From Sociopath to Succcess ?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by PorcupineWhisperer, May 18, 2009.

  1. PorcupineWhisperer

    PorcupineWhisperer New Member

    "Junior" has been home a little over a year and for those who have followed his progress through my posts, I am happy to say that he continues to improve. He was recently received a 'Most Improved Student' award at school for both behavioral and academic improvement (he has gone from sleeping in class and refusing to work to getting his work done consistently and currently is passing all courses with a B or better). He was recently treated to lunch by the school's resource officer (the same police officer who had to intervene several times earlier in the year when difficult child was raging and the classroom had to be cleared). He currently is a peer helper along with other teens in a PE class for students with developmental disabilities. At present he is on track to 'graduate' from his self contained classroom and start next year in regular classes.

    At home difficult child has been safe around the household pets and they no longer flee when he walks in the room . He is able to spend unsupervised time with his older sister without fear that he may hurt her. Because difficult child is more responsible (and significantly less aggressive) Mom is able to leave him with other family members and start to have a social life without having to be home all the time or 'on call' to manage difficult child's behavior.
    difficult child definitely still has some aggressive/predatory tendencies, but he has become able to compartmentalize them to specific times during our play therapy sessions. He sticks very close to the 'Aggression Diet' that we have implemented and will call or text between sessions if he is not sure whether something is OK (cartoon violence is OK, M rated games or the type of violence in the Dark Knight is not). Mom playfully calls him ‘Dexter ‘ after the character in the TV show.

    All and all I am very proud of him. He has worked hard and has done well. Not only has he improved his quality of life and that of his family, but also the unknown people he would have likely had a negative impact on if he had maintained his past path into adulthood. Time will tell, but the prognosis looks good. 
  2. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    This sounds like real progress.
    I am studying to be a therapist myself and have an adopted "child," who is now a young adult.
    Is Junior your adopted child?
    Recently, someone recommended I read Ghosts of the Nursery.
    If you don't mind, please post a review of sorts when you are finished with this book.
    by the way, this comment: "Mom is able to leave him with other family members and start to have a social life without having to be home all the time or 'on call' to manage difficult child's behavior," sure did get my attention.
    I recall times like this. I don't feel that they were particularly healthy for me. I do hope mom had outlets available to her at that time to stay in touch with her real self. I do hope she has a social life filled with loved ones, friends and activities...this is really what makes life fulfilling.
    I recognize the good feeling that comes when we see progress in children...hope for the future.
    And it feels doubly good when you know that you've been a part of this.
    Prayers and good thoughts for more of the same.
  3. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Alright PW! Give it up - how'd you do it? I know that you've been working with Jr. for a while, but I've been doing this for 10 years with difficult child 1 and I'm about to jump!

    The worst part is that he's having most of his outbursts as a reaction (doesn't matter that the anticedent is ever-so-slight!) to a sense of danger. He's in a school for ED kids that get violent quite frequently, so difficult child 1 "postures". You know, sort of like in nature when a potential victim "pumps themselves up" to appear larger rather than an easy mark.

    The main problem is that as long as he keeps behaving this way, I can't move him out of his current environment. His current environment is what fuels the "pump up/meltdowns". A vicious circle for sure!

    So...I'll do this for you...I'll be your best friend if you give me some direction...I don't know if you want a best friend, but my daughter tries this on me all the time expecting me to fold!

    Thanks in advance for any advice you can provide!

    Oh, and by the way - even though I'm TOTALLY jealous - great news about Jr. You really deserve a pat on the back - you've won that child's life back for him!

  4. Christy

    Christy New Member

    Thanks for sharing this update. It gives me hope at a time where I am feeling pretty hopeless about my own difficult child.
  5. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Well.....I hope so. And so do a few others on the board that have children who were diagnosis with potential sociopathic tendencies.

    I'm glad to hear the success of this child. It is the #1 reason I am so pro-therapy.

    THanks for the update.
  6. Star*

    Star* call 911

    I highly recommend a book -

    Mapping by Wilton Hellams.

    It's written by 2 tdocs who both worked with the criminally insane and serial killers, and some young patients. It about their therapeutic findings about how you can change the brain of a sociopath or a psychopath if interventions are given at critical times.

    The read was a little technical - but fascinating and available through our own amazon link to offset board expenses.
  7. Fran

    Fran Former Site Owner

    PW, I'm so glad you posted some results. it gives those of us who worry a feeling that progress can happen. Like you said, he still has tendencies but he is working to control them.
  8. PorcupineWhisperer

    PorcupineWhisperer New Member

    Nomad - Thanks for the feedback, Junior is not my adopted child, although I do catch myself feeling a little paternal from time to time :). GFTN is turning out to be a really good book. I think any book or article that includes a lot of material from Dr. Bruce Perry has got to be good.

    nvts - I understand just what you mean about the environment contributing to difficult child 1's outbursts. 'Jr', had the same issues only in his case, it was the staff's response to his behavior that caused him to escalate (he would break a rule - they would give a consequence - he would get more upset because of the consequence - they would give more consequences because he was escalating - the cycle would continue and was a regular occurrence). Very frustrating for all involved.
    The short answer to 'how'd I do it' - it was VERY labor intensive. difficult child was / is a kid with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Because attachment to mom was insecure (he had threatened to kill her in her sleep many times -to quote him 'you'll never see it coming'), my focus of treatment initially was to create a 'surrogate ' attachment between he and I while I worked to repair the relationship between he and his mom. Like many Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) moms she was not 'in sync' with Jr., so she had to learn how to respond to both good and bad behaviors in a way that was likely to cause growth in their relationship instead of causing further distance. After dealing with the attachment stuff, addressing his assorted trauma issues was the next key.
    In terms of being my best friend, I think everybody needs a BFF or two :). So, if you shoot me an email I'll try to offer you some ideas.
    When I began working with difficult child at age 13 (he's now 15), we had some frank discussions about his possible future. We discussed the Homicidal Triad (of which he fit all three categories). In a more recent therapy session we reviewed a chapter from Peter Vronsky's book on serial killers. The chapter was called 'Serial Killers as Children; The Making of Monsters’. In each of these discussions, Jr. stated 'that's not who I want to be.' So I think rather than me winning difficult child's life back for him, I think the key was that he decided early on that he was going to take his life back. by the way - thanks for the pat on the back, it's appreciated. :)

    Christy - Thanks for the feedback. Your comments remind me of a brief discussion that difficult child and I had not too long ago after things had started to significantly improve for him. In between our talk of Naruto and Sour Patch Kids :) , he was talking about the times when he used to self harm and tried to kill himself. He indicated that he engaged in those behaviors because he felt his life was so bad that he couldn't imagine that he had any purpose in life. I suggested to him that perhaps he and I had a 'shared' purpose to show others that kids like him could get better. I'm glad that difficult child's progress was able to offer a ray or two of hope to you.

    Star - I'm going to look into this book. I've never ordered anything off the Amazon link, but this may very well be my first. Thanks for the tip!

    Fran - difficult child's progress gives me hope as well. Because I work with some pretty ...umm... interesting kids :) , it's reassuring that even some of the kids with the most severe problems can turn things around. At present, difficult child wants to be a chef and for the first time his mom and I don't cringe at the thought of him being around lots of sharp knives....:)