As we've commented on here before, it seems as if she has many characteristics similar to those of her oldest brother with Asperger's.
She's always been more solemn and reserved as compared to other kids her age.
We've described her eccentric behaviors in lining things up and creating patterns with toys, books, and magnets. We've noticed she doesn't talk much to anyone but us.
Funny as it is, she used to have what we called "the look of death" in which she would give anyone who talked or looked at her. This was from a very young age. So funny as it was, but a little embarrassing when you have a small child who gives strangers this look when they only give her a smile. It made professional portraits impossible as she would give this look to them and never smile. Don't believe me? Well, here's a proof shot from a portrait sitting we were trying to do:
I laugh when I see this picture, but it's true, it was the "look of death".
Anyway, we have continued to just sit back and watch as she has grown older wondering if this is actually our 3rd family member with Asperger's Syndrome.
As she turned 3, she continued to keep to herself and not give much interaction to others. We would sit in the waiting room during her older siblings' dance classes and watch other children her age play and laugh while she would stay right by my side and not say a word. Other parents would ask how old she was and be surprised when she was often older than their children who were so bubbly and social while she would sit quiet and staring for the hour.
It's no big deal. She's just shy? Maybe she'll grow to be more social?
As you can see from the top picture, she can smile and she does interact with us at home, but it's like it's a whole different world to anyone outside of our own family.
I've noticed for the last while that while she does show emotion, it is often mirrored or copied by someone else. She will look at me and copy the expressions on my face. I could be talking about how she is going to have to eat vegetables and go to bed, but if I have an excited happy look on my face, then she will react by using my same expressions. She will mimic her brothers and sister in their emotions as well.
Is this normal? I suppose so.
I know she has all sorts of issues with textures as her brother did. She can't stand wearing all sorts of clothes. She used to freak out if her hands were dirty.
Anyway, no big deal, but recently we are having a huge issue, and it isn't something that was a problem before.
Now I know that is pretty common for young kids to go through, but usually that is when they are 1-3 years old. Rose is going on 4 and it just started about 2 months ago. She used to go to church class or extended family member's houses or neighbors/friends just fine. But then all of the sudden she won't go to anyone. She won't go to her class. She won't go to neighbors houses. She won't let anyone hold her except for my husband or I.
What is the deal? We can't exactly pinpoint any huge traumatic event, but she is just freaked out. It's not just a little thing. We sit with her in class and then try to leave and it isn't just a little tantrum she throws, but full blown screaming bloody murder like she's going to die or we're never coming back ever.
I don't know what to do. We've tried everything. We've tried explaining what's going to happen and that we're coming back. We've tried everything from punishment to rewards and even bribery to get her to go and stay where and when she's supposed to (church class, babysitter, etc.), but she is just not getting any better. I used to think she was just testing us to see what she could get away with, but after 2 months I can see it is not an act or orneriness, but she is genuinely scared if not terrified that we are not returning.
What can we do? It is really becoming a problem. It has become so bad that she will constantly "check in" all day long at home to make sure we are right there. If she hears a door open or close she will cry out panicked, "Mommy?!!!" If I go around a corner she will do the same. If we go anywhere in public she will cling to our leg at all time as not to lose us. It is just so extreme.
We continue to reassure her that we would never leave her and we will always come back, but it's to no use. Preschool is coming up and we were going to see if she wanted to try a dance class, but I doubt it's going to be happening unless it's the "Dance with Mommy's Leg" dance class.
I wonder if she does have a bit of Asperger's like we suspect, is it something that makes this Separation Anxiety more extreme or what? What should we do? As her social and emotional development continues to be delayed, we wonder if we need to have her evaluated for Preschool.