4year old with ADHD and ODD - at wits end

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Jenni_n_Seth, Jul 15, 2008.

  1. Jenni_n_Seth

    Jenni_n_Seth New Member

    Hey all. I'm new to this board but have been reading it over the past few days. My story is way to long and saddneing to type out but I will def hit up the highlights. Ha don't even know where to start...

    Seth is my 4 year old son from a previous relationship. I was a single parent to him for most of his life. My hubby has now become a residenet of Canada and is living with us. Seth knows him as dad and never has questioned it. I've always had issues with Seth. He was always needy as a baby, never would sleep for more than 20-30 min at a time. Wouldn't go to sleep on his own for the longest time and didn't start sleeping through his nights till he was about 9 months old...and even then and to this day he still wakes up frequently at night.

    Fast forward to Feb 2007, I had a breakdown. I couldn't handle work and Seth and was put on medical leave. Seth was very violent, very loud, agressive, attached, demanding, controling this list can go on. I ended up giving him up may 2007 and having him in a foster home thinking the "system" would help. Wrong, they kept telling me they would help have him evaluated as his behaviour is off the charts...fast forward to oct 2007, i got him back as I had a break and was on my feet again. The "system" is still involved to this day but has been much help at all. My personal mental health dr finally got the head dr in our city for ADHD to see him. (june 2008) He has pinned seth with ADHD and ODD to the extreme. We have read and been told that it can turn into CD which even at 4 is on the cusp of being CD. (hurting others, animals ect and enjoying it.) Dr has put him on 2 medications (excuse my spelling) adderhal 10mg and respidol 0.25 mg/x3 times a day.

    We noticed a difference in him but he's still being Seth...annoying BIG(he's 3foot 9) kid who is infatuated with me (to the point im very turned off on even hugging him), defiant and all around not a joy to be with or around. He's to be starting junior kindergaten in sept 2008 and we are hoping this will be a good thing for him. But being kicked out of homecares and such make us leary of what to expect. We also found out that we are expecting due jan 28, 2009.

    We talk sum nights of how life will be with him, will it get better? worse? what about the baby will he hurt them too as he does the animals? is this something we want to fight with and deal with everyday of our lives? im just starting to go back to work part time working with my rehab trying to stay on a good path. But it's so hard when i have all these other issues to deal with. Does anyone have any words of hope? sum days i think i should give him up and let someone who has the time and patience to deal with him...and other days i regret thinking it....i don't know what to do and hubby has given hope. He loves seth but doesn't like him as a person at all, and frankly nor do i. It gets to the point where i don't even want him to talk to me, we don't want to play with him...jsut don't know what to do...:(

    Jenni - lost in a world of turmoil
    Seth - 4yr old - ADHD/ODD
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi and welcome. First of all, I'm a little confused. Are you thinking of giving away your child because he is difficult? If not, what was your discussion with your husband about? I need some clarity there. You both need to remember clearly that this is not a BAD child, but something is the matter with him and he needs you desperately. I strongly recommend NOT having another child if you can not get this one of track first...there is no guarantee that another will not also have problems...
    It's a little hard for me to help as you are in Canada and I know the system is different. If you were here, I'd say that he sounds severe just to have ADHD and ODD and that we don't diagnose CD until a child is eighteen or over (I'd be very leery of anyone suggesting that in a very young child without considering other possible more understable childhood disorders). I'm thinking that maybe he needs another evaluation, and not from somebody who is a speicalist in one disorder, as they see that disorder in most kids. There are many things that this child could have, including early onset bipolar or he could have autistic spectrum disorder/Aspergers. ADHD/ODD, in the US, is a very common first diagnosis., but rarely is it the last one. If something more is going on, treatment for ADHD/ODD will not help him. And it seems as if he is not getting better, so I"d be looking beyond. If you lived here, I would recommend a neuropsychologist evaluation. I don't think that putting him in foster care is a good idea. Kids need consistent care. I was a foster parent once and we really don't know any more than you do, believe it or not. We are a holding cell for kids when they can't live at home. But this one is so young...
    Are there any psychiatric or neurological problems on either side of your son's family tree? This includes his bio. dad who may have passed something along genetically. Any Aspergers or high functioning autism? Are his milestones on time or extremely early? Can he transition from one activity to another easily or does that start a rage?
    You may want to pick up a copy of "The EXplosive Child" by Ross Greene. No matter what is the matter with your child, his method can diffuse the situation at home. Meanwhile, I'd be looking for a better evaluation with lots of testing for ALL disorders. There are so many.
    Hint: Hypersexuality can be a symptom of bipolar in a child.
  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Hi, welcome. THere is help here for you. If you can, get husband to read the posts here as well, or even post questions of his own. This can really help you both have THE SAME understanding of your problems. Two heads are better than one, especially when those heads should be working together.

    MWM, Jenni has no choice about CHOOSING to have another baby now, or waiting - the baby is on the way. That's why the situation is becoming urgent.

    Jenni, MWM made some good suggestions. I'll add to them (and reinforce).

    First, ADHD plus ODD, at this age, is I don't think the full story necessarily. ODD shouldn't be a label handed out after a short time observing, it requires involved testing over a period of time. However, I keep hearing of people whose children have got this label, often still very young, and I think this can lead you astray if you're not careful.

    To elaborate on MWM - ODD is a big problem and difficult to deal with. But there exists, in my observation, a manifestation in some children that LOOKS a lot like ODD but can respond positively to a change in parenting. If a child has an underlying disorder (such as ADHD, among others) plus you are trying to cope by parenting with strictness and tight controls, you risk developing this manifestation which looks like ODD. THe more you try to control the bad behaviour, the worse it gets. Although this is not your fault, it IS being aggravated by the strict controlling-type of parenting style.

    There are ways, and there are ways. MWM suggested you get a copy of "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. It will help, if anything will. It shows you a window into WHY the child is behaving the way he is, and once you have this insight, it's easier to then modify your reaction to the child and your methods of handling him, to bring about te improvement in his behaviour. At the very least, it helps you turn it around form the current worsening. It's not a cure - the underlying disorder is still there. It is just an easier way of coping, and that in itself can make it easier for the child's efforts (as well as your own) to begin to make headway.

    A child who is trying to behave but is constantly failing (or feeling constantly criticised) will not only stop trying, but can become very disruptive because it's easier and it lets them express their rage. But if there are some good moments in their life and they can begin to feel that they CAN hold it together, it can make a big difference in improving behaviour.

    Example: difficult child 1 was a big behaviour problem. He was not only inattentive, he would make noises at the back of the class and get yelled at constantly by the teacher. His response was to make even more noises. Punishment made no difference. And when called on in class, he would refuse to respond. Sometimes he would hide. He was beginning to lash out physically with other kids, too.
    It took us most of a year to get answers (initially I was told that I was the problem - a common accusation) and when at the end of the year a pediatrician told us (difficult child 1 also) that the problem was severe ADHD, and that difficult child 1 simply couldn't help a lot of what had been happening, the change was remarkable. The doctor suggested we try diet first, to see if there were some foods which made his behaviour worse. Then he was going to prescribe medications. But even before we had a chance to try ANYTHING, we saw a big improvement in difficult child 1's behaviour, and his mood. As he said to us, "I know now it's not because I'm a naughty kid. I'm a good kid after all. There's a reason for this. It's not my fault." With his self-esteem improved, his compliance improved also. Not a lot, because the problem was very bad. But enough for us to see some hope.

    The other part of this story that I want you to keep in mind - while we were initially told difficult child 1 has ADHD, it turned out to be far more. He's been diagnosed with Asperger's as well. It would have helped to know sooner, we made a lot of mistakes even though we were taking ADHD into account (which he also has).

    A lot of what we thought was oppositional behaviour, was difficult child 1 simply not being able to be different. He is obsessive and had repetitive behaviour patterns which he just couldn't stop. Our attempts to control these behaviours, and his inability to comply, LOOKED oppositional but were in fact out of his control entirely.

    difficult child 3 was even worse, with what looked like ODD. And looking back, a lot of it was difficult child 3 raging, getting very angry, lashing out, reacting to people in the way they reacted to him. If we yelled at difficult child 3, he would yell right back. He did not discriminate between child or adult, in his eyes everybody was equal. A teacher startled him at school with a sudden loud noise and difficult child 3 turned round and shouted at her. He still does things like this - while we were shopping last Wednesday, I had allowed him to go comparison shopping to get the best price on a gift for grandma's birthday. As difficult child 3 came back into the supermarket, an old woman was behind him. difficult child 3 had stopped to talk to me, unaware for a few minutes of the old woman who was patiently waiting for him to move and let her past. When he saw her he said loudly, "Oh, it's you again. Are you following me?"
    I know difficult child 3. It was intended as a flippant remark. He was not intending it to sound rude. But it did. I was about to apologise to the woman (a few onlookers were looking scandalised) when I noticed the old woman smile as she walked past, and continued with a smile. I suspected then that difficult child 3 had spoken to her, probably chatted to her at some length. Enough for her to understand that this kid is different.
    difficult child 3's remark would not have been seen as rude, if it had been spoken by the old woman toward either a friend of hers, or to difficult child 3. But from a child to a senior - not a good look.
    But socially, difficult child 3 just doesn't get this.
    By the time he's an adult, it won't matter any more. Until then, I run interference when necessary.

    What I'm trying to say - ODD, especially in such a young child, is in the mind of the beholder. It is a matter of perspective and because it often isn't true ODD (but just something that looks like it) it can also be turned around, to a point. And once you have a better understanding of the child and his fears, your perspective changes and it looks a lot less like ODD.

    The book helps. To get an advance idea, look at the sticky post at the top of this forum.

    And another thing, along the lines of MWM's references to Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) and Asperger's. Have a look at the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) questionnaire on www.childbrain.com. The link to the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) questionnaire is there somewhere. It can't be used to diagnose him, but you can print the results and run it past a doctor for a more formal medical opinion. You could do this with husband if you like, or get husband to try answering the questions on his own, and then compare notes.

    You do need some sense of direction with Seth, sooner. There is help available but you need to have some idea of where to go. Medication isn't always the right fix - we do tend to see a diagnosis and then try to find the pill to fix it, when sometimes pills can make other problems surface. it's a balancing game - is there a net benefit, or do the pills bring out other problems which we dislike even more? A child is moody or depressed, and sometimes we reach for the pills instead of asking the child why they are sad.
    On the other hand, we medicated difficult child 3 with stims from the age of 3. And they worked almost like magic.

    The rule of thumb with medications, is the WOW factor (as Temple Grandin describes it). If medications are prescribed and you try them, and the child improves dramatically with a "WOW! What an improvement!" impression on you, then the medications are a good thing. But if the medications are prescribed and the child takes them with little appreciable difference, then why bother? Why take medications which cost money, have a chemical effect on the body, but have little or no apparent effect?

    Again, don't go off medications suddenly (or at all) without checking with a doctor, but you do need to realise, you as a parent DO have input into this. You live with the child, the doctor doesn't. Doctors can be wrong. But they still need to be involved in the long-term management especially where medications are concerned.

    With Seth, there is a good chance he feels rejected, in so many ways. His behaviour is making your reaction to him worse (understandable) but it's not helping him. it's a vicious circle and I think you both could do with some help to get around this. Also, some counselling might be in order (again, for you both) to help you prepare him for the arrival of a baby.

    If there is a chance that Seth has Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), it is possible he will have unrealistic expectations of what a baby can or can't do. You may not realise just to what extent this is a problem and again, I think professional counselling is going to help here.

    We can't tell you if Seth will get better or get worse. All we can suggest, is stuff to try which has a chance of bringing improvement. A number of us here have success stories.

    If you give him up, he will be starting at square one with someone else who doesn't have the long-term experience of him nor the blood-ties. even though you feel apathetic towards him at times, chances are you care about him more than a total stranger would. You certainly care enough to come here and try to find answers for him.

    Give these things a try -

    1) Read "Explosive Child" and try to apply at least some of it (we saw improvement in difficult child 3, from the day I started reading the book). It's something you can do regardless of what is actually wrong with him, and it's something you can do now, you don't have to wait for doctors to work out what is wrong. This helps now.

    2) Try the online Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) test, informally, then show the doctor.

    3) Get husband to do the same - read the book, do the test, read stuff on this site.

    4) Get counselling, for you and Seth. To try to help you both, to try to help Seth get ready for the baby, to try to help you both in other ways.

    If you can do all of these before September, then Seth will be starting junior Kindergarten with the best chance of success you could give him. No guarantees, but at least you will have tried something with a chance of bringing noticeable improvement.

    Keep us posted, feel free to ask anything or dump when you need to.