The Autism Centre
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My son

My son is 3 years old and he is non verbal he flaps his hands around and he does not listen to me or his mum we are waiting to see a paediatrician to find out if he is autistic if he is would like to know if anyone else can give me and my wife strategys on how to cope and how to help him he has got a lot of help with his nursery and going to springboard soon just need more knowledge on how to cope

2 Replies

Hi Stuart

This must be a really worrying time for you as I know waiting for a Paediatrician to observe and diagnose, takes an incredibly long time.

I have 3 boys, 2 of them autistic so totally empathise with what is going on. Mine are older now at 11 and 14 so I'm wracking my brain trying to remember how I got through things when they were 3.

You are right at the start of things here as he is so young; you are going to go through many different phases with many different challenges along the way, but in these phases there will be plenty of brilliant and funny times, I can assure you of that. I'll be honest with you, one post from me will not cover all the strategies you need because every child is different and your son will have many different triggers, stresses and reasons why he loves or hates things, as well as things that confuse or upset him. I'll give you a some ideas to start your journey of learning and by all means, message at anytime along the way where you come across a situation where you may need help. I'm always going to be a member of healthunlocked as my boys will always be autistic, and im also on the Fibromyalgia group as I'm suffering severely with that myself.

So firstly, I can recommend getting a book called 'The complete guide to Asperger Syndrome' by Dr Tony Attwood. This book is absolutely the best I have read out of all, it explains difficulties, triggers, why children do things, strategies etc, its really a manual in my eyes. I've met Tony Attwood when he came over from Australia to do a conference, he is an utter genius in his field of work, so I also highly recommend keeping an eye on when he will come next to do another conference so you can attend. I saw him at The British Library in London but I know he also goes to Portsmouth. The group I booked through was and the lady that runs this is Dr Barbara Jacobs who is also an expert.

There are also charities and groups which are a wealth of real knowledge, I can't speak highly enough, about The National Autistic Society, they helped me a lot and you can read their website or call them for help and advice. You can also register online to get The SEN Magazine which will also be invaluable to you, especially when he goes to school.

You say your son is hand flapping; children with Autism can do this and we call it stimming, they can do this for a variety of reasons and its nothing to worry about and its better to let him to this as opposed to trying to stop him. He may doing this as part of repetitive ritualistic behaviour, or it might be self soothing, or part of a sensory processing difficulty or he may have dyslexia and flapping helps him balance, its best left but best to discuss with Paediatrician when you get the appointment too. Have you noticed him doing other things like walking on tiptoes or spinning around or ticking?

I can also give you a few ideas to help him be less stressed; let him do things at his own pace, give him extra thinking time before responding, give him visual aids especially when you are going to a new place or changing a plan; for example if you are going on a day out you could show him a picture of where you are going. As he gets bigger, its very useful to have a chart up in the kitchen so he can see a visual plan of the week and have simple cut out pictures with Velcro on so you can remove them and put different ones up as things might change. So for example Monday morning could have a picture of a bowl of cereal, then a toothbrush, then a picture of the local park, then a picture of a book for story time, then a picture of lunch etc etc and carry this on as simple as you can. Its all about what is happening 'now, and next, and later', so he knows what is going on; our children absolutely can't bear change and the not knowing, it can frighten them terribly and cause confusion, panic, and a melt down, especially when they are non verbal, and when they have no means of communication, they can melt down because they can't communicate and the adults don't know why. On the note of meltdowns, always think about what happened in the 30 minutes before a meltdown happened, it will help you work out why there was an unexpected behaviour.

When you meet the Paediatrician for your sons observation, ask her to do an immediate referral to the Speech and Language Theripist for an assessment (we call it SaLT for short), the NHS is stretched to the max and often don't do referrals until they are pushed because they are so snowed under, I can't emphasise enough how important an early assessment is, they will be able to start working on his speech and communication skills once an initial assessment has occurred. I also recommend insisting on an OT (Occupational Therapist) assessment, to get a better picture of your sons sensory needs. If you have all the right teams in place at the earliest age, your son will have the best chance to do as well as he can possibly do, have more support, and eliminate at many stresses as possible, not to mention giving you as many tools as possible to work with, and give you a better understanding of his needs.

I didn't get all the help and assessments at the beginning of my journey and it ended up in me taking my local authority to court because they can discriminate badly at school age, depending on your luck of whether you get good or bad staff at school. Being prepared in advance is key.

You mentioned Springboard and we have a group with that name in Hertfordshire. If you happen to live in Hertfordshire, do let me know and I will forward all the closed groups information for this area, and you can join the group's for help and support, there are lots of courses and evening meet ups too.

Good luck and wish you well on your journey

Claire 🌻


Routine can help you out a lot. My daughter (3 next month) has many markers for ASD and we’re on the list to be diagnosed. She is non verbal too and also flaps her hands (normally when she’s really excited). Find some toys that he really likes for instance puzzles, Lego Duplo and stickers might help to keep him more settled if he gets frustrated easily.

If you’ve got any tips on how to stop my toddler stripping all the time that would be great!! If you ever want to chat just message. I know days can be really hard but just remember tomorrow could be a better day.


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