Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by flwcohen, Aug 29, 2008.

  1. flwcohen

    flwcohen New Member

    My son is 6 and is a sweet and adorable child, whose smile lights up the room. He is very bright and has an amazing aptitude for numbers. He's very friendly....but doesn't connect well with others. He's extremely stubborn and becomes obsessed with odd things (like the color red) and is willing to "fight to the death" to get things his way. He has been diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified and is on Strattera and Buspar. He does well in school...but at home we have big problems with him. He and his older brother, who is 9, fight constantly (physically). The most concerning behavior is that lately he has found a lot of delight in torturing our new kitten. He has hurt her many times and she now cries whenever he comes near. We have tried punishment, social stories and lots of discussions. I'm at my wits end. I feel like I'm a patient person and can deal with a lot of his misbehavior...but hurting the cat has sent me over the edge. What should I do? Any ideas?
  2. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    Has there been a change in his behavior since starting the medications, perhaps three month after starting Strattera?

    Strattera is in a class of drugs called SNRIs, (selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors). In some countries, SNRIs are approved for use as antidepressants. In the US, the only pure SNRI approved for sale is Strattera, which is approved for the treatment of ADHD. It is actually considered to be an antidepressant and comes with all the same warnings about suicidal thinking and changes in mood and behavior (aggression, hostility, etc) as all other antidepressants.

    Many parents have reported that while Strattera does help with focus at school, their child became so aggressive, hostile, "just plain nasty" that they were forced to discontinue it.

    The doctor should have told you to watch for these changes in behavior.
  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Welcome to the site. I'm sorry you're having these problems with your son. A lot of what you describe sounds very familiar. Except for the torturing of the animal.

    Do you think his main aim is to torture the animal? Why? What do you think he is trying to do? Can you get into his head at all?

    Sometimes what we see, and what is really going on, can be very different. Not that he's not really hurting the cat - I do believe you - but in his head, he just might not be connecting that the cat is suffering. Or he mightn't connect the cat's pain to how he would feel. And this would be despite your best efforts - because sometimes no matter how hard we try, if our child's brain just isn't ready to learn a particular lesson, then it won't.

    Thinking of difficult child 3 when he was like this - his aim was not specifically torture, but he would have found the cat's reaction funny and would have done it again, to get a similar reaction. it's like a baby playing with a squeaky toy - they squeeze the toy, it makes a noise, the baby laughs, ten squeezes the toy again.

    If that is what is happening here, then your attempts to convince him that what he is doing is causing another creature pain - he just wouldn't get it. How could what he is doing be causing pain, if it is so much fun for him?

    Because for our Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kids, often what is happening in their heads is an utter lack of connectedness to other individuals. Looking at it the other way - difficult child 3 would get angry with me for not instantly knowing what he was thinking. To him, surely every thought in his head was an open book to me? Because for him, HE knew every thought in HIS OWN head, so why didn't everyone else know exactly what HE knew?

    He still does similar things - we listen to music he has collected onto the iPod in his folder (music form his favourite computer games) and he will quiz me, "Do you know this song? What is it from?" and gets impatient when I don't know the answer as well as he does. Repeatedly I've told him, "I don't play those games as much as you do. In fact, I have NEVER played those games. As a result, I do not recognise those tunes at all."
    He finds this really hard to follow, and he is an otherwise highly intelligent child.

    On this site we often recommend the book "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. It helps in a number of ways:

    1) It helps you understand the world form the child's point of view. This is vital, if you are to ever find a way of changing how the child behaves.

    2) It gives you easier rules to parent by. Included here is how to not engage in a battle that you aren't certain of winning. It also includes other ways around a discipline problem.

    Your son is only 6. At this age it can be really difficult to pin down a diagnosis and lock it in for life. So keep an open mind - there could be more there, or the diagnosis may need to change. Often what we get to begin with is just an approximation.

    Have you got him into a psychologist at all? Some kind of therapist? They may be able to find a way to get this message through to your son, where you haven't been able to. Again, it comes down to understanding what is happening in his head, so you can dovetail into how he thinks and get the cat's point of view across to him.

    Until you can sort this out better - you need to segregate him from the cat. For his sake, the cat's sake, and yours.

    Try to avoid punishment - as you are discovering, it doesn't work. What DOES work better is reward (catch him in the act of being good), positive feedback and natural consequences (letting the cat scratch him).

    Stick around here, keep us posted. We can help.

  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Do you understand Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified? Is your son getting any interventions?
    My son has it, he's doing great. These kids require a special kind of parenting...and understanding. They do not think like we do. Their brains are wired differently. My son used to be mean to my dogs because he has sensory issues and their barking (loud noise) and fir (he didn't like the way they felt) bothered him and he wanted them to stay away from him.
    I think it would be a good idea for find an autism specialist to help you with your son. Mainstream parenting advice won't change him...both of you need to learn about how he thinks and he needs extra special help in social skills and life skills or he will have trouble (lots) as he gets older. medications are not going to help Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified that much. We finally took my son off medications and he's still doing great. Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified is not mental illness. It's a neurological difference.
  5. ML

    ML Guest

    I don't think his intention is to actually hurt the cat. I agree that is just part of a disconnect and association.

    Actually I have a story, unrelated, but sort of along the lines of what Marg said about how their brains process differently.

    The Manster likes to play jokes. One of the things he likes to do is to sneak behind me when I go out to the car as we're setting out to go someplace and pretend that he's not there. He delights in the game when I call his name and talk to "myself" (that Manster, he is in so much trouble, why does he never get in the car when tell him to, etc. etc.). If I at any time disrupt his scenario or react differently he gets very upset. So I have to pretend I don't see him. One time I admitted that I pretended I didn't see him and he was furious at me for ruining the game.

    I don't know how or if this relates but I thought it might help illustrate the processing differences.

  6. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Travis was so bad with kittens, we had to give it away. For whatever reason, he just couldn't deal with a kitten. Yet dogs he did fine with. Big sturdy dogs, bred to be gentle.

    However, as an adult Travis does well with cats and enjoys them. (go figure) Although still has to be monitored with both dogs and cats as he doesn't realize when he goes to far.

    Welcome to the board. :D

  7. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Hi Flwcohen, welcome.

    MM, I didn't realize Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) not otherwise specified was neurological. I just thought it was a catch-all term! Duh. Thank you!

    Great ideas, Flwcohen. Just wanted to add my welcome here.
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) is a catch-all for's not a diagnosis :)
    Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified or pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified means atypical autism. It is a neurological disorder, NOT a psychiatric problem (which is often why people with kids who have this AND Aspergers dont' get much help from Psychiatarists. Many don't understand it).
    Kids on the spectrum can make tremendous gains, but medications is not the first or most important intervention. It is a whole different ball of wax from, say, bipolar. And ASDers are often misdiagnosed as either ADHD/ODD or bipolar. The strangeness of a child on the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) spectrum is often misdiagnosed as mental illness.
    You need good diagnostitians. As always, my favorite is NeuroPsychs. But, yeah, it's neurological. Their brains are wired differently therefore you'll go nuts if you try to parent them in the mainstream way. It doesn't work.
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    On the medication front - a clarification. Our kids are medicated because of the ADHD component. The medications are being used to treat those aspects that are possibly treatable. For example, the ADHD stuff IS responding to stims, although never enough to make life very easy. Just a bit easier.

    Anxiety - difficult child 3 can't tolerate much, but difficult child 1 has been ono Zoloft for some years with really good results. However, the differences between individuals needs to be considered. It's good we've found something that helps difficult child 1, but it's not an option for everyone.

    Something else to watch out for - alphabet overload (my term). Again, be aware I'm coming from the point of view of an Aussie, where our system tends to not hand out too many labels as if they are diseases (that's not necessarily good or bad, it's perhaps more symptomatic of poorer understanding).
    The result is (using difficult child 1 as an example) - I have a kid who was diagnosed initially with significant language delay with some sensory problems, impulse control issues, was a very early reader but without the comprehension to go with it, was apparently a prodigy in some areas, has certain perseverative behaviour which he will repeat, over and over. All these observations came before (and contributed to) the eventual diagnosis of high-functioning autism.

    But another way of looking at him - he has ADHD, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) (autism), Sensory Integration Disorder (SID), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), savant skills and hyperlexia. Then the ODD label his teacher threw at him. You look back along that line and you can see the alphabet soup which your kid can acquire as a label.

    But it all comes back to the autism, and the particular manifestation of it, in difficult child 3. Every kid is different.

    So be aware that along the diagnostic journey your child will probably collect half an alphabet. But the eventual label should encompass ALL of the letters rolled into one comprehensive label. A lot of the other 'letters' are not necessarily separate disorders, they are just observations or characteristics that can be found in any one of a number of conditions.

    So if your child has a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) label, it tends to go without saying that he is likely to have Sensory Integration Disorder (SID), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), etc. These are descriptors. Yes, we need these labels for our information, they help you pinpoint where he needs support and therapy, but otherwise - we just get on with living. Don't look at a long laundry list of labels and feel overwhelmed. There's no need.

    We have a piano. It has 88 keys, some black and some white. I could give you a detailed list of their frequencies and their appearance, probably give you a technical list which you could then use to match my description and know, eventually, that what I mean is "piano". My description is correct, there is nothing false in it. But the simple word, "piano", tells you the same information.

    I'm a left-hander. I daresay if I look, I can find a medical term for lefthandedness which I could parade as a disability label. But for me, I value my lefthandedness.
    In a similar way, my boys value their autism. It is a vital part of who they are. And the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) issues - difficult child 1's boss is currently REALLY valuing tis about him, because with difficult child 1 in charge of the sanding and varnishing of furniture in the shop, nothing leaves the warehouse until difficult child 1 says it's good enough. The standard is now very high. If there's a rough finish even on a small area, difficult child 1's sensitive fingertips will find it and quickly deal with it.

    What we see as disability CAN be turned to advantage. It takes all kinds to make a world.

  10. ML

    ML Guest

    Marg your posts are so encouraging and inspiring. I value your input so much.
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Thanks, ML. But remember - I'm just another parent. I just happen to have an age spread of similar kids, so we've learnt by making a lot of mistakes. difficult child 3 is giving us a second chance to get it right this time!

  12. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I'm just cruising through the posts right now between chores, but I would advise you to give the cat away. This is not something that your son is going to stop doing on a dime.
  13. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I have read this several times. I strongly feel that keeping the cat is wrong. please give the cat away. He deserves a home where he will not be tortured, and tortured is the word YOU used. No living being should be tortured.

    I agree that knowing WHY he is doing this is important. Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) (autism) can be very tough for the family to handle. But animals should not be around anyone who hurts them. And people with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) have a hard time learning, so it will take a long time to teach your difficult child to be safe around the cat.

    I am sorry.
  14. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Ok, need to correct ya, Susie. Kids with autism can learn, often well. It's how you teach them. Conventionally it is hard for them to learn :) I do agree about the cat. My son never "tortured" the dogs or they'd have been gone. He just yelled at them so they'd lower their tale and run from him (they still do), and now he pretty much leaves them alone and they leave him alone. But if it's choking, throwing, kicking etc...the animal deserves to be safe while the child is being put into Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) interventions. But, please, folks, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kids can not only learn--once they do, they tend to be rule followers who are NOT rebellious kids. When they are frustrated and out-of-sync (before interventions help THEM and help YOU understand them) they react sometimes violently, out of the sheer frustration of their lack of ability to communicate and their sheer fury at nobody "getting" them and they not "getting" anyone else. But, once they are being taught about NT life, most get much better, even docile, UNLESS they have co-morbids also going on. And you really can't know that until they are in Autism treatment (Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified needs autism type supports). It is on the Spectrum. But my son, and he is hardly the only kid I know with high functioning autism, was totally out of control until his supports were put into place and he started to understand us as we started understanding him. And he is exceptionally well behaved. Maybe one day, this child can even have a cat, but this isn't the time.
    Phew! Sorry for the vent, but wanted to clarify about Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified and all Autistic Spectrum Disorders (including Aspergers).
  15. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    MWM - you don't need to correct me. I HAVE a child with autism, thank you very much. I will stand by what I say. I used HER word - torturing.

    Children with autism often learn things at a different rate than other children. If the situation is so bad as to use the word "torture" then it is time for the kitten who "now cries whenever he comes near" then it is time to send the kitten to a place where she will not be hurt.

    I stand by my post.
  16. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Susie, I think we're all in agreement on the need to keep the kitten safe. I think there are a lot of reasons for this - not just the welfare of the kitten, but this does also connect to how autistic kids can learn.

    If the kitten is still around, then he can still get to the kitten and "have fun" with it. This is also learned behaviour - he's been getting a payoff every time he hurts the kitten and this is going to keep happening as long as he has access to it.

    So not only for the sake of the cat - for the sake of the child, they need to be kept apart.

    This begins because autistic kids can, depending on what it is, learn FAST. A single occurrence can be enough to set up the expectation that they will get the payoff every time. Example: we live in a seaside village with a handful of shops. In summer we go to the beach most afternoons. When we need to buy milk I go to the small grocery store. Occasionally after we'd been to the beach, I'd also stop at the grocery store to buy milk. ONE day after we'd been to the beach and I stopped to buy milk, I decided on impulse to buy an ice cream for each of us.

    difficult child 3 remembered. Next time we went to the beach he expected me to buy an ice cream afterwards. I didn't. He threw a tantrum. Next time we went to the beach he expected me to buy an ice cream afterwards. I didn't. He threw a tantrum AGAIN.

    And so on. He would say, "We ALWAYS buy an ice cream!" and I reply (to no avail) "No, we did it ONCE."

    In difficult child 3's mind, because we did it once, it instantly became the status quo.

    In this case - the status quo must change. To change the status quo, you need to change the factors that are part of this. It's as if I could transport me and difficult child 3 to a village where there is no shop. No shop = no chance to buy ice cream. No chance to buy ice cream = not my fault. No tantrum.

    So, removing the kitten = removing the feedback every time difficult child tortures the cat and it yowls.

    difficult child 3 has now learned to adapt. He is amazing. But although he made the connection between beach and ice cream with ONE exposure, it is because he was ready to learn this. There have been many other times when difficult child 3 has learnt something else just as quickly. But if he's not ready to learn, then no amount of repetition is going to do the trick.

    So MWM, and Susie - you're both right. Sometimes they just can't learn something. It can be incredibly upsetting and frustrating. And sometimes they can learn something, really well, and brilliantly. When an autistic child is ready to learn - then it is amazing.

  17. Christy

    Christy New Member

    Sorry you are facing this. First, protect the kitten. Set him up with his litterbox and food in a locked area like your bedroom. Allow difficult child only supervised access to the kitten and model appropriate petting and other behaviors. Let him feed the kitten and praise the right behaviors but don't expect this behavior to carry over right away so do not leave your son alone with the cat. When our son was younger, he never intentionally hurt the cats but tried to control them by dragging them around, forcing them to stay in one spot, pulling on them,etc.. We had to keep them seperate from him. Now, several years later, they are the bset of friends. The cats seek him out-LOL

    Good Luck
  18. Fran

    Fran Former Site Owner

    Hello and welcome. It sounds like you have done a great job getting him evaluated and treatment started.
    Parenting our kids is a learning process. They don't react to parenting in the same way in many situations. It seems to be trial and error.
    I understand that this behavior is sending you over the edge. It does seem that our kids find that one behavior that triggers us into despair.
    For me, it was hygiene(and still is) I try to not let it be such a hot button but it does bother me.

    I agree that you have a responsibility to protect the kitten who can not protect itself. Keeping it out of your son's reach is important in whatever way you go about doing it.

    You also have a responsibility to help your son function in a world of creatures who are weaker than himself. I would investigate the strattera as Sara suggested if this is a relatively new behavior. If this is a pattern then you need some professional help with behavior modification and consequences for inaappropriate and cruel behavior. You want to help him get a handle on this as quickly as possible. When he is 16 and bigger than all of you, if he doesn't understand hurt and pain you and your other son will have a real concern.

    Hang in there you aren't alone.
  19. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Hi flwcohen and welcome! I'm so glad to hear that your son is doing well in school - my goodness, that's at *least* half the battle right there. I have to agree with the other posters that it's time to find the cat a new home, unfortunately. While obviously we want to teach our kids appropriate behaviors, sometimes the learning curve is a pretty big one and you certainly don't want the cat injured in the meantime. Not only would that just be a tragedy for the cat, but I think it would also be one for your youngest as well.

    I do want to point out that none of us are experts (except on our own kids - sometimes ;) ) nor do any of us have *the* right answer. As parents of kids with challenging behaviors, we bring to the board our own biases that have been shaped by our individual experiences. That is the beauty of this board - take 2 parents whose children have the same diagnosis and chances are you will get 2 vastly different experiences in terms of behaviors, treatment, and education. Throw in differences in philosphy of parenting and you get a wonderful spectrum of information and suggestions. Some of it will apply to your situation, some won't - take what you can use and don't worry about the rest of it. In my experience, parenting a difficult child is an evolution. There is no be-all end-all right answer (darn it) and we adapt over the years. The folks on the board are a fabulous resource as you and your son grow!

    Again - welcome to the board! :)
  20. pasdenom

    pasdenom New Member

    I haven't read all the entries on this thread, but would like to say I have a daughter who killed her 3 pet rats by breaking their necks. She almost succeeded in killing one pet cat. She strangled it with a ligature till she thought it was dead, took a shower, then came and told me "Something's wrong with Louie." These are the words she used to show me the dead rats as they died one by one. Somehow Louie survived. Then I walked in on her strangling another cat with another ligature. We have since found out that this is related to her Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified and not burgeoning Psychopathy. She didn't admit to killing the rats for a long time (around 2 years) but it seems to haunt her. She told me at a later date that she thought animals could "handle it," that is the pain she inflicted. I don't think she enjoys hurting them. Her motive trying to kill them was quite instrumental. In the case of the rats, she wanted a different pet---a kitten. Actually the motive was the same in attempting to kill the cats. I had told her we couldn't get any new pets because we already had too many. So she figured if she killed one of our cats we'd get her a replacement. We are quite vigilant in making sure she doesn't hurt them, but there are no guarantees. It's scary.
    Knowing her instrumental attitude toward the death of animals I was terrified when she asked if she'd be able to play an online game my husband banned her from if he were to die. With my heart in my throat I answered that no she would not be able to. I've felt so alone in dealing with this. Her psychologist and psychiatrist have offered no therapy in this regard, except for the former to suggest we train her by rote not to hurt animals. Hmm... Any suggestions?