Needing advice on how to handle son with ODD

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by jkrohn76, Sep 16, 2009.

  1. jkrohn76

    jkrohn76 New Member

    :whiteflag:I have a seven year old son, who even as a baby was difficult to manage. Whether it was not putting his shoes or socks on in the right order, his face getting messy, or just outright defiance at anything I tried to teach him. He has been through way more than most kids his age, we(myself, 2 boys and girl) left their abusive father 2 years ago. Once he started school it became even more apparent that he didn't transition well, so I worked with him and the school. Every year I have the same problems when he starts school. First it starts out he gets irritated by something or someone(either they don't want to do what he wants or they are bothering him), then he hits, yells and screams until someone pulls him off. He's extremely sensitive to his surroundings. I have taken him to a counselor, so that I can try and help him manage his anger. She has diagnosed him with ODD. The only problem is he tells me and counselor he doesn't know why he acts this way and he can tell you verbatim what he is supposed to do when he begins to get irritated. His father is no help and never has been, I've tried telling him that our sons behavior is getting worse and more violent but all he tells me is no medications! I'm not sure what to do as he doesn't have to live with this and doesn't have to deal with the phone calls from teachers, principals,bus drivers and daycare providers. Any advice you guys can give me in trying to help him manage this or make the connection between his anger and him taking responsibility before he hurts someone please let me know.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there and welcome to the board. Trust me, you are NOT alone.

    I have a few questions that will help us help you better.

    1/ First off, it is very unlikely that he has ODD and nothing else. And he is most likely treatable. Read on. Has he ever been assessed by a private neuropsychologist or is the diagnosis just his therapist's opinion? Many of us, if not most, do not believe that ODD stands by itself. It doesn't mean much either other than "he is defiant." It doesn't explain why and isn't a very helpful label. Even the Chandler Papers (Dr. Chandler is the King of ODD) states that it rarely stands alone. It is usually the result of a more pervasive, bigger disorder that is not being treated. NeuroPsychs are really good diagnosticians who test up to ten hours. I would definitely have a neuropsychologist evaluation that is outside of the school district. They are psychologists (PhD's) with extra training in brain function and in my opinion come closest to accurately diagnosing our children (and even us). I've been in the mental healthcare system for myself, my daughter and my son and with all my experience I find NeuroPsychs the most accurate diagnosticians. I would not accept a diagnosis of only ODD. Many of us would not.

    2/Are there any psychiatric issues on either side of his genetic tree? Obviously, ex (his father) has some sort of psychiatric problem possibly coupled with substance abuse, which is usually part and parcel of an attempt to self-medicate. Sadly, even once they are out of our children's lives the genes live on. Even if ex has not been diagnosed with anything, is here a chance he has a mood disorder?

    3/How was your son's early development in the areas of speech, eye contact, cuddling, warming up to strangers, pottying, motor skills, and ability to transition from one activity to another. Another commmon childhood problem that is often overlooked by therapists is high functioning autism (Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified or Aspergers Syndrome). THese kids have very poor social skills, quirks, obsessive behavior, don't play much with toys in approproate ways, often mimic television shows, often have speech delays, usually don't know how to act appropriately in public, often are very bright but have learning differences, and get so frustrated that that rage. They can get so angry and frustrated at not understanding the world that they can lash out at others, at objects and even scratch themselves or bang their heads against the wall. My son used to do these things. These kids need interventions specific to Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), don't respond well to traditional parenting methods, and do not do well in therapy because their problem is neurological, although it can appear to be psychiatric.

    Often kids with both mood diosrders and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are misdiagnosed as ADHD and are put on stimulants or Straterra, which often makes things even worse and more volatile. ODD is another common misdiagnosis and is usually given out by therapists who don't have intensive psychiatric/neurological training.

    These are very challenging children who become more challenging without the right treatment and diagnoses. NeuroPsychs can be found at children's and university hospitals and sometimes you need to insist on a referral from your pediatrician.

    Medication is important in early onset mood disorders, sometimes also in autistic spectrum disorder. He may also have ADHD, but it sounds like more than that to me.

    Others will come along with their own unique take on things and you will get a lot of good advice here from experienced mothers :)
  3. jkrohn76

    jkrohn76 New Member

    There are many psychiatric issues on both sides. His father severely abused drugs and I suffer from depression and anxiety.

    My son was rather sick growing up had many, many ear infections until I insisted on getting tubes in his ears at the age of one, he just lost the tubes at the age of 6. This of course slowed down his speech, because he couldn't hear most of the time. When we were still with his dad, my son was always very standoffish and rarely left my side almost like I had another appendage. When he was a baby and he was learning how to help get himself dressed, if I didn't put the clothes on in the same order I had the previous time he would have a complete melt down. We did eventually overcome that, but the most trouble I have is when he isn't in my direct care, like at school or on the bus. I learned, somewhat, how to stop the fits and rage before they happen, but trying to express that to teachers and bus drivers is hard, because they think he's doing this all intentional. I now from experience that he rarely strikes first, but his actions will always catch their attention before the other childs actions will. He tries to explain, but they don't listen or believe him. He's incredibly smart, but doesn't put two and two together. He can tell me the steps he needs to take to not lose his temper, but rarely makes the right choice. He responds differently everytime to different parenting methods. I've tried spankings(don't work about 75%of the time), timeouts (work about 50-75% of the time) and talking to him ( rarely works). He has hit his brother and sister so hard at time that the hand print remains for several hours. I'm trying desperately to understand, but its hard when you see the harm that he causes to others and himself(not physically, just mentally, because when its at its worst they take him out of the miscellaneous classes). It seems crazy, but I swear he doesn't have any sympathy for those that get hurt by him and will tell me they deserved it because they were bothering him. I hope this helps better, I can always go into more detail.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    From your description, I"d take him to that neuropsychologist with an eye on Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified or Aspergers Syndrome. He has a lot of traits, such as needing the routine of dressing the same every day. I doubt this is ODD alone. Let the neuropsychologist assess him.
  5. jkrohn76

    jkrohn76 New Member

    I wanted to thank all of you for your helpful advice. My son at a recent therapy appointment opened up far more to her than I think she was ready for. I was explaining many of his continuing behaviors (that are in my opinion odd, but totally my son) and he wouldn't quit moving, fidgeting and swirling his coat. She had first ruled out ADHD and after that day said he had ADHD, with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and ODD. So our first appointment with a psychiatrist is in January and after reading other posts I saw many of you suggesting to other parents to read "The Explosive Child". I must say that just in the first couple of pages I'm hooked on this book and its like reading about my son. Thank you all so much!
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Hang in there. MWM & I are thinking along the same lines (again).

    You said your son had grommets from age 1, to 6. In which case - he had them early enough so he shouldn't have language delay from hearing issues. Or if language delay, only very mild and transient. If his grommets went in at 12 months, for example, then he should have caught up with language by 15 months.

    We had a kid who clearly didn't have hearing problems (he could hear a chocolate bar being unwrapped, from across the room!) but he didn't even respond to his own name. We were finally able to test his hearing formally when he was two, his hearing was great. But he was still not talking more than a few words. He WAS reading those words, however. EVERY word that he learned to say, he had previously recognised in writing first. Really weird. Once we saw this, we used it to teach him more words but we had to draw a picture, write the word, show him the object and say the word, all at once.

    Therapists can be brilliant, or an obstacle. They can be right, or they can be dead wrong. In difficult child 3's case his first speech pathologist told me to NOT let him read. I said, "How do I stop him? We are surrounded by words, letters and numbers. He reads efvery single one he can recognise, over and over. Until I show him the meaning, he does not use them to communicate. So what do you propose we do, and how do you suggest we control this?"

    I still beleive we did the right thing, in our case.

    But every case is different.

    What I'm saying - your son may well have had ear problems. But he may also have had, independently of hearing issues, other langage development problems.

    Have a look at the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) questionnaire on You can't use this to diagnose, but if yo run the informal questionnaire on him and print the rsults (whatever you get) then a therapist or specialist will see what areas are concerning you. You migt flag things you hadn't really considered to be an ussue (because to us, they're normal!) and it's all useful info.

    When you see any specialist, have copies of other reports handy. Especially the ones to do with hearing and any language/speech assessments. Language is a lot more than just speech. Deaf children may not speak, but can still have normal language development. A young boy we knew had a near-drowing accident which left him with acquired cerebral palsy and no speech. However, he did not lose his language. He could respond to verbal commands, he would laugh at jokes, he was able to read fluently (and type fluently). He had simply lost (among some motor skills) the ability to speak. difficult child 3, on the other hand, was physically perfect, could make the full range of vocal sounds, could imitate sounds with remarkable acccuracy, but had no comprehension of what was being said to him. Not even his own name meant anything to him, until I began to write it down next to his picture, and show him the mirror.

    Mind you, difficult child 3 now - he won't shut up! He has caught up with language, well and truly. He has a vocabulary in the exceptional range. Although all aspects of his language now test as normal, some areas are on the low side of normal, which means he has huge gaps in his language skill capabilities. These will always frustrate him.

    difficult child 3 also could be very physically aggressive. Frustration was a major issue. He did know, intellectually, what was right and wrong. But in the heat of the moment when really upset, he would lash out. Often it was in response to other kids stirring him up (because it was fun to see difficult child 3 'go psycho' and get into trouble).

    In difficult child 3's case, medications for ADHD were brilliantly successful. Not all medications - Strattera was a disaster. He gets rebound with Concerta. even some rebound on dexamphetamine. But the benefits were amazing, when he first went on dex at age 3. We copped a lot of flak for it but because the improvement was so brilliant and so immediate, we ignored the critics.

    We were lucky that something worked. It doens't always. But the strategies we used on him, were ones we worked out for ourselves (lack of services in our area). Being tuned to the child hekped a lot.

    You're reading "Explosive Child" - that helps you tune in and helped us a lot also.

    Let us know how you get on.