Is my student autistic? Should I press the issue?

Discuss getting a diagnosis, educational help & electronic devices and apps for autism.

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Is my student autistic? Should I press the issue?

Postby gjhh » Sat Sep 05, 2015 12:39 pm

Hello everyone, this is my first post. Sorry if I do anything wrong.

I’m a teacher with a student that I strongly believe is displaying symptoms of Autism. The problem is that I have no experience in special needs and no support.

This particular student is seven years old. She *never* makes voluntary eye contact with me or other teachers. If she sees a teacher looking at her, she will look away. Very occasionally, when offered a reward (such as sticker) she will make an exception. She also occasionally forgets to look away when she is particularly excited or upset.

She very rarely speaks to anyone. When she does “speak” , it’s often similar to the babbling sounds of baby talk.

However, she can read exceptionally well for her age. She enjoys reading aloud the names of her fellow students from a list.

Her behaviour is often unusual. When unhappy she will hide under her chair. At other times she will cover her face with her jacket. At times she will face away from the rest of the class and teacher for several minutes.

She makes very few expressions of emotion. On one occasion when she hurt herself, she cried for five minutes without making a single noise.

Things can become more severe at times. On one occasion she undressed in class, on another she picked up every item of food on a lunch table shared with several other students, licked each item then put it back. On all these occasions she appeared to find her own behaviour humorous.

Finally, she often becomes fascinated with very small items, especially stickers, drawings or brightly-coloured items.

Her attitude fluctuates. On many days she is simply quiet and gets on with her work. On others, she is incredibly defiant and disruptive.

All these symptoms have l;lead me to believe she is exhibiting some form of Autism. However, on meeting with her parents, they were very pleasant but very dismissive of the question of Autism, telling me she is “very shy” and only began to behave the way she is last year, claiming she was “more sociable” in pre-school.

Am I wrong to be so concerned? Are the symptoms I described very likely Autistic symptoms? Should I gently press my suggestion to the parents? (Unfortunately my school is not good at supporting special children or identifying their needs and symptoms, so I’m very much alone in this matter, which is why I’m treading carefully)

Many thanks for any feedback, advice or suggestions.


B.L. Pike
Posts: 76
Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2012 10:29 am

Re: Is my student autistic? Should I press the issue?

Postby B.L. Pike » Tue Sep 15, 2015 2:48 pm

Greg, what a difficult spot you're in! Have you checked with her preschool to see if, in fact, these behaviors are recent? Does the family have other children in your school, and have the parents been proactive in dealing with them?

Since we parents live 24/7 with our kids, we have a unique (and critically valuable) take on our kids' developmental patterns, but we can sometimes be slow to pick up on problems as they develop in other social settings. Not sure tackling this family alone is the best approach. Perhaps you're in a position to push your school administration for more services for identifying and serving the unique needs of some students, not just this one. Certainly her parents are not in a position to do that, so that part is up to you. I'm not seeing how pushing for a diagnosis in this situation is going to help them if there are no services available once she's diagnosed. Being a lonely advocate for better student services is a tough row to hoe, but perhaps that's in your future, no?

Thanks for your obvious concern for this youngster, and keep us posted, please,

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