I am at my wits end with this child! :P Please help.

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by SnowYs, Sep 27, 2010.

  1. SnowYs

    SnowYs Guest

    My name is Erin and I am stepmom to a 10 year old girl diagnosed with ADHD. Im pretty sure she suffers from ODD, but we don't have an official diagnosis yet.

    Her behaviour is completely out of control. She came back from her mom's house yesterday and was told to pick up her room. 2 hours later and after wrestling with her sister, playing with toys and multiple requests to make beds were ignored until I stood in the doorway and watched them make them. That then ignited Vanessa's mouth. Because she thinks she is the boss of everything. She advised me I need to leave this house, etc. Her father told her to apologize to me. Which she can't do because she does not care about anyone but herself. She treats her younger sister like poo. Heaven forbid you do anything to annoy her or the verbal assualt will begin.

    From there it went downhill with Vanessa throwing a kitchen chair to the floor, and being told to sit on the stairs because she was not allowed to watch tv or draw etc. Well she started screaming at hitting the wall. So her dad told her to sit on the porch because we dont want holes in the wall. From there she escalated to throwing rocks at the window, acting like an animal and eating acorns at the dinner table. Proclaiming "Hmmm yummy acorns."

    She was drawing in bed even though her dad told her to go to bed ( She snuck art supplies into bed).

    She often will hoard candy/Fiber 1 bars into her room or to school with her. She prefers to graze on carbs all day rather than eat a meal.

    She bosses her sister around, trys to make her like everything she likes. She has been this way since I met her (when she was 7 1/2). She is very manipulative.

    I am pretty on top of her behaviour and call it out, and she doesn't like that.
    She is currently on Concerta, 36 mg which does absolutely nothing. She is doing poorly in school, can't focus, forgets her homework, etc.

    Tonight, when she got home from school we were explaining if she does her work and take her shower she could go on the computer (which she adores), well she had decided she needed her backpack back. Her shrink, mom and dad have decided she can not have a backpack because she hoards and sneaks things to school, which will distract her from focusing on her schoolwork So that led to another meltdown.

    She is starting Adderall XR 10mg tomorrow.

    Could she have a mild form of autism? is this ODD? She has no idea how to communicate her thoughts, feelings etc? The only thing she can talk about is cats (she likes to act like one), Pokeman, Sonic, etc.

    This is not normal behaviour and she is giving me anxiety. I myself suffer from ADD and never behaved like this. Your thoughts are much appreciated. Thanks.

    Erin & Rafael
  2. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome Erin,
    It sounds like like you are dealing with a lot right now-I'm glad you found us as you will find much support here. Has your daughter ever had a neuropsychologist exam? Their testing is usually very thorough and shed a lot of light on what is going on. Does she currently see a child psychiatrist? Hopefully he/she could shed some more light. I definitely agree it sounds like more than just ADHD.
    A book that might be helpful for you to read is The Explosive Child by Ross Greene. It can really help give you some ideas on how to deal with some of her behavior.

    by the way, regarding the backpack, my son used to steal things or take things to school he couldn't. The problem was solved when he had to turn his backpack in each day to his Special Education teacher and she gave it back as he left. This way he could still have a backpack like the other kids-just a thought.

    Again, welcome, you have found a soft place to land.
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there. Glad you found us, but sorry you had to jump aboard :)

    How about giving us a bit of history on this child? I think she does have some autistic traits (obsessive interests, inability to communicate) but you *really* need to get her assessed by a neuropsychologist (in the opinion of many oldtimer board members, like me, they do the best, most thorough assessments). If you answer a few questions, we can maybe give you more suggestions, but we can not really diagnose. That's what the Big Guys are for (and Gals).

    Are there any psychiatric problems or substance abuse issues in her family tree on either side (genetic)? How was her early development...talking, eye contact, motor skills, ability to relate to same age peers, does she have friends, how does she do in school, and can she transition well from one activity to another?

    Another existing factor is that she is atypical anyway and I assume she has to go from house to house (mom and dad) which is confusing and hard for any child, but especially for a child who is different. It is unsettling to most kids, but if, say, this child has Aspergers that would make it even worse. How often does she go back and forth? Are the rules different in both places? Does s he have two stepparts (both parents remarried?). Does she have new siblings in both homes? All this just adds to it.

    I would still, first and foremost, get her to a neuropsychologist. You can find them at university and children's hospitals...the sooner the better.
  4. SnowYs

    SnowYs Guest

    <<How about giving us a bit of history on this child?>>

    Very unstable past. Her parents had a bad relationship and avoided each other for most of it - so one parent was always gone. Many changes in residences while they were together, lived in poverty. At 3 1/2 her sister was born. Vanessa has a lot of beef with her younger sister. Katarina looks exactly like the mom and has been treated as a princess since birth. Both children are used to being served by their great grandma and have difficulty doing any chores. In many ways, it sometimes appears Vanessa is a 3 year old.

    <<Are there any psychiatric problems or substance abuse issues in her family tree on either side (genetic)? How was her early development...talking, eye contact, motor skills, ability to relate to same age peers, does she have friends, how does she do in school, and can she transition well from one activity to another? >>

    My husband does not drink, by choice as he feels people use it to cover up negative emotions. Vanessa's mom is 30 but she very much lives a single girl type of lifestyle and does drink - to what extent I am not sure. The girls Uncle does have some type of problem...he is not diagnosed with anything. I met him once and was going to talk with him, but he stared straight ahead and never acknowledged my exsistence. My husband Rafael says he is very socially awkward. The mom has stated numerous times she thinks she may have ADHD. I know the mom and her younger brother David have a temper. (I made the mistake of telling the girls mom she needs to check her priorities because she was leaving the girls with relatives to go out and party a lot. That lead to threats of her kicking my a**.)

    My husband has a hard time recounting her exact miletones before 3 but says she talked and was potty trained in the right time frame. He did state she had a lot of temper tantrums as a kid. She will give you limited eye contact but if you are trying to have a one to one conversation she will not look you in the eyes. You have to ask repeatedly. She has friends in school. We think she communicates at a lessor level than her peers - but she does have friends her age. She is doing poorly in school,she barely made it to 5th grade. Does not hand assignments in. Does not stay on task. Does not understand math and was just started yesterday in a Special Education class for math. She is not allowed to bring a backpack to school because she will hoard candy, drawings - anything that she can distract herself with. She does have a history of taking things from her mom's various residences without permission. We just switched her from Concerta 36mg (which was doing nothing) to Adderall XR 10mg.

    <<Another existing factor is that she is atypical anyway and I assume she has to go from house to house (mom and dad) which is confusing and hard for any child, but especially for a child who is different. It is unsettling to most kids, but if, say, this child has Aspergers that would make it even worse. How often does she go back and forth? Are the rules different in both places? Does she have two stepparts (both parents remarried?). Does she have new siblings in both homes? All this just adds to it.>>

    She is with us Sunday afternoon - Thursday morning. I had to push for 2 years for this schedule! We just started it at the beginning of the school year (Aug. 23rd). My husband works in the entertainment business so his schedule revolves around when things are shot - which can be at anytime! We have written the schedule on the fridge, as well as verbally remind her. She did state to her dad (Who seems to be the only one she talks too other than her younger sister. She does not initiate conversations with me unless it is about her Pokeman, drawings, anime, etc.) yesterday that the schedule is confusing to her and she wants to be with him one full week and her mom the next week. We have lived in the same house the last two years. They have a bed here, and stability. We do have a 10 month old son together. I know Rafael is growing increasingly frustrated with her behaviour and at times I do feel he is too harsh on her.

    The mom has an on again/off again boyfriend. Im not sure how involved he is in this situation because that aspect is not communicated with us. The mom has said she thinks she has ADHD. She has also stated at times she thinks her boyfriend is bi-polar. The mom has been all over the place. She has lived with her boyfriend, her mom, her great grandma. We are being told she is living at her mom's house now. Before that she was living with her great grandma. Everyone hangs out the great grandma's and if the girls are there they will have any number of "parents." The great grandma, the grandma, the mom, her brother David & his girlfriend Felicia, Aunt Margo..and sometimes Grandpa Roy. Last weekend my husband went to the grandmas house to set up bunk beds for the girls, but the mom did not have all the pieces so he could not complete the bed for them. We do not know where the girls sleep when they are with her.

    I don't think she takes the schedule idea too seriously because we got a text today that she wants to take just Vanessa tomorrow. Which we advised is not a good idea, since she already communicated she is confused as is.

    Vanessa is very bossy, and commands around her younger sister. She wants Katarina to like all the things she does. And Katarina for the most part follows along, but occasionally voices her own opinion with Vanessa. I did forget to mention we have a lot of trouble with hygiene. Vanessa has lots of clothes, but will only wear the things she feels comfortable with. Getting her to put her clothes in the hamper is a problem. Getting her to not wear stained dirty clothes is a problem. She does not change her underwear very often though we are constantly reminding her. Vanessa is poor at brushing her teeth. Katarina follows Vanessa's lead. Both children do not take responsibility for their actions - its always someone else's fault. Neither child really communicates thoughts / feelings. Katarina is an A+ student.

    We are all communicating what is going on and trying to all be on the same page for rewards for good behaviour (computer time), etc. It's a work in progress and I know we are probably harsher in discipline. As I said, Im the detail queen and they have a hard time sneaking Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Candy etc into their room with me around. Which I know both of the girls don't like.

    Hope the additional info helps! Look forward to your responses. Thanks. :)
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Thanks for the extra info. I've only got a couple of minutes, but there are multiple things going on here.

    1) the poor kid has a lot of stuff going on and doesn't have much idea of what is right and what is wrong. You're behind the 8-ball right from the start as stepmother, plus you're trying to handle this with strictness which, while appropriate under oter circumstances, is setting this kid off BECAUSE others in hr life have engendered her withj a sense of entitlement. You will get better usccess if you mesh with a different method. Read "Explosive Child". Your methods are not wrong; just tat other methods here are probably more right.

    2) There could be something else going on in terms of underlying problems. But with all the other crud, it's hard to tell. When you can get the other issues managed better, what you are left with is what needs a diagnosis.

    But to get the other stuff managed better, because you are being unwittingly undermined by the others in her life, you need to change. You have done nothing wrong but this is not about fault, this is about you being successful in what you want to achieve. And this will help you succeed. That book is brilliant. It also works on "normal" kids, and other people too. I found it made my life a lot easier.

    There are links here (Early Childhood has a sticky) which can give you more information.

    Sorry about the typos and the rush - heading out NOW to take difficult child 3 to his specialist, re medications. I'll check in later. I know my husband tracks my posts here, he might have something to add.

  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi and thanks for all the answers to the questions. I have one more: Did birthmother drink or use drugs while she was pregnant?

    I would still go with the neuropsychologist. After that, you many want to go to counseling as a family to see how you can help her cope with her birthmother's instability. Sounds like there is no structure at all and she needs it! Can you get primary custody?
  7. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    Honestly, if mom and dad are on board, she needs further evaluation, for sure. Has the doctor discussed the side effects of Adderall? Just watch for those. My friend's son has good results with Adderall.

    My daughter has a mood disorder. The Concerta just made her hyperfocused and irritable. If she has a mood disorder on top of the ADHD, you may need a mood stabilizer. We had to get Missy stabilized for the moods first prior to adding the Concerta back in. She then did okay, but didn't make much difference in school for her either. These are all things that need to be discussed with her doctor.
  8. SnowYs

    SnowYs Guest

    I don't know but this is the 3rd night of her bs. Sorry it is incredibly frustrating. She is such a manipulative disrespectful child. You can not give her one inch without her trying to resort to negotiating, sneaking getting her way. :sick::sad-very::whiteflag:

    Not even 8 days ago we threw a big birthday bash at the local roller rink. We shelled out $200 bucks for this party. I have known this child 3 years and not one year has her mother wanted to plan her school friends birthday party. Every year I spend time money on a child who just expects it. She for the longest time has complained, "I dont want to go with mom. Mom's mean." Well I guess the cards have turned because now she is wanting to spend Halloween with the mom (which would be our evening).

    The evening went well up until bedtime. We tryed the mom's suggestion of rewards. So since homework was completed we went out for frozen yoghurt with candy toppings. She also earned computer time since she completed homework.

    But this is not enough for this child. The rules have been clearly layed out and she does not want to adhere to them. She wants to be the boss. The mom said when Vanessa snaps back with attitude, she asks her if she knows she is acting disrespectful. Well the mom says she always answers no. Well tonight this child was being rude to her younger sister and her father and screamed back that "Yes I know."

    Bedtime is bedtime, not drawing or talking time. But no she again trys to sneak a binder into bed, she trys to pretend her wrist hurts so she can try to sneak it behind her back.

    My husband called the mom because she claims Nez never talks back to her. Well here Vanessa thinks she can do what she wants because she said while we were all talking on the phone that "The rules should be different here." And I made it clear, they will be as much the same at both places.

    Vanessa's mom does subscribe to the theory that this angry child is Vanessa's personality and we just have to accept it. This manipulative bossy child is her and we can't change it stop it etc. And part of it may be, but if we all just "accept" this as the mom is saying she has - aren't we just lining her up to be more bossy more manipulative more out of control as she gets older? I do think being served on by your great grandma for so many years has set up unreal expectations. This child will not be able to hold a job on the path she is following, will be lucky if she makes it to high school on the path she is choosing. Apparently this is the same theory that was applied to the girls Uncle. I did learn tonight the girls Uncle is considered "slow" and only has a job because he was placed in it by an organization. But there is no actual diagnosis on what is wrong with him.

    We emailed her doctor but have not gotten a response yet. I am sending another message over in hopes that they can evaluate for a mood disorder or this odd which I think she has.

    I was feeling very positive after the earlier messages but again this child has made me angry and negative feeling towards her behaviours. I would like to read this book recommended, but I feel the problem is everyone is too easy on her. I guess Im pulling the tough love card.
  9. SnowYs

    SnowYs Guest

    Just checked my email - Dr is talking about tenex for behavior. We will all have to discuss it since only we are getting the behaviour problems.
  10. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Tenex is a blood pressure medication that is given in low doses for mood disorders. It was fabulous for my daughter - however it must be given at the same time every night - no exceptions. Can not skip this medication as it will mess with blood pressure.

    Adderal XR was wonderful for my difficult child. Warning - it will probably keep her up at night! You are going to have to be more lenient on the bed time routine because she me truly just not be able to sleep yet.
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    The thing with the book, etc - it gives you a different way of getting what you want form the child.

    Tough love has its pace, but the whole aim of the exercise is to raise a child to be independent, happy, productive and functioning. Sometimes tough love is not the way. It's the old story of the willow tree and the grass, in a storm. The willow stands strong against the storm, the winds blow. The willow says to the grass, "I am strong, I will protect you," while the grass says, "I am afraid of the storm, I am too weak, I cannot stand strong." But the grass bends to the wind and survives, while eventually the willow topples. It has been betrayed by its own strength.

    I am not advocating letting this child be allowed to mould the entire world to her pattern. But there does need to be some flexibility, I feel. Her mother actually has a point. And so do you. There does seem to be something in her nature, and the mother has found that giving way (in whatever way she does it) gives her some peace. But you are concerned that if Ness is used to people giving way to her all the time, she will grow up expecting people to always give way. Another problem will happen that both you and the mother need to realise - if Ness keeps wanting the world to fit in with her, she won't be as adaptable as she needs to be. Again, this sounds Aspie.

    If she is Aspie, then trying to force control on her is going to backfire badly and really cause you a lot of grief. The harder you try, the worse she will be. But there are other techniques that will get you the changes you want.

    Problems here - although she sounds like a bright kid in a lot of ways, if she is Aspie, then she actually will be a lot less capable in some highly specific areas. This can take you by surprise breathtakingly. If you force the issue, you will eventually lose. Sooner or later, probably sooner. But if you back off form forcing the issue, you have a better chance of eventually winning.

    The to and fro is not helping though. She could have the best parents in the world, all on the same page and in full and daily communication, and this would be a problem still. Especially if she is Aspie - she would be feeling constantly off balance.

    What these kids crave, is control of their world. They also can be stubborn to a nuclear level. Because they have the capacity for intense focus with mindblowing intensity, if you engage in a battle of wills you will lose. But if you can teach self-control, then this channels the already amazing ability into a very productive area. The book helps explain this and shows you how.

    Another problem - if you're trying to get behaviour from her that simply is beyond her ability to give you, then you are set up for failure. A lot of the behaviour of Aspies sounds like insolence when in fact it is a lack of social understanding at the subtle levels we expect. They can learn social skills, but they don't pick them up the way others do. And they certainly do not learn social skills by pressure or control. In fact, it works against learning. These kids learn how to behave, by being shown how to behave. They also will treat people the way those people treat them. For example, if you say to your child, "For heaven's sake, hurry up! I'm fed up waiting for you!" then one day while you are shopping, the same child will stand in the supermarket shouting at you with hands on hips saying, "For heaven's sake, hurry up! I'm fed up waiting for you!"
    People interpret this as insolence, but it is actually good learning - the child has just delivered the same behaviour that was modelled previously.

    So when you discipline your child with strict control, often a child whose social skills are not up to par, will interpret your control as bullying or as the behaviour you expect from them. You may SAY "that is disrespectful," buy your actions say otherwise.

    To teach respect, you have to show respect, even if they don't show respect to you. As Dr Phil says, "Someone has to be the hero."

  12. SnowYs

    SnowYs Guest

    Letter we received today from Vanessa's teacher!

    Thanks for the heads up on the medication.
    I spoke with Mrs. Struckmeyer about Vanessa’s behavior in the math group and we both have great concerns. She seems to be ok while being walked through the problem, but then when she has to do a couple on her own she does nothing. The rest of the group is ready for the next set of problems and Vanessa hasn’t finished even one problem.
    Another concern is she doesn’t answer when spoken to, she looks down and mumbles.
    In class she is always off task and doesn’t turn in her work, which is usually unfinished. I found her test in her desk today.
    You mentioned her seeing a psychiatrist, is he doing any testing? This may not be as simple as ADHD. I am also trying to see if the school psychiatrist can do an evaluation if it is ok with you.
    Ms. Russell

    Feeling positive! Let's get this kid some help. :)
  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    That really sounds very familiar. It's an anxiety issue by the sound of it, plus perfectionism plus possibly not being able to remember as she should. With ADD, the memory often doesn't get laid down properly. Short-term memory slides them through, but long-term is faulty and they need long-term memory to be really sharp in order to continue to learn academically. On things they really focus tightly on (such as a pet subject) they will seem word perfect, but any subject that is complex or challenging, they tend to not pay as much attention to begin with, or it requires more solid concentration than they can handle.

    I just posted at length on Blue Nude's threads about some issues which could be similar. Have a read of them and see if anything rings a bell for you. It saves me repeating myself here!

    I would strongly urge you to not use real names in your posts. I hope you have already made substitutions. It is too easy to Google a name and find out what is being said about you or about someone you are interested in. Anonymity works best here because sometimes, we need to vent in the knowledge that the kid or the teacher (or the doctor) we are venting about, won't find their name in our post and know how angry we are with them!

  14. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    Request an IEP evaluation from the school, especially after that letter. They should do a full evaluation, inlcuding a psychiatric exam.

    I have to say.....This is my opinion and not based on medical fact, but it is my belief that ODD is a symptom, not a diagnosis. That comment that she knew she was being disrespectrul smacks of ODD, I know. My feeling is that once she is stablized, the ODD will pretty much subside (rearing its ugly head occasionally, but not as much).

    Go with the IEP if you can. Formally request the IEP with your school district. Get an advocate if you have to. I consulted our local advocate over the phone and through email with no cost to me, but it's not a huge fee if they come to the evaluations, if needed.

    If she's really out of control, such as raging or hurting the other sibling or destroying things, call the local mobile response team. Find out who and where you have to call. I held off, for years, doing it because my husband worked for a police department and he was always fearful of chidren's service getting involved, but once I finally did it, I was extremely relieved to receive all kinds of services through the state that I don't even need to pay for (strapped for cash after this economy caused major pay cuts in our salaries).

    Anyway....find out what the services in your state is called. Some are called Caring Families, some are Value Options and such. There's a whole source of resources available to you if you go that route that are not available with traditional insurance.
  15. SnowYs

    SnowYs Guest

    I would like to thank everyone so much ffor their advice and feedback.

    This is all so confusing, because the more I talk with the mom the more confused I get. Vanessa sounds like an angel at her mom's vs. here. It doesn't make sense, but I can relate because as a child I was "perfect" at my dads house for fear he would not love me if I wasn't perfect. I know both kids are torn between who to have alliegence with. There is a history with both girls of them saying things to each parent to I believe, tick them off.

    Oddly enough, Vanessa's psychiatrist called yesterday evening and did not seem to think it was Aspergers but said she will evaluate it next appointment. I still think it could be, because I asked her to not come into the bedroom without asking 2 nights ago. And of course since then, every morning she has barged in at 6-something to have conversations with her dad.

    Thankfully 3 days of piece now!
  16. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Erin, her mum could be telling the truth - she may behave perfectly for her, because they just happen to mesh together well and I suspect two other things also:

    1) Mum lets her pretty much do what she wants, eat what she wants, not do chores and not tidy her room; and

    2) Ness is 'eightened' towards you, in your presence her anxiety is ramped up just tat little bit, her hostility is ramped up just that bit more, so she is far more reactive with you, more likely to 'bite'. Your strict controlling kind of discipline (valid attempts to try to train the girl to be a good person, a tidy person and someone who pitches in and gets her chores done) is backfiring badly, with THIS kid (for whatever reason is underlying).

    She could also be a bit oversensitive with you, because you are seen as the interloper (the curse of the step). This would have you the loser anyway, even if tis kid had no other problems. I remember when I was a kid and my good friend was dealing with her parents splitting up and each finding someone else. She hated her stepfather (who was our tennis coach) and encouraged us to me mean to him too. I especially was good at it, I remember he came over to me and asked me, "Why are you being mean to me? Is there something I have done to you?"
    And of course he was right to challenge me. But I had confused loyalties and had fallen for a very dirty trick - get someone else, a total innocent, to fight your war for you. And it was a pointless war, my friend was resentful of someone who really had done nothing wrong to her. She wanted her parents back together, but she personally was not party to the full reasons for her parents' break-up. She was blaming her mother and especially her mother's new boyfriend, because merely by being in her mother's life, he was a reminder that her parents as a solid item was over. But who knows what really happened? ANd really, it was not her business, although perhaps her parents could have handled things better. But then - maybe they did try. My friend was very wilful.

    We have a few stepmothers here on this site who are struggling with a range of problems. However, they have learned a lot on how to handle things and what to let go. One important bit of advice I am sure they would share with you, is that when there are problems like this (and this seems very common) you let the bio-parent in the household handle things. The problem is, I gather this is your home and you want to maintain your standards.

    We have a member here in particular, Stepto2, who is in a similar situation (only not on good terms with bio-mother). Search her posts out, see if anything rings a bell.

    And read that book! I am sure it will help, but you will be needing to sit on your hands a lot! To begin with, anyway.