looking for advice/experience....shall we screen our 11 yr old boy?


For some years now we have known that our 11 yr old son has some traits that doesnt quite fit in the "normal" category... he has struggled a lot with anxiety, especially seperation anxiety.  It has all been maneagable though. I myself have suffered from mental illness, and have been through the mental health care system, I guess in a way I am scared to label my son...if he can cope without.... I have worked with autistic kids at special needs schools, and my son is no way near them...however.........

he has started secondary school this last september, he uses all breaks and lunch in learning support cos he is struggling to make friends, and know what to do in the breaks...he has always struggled making friends, unlike my older son. We have moved country a year and a half ago, before we moved he was struggling in school socially...but the teachers said there was nothing wrong as in school he is like an angel...he just gets on with what he's told...and he continues to that to this day ( he has a big fear of getting into trouble)...te thing is when he gets home he often explodes...we experience bad behaviour at home...and have for many years...that we cant always control.,

we have managed using reward systems, to a couple of years ago get him sleepin in his own bed in his own room ( as he'd spent 8 months previously sleeping on our floor) . he has a fear of someone coming in at night...we use a lot of structure at home...he always needs to know what is happening...

i think thats perhaps why he copes ok at school, cos it's so structured...he is also very intellegant..for someone who isnt english as first language, he started english school at year 6 and managed to get over 100 in his english SATS and a lot higher in maths. he is also very musical.

He has always had various Tics, that have come and gone since he was small ( but my husband has slight tics, and always has done).... but he makes a lot of noises at home...he picks skin off his fingertips til they bleed..has done it for years..he sits on the toilet for up to half and hour doing it.... he is in year 7 and still likes to play with his teddies in bed...he goes into his own world...he loves small teddies he can hold in bed.

He is under Camhs and they have offered to start a screening process for autism...but sometimes he seems totally fine....though this christmas hols has been diffiult...his behaviour has been not good, and he has had a few major meltdowns where it has taken us over an hour for him to calm down ( he wont let us help him)  .. he doesnt like touch/hugs when he is cross, has never been a touchy feely person...but will give me a quick hug when he decides.

Camhs want my husband and I to do a short course in Cognitive behaviour therapy to help him with his anxiety...maybe he just has anxiety, but often he doesnt really know what he feels...he obviously gets over stimulated often...

i dont know whether it is beneficial or not to get him screened...as i don't want him to feel even more different, when actually most of the time he would say he enjoys school, but he is aware he doesnt really have many friends. 

I would have thought that if it was autism, that it would be noticed more at school, as i think if we start the screening process the school will say he is fine, and we will perhaps look like crazy parents, trying to get attention or something.,..i mean he is 12 in july, wouldnt it have been flagged up by now if it was autism? 

anyone have any experience with a late diagnosis...or someone in the "grey" area in terms of getting a diganosis?


  • From my own experience of being diagnosed at 29. I really wish I had been diagnosed as a child. There were so many situations that could have been avoided had people known. I am "high functioning" and I managed through school and can hold down a job but I have struggles and it can be very hard to discuss it with other people as I don't come across as "that autistic". For me the diagnosis was a reason. It was a reason I struggled with friends and language and anxiety etc. It wasn't that I was just weird or a bad person, I'm just autistic. 

    A lot of people on this forum have been diagnosed as adults so it's not that unusual to be undiagnosed at 12.

    The behaviour at home could well be because school causes him more stress than it seems. This is not at all uncommon with autism. Many children and probably adults hold it in till they get home where they feel comfortable and then let rip.

    Remember that if he does have autism, he has autism whether you get him diagnosed or not. I understand the concept of not wanting to label him but it may help people to understand him more and for him to understand himself more. He may also need help later in life when looking for work etc.

    Whether or not you look at getting him screened is a completely personal decision. And it has to be right for you, him and your family. I can only speak from my own experience. I wish you luck.

  • Hi, we are trying to get my daughter assessed for asd as she also displays several of the behaviours you list, at school other than separation anxiety at the start of the day and being afraid of the toilets she is a model student never speaks out of turn does not misbehave just gets on with her work. However the minute she leaves she breaks down either being hysterically upset or so angry she lashes out at her sister. 

  • thank you for your responses....we have a meeting with his contact person from CAMHS and his school next week ( we havent spoken to his contact person from CAMHS since last meeting with school which was october).... so will talk with them, and i think now we have decided to go ahead with screening.... he reacted VERY badly Sunday the day before going back to school, it was exhausting... i think for his sake and for us to be able to know how best to help him we need to find out if there is any underlying issues for him