Recently, I needed to get a sense of my daughter’s social development and created a list. I post it here for those who might want to get a sense of how ASD can affect a child:*
- As a newborn, she didn’t like to be held; as a baby, only I, her mother, could hold her. She didn’t bond with anyone else.
- As a toddler, she interacted with me if she needed something but usually no eye contact; she didn’t turn around or respond when someone called her name or tried to get her attention.
- At ages two and three, she seemed completely unaware of other children.
- At age four, she screamed if children appeared to be coming near her at the park or on the playground or in the library.
- She had meltdowns and screamed at the park or library or social event every single time; nearby children and parents were often confused or alarmed by her behaviour (screaming and crying) if they tried to interact with her.
- She allowed children to try to play with her or just be near but did not acknowledge them in any way.
- She acknowledged other children in some way, but only to complain that they were harming her or being mean to her or doing something wrong socially (when they weren’t).
- She allowed children to play beside her but told them when to leave (usually after a couple of minutes).
- She stopped telling other children when to leave but told them they were annoying her.
- She sometimes let a classmate play beside her, but not usually, and stated that she wanted to play by herself; she still always complained about other children. There was no eye contact or there was unusual eye contact.
- At age seven, she usually let a classmate or two play beside her but with much conflict and confusion; unknown children at social events could be near her but were still not interacted with.
- She played with classmates using her own rules and didn’t follow along with the others; attempted play dates always ended because of meltdowns.
- At almost age ten, she plays with classmates as long as rules that she knows don’t change or another activity isn’t initiated midway and still plays primarily alone or beside others; she still has trouble joining groups and there is no interaction with unknown children unless it is facilitated. Play dates do not end because of meltdowns. Eye contact does not happen consistently. She often still does not change her posture or activity if you speak to her.
- At age 10, she interacts a little with previously unknown children, and still calls everyone she meets her “best friend”. Her conversations usually involve horses or dolls, and anecdotes are often repeated several times to the same person. Eye contact is still inconsistent, greetings and partings are not always acknowledged, and she still primarily plays alone at recess times.
*I don’t know how Frances’s social development compares to other children with ASD. I use the word play and interact interchangeably, and playing and interacting mean something different for Frances than for children considered typical.