New Year, new start

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by gbisdunn, Jan 1, 2011.

  1. gbisdunn

    gbisdunn Guest

    I am new to this and looking for some support and this site seemed exactly what I needed. I am a mother of 2, a 7 year old who is an explosive son, and a 6 year old who is a typical girl. He has been in therapy for a year now but you would have never known it last night. I have read Dr. Ross Greene's book but it seems more geared toward older children. It doesn't help that he is speech delayed and has trouble talking and hates to talk about things! He has also had medical issues with about 4 surgeries. My husband and I are really trying but we are also stubborn and short tempered at times too. Yesterday being new years eve and my husbands birthday we wanted a fun family day. The hard part is my son was not having it. I am currently reading What your Explosive Child is trying to tell you and we think that he is one who sticks to a plan. His plan yesterday morning was to play a video game with his dad. Since that didn't happen when he wanted it, it was a day from hell. He also has very low self esteem and says he is a stupid kid and he hates us. My husband ended up in tears and left for a walk to cool down because he was at his wits end. Sorry I am all over the place but there is so much on my mind that I need to let it out. I would really appreciate connecting with someone to know that we are not alone in this!
  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Welcome! I'm glad you found us.

    Sorry for all the questions, but your answers will help us help you.

    Has your son been evaluated by a neuropsychologist or developmental pediatrician? Has he been diagnosed with any childhood disorder?
    Does he have any other delays besides speech?
    How does he do in school, both academically and with peers?
    Any sensory issues (for example, sensitivity to clothing tags, loud noises, food textures, etc)?
    Does he have difficulty with transitions?

    Again, welcome!
  3. Jena

    Jena New Member

    welcome! you are def. not alone in it at all! there are alot of great parents here and this is the next best thing to a support group in person. Great place to vent, ask questions, gain knowledge and learn from shared experiences.

    other's will follow, just a little slow due to holiday! welcome again...... you might want to add a signature at the bottom of your thingy.
  4. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Welcome! I am so sorry your day was less then nice yesterday.

    Since your son likes to stick to his plan, you may want to try tightening the structure of his day. Does he do fine in school and show more of this behavior at home? If so, he may respond best to structure. So, he can help you set up a daily plan for each day of the week.

    Take old magazines and he can cut out pictures showing what is going to happen through out the day. Make a chart with the time listed and a space next to the time to write what to expect and a place for him to put a picture to remind him in a visual way what will happen.

    Example (change times for your home needs):

    7:00 Get up
    7:30 Get ready for the day (clothes, brush teeth, ect)
    7:45 Breakfast
    8:00 Leave for School
    And so forth.........

    For the weekends and non-school days, breakdown chore times, playtimes including video, t.v. times and activities with mom & dad, snack times and meal times.

    In this day and age having a structured daily schedule really is a challenge but try to stick to meals at the same time as well as bed time - lights out- at the same time every day.

    This may or may not work, but it may be worth a try if you haven't already.

    Others will be along soon with more input and questions such as has he had a neuropsychologist exam, has his behaviour been diagnosed, is he in therapy or seeing a psychiatrist? All things that will help give even more direct help as those with the most similar experiences can share what they have gone through and tried.
  5. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Smallworld and Jena were typing the same time as I was.
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Tell us more about his birth, early development, health issues and surgery. He has some autistic (high functioning) traits, but we can't even take a guess unless we know more about his background. It helps if you include any psychiatric disorders or if any form of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) is on either side of his biological family tree (whether or not he lives with both of you). I think a neuropsychologist evaluation would help you out A LOT. Therapy alone rarely does it for our kids...their problems are not simple enough for just talk therapy. It really helps to get down to the nitty-gritty. NeuroPsychs do very intensive, long, detailed evaluations...and that helps us a lot!

    Welcome to the board!
  7. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    I'd like to add a happy belated birthday to your husband. It was my birthday as well, so I do know how dreadful it can be sometimes to have a birthday that is very busy for everyone and filled with extra anxieties (and often extra lashing-out).

    I found Greene's book works just fine on younger kids, you just have a lot less A stuff and a lot more B and C stuff. With younger ones you have to coach them more, and use less open-ended questions, instead give them a few ideas that you consider acceptable and let them mull it over once they're rational again. If it makes him uncomfortable, don't force it. Try really hard to remember when you were their age and really wanted something and felt your parents just didn't "get it". Usually something that looking back seems silly, but at the time was really important to you. It was hard to express that to them, wasn't it? And even harder to understand why you couldn't have it. The frustration of not being able to express it properly, added to not getting it, added to not understanding = meltdown. Watch for small signs of frustration and start redirecting before he reaches the point of no return. It may take a while of really observing your child to learn those cues, they can be subtle. It might be a certain tone, a movement or restlessness, chewing on fingernails, staring at the wall... every kid is different.
  8. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    From my own experience of what has worked in your situation - if your son has a game with dad on his agenda, it would have been a good idea to make the time to play such a game. You negotiate ahead of time - "We only have half an hour, what game do you recommend that we can play in half an hour?" and play it. There are many easons to do this:

    1) It was dad's birthday, and it was something nice that difficult child wanted to do, to spend time with his dad. It probably was the only way difficult child felt he could 'entertain' his dad and do something nice for him. difficult child terms, of course, but this is what you get with a totally egocentric difficult child.

    2) On dad's birthday, it makes sense for dad to have more leisure time. Spending time with your kid is a good way to use your leisure time.

    3) When a single-minded difficult child has his heart set on something, and it is not going to be a problem to give it to him, then the sooner you give it to him in good grace, the sooner you are likely to get that difficult child learn how to compromise with you and give you what you want later on.

    The art of compromise is a good way to manage a difficult child. At first they will not understand compromise, which is why you have to start. These kids learn by experiencing it, by observation. Your behaviour towards him sets the pattern of behaviour he will learn to use towards you.

    About playing games with your child - I use games with my son as reward. This means I have to make the time to play with him, but I have found to my surprise that these can be enjoyable times for us together. Doing something together with your child, especially if you start with something your child is passionate about, can be very special indeed.

    A good example is in the book "Son Rise" about a father trying to connect with a profoundly autistic son. The little boy would spend hours spinning plates. So the dad got his own plates and sat on the floor beside the boy, and began to spin plates too. He knew if he touched the plates his son was spinning it would cause a tantrum, but by spinning plates beside the boy, the father was forming a connection. "We are doing the same activity." It introduced to the boy, the idea of "we" and "together". The next breakthrough came when one of the dad's plates began to spin slower, and the boy reached over and set it spinning again. it did not happen right away, I believe it took weeks.

    You and your husband are going to need to be more self-aware. You acknowledge you both tend to be a bit impulsive and hot-headed - this is more likely to cause problems for you with difficult child. He needs you to maintain tight controls on your own moods and responses to his. Through you both applying the brakes to yourselves, the boy will learn to apply his own brakes. The current situation - the boy is learning to respond with anger and outbursts, because you do.

    It's OK, it will turn around, but it's not always easy. We also had similar problems - husband still has a short fuse sometimes, and even when he is trying hard, can send the wrong message. Just raising his voice to call from the next room, can make husband seem like he's angry. I know him, so it doesn't bother me. But difficult child 3 still hasn't learned this about his father yet.

    If you can, get your husband to lurk here or post here too. It will help you both and give you some points for communication.

  10. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Without knowing much else about your difficult child, one thing came to mind as a possible explanation.

    You say he's got other medical problems and has had several surgeries. That's a boatload of stress for a young person. His rigidity or inflexibility could be his way of trying to exert what little control he has over his life which, up until now, has been very much out of his control, painful, and chaotic to say the least. It's good you've had him in therapy, and hopefully his therapist will continue to work with him on coping skills. The language delay has got to be another huge issue when you combine it with all the other junk he's had to deal with -- it's a recipe for meltdowns for sure. Is he seeing anyone to address the language issues, too?

    You've come to a great place here -- welcome!
  11. ML

    ML Guest

    Welcome. You are certainly not alone. I'm glad you found us and sorry you had to.
  12. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Just adding in my welcome-glad you found us-sorry you needed to.
  13. shellyd67

    shellyd67 Active Member

    Just want to add my welcome. You will find lots of advice and support here.
  14. gbisdunn

    gbisdunn Guest

    THANKS for all the responses.

    A little bit more about my difficult child: At 18 months he had his first surgery for a hydroseal which is not abnormal but did have to go under. At 2 1/2 he started private speech lessons because he was not talking at all and I mean no words. At 3 he started a special needs preschool to help him with his speech and aggression. We thought he used his hands to talk with which was true but I stopped play dates when he was continually pushing kids over because he couldn't talk to them but of course I did not know that at the time. That same year he was hospitalized for dehydration due to over 25 cold sores in his mouth and out of his mouth. I get cold sores and dr. said that the first time they break out in a person it could be bad and it was. He was there for 3 nights. From 3-5 yrs of age he was in and out of doctor offices for sinus and allergy issues. Had many tests and 3 surgeries; andanoids removed with no luck, tonsils removed and then sinus surgery. Tonsil surgery went bad and he was vomitting blood so had to have it fixed. Had a reaction to the drugs and had to be revived. Thankfully, hasnt had sinus infections since.

    He still wears a pull up at night and has urine accidents during the day. Does not have regular BMs but is medically ok he just withholds.

    At school he is pulled out for speech but will probably be released soon since he has come so far and is now only working on the letter R. He is also in a group called friendship group where he works on emotional feelings and how to handle them with other peers his age.

    He sees a therapist privately who was the one who told us he was explosive. That has been about a year now. Our house is one big chart to help him stay structured. We try to implement plan B more then plan A but my husband struggles with that. Then I struggle with staying calm all the time and trying to keep it together. It's a lot to carry but when he has his good days and can cope or work with us he is so sweet. He rarely acts up at school and he is loved by so many kids and teachers. I realize home is his safe place but I am getting beat down. His self esteem is taking a turn for the worst too.

    There was mention of neurophysch testing. How do I research that?
  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Wow, you've been through the wringers! I'm not a lot of help with finding a neuropsychologist, because our health care system in Australia is so different. A starting point for enquiry could be your local children's hospital. Others will have more specific info for you.

    The surgeries etc - although it's been a rough ride, I don't think it's enough to cause the other problems you describe. Maybe you've just been really unlucky, is all. difficult child 3 had croup really badly starting when he was 2. But we can look back and see signs of his autism from before - he already was significantly delayed in language at 2, for example, and had a hard time putting the nebuliser mask on, he was terrified of it. We had three days in hospital with the first attack of croup. After that they were only over night admissions.

    There is another new member called Happy. I just posted at length on her thread and I think a lot of what we have been discussing there, you need to consider also. Things I have not mentioned on her thread include the delayed toilet training - we went through that with both boys. I have not mentioned the sensory issues on the other thread, but I think they are far more likely to apply in your son's case. A common reason for delay in toilet training, is sensory issues. If the child doesn't mentally connect urination with feeling wet, he will be slower in learning to have dry pants. Similarly, the child needs to recognise the full bowel feeling and then know what his body should do. If the connection is slow happening, the child is delayed in this skill.

    We went through a rough time with bowel training with both boys, especially with difficult child 1. He would not put it in his nappy, and he would not put it in the potty. He seemed to think that it would all go away.
    Even difficult child 3 had the idea that excretion was something he could grow out of. One morning I head him get out of bed noisily, head for the toilet (as he does every morning), slam into the door like a SWAT team on a raid, and from the other side of the door (over the sound of Niagara falls) I heard him exclaim, "Every morning there's wee!"
    He said ti clearly, plus he was out of Pull-Ups, so he had to be at least 8 years old at tis time.

    We did get there, but we needed help. We muddled through with difficult child 1 but with difficult child 3 we contacted the local autism association and asked them for some referrals - they could help with a neurospych referral, and also with someone who can help with toilet training.

    I know your son does not have an autism (or PDD0 diagnosis, but I think he is sufficiently similar for them to at least be able to head you in the right direction. If an assessment rules out Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)< that will be useful information and reduce the possibilities. And maybe they will have more direct answers for you.

    Getting a clear diagnosis can also open doors when it comes to support at school, and other services. It can really help.

    Good communication between home and school is also vital. We used to write in a book every day, and tat book travelled to school in difficult child 3's bag. The teacher would read what I had written ("He didn't sleep well last night so he may be more irritable today") and would then write back ("He worked well this morning but was difficult to get started in the lesson after lunch") and together it helped us work out the best ways to help the kid. It also helped to have early warning of problems developing.

    My husband struggles with Plan A/Plan B too, but what helped both of us was when I explained it all to him. I actually wrote a summary to help him, and found that it helped consolidate the information in my own head too, to do this.

    Also what helped, was when my husband began to lurk here and read all my posts. He would come home and then discuss stuff with me. "I didn't know that is what you meant about X. But in your post it was easier to understand." When we talk, we tend to say either too much waffle, or we get interrupted by kids needing attention. Reading the posts has helped husband get a clearer picture. he has now joined and occasionally posts under his own name ("Marg's Man").

    That tonsillectomy must have been so scary for you. We went through problems when easy child 2/difficult child 2 had her tonsils out (she was 6, I was pregnant with difficult child 3). She stopped breathing and they were working on her for half an hour or more and all I could see was this totally limp, blue child of mine. But an hour later as I sat beside her (pink at last) she opened her eyes briefly. I asked her how she was, and she clearly did not want to speak but she slipped her little hand out form under the blankets and made a seesawing motion. Quite a character! It was a relief to me.

  16. happy

    happy Guest

    I'm a newbie too that just found this site. Good luck!
  17. gbisdunn

    gbisdunn Guest

    The weekend was a nice one with difficult child and family. He used coping skills when asked and even on his own which is great improvement. Then this morning he got up early, 600, saying his belly hurt. Of course it was 4 days for a BM. He is on mirilax daily but he just holds it instead. I know he wasn't feeling well when he was full of anger and abusing his sister with his hands. She of course adds drama but he doesnt have the right to push or hit her. He was even doing it to our dog today.

    I was curious if anyone has found allergies realeted to their difficult child explosiveness. My son has been tested for all types of allergies, has had his adanoids, tonsils, and sinuses removed. He has even had a sleep test but he still has dark circles under his eyes, troubles sleeping, bed wetting and food cravings. I am reading "What Your Explosive Child is Trying to Tell you" and I am on the allergy chapter. Right now I know I am information overload and I know I should stop but something just doesnt sit well and my mother instinct is kicking in. Anyone have allergy advice?
  18. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    I got a list of neuropsychs from kiddo's insurance company. You'll likely have to referral from one of his doctors, but if they won't give it (as kiddo's doctors refused) I got her referral from the insurance company instead after I explained all the issues we were facing with her and that her school and therapist recommended it but doctors refused. I got lucky and got a rep at the insurance company that is personally familiar with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), which is a major concern of mine with kiddo right now that I think she needs testing for.
  19. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    We went down the food sensitivity road for a while with both boys. difficult child 1's first pediatrician who diagnosed ADHD, wanted us to try diet first before he prescribed medications. From what I know now, the doctor was simply stalling for time while the government authority went through - it takes about a month. But for a month, we restricted certain foods and observed any changes. We did not do it the right way (as we found out years later) but still lucked out with some useful answers - caffeine made difficult child 1 far worse and also aggressive. Orange juice also caused problems, to a lesser degree. Otherwise - little difference.

    Once he started on medications, we were told that the food sensitivity issues related to behaviour, would vanish. However, we found that if he drank more than half a glass of cola, the violence would break through and his medications would seem to not be working. One day, for example, his class at school had a birthday party for a classmate and there was a lot of cola there. difficult child 1 drank some and his behaviour was horrible for the next two days.

    That was the state of our knowledge when difficult child 3 was born. At first we thought we at last had a normal child. We realised by about 2 years old, however, that this was a very different set of problems. Obviously gifted, but also not talking or responding in some ways. He was diagnosed as ADHD plus possible Asperger's (or somewhere on the spectrum) when he was 3. Started on stimulant medications, which was like magic in overcoming the language delay. Well, it started to turn the corner with it. At this stage we had a different pediatrician who had not suggested that we try diet first.

    difficult child 3 was at school in Grade 5, but constantly ill with low-grade fevers and vomiting. He missed about half that school year, spread over the year, because of this difficult-to-diagnose illness. His teacher was insistent that there was a physical problem. With hindsight I venture to suggest that she herself was a large part of the problem. But that is another story. Basically, difficult child 3 was severely stressed, and this was his reaction to the stress. However, before we worked that out, we investigated food sensitivity. But this time we did it thoroughly, and carefully, with experts overseeing it. That's how I know we did not do it thoroughly with difficult child 1 fourteen years earlier.

    What we did - first, we connected up with a hospital clinic that specialised in studying food sensitivity issues. We lucked out - there was a research program going on, looking at food sensitivity frequency in autism and Asperger's. Research programs can be useful because they are not allowed to charge you money for being involved.
    The study was overseen by a pediatric immunologist and dieticians. I knew one of the dieticians from previous work, knew she was perhaps the best in the country on the subject of food sensitivity. We were given booklets (amateur printing, so they were constantly updated) which listed brands of food to avoid, brands to head for, and what natural chemical groups were in what foods. This was not the Feingold diet, which was generally about eliminating artificial additives (colouring, preservatives). No, tis diet went a lot further - it eliminated all likely suspects in the form of natural chemical groups which are responsible for a lot of behaviour problems. Also responsible for health problems in some people who are chemically sensitive. For example, I know I have a problem with some foods high in salicylate - I already know I can't take NSAIDS because it greatly upsets my GI tract. But certain foods cause the same symptoms.

    So - the food groups, the natural chemical groups, are -

    1) salicylates

    2) amines

    3) glutamates.

    4) gluten

    5) dairy

    There were a few others, but these were the main ones. We had already eliminated dairy, and the problem symptoms continued, so thankfully difficult child 3's Elimination Diet was able to include milk, butter and ice cream (one brand only).

    What we had to do - difficult child 3 had to go on a very restricted diet. husband called it "the food free diet". Officially it's called an Elimination Diet. He had to stay on this until all past natural chemicals were washed out of his system. Or six weeks, whichever was the longer. He lost weight. He was unhappy because he was so restricted in what he could eat. It is NOT a diet you can subsist on for long, and it is not a healthy diet because it is not balanced.

    What he could eat - lamb. Chicken (no skin). boiled potatoes (no skin). Potato (no skin). Pears (one variety only, no skin. Or one brand of tinned pears, in syrup and not juice). sugar was allowed, in the form of one brand of lemonade which actually had not trace of lemon in it (it used citric acid). difficult child 3 was permitted to eat honeycomb, which was made from sugar syrup fluffed up with bicarb soda. We found a supplier for that - home-made. So that was his treat. There was one brand of ice cream he could have. Vanilla only, of course. The only flavouring or herbs permitted on this diet are chamomile and vanilla. Anything with flavour tends to also have the natural chemicals in it.

    difficult child 3's hyperlexia came into its own when we went shopping - he was highly motivated to cooperate and checked all labels carefully. It took us ages to shop.

    After being on the Elimination Diet for six weeks, the expectation was that problem symptoms would have eased. The trouble for us turned out to be (we discovered months later) that school was the trigger for his symptoms. Not just attending school, but even thinking about it. And I couldn't always know what he was thinking about!

    We got to a point where the dietician said, "We can't keep him on this diet any longer, it's time to try challenging the food groups."

    The idea was - give him something from the food groups, and see how his symptoms are. Yo don't break the whole diet, you only carefully allow something from one group. The largest group is the salicylates, so to challenge salicylates, I made chicken breast fillet for difficult child 3, but this time I seasoned it with oregano. That would have set off problems, if salicylates were a problem. But there was no change in him. As a result, immediately his diet expanded to include all salicylates, but still not the other groups.

    To test amines, we could choose chocolate, or banana. To test gluten - pasta (doesn't contain yeast - that has to be tested separately also). Each time, we were able to add more.

    As we were working through the challenges, we began to realise that difficult child 3's symptoms had not abated. The dietician called us in and went over the charts (we had to keep charts of everything he ate, and also his symptoms). She said, "There is something else wrong that is causing this, and we have just proved that in his case, it is not diet. Our preliminary findings are that in about 30% of autism and Asperger's cases, modifying diet can help with behaviour. But not in your son's case."

    That is where we left the program. Gratefully.

    Of course, the hospital we were going to, is based in Sydney, Australia. They do have information online, but you really shouldn't try this on your own. I'm a scientist by training and I found it challenging to manage, and that was with as very cooperative child. We had to remove all the problem food groups from the house while we did this, and I put all of us on a form of the same diet. It actually was easier. It also helped difficult child 3 see that we were really wanting to help him that much, that we would share his misery.

    End result - I'm glad we tried it. Also very glad it did not help.