Couldn't find this board for a while...help?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Ehlena, Oct 15, 2009.

  1. Ehlena

    Ehlena New Member

    There have been several times in the past year where I've wanted to post to this board, but I forgot to bookmark it, and couldn't find it again! Nightmare!

    As a background, I'm stepmother to an 11-year-old boy (12 tomorrow) with ADHD. He lives with us full-time. His mother has supervised visitation right now, and is an on/off drug addict. She's recently made a play for full custody (which is out-and-out ridiculous, given her history with CPS and drugs). My stepson hasn't been diagnosed, but we HIGHLY suspect he has ODD as well. We've learned a lot of coping strategies from his counselor, books, and websites. We are trying to deal with all of this in good humor, with love, and with compassion, but I'd be lying if I said we weren't struggling. He is a very bright child, and we want to see him do well.

    Right now he is on restrictions. Last weekend he ran away from home for no apparent reason. My husband found him at around 12PM, told him to come home...he didn't. We were unable to find him again. At 5PM we called the police. My stepson willfully evaded them and eventually came home on his own at 10:30PM. So he's on restrictions, with priveleges to be earned slowly back for good behavior (counselor's recommendations). I wish I could say this is the first time he's pulled this sort of thing.

    We are very careful to walk that line between punishment and maintaining an amicable relationship. Right now he is behaving reasonably well for us at home and doing his homework. But he is refusing to turn it in. This is the email I received from his math teacher - after I emailed her asking about his missing binder.

    Ms. Ehlena,
    It has been an interesting week with difficult child. He has decided to make his own agenda for what he is to do in this class. Every day I have to ask him to get his work out, does he have work to show me?, write this down, work with your partner, etc. and he refuses to follow my requests. He wants to sit and write nothing down or bother the boy sitting next to him, or two days ago, he decided to clean out his binder and put everything in the small folder that you mentioned. When I stood right over him, he would just sit, stare down and not participate, when I walk away to work with the rest of the class, he goes back to what he wants to do.
    I have the binder. It was given to me empty. (sorry about that). I also have another folder that he left behind. I will give them all back to him today.
    He is not showing me any work. He is not doing the classwork. The day he worked on cleaning out the binder was a day he was to work with two other classmates on a group test. I explained to him that it was important to be a team and work together on the test. He refused to even look at the test. The other two people in his group were quite perplexed. I do not know what to say to him to get him to participate and follow directions. He is putting forth a solid stand against doing anything in here. I do not want a create a scene by "forcing" him to do the work. What to do?
    Any ideas you can give me to smooth out this situation would be appreciated.
    difficult child's Math Teacher

    I don't know what to tell her. My husband is starting to worry that difficult child is missing out on his childhood, since he spends so much time grounded. The counselor hypothesizes that difficult child feels safer being grounded, since he has difficulty maintaining friendships with other children.

    I think our first step will be emailing his other teachers and seeing if his behavior is the same in their classes (I get the sinking feeling it is...). But I'm unsure of what to do after that.

    His birthday is tomorrow. :(
     
  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Ehlena, welcome back. I'm glad you found us again, but sorry you needed to.

    Sorry for all the questions, but your answers will help us help you:
    What kind of doctor diagnosed him with ADHD?
    Is he taking any medications? If so, what?
    Before this current episode, how did he do in school, both academically and with peers?
    Does he have an IEP?
    Any sensory issues (for example, sensitivity to clothing tags, loud noises, food textures)?
    Any developmental or speech delays?
    Any mental health issues in the family tree?
    Is the grounding a consequence for running away or for not doing work in school?
    Do you have any idea why he's not doing any work in school?

    Again, welcome. I'm sure others will be along to offer their support and advice.
     
  3. Ehlena

    Ehlena New Member

    What kind of doctor diagnosed him with ADHD?
    A psychiatrist diagnosed him.

    Is he taking any medications? If so, what?
    He is on Adderall, which has done wonders in regards to his ability to concentrate. This is fairly recent, since we'd been averse to putting him on medication before trying other interventions. Boy, did we TRY!

    Before this current episode, how did he do in school, both academically and with peers?
    He's done pretty much the same. Poor grades, with the sporadic good grade thrown in. He has always had difficulties maintaining friendships.

    Does he have an IEP?
    Yes.

    Any sensory issues (for example, sensitivity to clothing tags, loud noises, food textures)?
    Not that we know of.

    Any developmental or speech delays?
    He had speech delays, and went to therapy for this. However, it's hard to say how much of this might have been due to his Bio-mom's neglect of him. He went into speech therapy once CPS removed him from her home. As of now, you wouldn't know that he'd had any problems, and his reading level is way above average - he's in honors English. And failing it.

    Any mental health issues in the family tree?
    Bio-mom was diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

    Is the grounding a consequence for running away or for not doing work in school?
    The grounding is a consequence for running away. We've been hesitant on how to approach the classwork issue, because we were unsure whether this was due to his ADHD issues or pure refusal to do the work. We've had to do some triage in regards to his issues. We're finding it impossible to tackle all things at once.

    Do you have any idea why he's not doing any work in school?
    I'm not sure. He often will simply refuse to do what he's told. Some days are good days, some days are bad days. There are days where I can ask him to complete xyz, he'll refuse (often with personal attacks), I'll walk away, and he'll later apologize and do what he's supposed to. And then there are days where he would rather just sit at his desk and do absolutely nothing for an entire day rather than...say...write a few sentences. He claims to like school, so...let's just say I'm baffled.

    The next time someone says "What's up?" I'll say "My blood pressure". I've got emails trickling in from his other teachers.

    We've had long-standing problems with difficult child insulting his peers based on their race or religion. Apparently that is still going on. Wonderful. It makes me feel so icky, because racism is generally pinned on the parents. Ick. Ick. Ick.
     
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi. Welcome :tongue:
    I have some questions too.

    1/Has he been evaluated by a neuropsychologist and, if not, when did he get his diagnosis of ADHD? It sounds wrong to me. I'm just a mom, but it sounds like he could have more. Did his birthmother use drugs or drink while she was pregnant?

    2/A speech delay plus social deficits plus intelligence is a big red flag for possible Aspergers. medications wouldn't help that...they could maybe help his attention, but they can't help with social skills or sensory issues. My son has this. But if he was exposed to drugs/alcohol while bio. mom was pregnant, all bets are off. There could be neurological damage.

    3/Does he do better in a smaller environment? Do you feel he has a lot of anxiety? Do you think he's just being "bad?" I don't.

    We adopted a son who was exposed to "fill in the blank" before he was born. These are complicated kids who are hard to diagnose and most of them start out delayed and have behavioral problems and they really need a lot of interventions, but not behavioral charts or "point systems"...they don't respond to that most of the time.

    The first thing I'd do is schedule a neuropsychologist evaluation which is more intensive and very different than what you get from a psychiatrist. And in the opinion of many here, they are often better evaluators. They test from 6-10 hours and in every area and find deficits that psychiatrists just don't look for since psychiatrists tend not to test at all. They diagnose by what we say and by observing our kids, often missing things. I actually agree that he shouldn't spend his entire childhood grounded. in my opinion you two need to find out what is really going on and grounding won't help.

    Good luck, whatever you decide to do and welcome again.
     
  5. Ehlena

    Ehlena New Member

    Hey MidwestMom, thanks for your reply!

    1) He hasn't been diagnosed by a neuropsychologist, though we are looking into it. It's tough, because sometimes his behavior seems so "normal", and then we feel like we might be overreacting. His counselor believes that we are looking at standard ADHD. He was diagnosed a little over a year ago.

    2) I don't know about Asperger's. He tends to make friends/acquaintences well at a surface level, but they tend to drop off after about a month. He has a long-time best friend who lives an hour away. I've noticed he can be very charming when he wants to be. However, I've also noticed that he complains a lot about other children, and fails to see his role in conflicts with them. His bio-mom did do some meth while she was pregnant.

    3) I'm not sure if he does better in a smaller environment. We had him switched to smaller classes at school (part of his IEP), but I'm not sure whether or not those are helping him. I'm still waiting for the replies back from thsoe teachers. I don't think he's just being "bad". I sincerely think there's a very good kid in there. I think he very much wants to please, but he gets into these moods where he just will not comply, even at his own expense. It's tough to judge what's triggering him. I don't get a sense of anxiety from him. I definitely think he has a lot of anger, and a lot of difficulty controlling his impulses.

    I'll bring up the neuropsychologist with my husband. We're feeling sort of lost right now, and searching for a direction. Thanks for your advice, MidwestMom!
     
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Ehlena, you seem like a good stepmother.

    I have to think the meth has affected him and made him emotionally liable as drug affected kids usually are. She probably also drank. Let's face it. If she said "yup" to meth, she didn't say "no, sorry, can't drink I'm pregnant!" My son that we adopted from foster care at age two was born with crack in his system.

    Drug exposed kids are very different and tend to have behavioral problelms. Also, the fact that mom was diagnosed as narcistic...there's mental illness on his family tree. He could have a lot of things. in my opinion a counselor isn't going to be able to nail the problems with this kid. He has too many issues. He was drug and probably alcohol affected in the womb. His mother was unstable...have you ever thought he may have attachment issues? He can make friends and be charming, but he can't really keep friends...red flags for a few disorders.

    I'll be honest. It's hard to figure out drug exposed kids, but I doubt if you're only looking at ADHD. I don't even know if you'll ever get a totally correct label. And a word of warning about Adderrall. It is very "Hot" on the street. His birthmom is addicted to meth. My daughter (this one was adopted from Korea) once abused drugs...she is 25 now. She was a meth addict. She is a wealth of info on teens and drugs and Adderrall (and all ADHD drugs) are very abused on the streets.

    Teens take the ADHD pills, crush them in pillcrushers, and snort them alone or with other drugs, like cocaine. Shocked? I was when she told me. Since then, I am leery of stimulants, especially if a child has drug abuse in the family. The kids she knew used to "fake" ADHD and get the medications and abuse them. Or they bought them off the street for $10.00 a pill. Drug abuse DOES run in families...or a genetic predisposition to becoming addicted.

    I hope you do go the neuropsychologist route because I believe you'll find out more thru that sort of evaluation than seeing a counselor or even a psyschiatrist. LIkely the drugs damaged something in the kid and he probably has deficits along with mental illness and it will be hard for the professionals to figure him out.

    Again, wish you luck. Glad you're here. Others will come along. A few of us are raising drug affected kids. By the way, my son is really doing well. He's sixteen now. He did get a lot of help and we did exhaust ourselves trying to nail down what was wrong with him. It was worth it. Tiring :tongue: but worth it.
     
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