vent his frustrations and likes to whine when things doesn’t goes his way. He does know his alphabets and numbers, understand instructions, but does not give any instructions. Please give me your advice. We are very troubled by my son’s behaviour. Is he autistic?

Answer : I can understand your fear. But let’s analyse correctly before we conclude. How long as your son been communicating with you in this way? And do u comply immediately when your son asks you something without speaking? Chances are that he is in his own comfort zone now. When he wants to ask for something but does not know how to put it out in words, he thinks showing is a faster way to get it and so he does that and BINGO! He gets it! So why do you think he would want to come out of his comfort zone and try speaking when he can get it by just showing?

And you told me your son is 3? Has he gone to school yet? If he has, is this how he is with the teachers and fellow classmates too? I think you should check. And if he is not schooling yet, I suggest you enrol him in a playschool. If u ask me, its better you do not tell the teacher about this issue he has. See what the teacher has got to say after some time that he has been in school. You will be able to see if your child reacts this way only with familiar people or with everyone.

To begin practising at home. the next time your son asks for something, for example, a toy. Maybe he wants the teddy bear. What you can do is you can tell him that that is a teddy bear and tell him to tell you the word “teddy” before you give it to him. If he doesn’t, then tell him, “Teddy will not come to you unless you call him”. And if he still doesn’t, keep the teddy away. He may cry or whine to get his teddy, but keep telling him that he has to call for “Teddy”. If he still does not, then ignore him. No matter how long it takes, make sure he utters the word “Teddy” before handing him the toy.

Give yourself a month or so to follow the above mentioned tips. Start sourcing out for a playschool asap. But even after the couple of months, if the situation does not improve, then maybe you may have to bring him to seek professional help for diagnosing autism. Please do not fret if he is indeed diagnosed with early autism. Autism is not an incurable disease but just a disorder which is rather common in kids nowadays, especially children born to mums who have had late pregnancies. Autism can fade off with proper medical help and therapy. I have a a 19 years old nephew who was diagnosed as autistic but as years went by, there are no signs of it!

About the Author
Ms Sachi is part of Team NYM. She is presently reading her honours in Child Psychology, graded to support her present experience in Early Childhood Education and she further plans to secure it by pursuing a Certificate or Diploma in Early Childhood.