Hi, I'm new here. I have a 10 year old boy who has struggled with social interactions and school for years, alongside out of control angry meltdowns. His school are convinced he is on the Autism Spectrum due to his unwillingness to communicate and his struggles to form friendships with his peers etc. He also suffers from social anxiety and doesn't like to go to school, refuses to try out of school clubs etc. We are currently in the process of trying to get a diagnosis. We attended our local CAMHs, and received a letter from the Dr there saying that in her opinion his difficulties were due to ASD, and she referred him for further assessment, BUT, we've been warned of a 18 month to 2 year waiting list! As he's due to transfer to secondary school next year, we felt a bit desperate, and have used our savings to pay for a private assessment. The result of that is the Dr saying that he has several autistic traits, which are the reason for his struggles at school (his anxiety leads to him shutting down and then these traits come to the foreground), BUT, because he was able to communicate and make eye contact with him, and because he showed an ability to use his imagination in their play session, he says he doesn't think he is fully autistic (he does change in the summer holidays when he's more relaxed and not stressing about school). This is slightly confusing news to us, and I wonder if anyone here can explain it? Basically we're being told that he has several autistic traits, and that these traits are enough to cause significant problems at school, and he advised us that the best way to deal with this is to see advice on the NAS website, but he doesn't have an autism diagnosis. Not even on the spectrum. Not aspergers. Just 'traits'. I'm confused, because I feel if he has enough traits to cause significant difficulty, surely this means he is on the spectrum, albeit at the high, functioning end of it. But the Dr says the fact he could communicate and showed imagination means he isn't. Please help me make sense of this. On the one hand, if he doesn't have autism then great, but on the other hand, where do we go from here in order to help him with what are nonetheless significant difficulties. Sorry for the waffle, just trying to work out what being 'on the spectrum' as opposed to 'having autistic traits' means.
I have received the same from the developmental pediatrician. I was told my 8 year old son has autistic traits but is able to give eye contact and communicate. However, she did set up an appointment for him to be seen the on the 20th of July in the Autism Clinic at the hospital for a full evaluation. Hopefully we'll get some kind of diagnosis. It has been years of back and forth.
Probably a bit late to respond as such to the main thread, which is almost a year old, but the fact that a child is making eye contact and communicating, or even using imagination in play, should not prevent the diagnosis of autism (esp. of the aspergers-y persuasion).
An intelligent autistic child is very capable of observing what other people do and copying it in order to 'fit in'- using their intellect to compensate for what they lack in social skills, if you like (especially if he has been told a lot at school to "look me in the eye when I'm talking to you", for example). It may not be what comes naturally to him and it may, even on a subconscious level, make him feel very uncomfortable, but this is all internal and so the assessor will have no idea. It's the most common response to a difference in social ability in girls (which is why, for a very long time, we were so hard to diagnose), but boys can and do do it as well.
A much better indicator is their behaviour as very young children (before they learned to compensate), around other children (especially groups he doesn't know) and in the long term. One adult is easy to fake it with as an older autistic child, doctor or no.
Also, re. imagination, it is not a deficit but a difference in the way imagination works. Many autistic people have a massive amount of imagination at their disposal! I always did. I would easily write stories and poetry, but my favourite was imagining and compiling information on made-up worlds (complete with scale maps, descriptions of the societies therein, the history, languages and the wildlife found there). My physical play was a bit of a weird hybrid of the "sorting things into categories" followed by the imaginative kind.It is worth getting a second opinion as you are doing. My diagnosis took 3 years and a change in assessor (to someone younger and more up-to-date re. females with autism, in my case). I appreciate that it can be a long and difficult process and hope it is going as well as it can for you.
Definitely continue to pursue assessment, my son now 11, similar story with autistic traits identified but quite sociable (on surface) and other inconsistent areas. However despite that (and even his consultant psychiatrist describing him as puzzling!) he will have a diagnosis of ASD now.