Received Wednesday, April 11, 2007
I am a live-in nanny for a family and their wonderful 19-month old toddler. I have been with the family for about 6 months and am wondering whether or how to bring up some concerns I have. Their child is generally a happy kid, she plays well and is well-tempered almost all the time she is with me. However, I am starting to worry about her development. At 19 months, she has no words that she uses consistently. She occasionally tells the family dog to "sit", but it is literally once or twice in a month. She also has a fascination with anything that has wheels, and would spend all day rolling the same barbie car back and forth if I didn't guide her to another activity. Sometimes when I am talking to her, it's like I am not even in the same room, and in order to get her attention, I have to literally take her by the hand and lead her to another activity. The last odd thing is that she doesn't make eye contact. She will briefly, for a second, and only when you call her name and she actually looks, but she looks away right away.
What is strange is that different parts of her behavior are always present, but sometimes she will be very vocal and affectionate, sometimes she will want to involve herself with whatever I am trying to get her to play with, and she definitely plays with her parents and the dog. It's just strange, something feels "off", but I don't want to bring up to the parents what I think she may have. I have done research in college and plenty more research lately about autism and I keep thinking that she has very autistic tendencies. The only thing is that autism sounds like a scary thing, because it has such a wide spectrum. I want to definitely see if her parents are interested in doing tests to see if she does autism that way we can start therapy now, but I don't want to step on their toes or scare them about this. What should I do? I love this family so much and I don't want them to feel like I betrayed their trust, but I do want to help their daughter developmentally get on track. I would love any advice other parents or nannies have to offer. Am I overstepping my boundaries?