New here...5 year old son with possible ODD?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Jules71, Jul 28, 2007.

  1. Jules71

    Jules71 Warrior Mom since 2007

    (I posted this in the early child zone, but was advised to post here instead.)

    I am new and not sure what to do... as I see many of you are from reading several posts.

    I have a 5 year old son who I think may have ODD (which I just stumbled upon searching the internet for answers as to why he is the way he is/does the things he does).

    He has pretty much been a difficult child from age 1. (He was a perfect baby - no feeding problems, slept great, etc.) When he turned one he started having night terrors and also became demanding and volatile. We thought it was due to the terrible twos. When he didn't outgrow it, we thought he is just strong willed. It has progressed through the years and it now feels like he rules our household. For along time I would just give in so as to avoid a battle. For years I have thought he is this way because of my inconsistent parenting and giving him his way - but after reading so much, I wonder if there could be more to it. He was not in daycare until age 2, but began having problems with hitting/pushing other children (with no remorse) then. This past school year he was in a private Lutheran pre-k class and had problems the entire time (almost got kicked out a couple times). He is very bossy, has to have things his way. When he plays with most other children he tells them how to stand, how to catch, how to dance, and what to do - he gets along fine as long as they do what he wants them to. He is very smart and has always been interested in things usually way beyond other children's interests for his age. He gets along with most girls. It is the other boys who are like him who he clashes with. There is one girl (a friends daughter who came to stay with us) that he would terrorize because he got a reaction (whine) from her every time. He loved upsetting her. We all went to a park and he pushed my friend's other daughter (22 mos old) down the slide because she was in his way. Then he tried to push someone else off a toy. Time outs, charts, and spankings do not work. I usually resort to screaming which just makes me (and him) feel terrible. He makes up stories about Dad trying to hurt him (if he has done something wrong and been disciplined) - saying things like "he just tried to kill me" or "he just tried to make me bleed". He blames us or others for everything that happens or goes wrong - even if we were nowhere near. We recently had another baby 4 mos ago. He has pinched and slapped him a few times for no reason. I have been a stay at home mom since just before the baby was born. I am terrified of him starting Kindergarten in the fall because I know it will be difficult and I will get phone calls daily.

    I am wondering what to do. We have not been to any counseling or dr's about this. What is my first step? I just ordered The Explosive Child and the Difficult Child from Amazon. I have so many books and nothing has worked. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Jules71

    Jules71 Warrior Mom since 2007

    He has never been evaluated. His pre-k teacher suggested we go to counseling and also talk to his pediatrician. We have not done that yet.

    No real health problems. He used to get sick alot (colds/congestion/allergy type illnesses) when we lived in AZ, but now that we are in WA he rarely gets sick.

    Some depression on my side of the family, not sure about Hubby's side. As far as developemental disabilities; my brother had learning problems in school with reading/writing. My husband has mentioned some behavior problems that he had when he was a child but really doesn't elaborate.

    Would my first step be to make an appointment with our pediatrician, or call for counseling? Or some other evaluation? I just fear that if we wait any longer to get a handle on this - it is going to be more difficult if not impossible. I guess I kept thinking he would grow out of it. He gets so frustrated when people don't do what he wants them too. With the little girl that was here he would tell her what to do and when she didn't do it he would scream at her and then she would get scared and then we would tell him that she was afraid of him and then he would cry and I could tell his feelings were hurt because he didn't want to hurt her, he just wanted her to do it "his way". It breaks my heart.

    He is demanding and talks to us with total disrespect. He orders us around and demands things. He never does what you tell him to do. He seems so stubborn and strong willed. Everything is a battle. There seems to never be a smooth moment. I am exhausted and my marriage is suffering. I also feel like I don't get to spend enough time with the baby because I have to deal with him so much.
  3. oceans

    oceans New Member

    I would find a good child psychiatrist, and get a full evaluation done. He probably will need an IEP at school for the behavioral issues. You should not need to get called every day, although until there are supports in place you probably will.

    Often times there is an underlying problem as to what is going on, and when that gets addressed the ODD type of behaviors could go away, or at least get better than they are right now.
  4. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Sorry, a few more questions:
    Did your son himself have any developmental or speech delays?
    Does he have sensory issues (sensitivity to clothing tags, loud noises, food textures, for example)?
    Does he have any worries or fears?

    I agree with Oceans that ODD is rarely a stand-alone diagnosis. There is usually something else driving the ODD behaviors. When the underlying disorder is identified and treated, the ODD behaviors generally improve. Because of his age, I'd recommend an evaluation with either a developmental pediatrician, a neuropsychologist or a multidisciplinary team at a children's or university teaching hospital. You may have to ask your pediatrician for a referral, but be firm that you DON'T want just counseling. I'm generalizing here, but counseling tends to focus on the behaviors rather than the underlying cause. Until professionals identify that underlying cause, you won't be able to put the proper interventions into place to help your son.

    Welcome and good luck!
  5. loricbme

    loricbme New Member

    Julie -
    I could've wrote your story. It has been the same in our household too. I have been aware of ODD since my daughter was 4. That is when I started educating myself about it. I took her to a psychologist and was basically told that she was too young to diagnose and would a diagnosis really make a difference for me? I think the dr. thought I was looking for a label. Which in a way, I guess I was. So I could get pointed in the right direction for help. Now we suspect there is more to what she has. Just not sure yet. I'm in the process of getting a diagnosis.

    My difficult child started kindergarten last year. Yes, there were problems and issues but the majority of my experience was that she held most of it in while at school and when she got home she released it all on me. When difficult child was in school, she really knew what to expect from each day. It was the same thing over and over. She knew what all the bells meant when they rang, she knew when lunch was, she knew when she was coming home. I think that is part of why summer has been so difficult. There's not a solid, day to day routine of things. When she started kindergarten I just let things play out on their own. I didn't share anything with the teacher till the first conference because I didn't want her being biased and looking for things with difficult child. Since it was difficult child's first year at school, noone knew any history about her.

    My best advice is this: you are your child's best advocate. You will have to really put yourself out there to get him the help he needs. It's a process. It takes time. I am by far no expert but that is something I have found that helps me get through it some days. I was in contact with difficult child's teacher, school counselor, principal and the department that helps difficult children.

    It's hard. I really feel for you. I hope it helps to know that there are other parents out there struggling too and understand exactly what you're going through.

    Peace to you,

  6. Jules71

    Jules71 Warrior Mom since 2007

    Thank you so much for the replies. It certainly does help to know I am not alone and that other parents are struggling with similar circumstances.

    To answer the questions:
    Did your son himself have any developmental or speech delays?
    No. He is extremely smart and had good speech and a large vocabulary really early on.

    Does he have sensory issues (sensitivity to clothing tags, loud noises, food textures, for example)?
    No. The only thing that might be an issue could be food textures. He is such a picky eater that I am not sure if it is that or a texture thing. I know early on when we would try to give him tylenol and such, he would gag and throw up. Now he can swallow pills without even drinking water. But if you make him eat something he doesn't want to eat, he will gag and throw up.

    Does he have any worries or fears?
    None, that I am aware of. Although now that I think about it, when his friend was here for the 4 days, they did crafts with her stuff, but when it came time to use his stuff - he freaked out and said she was going to use it all up and it would be gone and then he wouldn't have it anymore. He was like that when they played with his train table/set. He really freaked out because they changed things around and it wasn't how it was "supposed to be". He is always worried about people taking his stuff and doesn't understand they just want to play with it and they are not going to take it home with them. We haven't really had a lot of children in our home to play until recently. Most of the time he plays in a neutral place (playgrounds, school, the mall, McDonalds). He hasn't really had to share his stuff. He usually does better with younger or older children. Younger children tend to follow him around and do what he wants - he likes to help them and show them what to do. He also doesn't have as much conflict with older children other than they get annoyed with him. He thinks he knows everything and tries to tell everyone the rules - which don't seem to apply to him. We call him "The Enforcer".

    He can be happy and excited and fun, but his overall disposition is grumpy/negative.
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I would take her to a neuropsychologist rather than a Child Psychiatrist, although a Child Psychiatrist will probably enter into your life. I would hold off on therapy because most kids with disorders can't really get much out of it until they are stable, and you don't really know what's wrong with him yet. ODD rarely stands by itself. It is usually behavior caused by another diagnosis that is bigger. Neuropsychs do extremely intensive evaluations/testing. As far as I know (and we've been through the mill) no other professionals do this much testing. That way the weak/strong points of the child can be establish and, although it's hard to correctly diagnose a five year old child, you'll get a lot of direction about what is going on. Do you have mood disorders or substance abuse on either side of the family tree? Neurological problems? Do not assume he has just plain ODD, which is rare. Have him evaluated. His freak out at change can be a red flag for autistic spectrum disorder, high functioning. A Psychiatrist would likely miss that as would a therapist. Cover all bases. Good luck.
  8. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member


    I would suggest getting started at the pediatrician's office and ask for a referral to a neuropsychiatrist. There are a myriad of tests that can be performed by this doctor. Your pediatrician doctor will probably give you a questionnaire for the teachers to fill out - which would take quite some time since it is summer. And you are not even sure he will act at in kindergarten at all.

    Do you get a break? Being a stay at home mom with a difficult child has got to be exhausting!
  9. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    You're looking for a neuropsychologist, not a neuropsychiatrist.
  10. Jules71

    Jules71 Warrior Mom since 2007

    Thanks for all the replies.

    I will contact our pediatrician and ask for a referral to have him evaluated by a neuropsychologist. Is there anything in particular I should mention when asking for this referral? I am thinking it could be difficult to get in right away - I imagine there is usually a long wait? If so, what do you suggest I do in the meantime? I had wondered about talking to his teacher for Kindergarten about this - and am torn because I do want to warn them so they can work with him, but at the same time I don't want them to be biased and nit-picking just looking for things. Who knows... maybe Kindergarten is just what he needs??! (Ok, I am grasping at straws - but I can hope, can't I?) : )

    (busywend, No I don't get much of a break and could really use one right about now!) I'm going to start insisting that my Mom take him one weekend per month to help us out. That was her plan when we moved back to WA in Oct. 2005, but needless to say, that has only happened twice. I think he really cramps her style even though she would like to believe otherwise.

    Thanks again for all the advice. I really appreciate it.
  11. Jules71

    Jules71 Warrior Mom since 2007

    Oooops, I missed some questions from MidwestMom.

    Do you have mood disorders or substance abuse on either side of the family tree?
    Alcoholism on my side of the family (Father, Paternal Grandfather & Grandmother, Maternal Grandfather). My Maternal Grandfather's Father had some kind of depression or something and comitted suicide when my Grandfather was a baby.

    Neurological problems?
    None that I am aware of.
  12. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Like MWM, I think Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) needs to be considered. Other possibilities also need to be considered too. No language delay, so not full-on autism. But Asperger's or Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified are still possible and would fit. You need an expert's assessment though. They may see something that we cannot, since not only are they the experts, they'd have him in front of them to check over.

    Have a look at the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) questionnaire on It can't be used for diagnosis either, but you can still print out the results (even if he scores in the normal range) and take it with you to a specialist's appointment because it would show the things that concern you.

    I know my kids tell me I see Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) under every rock, but maybe because I live with so much of it.

    Kids with difficult child-type issues tend to attract one another. difficult child 1 has other friends who, it turns out, also are Aspies. difficult child 3's best friend has autism also. He has other friends who he met at his drama class for kids with learning problems - there are a range of disabilities, but the kids he 'connects' with are also high-functioning autistic. They really understand one another.

    A problem coping with change is a big red flag. An insistence on certain rules (of his) being followed are another. And if you try to meet him head on, you will lose. You need to find a way to direct him in a different direction, not to block him totally. He needs to see the different pathway AND be motivated to try it, before you'll get him to change direction.

    Ross Greene's "Explosive Child" helped us with that one. It's still not perfect, but it's so much better than it was!

  13. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Sorry to make you post in another forum yet again, but you may want to ask your questions about how to approrach kindergarten on the Special Education 101 board. The moderators Martie and Sheila are very knowledgeable and will help you sort the school issues out.
  14. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Since you have both substance abuse and suicide on the family tree, those are also big red flags for bipolar disorder. I'd want Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) and bipolar checked out--it's common for a child to have both--at any rate we can't diagnose. I'd see a neuropsychologist though. They do awesome, indepth testing. (((Hugs))) Don't be scared. EVERYTHING can and often does get much, MUCH better with the right help. You just need to figure out your complicated child and get on track. Take care.
  15. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    Sounds oh so familiar. "strong willed" That's what we were told way back when he was under 2 years old. Although my difficult child isn't violent, he just wouldn't play with others if they didn't do things his way. His rules, his game. Many other parents wouldn't let their child play with mine. School as always been an issue. First grade had to transfer him to a more "challenging" first grade. Second grade the school tested him and he was advanced to third grade, hoping to be more challenged and less trouble. Found out that other parents requested he not be in their childs class. Fourth grade was his best year. After battling with the teacher we decided to transfer him to the class with the teacher who had the meanest, strictist reputation. He cried, said he wouldn't go. Turned out to be the best thing we ever did. He would purposely get himself in trouble so he could have "isolation" with this teacher. Field trips, he wanted her for a partner. She was strict with everyone. No favorites. He did the best when he had strict guidelines to follow with no exceptions. Unfortunately, it is hard to do that at home. Has the way of "sucking up" and making you feel sorry for him. Middle school has been a disaster. Although he is gifted, we were given the option of expulsion or special education half way through the first year. He was failing, even though he would score advanced on all state testing. That is when we started the IEP. It took many IEP's for me to realize exactly what I could ask for, what our rights were, what difficult child's rights were as well as the school. The school tried to tell us otherwise so be sure to educate yourself on Special Education laws, and get what works best for your child. difficult child is in a regular classroom, just has some accomadations others don't. Example: If he feels he is going to blow up, get angry he has the option for a pass to go speak to the Special Education. teacher or social worker prior to a blow up. That worked for a while until he started using that to get out of class. He is a young Middle schooler because he skipped a grade. If we had to do it over we would not advance him. At this grade level maturity has everything to do with his social skills and others in his grade will simply not put up with him. Therefore, leaving him friendless. It is his own actions that get him there, but uncontrollable actions. We started taking him to a psychologist when he was 2. Didn't work. Psychiatrist when he was in fifth grade and has been on medication since. Definately needs the medications. Still a challenge both at home and school, but not nearly as much. ODD was the diagnosis when he was 2. No ADHD. Bipolar not otherwise specified, added in middle school. Very much anxiety and some depression. It is frustrating when your child rules your house and you are walking on egg shells afraid of setting him off. difficult child still manipulates us, but we are getting so much better at it. Wish we would of had the testing and such much earlier. There are ups and downs throughout the school year. I feel we have a great IEP in place for 8th grade, and a teacher asked for him. Said he was a "great kid". That has never happened. Quite the opposite. He is very athletic and very good at sports, but always an issue because of the rules he must follow. Soccer he had great coaches and worked with him. Quit all other sports except baseball. He loves baseball. Found out on his own if he tells the umpire what's on his mind..he gets thrown out of the game and suspended for a few games. That happened only one time. Still throws his helmet or bat or just acts so embarrassing, but has a good coach who just ignores his behavior. The more they try to talk to him, the worse he gets. So..they just leave him alone to sulk.
    Hope you start the intervention now. The earlier the better.
  16. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    My difficult children first psychiatrist (at 4) told us she was 'A Difficult Child'. Yeah, that was why I was there!!! No help really until she was 12 - imagine what I could have accomplished with the early intervention.

    Morale: Keep looking until you are comfortable with who is working with your child.

    Smallworld is right - thank you for the correction on neuropsychologist.
  17. emilya

    emilya emilya

    I am having the same problems with my five year old son--and it sounds like they have a lot of the same problems. Mine started out with night terrors, too. He says the same things about his father (he hates me, he tried to kill me, etc.) and when he gets mad at me he takes it out on his little sister, also thinking that it's funny when he can make her cry. I don't know if this has anything to do with it, but my son had really bad asthma, allergies, ear infections, etc. We had his tonsils and adenoids taken out in 2008, along with tubes put in his ears, but he still has a lot of sinus and respiratory problems. He has taken pulmicort, albuterol, Nasonex, Allegra, etc., every day since he has been little. I have thought about these effects on him--could this have anything to do with it?
  18. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Hi Jules,
    This is a great description about rigid thinking:
    but when it came time to use his stuff - he freaked out and said she was going to use it all up and it would be gone and then he wouldn't have it anymore. He was like that when they played with his train table/set. He really freaked out because they changed things around and it wasn't how it was "supposed to be".

    I just wanted to lend support.
  19. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Jules is still around but this thread is from 2007.