• Understanding Autism from the Inside

    “Academics came easily to me. The rest of life—not so much.”
  • This post may contain affiliate links and we may earn compensation when you click on the links at no additional cost to you.

Developmental Delays and the Clingy Toddler: Is this Normal?

Lately I’ve been considering putting my 2-year-old son in preschool a few days a week to regain my sanity, and maybe just maybe accomplish something. As if the little guy knows what I’m planning he is becoming clingier by the day.

It is not new for him to scream and bang his head if I dare to sit down in front if my keyboard to get any work done. He slams the sliding drawer that hold the keyboard, pulls my hands from the desk, and throws the mouse across the room when he gets ahold of it. On one occasion I had to retrieve it from down the air conditioning vent! I guess he figured he would throw it down a hole and that would fix me.

I’ve resigned to not being able to touch the computer while he is awake; I cannot tolerate the brain piercing screams it would cause. For a while he was happy as long as I was in the same room—just not too far away.

He doesn’t want to play with me. I just need to be there for him to ignore. But lately he had become the ultimate puppet master.

He wants me to stay where I am put…period, which is usually sitting next to him not moving or doing anything else. If I touch the phone, he grabs it and will toss it. iPad: Nope, don’t even think about it! No tech for Mama. She needs to just sit there and behave like a good little statute.

Until this past week I was at least able to manage to read while sitting in my statue’s pose, but now he has begun something new, and I think it kind of odd. He wants to sit on me, or in front of me, or next to me and the he pulls my arms around him.

Yes, it was very sweet and cute and loving, except now both of my hand must be on him at all times. If I remove one he says, “No!” Well I should say screams, “no!” and pulls my arm back around him placing my hand back on his belly.

The problem is that he wants me to stay this way…all the time. Today I managed to have one arm free and was reading a print out of materials from a class I’m taking. He looked up at me like I committed the most horrible crime, grabbed my papers, tossed them to the floor, put my arm around him and went back to watching Mickey Mouse.

I have an appointment to tour a preschool this afternoon, and don’t get me wrong I am looking forward to it—to the hope of a few minutes of free time and a bit of sanity. But with his new-found clinginess I am getting a bit worried.

My two older boys both went to preschool. Aspie Teen began at about two years old, and did really well until he was four. My 8-year-old began daycare/preschool much earlier—just after his first birthday.  He too only began to have problems in preschool at around four years of age. So I am thinking that Tantrum Tot will do just fine (for a while at least), but this very recent clingy behavior is giving me pause. Neither of the older two demanded me to be in physical contact with them for most of the day. Does anyone else find this behavior odd—especially for a child with a tentative (awaiting confirmation as his pediatrician put it, from the developmental pediatrician)autism diagnosis?

Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert, contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, on the autism spectrum.