Crazy Eyes during Tantrum - like she wasn't there

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by allhaileris, Mar 4, 2009.

  1. allhaileris

    allhaileris Crumbling Family Rock

    I saw this the other day and again last night during a tantrum - It's like there was somebody else behind my daughter's eyes. It's a look I haven't seen before and it was SCARY.

    Over the weekend she hid in the bathroom, I knew she was behind the door and I jumped out to scare her before she could scare me. She got all excited but was throwing up her hands and acting all weird - but there was a weird look in her eyes. I took it to be that her pupils were big from sitting in the dark (she has blue eyes so it would be more of a contrast).

    Last night she had a total breakdown. husband went to the store for groceries and she stared acting up. She climbed up on the counter and got a piece of choc cake after I told her no because husband and given her one after school. I had to wrestle it out of her hand and told her I threw it all away (I just hid it, I need my chocolate!) and she got all upset, climbing on things, running to each end of the house and hiding. I kept pulling her down off the counter and while she was up there she was playing some stupid game (I guess) where she was trying to be more powerful than me and do what she wanted. But the look in her eyes was weird and agressive and just not her. I put her in her bedroom twice and locked the door, she broke out, I eventually tried to wrap/hug her to keep her from running around and try to calm down, she kneed me in the eye and that hurt like heck and I let go, she messed up more stuff around the house (she had been leaving a wake of mess during the whole time), and seeing how hurt I actually was sat on the couch and started crying, apologized (and meant it) and then ran in my room and flopped on my bed and cried some more. I went in and huged her and tried to calm her down the rest of the way. The entire time she sat there lying to me just to get sympathy (1. everybody thought her new outfit was ugly, 2. everybody including the teacher hit her that day and 3. she thought she was ugly).

    I spoke to husband about this and he said he's seen that look before too. He says it's a mischeivious look, the head tilted down, the eyes tilted up. It's like something snaps and she has to get this agressive energy out of her, then she breaks down and cries. It's like she can't help it.

    So what is it? Somehting new or just some of the same in a new form? What do I need to watch out for?
  2. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    It does sound scary. I used to HATE it when Wiz got that mean look in his eyes. I don't know how to help it. I know risperdal helped my son with it a lot. But that may or may not be right for her.

    PLEASE do not lock her in a room. Most Children's Protection Services consider that child abuse. You can lose custody or end up with a LOT of interference from social workers if they find out you lock her in her room (or any room). If you have to put her in a room for safety, it should be as safe as possible. If there are some of hte sensory things she uses, they might help her calm down. I would say sit with your back to the door so she can't get out instead of locking her in. That way you are right there to hear her and there is no chance that you can't get her out in case of fire or other emergency.

    I know that may sound nit-picky. But I have seen members here in the past wind up with MAJOR hassles from CPS because they locked a child in a room (not abusively, in my opinion, just until they calmed down like you did).

    anyway, I am sorry she is getting that look in her eye. Any chance it might be seizure related? SEizures can cause all sorts of behaviors.
  3. allhaileris

    allhaileris Crumbling Family Rock

    The lock can be unlocked on her side by using a coin. She knows how, it just slows her down. She actually has to stop kicking the door and calm down long enough to find the coin/plastic part to unlock it. Thank you for giving me the insite with CPS.

    Seizures - there is something I never thought of. My Dad gets them for a non-epliepsy reason. "They" think it's because he got hit in the head with a baseball at like 1 yr old. I have no idea how she could have something like that without me knowing.

    What is the risperdal for?
  4. jal

    jal Member

    The risperdal helps with aggression.

    My difficult child also used to get the look in his eye, like he wasn't there. His school nurse once thought he may be having seizures too. He would get "the look" have the meltdown or have an episode of out bursts and then collaspe into a heap and cry and then fall asleep. He has not had one of those in many, many months. It is like they are not there and they cannot control it when it happens.
  5. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    My difficult child also got the crazy look in her eye during a meltdown/rage attack and even now when she's flying off the handle or having a temper tantrum, the crazy eyes are back, except it's even scarier now because she's older, goes straight for the jugular with words and can storm around more. She gets so nuts that I often cannot diffuse the situation or help her to see reason - I don't know what she will do. She's thrown things, threatened and hit and broken things. At least when she was little, I had more physical control. Thankfully, she doesn't fly off the handle hardly ever anymore - not since she stopped seeing her old loser boyfriend.

    H and I had a way of telling that there was a possibility of a meltdown after a while. Either the end of an extremely busy day, too much dairy or sugar, a party or special event, not enough sleep or too much sleep, and a break in routine - all of those things were potential triggers. So, when we thought about it or remembered, we would try and keep a certain routine or calm going.

    By far the best remedy for a meltdown with my difficult child was putting her into a warm bath with bubbles. Even if she was flailing all over the place and freaking out screaming and crying. I would run the bath (or have H do it) add some bubbles and take the little bean in there and plop her down into it. Within minutes, she was back to her old self again. By the time she played, I dried her off and lotioned her up, she was ready for some down time, a book, and sleep. Worked like magic. Much more effective than trying to make her stay in her room (Hahahaha - NOT) or adding more punishment (fuel to the fire, in my opinion).

    I second not locking her in her room - that can be extremely terrifying for a child or even an adult who can logically understand why he/she is being locked in her room. Locking her in her room will only add to her frustration and anger and cause you more grief in the long run. Find a different way to either get her to settle down or take a time out for yourself. Occasionally, if I had had enough, I would lock MYSELF in my room so she couldn't get in - just to get away from her. Or the bathroom. Even if she banged on the door and sat ourside screaming at me, I was still in my own space and it helped me to regroup.

    Have you discussed medications with her DR at all? Risperdal was a lifesaver for us when difficult child was younger.
  6. eekysign

    eekysign New Member

    Sounds exactly like my Sis. She'd decide there was something she wanted/wanted to do, and if we told her no, she'd freak out, fight, scream, run around, try to hit us......we'd try to hold her so she wasn't a danger to herself or us, we'd get the brunt of the kicking/hitting.

    Eventually, when she calmed down/wore herself out, she'd start bawling and have a laundry list of reasons she was misbehaving. Some sensible, some not even close to reality. Even then, sometimes, if you didn't say exactly the right thing to her, she'd snap right out of the crying fit, glare, and get nasty again. Never sure whether she really meant the apologies.

    But the "look"? Oh yeah, we got the look. It's the same look a bull gives before it charges. Head down, eyes up, "evil" frown and/or grin. The grin was scarier.
  7. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member


    when my difficult child was raging, almost daily at school in second grade, I used to say he wasn't in there. I wouldn't describe the look in his eyes as crazy - just black. It was as if my difficult child was not really there. His eyes were dark, angry, but empty. Fortunately, we have pretty much moved past the raging. However, there are times when he still gets extremely angry or frustrated. His eyes are angry, but he's in there.

    I remember reading something on a tourettes website years ago from a young teenage boy sho wrote about how it feels in a rage. He described a feeling of being outside your body watching yourself. There was no ability to control. I think that's the way it was with my difficult child when he was raging and today when he's really angry.

    There comes a point when stimuli from the outside serves no purpose but to prolong and often make the situation worse. We have found that not speaking to him, allowing him space and time works the best. As long as he is not in a position of hurting anone or anything, we just let him be angry and just let him be. Seems to have a more calming effect.

    When he was younger and really raging, the only thing that would bring the light back into his eyes was the appearance of me on the scene. I wouldn't talk, I would just be.

    It's a scary thing for a parent to look into their child's eyes and see nothing.

  8. allhaileris

    allhaileris Crumbling Family Rock

    We went to our regional center 2 months ago for another evaluation and haven't gotten anything back. I just got some names fowarded to me today for some dev peds, but I know one on that list had a 1 year wait time. We haven't seen her regular pediatrian in some time, and not for like 2 years or more to discuss her issues since there really hasn't been anything they could do.

    So now it sounds like we need to discuss with a doctor about this. Who do I bring her to now? Her regular pediatrician? Do we find a child pschologist or psychiatrist?

    I just emailed the regional center to ask about the evaluation and that I didn't know what to do next. I hate the thought of putting her on medications, but she's been fighting in school too and I don't want her to get worse.
  9. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    She could have seizures and you not know quite easily, actually. My daughter was 10 when we learned she had Absence epilepsy - the psychiatrist thought it was inattentive ADHD and that she was daydreaming. In reality her brain just "blanked out" as she described it.

    MANY behavioral problems can be caused by seizures. It used to be thought that there were only a few types of seizures, but now we know that isn't true. It depends where in the brain the seizure is in as to what behaviors it causes or stops.

    Wiz has described his rages as being outside of himself watching his behavior and unable to stop also. An EEG was done on him and came up with nothing, but I was never 100% convinced that some of his behaviors were NOT seizure induced.

    Just as an FYI, it is thought that migraines are often caused by a seizure in the vascular system in the brain, or something like that. Some type of seizure that affects the blood vessels.

    I would strongly recommend you get a child and adolescent psychiatrist on board, and a therapist also. Or maybe, given the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)-Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) diagnosis, a developmental pediatrician. Actually, if you were here I would STRONGLY recommend the dev pediatrician, because I know one who is amazing.

    Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) are both developmental disoders so many times they are treated by developmental pediatricians. They are highly trained. Ours is a certified child and adolescent psychiatrist who took an extra residency to be a dev pediatrician. Not sure if all of them are like that or not.

    Anyway, difficult child seems to be getting more difficult as she gets older, so getting the docs on board NOW so that interventions can be on board NOW is crucial. The earlier you can get accomodations and interventions in place the better the long term outcome.

    You have already done some with the speech and motor skills therapies, therapy for the sensory seeking behavior would be extremely helpful if you haven't already done it.

    risperdal is used to help deal with aggression. My son was 7 when we started using it. It made a HUGE difference.

    I hope this helps.
  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Don't automatically assume the "crazy eyes" is seizure activity. It MAY be, but tere can be a much simpler explanation.

    I've been told, years ago, that when I get really angry, my eyes change colour. It was actually a friend at uni who told me. I felt one of our uni lecturers was being officious and blocking legitimate attempts for us to do some catch-up work in the lab, which had been made necessary due to equipment failure. But because I'd been partnered with a bloke who had a reputation for goofing off, we were stopped from doing the make-up work. So I went to town on the professor. Polite, yet extremely angry. And my prac partner said, "You were really scary. Your voice stayed quiet but your eyes changed colour."
    I remember how angry I was. I was blazingly furious, but knew better than to swear at the professor or to otherwise lose control. But beneath my control, I was really, rally angry and feeling it. I was so glad I was still able to use words efficiently.

    But the eyes changing colour? I put it down to exaggeration, until years later when studying neurophysiology. That is when I discovered the effects of adrenalin (and other stress hormones released during extreme arousal such as being flamingly furious with your Physics professor!) on various parts of your body, including pupillary reflexes.
    In simple summary - when there is enough adrenalin surging through your body, things move around and shut down. There is a rush of energy to parts of your body that need it (ie legs, for running; muscles, for punching, hitting, kicking; brain, for thinking fast) and away from areas that don't need it (stomach, for digestion). Another area affected happens to include the pupils, they can narrow down a lot. Just as your pupils enlarge when you are happy and look at something pleasing, so your pupils will contract down when yo're angry, upset or looking at something nasty. And if you have pale eyes (as I do) then a change in pupil size will make the eyes seem darker or lighter, overall.
    If you're looking at your child and see this change happen, you mightn't realise what it is consciously, but your subconscious (perhaps that primitive crocodile brain that you need for your own self-preservation) recognises the change and also recognises it as a sign of danger, and sends you a subliminal warning.

    I remember difficult child 3's reaction on Strattera - he was raging so extremely, that he seemed possessed. Even now looking back I wouldn't call it anything like seizure, but it was totally out of character in how he physically attacked me. In his mind I was blocking him, being deliberately mean and provoking him to such extremes he felt driven to attack, as if I had been attacking him with a weapon repeatedly. This was only just before Christmas, he still shudders when I mention Strattera. It took us a few hours to realise the problem, it took him another couple of days before he came off the Strattera and was able to finally see just how much it had twisted his thinking.

    So a reaction like this - yes, it's upsetting. It certianly should be mentioned to the doctor. But seizures? Consider it worth checking out, but certainly not a foregone conclusion. And next time she's raging like this, have a scientific look at her eyes and try to not respond emotionally (not easy).

  11. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I have seen that look in my difficult child's eyes, too.

    I like Marg's explanation. :)

    Just for future reference, since I have been there done that, Sandy, I would suggest not chasing your daughter down or putting her in her room; it provokes more of a response. I would come up with-another plan ... not sure what, :sick: but it seems like once she's in that stage, she has to work her own way out of it, and getting in her way just makes it worse.
    Taking something out of our kids' hands is sure to provoke a rage. Like I said, I have done it too many times. Most of us, when something is yanked away, will just yell, "Hey, what do you think you're doing?!" but these kids are always over the top.

    by the way, she may not have been lying about being ugly, kids teasing, etc.; my difficult child often has crummy days and refuses to talk about them, and then I do one, itty, bitty thing that sets him off, and it all comes crashing down. And it's all MY fault. :faint:

    I hope the responses here have helped.
  12. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I didn't mean that seizures were a foregone conclusion, just wanted to illustrate different ways they can manifest and how hard they can be to diagnose. It used to be that before anyone was given ADHD medications they were given an EEG to rule out seizures first. That is not the case anymore, but if there are things like a strong family history of migraine, or a family history of seizures, then our neuro says that having an EEG done before starting medications for ADHD is a wise idea.

    Sorry if I gave a different impression. by the way, Wiz used to get that scary look in his eyes and he was never found to have any seizure activity other than migraines.

    Hope this is clearer.
  13. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    We use to see "the look" in difficult child a lot. For him it was a matter of definitely having no control. Others saw it as well. He still gets that look once in awhile but not so much now that his medications are helping more.
  14. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I don't think I misunderstood, Susie. I didn't think you were saying that's all it could be. I was just jumping in before other people began to think it could only be seizure activity. It certainly should be checked out if you're cooncerned, but often there can be a simpler explanation. I've seen easy child kids that angry!

  15. allhaileris

    allhaileris Crumbling Family Rock

    Generally, when she's bouncing all over the house I try not to run around after her, but it seems like she feeds on my immobility (I have a screwed up SI joint that hurts 24/7 and when it's worse I have a hard time getting up and down). I don't want her to climb all over the kitchen counters - I see her step on the stove, leap across the sink - she could seriously hurt herself. And sure, I keep saying that, but she acts like it's no big deal because the stove was off and she didn't fall. She climbs under husband's desk where there are parts and cables and stuff she could damage, but can't see why she can't hide in there.

    How am I supposed to keep her from running around when she gets like this, so she doesn't 1. hurt herself, 2. hurt me or the cat, 3. break something or 4. get into something she shouldn't (like cake, fish food, medicine), and do all this without pulling her down or physically removing her and restraining her (like in a bear hug)?

    I understand it upsets kids like ours when we do this, but I feel her and others *saftey* comes before getting her upset! She will not listen when I say "get off that counter" or "go to your room" or even if I say let her watch a cartoon just to calm down, she won't sit and watch it. How do you force a child to stay safe when they won't reason? (not that it's easy to reason with any young child).
  16. jbrain

    jbrain Member

    Hi Sandy,
    I really have no advice, just want to say my difficult child 1 used to have these types of rages too and we could see when they were coming on (the look or the hysterical laughing) and it seemed nothing could stop them til they ran their course. We would know they were over when she broke down sobbing. I'd never heard of this happening before and had no help from any therapists or doctors--I don't think they understood these were not typical temper tantrums. I would end up restraining her or she would destroy stuff--I couldn't go lock myself in a room or she'd destroy the rest of the house.

    I have asked her now that she is grown if she knows why she had such awful rages and she doesn't know. She had them til she went away to her Residential Treatment Center (RTC) at 16 yrs old although they were less frequent than when she was little. I don't know if her Residential Treatment Center (RTC) helped in any other way but it did help her with anger and being able to control herself when angry.

    I'm just glad to know I am not alone and wish I had found this group back then!

  17. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Your limited mobility really does make things more difficult. Until you can get her to a qualified specialist to figure out how to treat her, you're going to have to work very hard to manage and limit her exposure to the things that trigger these rages.

    If you don't want her having chocolate cake, then you're going to have to hide it before she has a chance to get into it and there is no need to get into a power struggle with her. And if she gets upset when you tell her things like you threw it out (which sounds like you did it to punish her for getting into it without permission), you'll have to think of something else to say so she doesn't explode.

    Some kids don't handle transitions well and they don't like surprises. They don't feel in control of the situation and that can feel scary to them. You have to explain things to them as if they were much younger than they are, because emotionally, developmentally, the ARE younger.

    You may need to think of alternate ways to get her feeling like she has control over something that is acceptable for her to control. Let's say she wants to watch television and getting her to end that session is hard to do. Talk to her in advance, before her show starts, about what's going to happen after the show is finished so she knows what to expect. "You may watch your show and when it's finished you get to go with me to the store to get milk, and you may pick out which box of cereal you want or you may pick out which apples we are to buy." Half-way through the show, remind her of what's coming up when it's finished. Ten minutes before it ends, remind her again. Five minutes before give another reminder. Maybe help her start getting her shoes on or some other aspect of getting ready while the show wraps up. Then when it ends, turn off the TV while saying "Okay, now it's time for us to go. Did you think about what you want to pick out at the store?" Keep it positive and cheerful. If she starts to resist, tell her that she won't get to choose anything if she doesn't cooperate. Suggest that it would be more fun for her to be able to make her choices at the store than not.

    I know this kind of mental prepping has helped me to reduce the opposition I often would get from my difficult child's. And once they are feeling oppositional, it's not too much of a stretch to trigger a rage. in my opinion, it's all about prevention.
  18. allhaileris

    allhaileris Crumbling Family Rock

    GCVMom - yep, I do exactly what you're saying about pre-warning her about what's to come next, how long she has to do X, that she can or can't have something before the temptation isn't even there (like asking for a toy every single time we go to Target, darn $1 spot!). Generally it works well.

    It's the after she's hit the wall and is worked up is what I'm confused about. I can do preventive stuff all day long, and be totally calm about things, but there is always something once or twice a week that makes her get like this.

    If you don't want them hurting themselves or damaging the house, and it's "bad" to keep them in their room, what other options are there? I refuse to let her make the rules! Like if she knows she's not supposed to go in my room, and keeps doing it, I'll pull her out over and over until she stays out. Sure, I could lock the door but then that keeps ME out and makes it worse for me because maybe I'm doing laundry or something that I need to keep going in and out. I want her to learn respect, not how to pick locks.

    No offense to anybody - because so many of you have it worse that I do, but I feel like I'm getting mixed instructions. Don't force them into their room, but don't let them rule the roost. Fine, but where is that solution between that my child will actually obey? If I need her out of my hair for fear that I'll strangle her (not really, but you know what I mean), what other options are there than keep her in her room until we've both calmed down?
  19. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I think sending her to her room is fine, even if you have to drag her. Just don't lock the door. You can sit or stand against the door so it won't open, but in case of emergency you could easily get to her. Or design a special space in a large closet or spare room that is her "cool down place" that you CAN sit outside with your body holding the door closed. It should be a totally childproofed space, maybe with a futon mattress on the floor and other stuff to provide whatever sensory input she seeks in a safe manner. If you are right outside the door then you can HEAR if she is raging or calms down, you can hear immediately if she hurts herself and you can get to her immediately with-o messing with locks in case of fire or other emergency.

    I am thinking walk-in size closet, not just regular size. I actually had a very deep closet as a child and would continuously dump pillows and clothes on the floor of it so I could crawl in there and hide when I was angry or upset. My mom used to get so MAD at me for doing it (mostly because the clothes and stuff just piled on the floor) but eventually she figured out that letting me have that space gave me a place to feel safer. Not that I didn't usually feel safe at home at that age, but I just needed that hidey-hole.

    I hope this helps. the warning about CPS was about using the lock, NOT sending her to her room. Even if she can pick the lock with a coin or plastic bit, they have fewer objections. I was actually TOLD this about my son - but he was 12 and bigger than I am, so holding a door shut for me was not possible.

    During a meltdown you may need to restrain her for her own safety. If so, a therapist or psychiatrist needs to teach you this technique. It is NOT something you should "figure out on your own" as you can easily hurt a child with-o the proper training. Others here can give you other places that you can learn this from. I learned from our psychiatrist at a Children's Hospital.
  20. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    I get it. Yes, there are always going to be times when no matter what you do, she's going to break down and fall apart.

    For me, when difficult children were 6 years old, I could restrain them. Sometimes a firm hug from behind would be enough to help them calm down after a while. Sometimes. Other times I had to get them outside to cool off. I still tell difficult child 2 to go for a walk when he's getting angry and loud. But with your pain issues, I realize that's not the best option.

    And despite what others have said about not locking your child in their room, I have held the door shut while they railed against it on the other side. Sometimes that just made them madder, but it was safer for me and the other kids if the monster kid was kept isolated until things cooled down.

    Have you tried some kind of behavior chart or point system where she earns points for good behavior and loses points for bad behavior? So many points to earn one prize level. It could even be an hourly thing. And the prizes can be traded up the more points she earns? It has to be something that's VERY appealing to her. We're talking HUGE carrot. Maybe she could help you come up with ideas. Doesn't have to be a monetary thing either. It can be something like staying up an extra 30 minutes at night. Or getting to help do something she doesn't normally get to do. Or earning a sheet of stickers. Getting to watch one extra TV show. An outing to a special park. An extra story at bedtime. Getting her toenails painted by mom. Choosing the dinner menu and helping to make it.

    Then again, maybe you've tried all that and it hasn't worked.

    Wish I had the answers. Sometimes you just have to keep trying until you find what works.