This Mom Needs Hope

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by 627666, Nov 21, 2008.

  1. 627666

    627666 New Member

    Hi! I am new to this site but happy to have other parents to share my pain (and hope) with. My son is about to turn 12 and has recently been diagnosed with Conduct Disorder. We have seen the "best" Behavioral Specialist our area has to offer for over 4 years, and now I am learning this has been the wrong approach. My son's issues are not behavioral, but neurobehavioral or in laymen's terms: a brain disorder. I am feeling tremendous guilt about all the punitive, disciplinary methods we have tried for years. We even sent him to a reputable wilderness program for 8 weeks this summer. He is about to be "asked to leave" another private school. We have been told his issues are because of ADHD and ODD but now we are learning it goes way beyond that...hence the diagnosis of Conduct Disorder. Did I mention I am 7 1/2 mos pregnant and also have a 6 year old at home. I feel I am barely keeping it all together. My son is now living with his grandparents because our home needs a break. My heart is breaking and I need some hope. Just found out about the Meridell Achievement Center in Austin, TX, that treats these issues as brain disorders, positive, therapeutic, and am waiting to hear back from them. The experts say my son needs a Residential Treatment Center (RTC) for at least the next 2 years. Someone, anyone, please provide some hope. Thank you! :sad-very:
  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Wow, can you back way up and fill us in? Many people come here saying very similar things and a lot of times, it has not been an accurate diagnosis by an expert in child psychology or psychiatry. So, who has been giving these diagnosis to your son? Have you ever had neuropsychological testing done on him? Has he ever been evaluated by a child & adolscent certified psychiatrist? That would be the first steps I'd recommend. Sometimes, behavioral specialist get frustrated when the behavior teqhniques don't "cure" the child, so they say the child has conduct disorder and/or it's the parents' faulty parenting skills causing the problem. I'd recommend not buying into that. The bad behavior usually is a symptom of the child having other problems that have not been pin-pointed, much less treated appropriately.

    I think your son is way too young to have that diagnosis, especially when it doesn't appear that no expert has ever seriously considered a "bigger" underlying issue. It might help you to look over the book "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. It would help us to know a little more about your son's history in school, with any medications tried, what signs of "different" did you first notice and when, etc.

    Oh- and Welcome! You have found a great place here. We can't diagnose but we can share experiences and offer support and perhaps point you in a better direction sometimes!
  3. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Hi Mom needing hope -

    This is a good place to find hope, and education and advice and caring. I'm interested in whomever told you this was a brain disorder and hearing more about what that is. Mostly - because in a way I agree. I've just never heard anyone come out and say it.

    Waiting to see your blanks filled in - Glad you decided to join and get involved.

  4. 627666

    627666 New Member

    Sorry to dump so much on your plate my first time to the site! To answer your questions, yes, we have seen all the experts one can see. He has had 2 rounds of testing, both conducted by Psychiatrists, and his Behavioral Therapist is the one who gave him the Conduct Disorder diagnosis. Since birth, my son has been a highly energetic and anxious child. Every year since pre-K, we have had increasing problems with emotional and behavioral issues which were eventually diagnosed as ADHD. Last year we got the ODD diagnosis. He was asked to leave 2 public schools and now one private school, mostly for bullying. He has shoplifted at least twice that I know of, is becoming withdrawn and distant, and only shows remorse when caught. We avoided medications for years but finally tried them, tried all of them. He is now on Vyvance (50 mg) for the impulsivity, lack of focus, issues and recently put on Lexipro (10 mg) for anxiety, even though it is technically used to treat depression. I might also add that my Mom and my Mother in Law are both Psychiatric Nurses who have a life time of experience with kids/teens like my son. We are all in agreement we need a new focus and a new therapist. I have a call into someone locally who is supposedly an expert on Conduct Disorder. I want to know if this is really what he has, but his symptoms sure seem to fit the profile. Also, I got the info on brain disorder (vs. a behavioral issue) from the Meridell Achievement Center website and video; since then, however, my son's therapist told me he has had numerous problems with this place and would never consider it as an option. Any insight is appreciated. What do I do with this child? Where do I send him for an education and for treatment?
  5. Jena

    Jena New Member

    And a welcome from me as well!!! :)
  6. 627666

    627666 New Member

    Thanks for your thoughts. I am new to navigating this site and I think I responded to someone else, answering your questions. You should see my reply shortly. I agree with you that these issues seem to be brain issues and not behavioral issues. I know what we have tried is not working so I am open to new suggestions at this point. I wish there was an easy answer. I am heartbroken for my child who is obviously struggling and everyone has a different opinion as to what to do.

    As a side note, where can I find out what all the abbreviations you all use mean? (like difficult child, husband?) I looked in my profile page but don't see anything. Can you help me with that?

    And I meant to mention I will keep all your stories and children in my prayers. That is all I have right now, the power of prayer!
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there.
    Has he just seen a Behavioral Therapist? If so, I'd run (fast) to a neuropsychologist for an intensive evaluation. CD for a child that young--it's not only rare, but also not a very useful diagnosis. Usually something else is also going on to cause the ODD and CD and a neuropsychologist tests in every area of function from 6-10 hour blocs. I'm not a big fan of just behavioral therapy nor would I trust one to diagnose my child (and I've been around a bit ;) ).
    Welcome and I hope you get a fresh diagnosis from a different type of professional. in my opinion this guy has you on the wrong track.
    What was his early childhood like? Any delays? Speech? Does he have appropriate social skills? Any psychiatric problems or substance abuse on either side of the family tree? Both early onset bipolar (or any mood disorder that creates mania) can make kids act completely out-of-control (especially when combined with stimulants and/or antidepressants, but also without medications at all). High functioning autism can also cause kids to misbehave out of frustration and a general "cluelessness" about life, and these kids can REALLY turn it around and do well. I again highly recommend a neuropsychologist. CD gives me a bad taste in my mouth. If it were my kid, I wouldn't believe it was the main problem. Although Psychiatrists (with that MD) are ok, I personally had much better luck after having a ten hour neuropsychologist evaluation for my puzzling son.
  8. Wishing

    Wishing New Member

    my son was diagnosis by a psychologist as having adhd at 6 yrs but I knew he also had odd. I finally ended up with a child and adolescent psychiatrist that was adamant he does not have bipolar but to me he does not stay up all night but is prone to high excitement activities and he likes to have fun all the time. He is very irritable especially in the mornings when he is not on medication. He does have trouble concentrating and low frustration tolerance without medications. I don't know if this is d/t anxiety. If I were to start over I would see a neuropsychologist as they usually spend 12 hours testing and evaluating b4 making a diagnosis and around here it costs $2000.
    I did not change from our adolescent psychiatrist as he is reasonably good and I found from experience good ones are hard to find as I had a bad one who thought I was the problem.
  9. Mandy

    Mandy Parent In Training

    Welcome and HUGS!!! Sometimes I just want to run away....:D
  10. 627666

    627666 New Member

    It is so nice having so many people to bounce information off of. The first woman to conduct my son's testing was a NeuroPsychiatrist, I believe, but I will double check that. She spent about 5 1/2 hours with him one day conducting these tests and her report was very thorough. We paid about $1500 but that was several years ago. My son is very, very intelligent and a very social kid. He is very manipulative and quite the little charmer. He was rejected by "the good kids" in about 3rd grade (he is in 6th grade now) and now gravitates toward the thuggy crowd. We recently enrolled him in a private school for kids with-ADHD, ADD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Asperger's and ODD but they can no longer help him. He bullys the other kids and they "won't take conduct disorder" issues. This diagnosis scares me, as well. I am therapy'd out and just want some relief for my child and my family!
  11. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Hello 627666 and welcome!

    I too would be very nervous about a diagnosis of CD at your son's age. Getting the right diagnosis can be a long, hard road, but is is essential in getting the right sort of treatments and interventions in place.

    Lots of us started down the path with a diagnosis of ADHD/ODD for our difficult child children, and had to start teasing apart the tangled threads from there. A lot of other disorders can display lookalike symptoms. For example, ODD is often a symptom of a child who doesn't have the right sort of interventions in place. Bipolar mania can look just like ADHD, and ADHD is often co-morbid with Autism Spectrum Disorders (Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)).

    Even if your son's initial evaluation was done by a neuropsychologist, it might be time for another one if the first one was done years ago.

    So glad you found us, but very sorry that you had to.
    Sending many gentle {{{{{HUGS}}}}}
  12. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    CD is a scary diagnosis but it is not hopeless. I was told my child had CD when she was 12. She certainly fit a lot of the criteria -- stealing, lying, cruelty to others when she didn't get her way, etc. However, the reality was attachment disorder (which is far worse in my opinion), depression, mild ADHD and adolescence. She really could not take any medications so therapy was the only real answer for her. Ultimately, I sent her to an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) across the country from me for 16 months.

    Today, she is becoming a remarkable young woman. Sadly, she did drop out of high school but she is now talking about continuing her education. It's only talk at this point, but at least it is being considered. She no longer steals. She only lies to keep from hurting someone's feelings. There is no more violence towards anyone or anything. She quit running away. She is now sharing a very nice apartment with an okay roommate. She has been working as a waitress for the past year and is getting a very steady following of customers.

    It wasn't an easy path and I made many mistakes along the way. Maybe I got lucky but I think it was more than that. I didn't give up on her. I fought tooth and nail to get her the help she needed. I listened, I read, I jumped through every hoop possible. Even more importantly, she grew up and decided she wanted a different life than the one she was trying out. It ultimately took letting her do what she wanted and letting her hit her bottom -- being homeless for a few days after being threatened while working at a carnival.

    Other parents here even have worse stories of drug addiction, homelessness, jail, etc. Some of us have had successes. Some not.

    Getting a CD diagnosis is frightening (whether accurate or not) but he's only 12. There will be many battles to be fought before he becomes a man. You may be forced to let him find his bottom and then be there to help him up. It won't be easy and there will be times that you will truly hate your son and he will hate you 10 times more but there will always be love there, too.

    The point is there is hope.

    One thing I would suggest you do right away is read a copy of The Explosive Child. It is a great book to help you understand some of his thought processes.

    And, for now, many hugs.
  13. SearchingForRainbows

    SearchingForRainbows Active Member

    The others have already given you excellent advice. I can't think of anything else to add. I just want to say I'm glad you found us but sorry you had to - Hope this makes sense! WFEN
  14. Ropefree

    Ropefree Banned

    Mothers do the most remarkable things and you are doing everything you can think of to discover a solution that your child needs to manage a good life.
    My heart goes out to you. TAke good care of yourself. And really tell us what you find that does work for your child. WE want to know, too.
  15. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    This might be the same as a neuropsychologist, I'm not sure, but I had a PhD level psychologist test my son (complete neuropsychologist testing, I was told) and she told me that she didn't diagnose psychiatric disorders. She works with the child&adolescent psychiatrist, so she refers to him for that. Bottom line, it took both to get a more rounded view of what was going on.

    I'm not saying that's the only answer or that there isn't a better one or that it always works that way, but if you can only find a person to give you one piece of the puzzle, it might be beneficial to get different types of experts involved to give other pieces, if that makes sense.

    A couple of years later, I took my son to a children's/teaching hospital and had a Multi-discipline evaluation done- I found this very helpful, too. Of course, they were provided with copies of the previous test results and consulted with difficult child's regular psychiatrist, we filled out the forms, and there was about a 2 hour "interview".

    Either direction you choose to go, which of course has a lot to do with what is available to you, getting someone else's opinion will almost certainly result in more hope and treatment than what you've been getting.
  16. Nancy423

    Nancy423 do I have to be the mom?

    Hi and welcome. I cannot tell you how helpful this place has been!
  17. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator


    You say your son is taking Vyvanse and Lexapro. Is he better, worse or about the same since starting these medications?
  18. 627666

    627666 New Member

    MeowBunny, I want to thank you for your sweet note and words of hope. Since the "diagnosis" yesterday I have literally been in a haze, not able to take my mind off my child and not able to get off the computer. I have made phone calls, done research, talked to people, prayed, prayed some more, etc. I just wish I could take my son to a deserted island, detox his system, feed him all organic foods, and make it all better. My instinct tells me this would improve his behavior and mood but there is still an underlying illness that is causing this chaos.

    We have spent so much time with a behavioral therapist who has focused on discipline, rules, boundaries...and yet, now my heart and mind are telling me this is a sickness and he needs positive, therapeutic support. I feel guilty of course for the possibility I have handled this the wrong way from the beginning. You are right, though, there is always hope and that is what I am clinging to.

    I do have a glimmer of hope to report to you all. My son spent 8 weeks at a reputable (a legitimate, therapeutic, positive) wilderness program this summer. It was quite expensive and we missed him terribly, but he came back with skills and a sense of self confidence he will have forever. I spoke with this facility today, as I am desperately searching for the right place to put my son right now, and they referred me to an Educational Consultant. I spoke at length with him today and man does he know his stuff! He charges a hefty fee but he will assist us in finding the right place. He said alot of therapists use the term Residential Treatment Center (RTC) as a "one size fits all" term, but in reality there are lots of different kinds of facilities for these kids/teens. His job is to gather our info, speak to my son's doctors and teachers, the family, my son, etc, and compile a list of places that would be a fit. He would be our guide thru this for one year, manage the communication bt us and the facility, etc. He works for us, not the facilities, and he works with about 150 families per year. This is a plus because he has heard it all and knows the ins and outs, pros and cons, of these treatment centers. He is a therapist with over 15 years of experience himself and even created programs for troubled kids in the past.

    Just speaking to him and knowing he understands my pain gave me hope! He had to send his 17 year old daughter to a program at one point, and he admitted how scary it is not to know where to turn with your child. I think we are going to do this. I am willing to spend whatever I have to if it helps my child. Lord, I wish he came with a manual. I desperately want to protect his soul and self esteem. I just have this awful fear that I am losing him and I am unable to help him. The thought of sending him away for a year or more is killing me. He has only been out of our home, living with his grandparents, for 5 days now, and I am barely making it. I can't even walk by his room. I feel I have abandoned him in so many ways and it is hard to stay focused on getting him help.

    Well, I sure appreciate all your kind words of support and encouragement. I am so thankful to have found this site!
  19. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Welcome, 627666.

    I know how it feels to think of the time we wasted yrs ago, and how I wish I could go back in time and change things.

    Still, we did our best at the time, and kids are resilient. I hope you are still on speaking terms with-your son and can get through most days with-o a fight.

    Wilderness programs work well because they do encourage self reliance through basic living skills, and through hard work, they promote self esteem. You can't steal when there's nothing to steal, and you can't lie (very well) because you're too busy trying to climb ropes and cliffs. :) It's pretty basic.

    I'm confused about your thinking and feeling that your discipline over the yrs was punitive. Do you mean, discipline as in punishment? Because I think of it as setting boundaries and following rules. It doesn't have to be punitive. Maybe you could give some examples to clarify.

    I am sorry that your son has rec'd this diagnosis. But I am so glad that Meowbunny posted her note--things CAN improve! There is hope.

    I am in the throes of it now, an although we have not rec'd that diagnosis, and our son has not been kicked out of school, he is struggling and is in total denial. It is hard work!

    Again, welcome.
  20. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    Welcome to the board.

    When the neuropsychologist evaluated your son, what were her insights? Did the neuropsychologist and therapist (therapist) work together?

    ODD and CD are very real disorders and they do exist, but as with any of these issues with our kids I would always get a second opinion. Too many symptoms overlap and mimic other disorders and there is no definitive diagnostic test.

    I know you are scared and heartbroken, but try to find a few moment's of quiet everyday. You'll need to keep your battery charged, so to speak.