I cut and pasted the excerpt below from the cover story for the May 26 edition Newsweek magazine. In case you haven't seen it, the title of the article is "Growing up Bipolar: Max's World." Does anyone else think this boy might have Asperger's Syndrome (AS)? I put some of the sentences that made me think of the possibility in italics. The sensory problems and rigid play were red flags to me.
Excerpt: "After a year, the jokes gave way to worry. Max was reaching and surpassing his milestones, walking by 10 months and talking in sentences by age 1, but he wasn't like the babies in parenting books. Richie carried his son to the backyard and tried to put him down, but Max shrank back in his father's arms; he hated the feel of the grass beneath his small bare feet. Amy gave Max a bath and turned on the exhaust fan; he put his hands over his ears and screamed. At 13 months, he lined up dozens of Hot Wheels in the same direction, and when Amy nudged one out of order, he shrieked "like you'd just cut his arm off." At day care, he terrorized his teachers and playmates. He wasn't the biggest kid in the class, but he attacked without provocation or warning, biting hard enough to leave teeth marks. Every day, he hit and kicked and spat. Worries became guilt. Amy had been overweight and dehydrated in pregnancy. Was Max so explosive because she had done something wrong?"
My thoughts: His mom joked in the article that if a condition has a letter in it, then Max has the condition. She was thinking more along the lines of ADHD, etc. However, I don't think she was thinking of ASD, though many times people with Asperger's syndrome or autism also have been diagnosed with ADHD or Bipolar disorder as well. Near the end of the article the mom mentioned she was glad Max did not have autism like other children in his school because they couldn't tell their moms they loved them nor could they hug them.
What this mom needs to know is that she is defining autism by referencing stereotypical behavior. While it is true that some children cannot exhibit affection in either way she described, some children on the spectrum are able to exhibit affection. For example, my child who has either a milder form of autism or AS does say "I love you" occasionally. Usually he is responding to my three little words, but on rare occasions he does volunteer those words without anyone saying them first.
I imagine that Max's mom is getting bombarded with opinions and suggestions at the moment. I'm sure many others have suggested that her son has ASD. Whether he'll eventually be diagnosed is unclear.