one stbilized (relatively) another one starts up

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by sabrah, Jul 17, 2008.

  1. sabrah

    sabrah patience...

    hello, I am new to this forum. I have been reading for a few days and I noticed quite a few families have more than one child with-some sort of diagnosis; my question is how to distinguish between a second child actually have a mental health issue causing disruptive behavior and when the child is just mimicking what they have watched thier sibling do for years,(IE: learned behavior with a touch of PTSD). Honestely, I have found the 'professionals'' to be as confused as me on this issue. My 13 difficult child is bi-polar and global Learning Disability (LD) , we have known something was not quite right for many years (like 11 yrs), known she was Learning Disability (LD) for about 3 but in the past 2 years the behavioral isuues became more severe, (divorce and puberty about same time, triggers?). Anyway, after being told by many and assumed by many more that this was a parenting problem :( , finally she was diagnosis'd with mood disorder (leaning toward BiPolar (BP)), which is what I had already figured out. Thank GOD, the very firstmeds they put her on post diagnosis (before diagnosis tried very wrong medications -scary reaction) have worked very well with little side-effects , now she is just a typically cranky, lazy, rebellious 13 year old, a dream compared to what we had before.
    anyway, I live and am involved in a very small community and as I said many assumed and still do that this was a case of bad parenting, well to make matters worse now my 9 year son has decided that he wants to join the disfunctional behavior bandwagon.
    Eldest started medications in early winterof '07' and was a changed person within weeks (do not get me wrong still cantakerous), and a few months later her 9 year brother was kicked out of school due to his behavior (private school). He has no learning or attentional difficulties, it is purely behavioral. He has always had a temper but seems to have escalated over past year. he does well in structure, but give hom a free moment and then let someone (child or adult) say or do something he does not like and he can fly off handle. He has beaten schoolmates and cussed at the principal, and of course me. He would start punching and kicking anything in sight iof he did not get his way with me, and I am not a permissive parent . alot of cussing..still. psychiatric said maybe combo of bio, and ptsd, and enviromental, also said he is past ODD. We put him on medications temprarely to try and calm him while trying to get him to cooperate in therapy, medications make quite a difference he tries to control himself now and catches himself when he begins to fly off the handle, stop medications a few days and we are back to old behavior. soo.... how do I know? learned behavior or own chem imbalances or a bit of both? The fact that the medications make a difference mean anything regarding his chemical balance? Dr.s seemed stumped so I am turning to the real experts the experienced/veteran parents.
    sorry, I have a habit of writing very long passages hope someone can make it to the end of this and add thier thoughts, advice.
  2. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member


    First and foremost, welcome to the site. Do us a huge favor and do a profile signature like you see at the bottom of our posts. It really helps us get some background info and keep members "staight".

    The one thing that leans me toward thinking your second child has issues beyong "typical" defiance and ptsd, is the fact that medications actually helped for a time. I am suprised the doctor is mystified given medications made a positive difference in his life. Has he been put back on those medications yet?

    You make no mention as to what those medications were? I would be curious to know what medication made a positive difference in your life. Genetics play a huge factor in our children's diagnosis. It's not always a given, that's why some of us have only one difficult child but multiple children. But it is a big influential piece.

    Bottom line, without a full and complete evaluation - and I'm talking multiple docs testing - social, educational, neurological, etc., you won't know for sure. And, even then it's somewhat questionable.

  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Welcome, Sabrah.

    We're one of those families with multiple difficult children.

    With us, we noticed some similar characteristics which COULD have been imitative or could have been familial. There were also other problems which were quite different with each child. For example, easy child was always a ball of greased lightning, here there and everywhere. Never still, into everything, always active, rejecting physical contact.

    difficult child 1 would cling like a koala whenever he could, but when active would also be into everything. However, unlike easy child, he needed either simple instructions or to be led by the hand where easy child could cope with complex information and long sequences in her head. difficult child 1 hated people looking at him.

    easy child 2/difficult child 2 was very bright, able to handle very complex information in long sequences, was quieter than easy child and difficult child 1, enjoyed a cuddle, but was very strong-willed and independent. Later on she began to show a stubborn streak that wouldn't let her accept information she disagreed with. She also began forgetting schoolwork she'd previously known well. No behavioural problems back then. Many more, now.

    difficult child 3's problems were different again. Initially we thought he was our perfect child. Strong-willed like both sisters, highly intelligent, but non-verbal. Quite happy to be the centre of attention (like his sisters; unlike difficult child 1). Never shy, never had stage-fright.

    You see the similarities? The differences?

    We took them to the same doctors, because I wanted anything familial to be ignored unless it was part of a medical condition which needed to be recorded. The end result is in the sig. easy child has never been diagnosed with anything, but we suspect a small amount of ADHD. Her partner we suspect to be borderline Aspie. easy child 2/difficult child 2's partner has ADHD as a diagnosis, may possibly also be borderline Aspie.

    For a long time we thought easy child 2/difficult child 2 had nothing wrong with her other than a desire for attention, and that she was copying difficult child 1's bad behaviour. I admit we were very hard on her. But when I look back, especially seeing how she is now (which is definitely very different to both boys, although the obsessiveness we see in her is similar to difficult child 3) I can see the beginnings of the almost out-of-control Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) she now exhibits.

    easy child 2/difficult child 2 has also been very good at 'normalising' her obsessions. We could see it more at home. For example, she was obsessed with the feel of fur fabric and anything silky, so she bought some cowprint fur fabric and made a cover for her school folder. It looked fabulous, it was very stylish and distinctive - and she got to carry it in her arms to every class, which meant she was cuddling fur fabric (indulging her sensuality and her obsession) in front of everybody, and nobody noticed.

    Don't be too sure that your 9 year old has nothing wrong. It's an easy mistake to make.

    A strong suggestion - get the 9 year old into therapy somewhere/somehow. If he's merely being reactive and is cashing in on his sister's problems, then he still need counselling and cognitive behaviour therapy to overcome any anger, jealousy and learned behaviour issues. And if there is more - he still needs therapy to realise that help is there and he doesn't have to physically react.
    You say medications help him stay focussed better - that is a big sign that he is also affected by something beyond environment. It's not unusual for siblings to inherit facets of the disorders affecting others in the family.

    Example again in my kids - difficult child 1 and difficult child 3 are on very similar doses of medications. In fact I think difficult child 3 has just passed difficult child 1 in quantity, even though difficult child 1 is almost twice his little brother's size and age. And when they were on risperdal, difficult child 3 was on two to three times the dosage of his big brother.
    difficult child 1 takes Zoloft. difficult child 3 can't tolerate it.
    easy child 2/difficult child 2 is on the same stims as her brothers, but takes one sixth their dose. Yet without it she's silly, giggly, impulsive, immature ("blonde", in short) - we want to throttle her. We call them her "brunette pills".

    My view - if you find something that helps, use it. Anyone who thinks it's bad parenting - forget about them. They don't matter, they are beneath contempt if they're not going to have compassion or consideration. What is far more important is your relationship with your kids and your help that you give them as you work towards giving them as good a chance in life as you can.

  4. sabrah

    sabrah patience...

    thank you both for your responses. I will get around to making a profile soon, daytime here is hard to do much on the computer. The 13 yr old is on Geodon and has had amazing results, she missed one day about a month after starting and literally returned to old behavior but it is strange how once you have had a respite from the old behavior if it returns you actually realize how insane and intolerable that behavior is. I thought I would die with one day of what I had dealt with for so many years , (never thought it was pleasant but survived it ,i guess you survive what you have to when you have to.
    Any way, second child ,9yr old, is on risperdal, basically chose that one because it comes in lquid form l, we tried prozac for him orignally and that was a disaster , (as with the 13 year old). He is not aware that he is taking medications , because; a. he would refuse and b, his father (my ex) would make a big scene, he is very angry guy, especially with me , and knowing about medications would give him fuel to cause rift between our son and myself. Of course reason B is the cause for reason A. My son told the psychiatric that he does not need medications because hes not crazy, if anyone needs them it mom (basically quoting dad). By the way I have no diagnosis and am quite stable, except for the fact that I am dealing with all this plus an ex trying to sabotoge my getting them help.
    9yr old does not have any concentation difficulties just uncontrollable rages that can become very violent both verbally and physically. He cusses something terrible, (I do not cuss).
    He is in therapy but have not really gotten anywhere with it and now we are away for the summer so will basically start over in fall, switching to play therapy because the traditional sit down and talk was not working at all. As I think about it I realize also that our therapist was female and he probably would have responded better to a male, hmm... Any way he also did not respond well to the psychiatric basically because we are all crazy, not him, as he would put it.
  5. Christy

    Christy New Member


    I only have one son and he's adopted so I don't have much to offer but I wanted to add my hello!

    Glad you found us!
  6. Welcome! This board is a wonderful place to come!

  7. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member


    Ugh - your ex sounds like he has some anger issues, too. Do you see alot of your ex in your son?

    What a hard place to be in. Does the doctor know you sneak the medications in? I have never heard of that, but understand why you have to. Do the kids see biodad often?
  8. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Oh, to your original question....I would tend to think your youngest has some sort of mental health issue as well. Could be depression, anxiety, mood disorder, etc. Does not sound like ADD, but probably something else going on.
  9. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome. I, too, have two difficult children. When Youngest first started acting out, I assumed it was more mimicking and a reaction to Oldest getting all the attention. But as it progressed I saw it was very definitely "abnormal" behavior.

    I agree that therapy is a must for your youngest ... if you don't think he responded well with the last therapist, keep looking. It took me several tries to find one that worked well with both girls, and with me. We did some individual sessions as well as some family ones.

    I also was (still am) a single mom raising them .. with an ex who thought it was all my fault, and sabotaged left and right. So, I feel for you there as well, believe me. Dealing with two difficult children all by yourself is exhausting .. and you sometimes feel like a bouncing ball, back and forth... mine competed for my attention constantly and what attention I did give them never seemed to be enough.
  10. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Hi and welcome :)

    With regard to your 9yo, I would suspect he's got something going on neurochemically as well. in my opinion, it's pretty hard to fake that kind of response to medication if you're a kid. Based on how your ex is described, it's not hard to see the connection in your difficult child's. None of us falls far from the family tree, especially where genes are concered!
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    It's especially hard to fake it, if you don't know you're taking it!

    Those anger issues and transference from the father are a BIG worry. Unless you can get tat sorted one way or another, even if you have to get a court order to say that you are permitted to get the kids medically assessed and treated without him undermining it, then I think you need to do so. Those kids are going to grow up VERY resentful if they discover you've been "drugging" them. And if their dad finds out, he will use it against you, with the courts as well as with the kids.

    medications aren't always the perfect answer, either. Although medications often can bring improvement, we used to have to manage in the past without medications. I know people who have grown up without taking the medications that could have helped, for ADHD - and now they're adult, they (and their doctors) see no point, because they've adapted to their condition in the absence of medications, medicating now would only rock the boat, so to speak.

    I only mention this now, because if you need to stop the medications because of your ex and feel you're losing the chance for your kids to cope, as a result, it's not necessarily so. Without medications could be a lot more difficult, but I suspect your ex is a classic example of someone who has come through the process without medications. And who knows? Maybe if he'd had some ongoing support services and a different way of handling, he might have turned out differently (and not so nasty).

    If you feel that medications are going to be your kids best (and maybe only) chance, I'd be looking into legal ways to get the right to have them more openly treated. If you have to leave it much longer, the kids will be too old for you to have much chance of getting them treated; they can refuse treatment past a certain age (not sure exactly when).

  12. sabrah

    sabrah patience...

    My 13 yr old knows she is taking medications, (geodon), and though she was totally against it at first she is very serious about taking them now. She sees the difference it has made for her, in fact she even has a specific time that she is decided her body adjusts to taking them at , better than others. My son does not know and we decided at the time not to tell him because we were thinking this is more enviromental and thus medications will be very short term , but was necessary immediately, since he was sort of spiraling at the time, and not cooperating with therapy. As I face the possibility of medications being long term of course he will have to know, that is among the reasons that I am trying to really figure out how much is biological and how much enviromental.
  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    It sounds like your 13 year old has a good attitude about her medications. She adapted well despite the "bad press" the medications got from her father. So there's hope.

    As for how much is biological and how much environmental - it is very hard to judge and sometimes it makes little difference, if the treatment is similar. It's when the treatment is different that this information becomes vital.

    My take on it - if medication is making a positive difference and especially if he doesn't know he's taking it, then I'd say the problem is probably within him, rather than imposed by his father. And even his father may have some hereditary problem which has predisposed him to be impulsive and aggressive. It could even account for the father's negative attitude to medical assessments and intervention. His "I'm not crazy!" attitude could be defensive; in the same way that sometimes the worst homophobes are "protesting too much" because they fear their own hidden homosexuality.

    Sabrah, if/when you can, please post a signature profile of yourself and your kids. It makes it easier for us to keep track of your issues (and the kids' issues) without having to go back each time and re-read each post in every thread. And a strong suggestion - do not use real names or anything else which could identify you. WE'RE decent people of course, but if someone wanted to make life difficult for you, using real names would make it much easier to track you and whatever you're talking about.
    For example, I was having A LOT of trouble with our local Dept of Ed authorities and needed to ask people here for ideas on what to say and how to cope. If I had used my real name or the kids' real names, even the name of a local town or school, then I could have been tracked and hacked by the very people I was trying to protect us against. And they have done it before, when I wrote stuff in my own name - I have written a number of articles over the years about education issues and was somewhat horrified the first time when copies of what I had written were passed around the staffroom by one teacher in particular. The next time she did it, I was prepared and had been more careful about what I wrote. But on this site - I need to be free to say what I need to say and not worry about my words being used against me or my kid.

    Another suggestion that you may have already worked out (or I may have already told you, only I've lost track) - get a copy of "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. It made a big difference to us. And the techniques in there might even work on your ex!

  14. sabrah

    sabrah patience...

    I got explosive child today, and I added the profile.
    as for bio vs envir, so what might I be looking at here? MY step son had the same temper though a sweetie at heart and one of my yngr brs too. MY older sis is un-diagnosis'd but either BiPolar (BP) or bdpd, n yngr sis was a cutter as a teen, agh, n I had alcolhol (sp?) issues as a teen but dont know how abnormal that is growing up here. Anyway family has a lot of un-diagnosis'd issues on both sides :( and I do not want him to grow up untreated. By the way I have 2 totally easy child brs too, and I think i am easy child (by the way what exactly is easy child standing for? usually i think politically correct?)
  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Sabrah, "easy child" (here) stands for "Perfect Child".

    I hear you about wanting to get any problems your son has, sorted, identified and dealt with. The trouble is life is more complicated than that. Also, of the stuff we're generally dealing with here, nothing is curable or even 100% maskable. If it were, we'd be living the life described in Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" with various caste groups modified/managed chemically and by behaviour modification techniques.

    I look back on my childhood and consider myself a easy child. And yet I brought a lot of baggage with me from my childhood. And now when I look at the kids and their Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) issues I can see how some of their characteristics could have been inherited from me. I may have been easy child, but I had certain oddness which could have been a bit borderline.

    None of us is ever totally "normal". There are degrees of sanity, degrees or normality and the same with various "disorders". We treat what we can as best we can, we try to manage otherwise and help our children with whatever they need help with. A chemical fix is not always an option and is rarely a 100% option.

    Maybe one day we will have street corner diagnostic booths where we can take our children, plug in a coin and the machine assesses the kid, calculates weight, height, age etc and spits out a pill which completely eliminates any problem symptoms, permanently.

    Until then - we have to keep working with what we have got. And at the level we can work, it no longer really matters much which came first, the chicken or the egg - we're still dealing with farm produce, that's about as much detail as we can take on board!

    Until we have more answers, we all just have to roll with the punches and deal with each crisis as it turns up. We can try to head off the more obvious ones we see coming, but sometimes there's not much we can do to stop a train wreck. All we can do is organise the emergency services as effectively as possible.