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Ask Dr. Meg: Is He Autistic?

Normal child behavior or signs of autism? Dr. Meg offers parent behavioral indicators to pay attention to.
Last Updated
March 22, 2023
posted on
April 19, 2016
Minute Read

Dr. Meg, 

My two grandchildren are living with me due to the death of their mother. My son who is their dad also is with them.

The nine-year old seems to be doing ok under the circumstances, but the three-year-old boy has a lot of anger and bangs his head or slaps himself in the face when he gets angry.

We think might be on the autistic spectrum due to some of his behavior. Is he too young to be diagnosed and do you think his behavior is linked to the death of the mother?

He was 21 months when she passed.

Dear Grandmother,

Your 3-year-old grandson is certainly not too young to be diagnosed with autism if he has it. I would strongly encourage you to take him to his pediatrician (either you go with your son or alone.) Tell the doctor what he is doing and when.

Be prepared to answer questions about his sleep, eating habits, ability to connect with you or his father. The doctor will ask you many questions and offer help.

Head-banging is not unusual and by itself is not necessarily a sign of autism. Usually, though, children who head bang do so when they are younger. And slapping himself in the face is not a good sign either.

These could be made worse because his mother passed but I doubt that her death is the only cause.

Thank you for caring for your grandsons and for stepping up to the plate the way you have. You will undoubtedly make an enormous difference in their lives as they get older.

Dr. Meg Meeker

Practicing pediatrician, parent, grandparent, coach, speaker, and author. Say hello on instagram: @MegMeekerMD or by email:

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