I'm New--Intro

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Lulu, Jan 9, 2008.

  1. Lulu

    Lulu New Member

    Hello, all.
    I have been lurking for a little over a month, I guess, since I began to suspect that my 4yo boy might have ODD. I've been researching and thinking and reading and now think he has some of the symptoms, but I'm not sure he would get a diagnosis. For example, he is not wantonly cruel or violent. He is volatile, however, and "time-outs" or trips to his room usually escalated into 2 hour battles including his kicking or thrashing out aimlessly. His behavior worsens when he is consumes red or yellow dye, we learned last fall. He is at his worst during transition periods. It took about a month to get him acclimated to preschool last Sept. He is reading at a second grade level, maybe third? He can spell some words phonetically and has other spellings memorized. He can write letters or emails to people fairly easily. He is not ADD or ADHD, that I can tell. I definitely don't think he's Aspergers or autistic, but he has some social anxiety. It takes him a half hour or so to warm up at a party or gathering in a new place, even when he knows everyone there. But isn't that normal? It is hard for me to know what is normal for a smart four-year-old, I guess, and what is a behavior that he might need help with.

    I'd like him to be in the gifted kindergarten in our district next fall. But if he is emotionally not ready, then he will mentally stagnate in another year of pre-K, I fear.

    My 2yo girl is really a trial, but again, I'm not sure if it's just normal "being two." She, too, is a smartie. She can write her name, and can in fact write lots of letters of the alphabet. Occasionally A has sounded out a simple three-letter word without our prompting, which is about when N started, I guess. She is PAINFULLY shy. She always has been, but it has gotten worse since Christmas, when we did lots of traveling and met lots of new people. She kind of withdrew then and hasn't quite stuck her neck back out of her shell yet. She is open and talkative at home, but is mute with certain strangers (men and boys, mostly) and even mute with some adults and children she knows. I worry about this trait in her, scared it will prevent her from getting help at "preschool" (she goes to a 2yo class for 2 hours two mornings a week). One day she was going to the potty by herself and no one could find her because she wouldn't answer their calls for her. Another day when we were at a museum, my friend (who A has known all her life) was watching A while I was in the bathroom, and A got pinned in the fence of an exhibit and couldn't get out, but didn't utter a PEEP until I came back. She would probably not tell anyone if her hand was caught in a meat grinder unless I was around.

    She has another side, though, and is also oppositional, but again, is it in a neuro-typical way? She insists on the opposite of whatever I ask her to do, or whatever I offer her. Usually, she comes around, but we are often late because of both her and her brother sitting in the floor of the backseat, refusing to get in their seats. Joy.

    The problem is that she is learning defiant behaviors and "comebacks" from her big brother. Would she be enacting these if she were terribly different in temperament from him? I'm worried that we'll see double trouble pretty soon.

    I have gone on too long.

    Regardless, I am finding this forum helpful so thought I should officially join in. Maybe if anyone has similar kids or struggles you could share?

    Feel free to ask any questions or give me any ideas. I'm reading 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child, and it is already helping me adjust my attitude and behaviors. I've also checked out The Explosive Child and Your Defiant Child from the library.

    If you got this far, thanks for listening.
  2. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Hi Lulu,

    Welcome out of lurkdom!

    I'm a parent of an atypical Hyperlexic child so feel free to ask questions here. He was more social and verbal than the typical Hyperlexic kiddo but when it came to reading and other symptoms was pretty classic.

    What are you seeing in terms of speech for both of your little ones? Any delays at all? How about adult sounding speech--using words far advanced for their age or speech concentrated on topics that aren't typical for their ages.

  3. aeditha17

    aeditha17 New Member

    I am new too - Hello!
    Your little mention of the two in the backseat warmed my heart. I have a 5 year old with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and ODD and a 4 year old who we don't know if he has issues or not and we do the backseat drill all the time!!!!
    Hang in there - this is a GREAT place. I have only been active here for a few days and I already feel so much better emotionally.
  4. Lulu

    Lulu New Member

    SRL, thanks for the welcome. I registered for the hyperlexia yahoo group yesterday, but haven't gotten a confirmation email yet.

    As to your questions, neither child has speech delays, both came along normally or ahead. N speaks with an adult vocabulary and we have conversations about theology and physics, so I guess he is ahead of other 4yos. Now why can't I just call that "smart"? Why does it have to be a "condition"? I'm not trying to be sarcastic, I really need to know. N has trouble making "small talk," but I think has learned some techniques from listening to my husband and me. But again, isn't making small talk a learned skill? My whole world is probably skewed because I only see his preschool classmates for 5m at drop-off and pick-up, and our regular playdate is a delayed boy who just turned 4, so he rarely talks at all and when he does I can hardly understand him. I can't really have a conversation with him. Same with our 5 and 4yo neighbors. The 4yo is speech delayed and the 5yo just growls at me when I try to ask him a question. Are there any typical children anywhere?

    My 2yo (A) I suppose has a broad vocabulary and is already past her first set of annoying "why?"s, for now. She is also good at conversation, but is becoming petulant in that department. Again--typical terrible twos? I lean toward that explanation.

    aeditha/B: thanks for your hello. It is going to be hard for me, and you too?, to puzzle out how to discipline the younger one. What to let go, etc. I look forward to reading your experiences and thoughts. The back seat situation really stinks at both points--getting in and getting out. When we pull into the driveway after preschool, it can take N ten minutes to eventually get out of the car. Meanwhile, babygirl and I are just hanging out in the snow waiting. I have a bum hip and can rarely haul him like I used to. Life is GRAND!

    I forgot to add above that both children are artistically gifted.

    And I also forgot to add the family history situation. They are both our biological children. Neither of us abuses drugs or alcohol, I have a long history of major depression but am at a good place with-no medications right now. I was on Celexa (anti-dprst) throughout the pg and the first six months breastfeeding of my first child before I decided to go off of it because I was afraid I was harming him. We have depression, ADHD, alcoholism, and anxiety on both sides of the family. My husband seems to have been ODD throughout his childhood into early adulthood, but has made it through to the other side, Lord knows how. He is a wonderful husband and father. I am very patient, I think, but when N's behavior was at a bad spot last year I switched to prison warden mom and I'm afraid that made it worse for him and for us all for a bit. Husband doesn't yet see why barking and yelling don't work with N. And he is deathly afraid N will go through what he did, too.

    As I reflect on it, I think I have many ODD traits in a more passive way. I often have NO idea why I don't want to do what someone tells me too (usually a family member), but I do feel the back of my neck prickle and my throat gets tight, and my brain simply SHUTS OFF. I think I know where my 4yo is coming from here, and I'm afriad maybe my 2yo too?

    Thanks for listening to me ramble. Just trying to put everything down for further thought on my part.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Just curious. Why are you sure it's not Aspergers? Are you willing to take him for an evaluation--I do think he shows signs of a disorder and, if it were my kid, I'd want to get early help. At least I'd want a neuropsychologist to test him intensively. You can be brilliant and still have a problem and I'm in the "better to be safe than sorry" category. My son had hyperlexia and he has high functioning autism (Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified). He could read fluently at age two. I thought he was a genuis. Not being able to hold a conversation, even with a good vocabulary, is sort of a red flag. I'd want every i dotted and every t crossed so that my little guy had the best chance in life over the long term. Daughter too. Your son may need interventions, again, in spite of being bright.
    My son's early "being ahead" started to slide badly in third grade when he had to do abstract thinking and deal more with the other children.
  6. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Every parent has the need and right to have their own philosophy about using labels and I do respect that. I do want to give you some food for thought based on my experience though.

    My difficult child developed a fascination with the alphabet at 18 months, spelled his first word at 28 months, wrote his first letters before he turned 3. By 3 1/2 he could read anything you put in front of him and was writing words and sentences. Naturally we just thought he was brilliant! No speech differences were noted by then and in fact he had been ahead of his peers in early speech skills and had a huge vocabulary. His interests/obsessions were very different than other kids (alphabet, words, geography, geology, marine life, etc). I was a science teacher and had a great time when he was into things like rocks and minerals--we'd sit down with his collection and check the elements in each on a periodic table.

    He's always been a difficult child, but when he was approaching five I started seeing some speech differences and started asking questions which eventually led to an evaluation. some reasons I can think of off the top of my head that we didn't chalk everything up to his just being smart:
    1) Even though I am a very concerned, educated, and observant parent, there were things I missed that would have been best addressed when my difficult child was young. I would have benefited from the education and in some cases he would have benefited from therapy. Some examples would be fine motor skills and sensory issues. It would have helped him and saved us many, many frustrating batttles had we understood this realm. Early intervention is far more effective on issues, than waiting for a child to fail in an area and addressing it later.
    2) I didn't fully realize the social implications of a child who is different. He wanted to solely converse about spelling or the moons of Jupiter when his peers were into Legos. He had great difficulty in seeing things through the eyes of others which, which is critical for getting along socially. The school (through speech) has done a ton for my difficult child in helping him naviagate the social realm. I'm watching a classmate of my daughter's with similar traits who hasn't had any help and he's hit the 3rd grade now and is totally washing out socially. As peers get older, things like odd speech patterns and not being able to communicate about regular kid topics really stand out and frequently make the child a target for bullying. My daughter has had to intervene with this boy both with classmates and informing the teacher because she's in tune to what's happening.
    3) By the time we were through the evaluation process my difficult child had passed out of some of his Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) traits, which led to us having to apply for school services without a full diagnosis. At first I was thrilled he was only clinically borderline Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), but it turned out to be a real headache later. It is easier all the way around (school, insurance for therapies, etc) to have a diagnosis on hand when the child is young. If a parent needs it, they have it. If they don't need it, there's no need to share it.
    4) Having a label has given me a direction to look to for information, as well as for advice and experiences from other parents. Had I just been cruising on alone thinking I had a smart, difficult kid on my hands I would have missed out on a wealth of info and advice that has made a huge difference in my difficult child's progress and in him functioning in our home and out in the world.

    Again, I am always in favor of having as much data available on kids who are difficult and/or struggling. I don't see a label as a weight to hang around the child's neck for life--I see it as a road sign pointing parents and others who work with the child in a direction for helping them. I see a label as a tool to work for my child and nothing else. With what you're describing in N along with the family history, I would suggest considering a formal evaluation just to know where he stands.

    I understand. When my 3rd child came along I was constantly calling a friend to ask where her daughter was at. It turns out that my daughter is very typical but with very different interests from my boys. My perceptions of what was normal were so skewed from the two kiddos I'd had first.
  7. Lulu

    Lulu New Member

    MidwestMom, thanks for sharing your ideas and experiences. I can't be absolutely sure, but I've looked over lots of the Aspergers screening/red flag lists and he just doesn't exhibit those characteristics exc. for the hyperlexia part. He doesn't self-stimulate or have "jargon," for instance, and he is very coordinated with fine and gross motor. He also doesn't have daily routine or sensory problems. I also filled out the PPD-not otherwise specified screening tool that someone linked to, and he scored 39, not PPD. So I'm not sure he could get a diagnosis of Aspergers. I am certianly willing to take him for an evaluation.

    N can definitely hold a conversation. In the car he asked, "How did you learn how to do the right thing, Mom?" We went on a bit and he asked if my parents taught me, and if Daddy and I were teaching him. Then he asked how he would know if he was doing the right thing. It was definitely a conversation where he understood and digested what I said and then asked a related question afterward.

    When I say he has difficulty with small talk, I mean he doesn't come up with the small-talk questions himself except for "how are you?" and "How was work?" He will certainly answer questions. He sometimes starts off an interchange abruptly, like telling the librarian, "I have Thomas!" about his tank engine, when the librarian has no care or no clue about this. But then again, do most 4yos come up with small-talk questions on their own? I clearly have NO idea of what small talk is for a 4yo. Part of my problem is that I just don't see typical 4yo behaviors and have to assume that, except for the opposition at home and the bright behavior, N is normal.

    When he is asked a question, he will certainly answer it clearly and appropriately.

    Keep those ideas coming. I need to keep thinking through all of this.

  8. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Just a note for your research--the Childbrain Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) screening tool isn't accurate for kids who don't have early speech delays so kids with AS often slip under the radar of that one.
  9. Lulu

    Lulu New Member

    Thanks, SRL. I did register at hyperlex and am already reading the threads while I wait to be approved for the other group.

    And thanks for sharing your philosophy and experience behind getting an evaluation and diagnosis. I am not so worried about my kid's current situation as wonder how things will go further along in elementary school when differences are more obvious to kids. I can see your point about having a diagnosis in place earlier rather than later.
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I would test him anyways, and my preferred tester is a neuropsychologist simply because most professionals don't test at all...weird, I know. If he doesn't think he has Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), the neuropsychologist will direct you the right way. He does sound "different." Exactly why, I'm not sure. And a professional, even a neuropsychologist, may not be sure at this point in time, because he is so young. However, he can suggest interventions that will help him later in life based on his problems now. Diagnoses are easier to make as the children get older, so in my opinion it's best to concentrate on working on trouble spots as early as you can. It is very hard to get a correct diagnosis. on a young child unless it is VERY obvious, and it usually isn't. He does have Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) red flags and some things that don't sound Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) so my guess is you're in for a long trek, looking for the right diagnosis. I"d forget about that and go for the interventions. How is his imaginative play? Does he, say, "pretend" a lot? Does he like toys and play appropriately with them? My son had no interest in toys and didn't do imaginative play. Does your son memorize really well by rote? My son knew his letters, numbers, states, capitals, etc. by three. He still has a fantastic rote memory, however if you ask him to write a report on "What I Did on my Vacation" he'll write "I went to the Mall. I bought a game." He doesn't know how to write in the abstract, like my daughter would as in, "We weren't sure what to do and my sister and I were bored. We begged Aunt Joan to take us shopping and at first she didn't want to take us, but we talked her into it."
    Does your child make good eye contact with people he doesn't know?
  11. Lulu

    Lulu New Member

    N has always been good at pretending and acting out scenarios. He makes garages with his blocks and runs his cars and trains into them. He has always been able to use his Thomas trains appropriately to have wrecks, have the crane cars come extract the engines, have Diesel be the bad guy, etc. He and A play library and house and grocery shopping. He likes to play with A's dollhouse and the family inside. He seems perfectly normal--roughhouses with the boys at school, enacts Star Wars and Power Rangers battles with them (gets this info from them, as we don't watch those things at home). He is decent at memorization, but isn't so much a savant at it. He is hit or miss about reporting on his day. I cannot remember what I did five minutes ago, much less even what day it is, so I guess I'm impressed that he can remember what he had for snack and what number they worked on at preschool. He makes good eye contact and great facial expressions. He seems normal in all those respects. Never had a fascination with the wheels or used toys the wrong way. He is quite an architecturally minded kid--built amazing and intricate structures with the blocks from an early age.

    I am leaning toward waiting and watching as this half of the preschool year plays out. He is presenting no issues at school, but I have a conference with the teacher next week and again in May, so we'll see if anything deteriorates in that period.

    I think the main thrust of his mental energies go toward KNOWING. He must KNOW everything he possibly can. This is also my husband's and my MO--always has been. I read at 3, and was able to read books to my kindergarten class on a weekly basis. I always had lots of friends and was never a discipline problem (that's not to say I never broke the rules--I did--just rarely got caught). I excelled in school, full scholarship to undergrad, I have a Ph.D., great career, etc. My husband turned into a discipline case at about fourth grade, but recovered in his early 20s, I suppose. He earned a college degree from great school, has a great career. I'm hoping N will be more like me in that he wont hit the hard spots that husband did.
  12. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Lulu, I'm going to give you another place to explore in addition to the Hyperlexia site. Hopefully somewhere in here you'll find some answers that fit. And the info that doesn't fit you can tuck away in case you need it anytime in the future.

    Gtworld is a discussion group for parents of gifted and talented kids, including g/t kids with some special needs. Many kids who are gifted present with some traits that overlap with the Autism Spectrum. I mean this by kids who aren't necessarily clicically diagnosable with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) but have some differences that might make others think along those lines. (google shadow traits autism) When I was reading following the G/T discussion and the G/t special needs discussion I found that a lot of times they were discussing the very same issues.

  13. Lulu

    Lulu New Member

    Thanks, SRL. Will check that out!

    Currently I'm most concerned about adressing N's oppositional behavior, which he shows largely at home, although it comes up upon LEAVING certain public situations (school, park, store) and when he is presented with directions from a stranger at a brand new situation (tumbling class, birthday party, music class, etc.).

    I'm so glad I found this forum. :smile:
  14. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    We've already mentioned The Explosive Child which has probably been the singlemost helpful overal strategy for parents here.

    For the transition problems, try making him a schedule (written if he's reading well, supplemented by pictures if he needs it). You'll need to play around with this to see what works best. We used a calander identical to ours at eye level for difficult child and wrote in the basics. Some kids really like day planners. I'd suggest PDA's for some but schools often aren't letting those in so best not get a little one started on those.

    Some parents find carrying a small white board around is helpful so you can jot down "Leave library in 5 minutes", etc. Having it along with you so the child can see you writing it down helps more than the calendar/routine left back at home.

    You may want to keep a journal to see if there's any commonality triggering the transition problems. I found my kiddo needed lots of downtime at home to promote stability (I'm an at home mom). He couldn't handle preschool with a bunch of errands afterwards. If we were doing errands, two stops maximum, etc.

    Sometimes something absurdly simple can make a transition easier. We're going to leave in a minute--here's a Tic Tac to have on the way out.

    An area you'll want to explore is the area of language processing, and auditory processing (Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD)) as it does often go along with the sorts of issues you are describing. Some kids have trouble with instructions from a stranger because they have processing problems that the parent has been accomodating. When I really tuned in I discovered that I was doing a great deal of "translating" in conversations between my son and those sorts of people you described. As long as I was translating, he'd do fine, but when he was left on his own, he wasn't able to make the connection between what the person was saying and what he was expected to do. Often in a classroom or extracurricular setting will be taking in cues from all directions, especially watching other kids to see what they are doing and then following. These issues are frequently overlooked by doctors, etc. but make huge differences in the daily life skills of a child!