What *has* worked for you?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by ML, Jun 28, 2008.

  1. ML

    ML Guest

    This is directed to those moms who have some experience with protocols both medicinally and other.

    Every time someone posts about a medication you hear tons of horror stories about bad experiences, few good ones really. I sure know what *hasn't* worked for many. Realizing that everyone's brain chemistry is different, I'm very interested in knowing what has helped those of you out there who have been doing this a while. What approaches, what medications, what techniques, etc.

    If you could post something that has helped your difficult child, and your family, I would sure like to hear it.

    I feel like I've been doing this a while and feel badly that I haven't seemed to have found many "answers".

    I thought starting a positive thread would be a good idea.

    Thanks in advance for input.

  2. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    medications never worked here. Most of her problems were behavorial, not chemical. What helped tremendously was The Explosive Child. The more I changed my parenting style, the better things became. Residential Treatment Center (RTC) in middle teens helped somewhat. Not so much while she was there or when she first got home but now. She has learned tools in coping with problem roommates, co-workers, customers. Maturity has also helped.

    I truly regret the parent I was initially. I was strict. Worse yet, I listened to the "experts" rather than my own gut. They insisted I had to be very firm, very strict. Had I found Dr. Greene earlier, my daughter's younger days would have been much happier and I wouldn't have taken away things like b'day parties, etc.

    She is far from perfect but she is succeeding in adulthood. She certainly hasn't followed the path I would have chosen but she is working, making friends, not into drugs or seriously into alcohol. She has a nice apartment, working on getting a car, actually paying her bills. She still only contacts me when she wants something. Friends will always be #1 priority and can easily lead her astray. She does lose friends as they get to know her and that's painful to watch. Even so, they're sticking around longer than they used to, so progress is obviously being made.

    I'm hoping she will ultimately go back to school. I'm also hoping she'll find a young man worthy of her and one day in the far distant future give me grandkids. I'm in no hurry.
  3. OpenWindow

    OpenWindow Active Member

    While we are far from perfect, here are a few things that have helped:

    Reading The Explosive Child - the behavior plan changed our lives. We no longer had meltdowns 2 or 3 times a day. We still had them 4-5 times a week, but it was an improvement.

    Ritalan and Lexapro - Lexapro helped relax difficult child's "rigid thinking" and Ritalin helps him get through the day.

    Social skills classes - while he still doesn't get it, he is slowly learning.

    Great teachers - No matter what is in his IEP, we have pushed every year to make sure they pick his teachers with great care. I've found the best have been the ones who communicated with me almost daily whether it be an email or a note sent home to tell me how things went. We have to deal with things on a daily basis or it just doesn't work.

    Where we are at right now isn't great, but I can't imagine where we'd be without any of these things.
  4. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I think Meowbunny touched on one of the most important issues. As a parent, you know your child and need to follow your own instincts as to discipline and medication. My mother in law thought I was too strict and my mom thought I was not strict enough so I figure I must have been just right. YEP! :) (I refused to listen to mother in law and my mom never interferred - I have a great mom!)

    There are always things we look back at and wished we would have done differently, but I do believe that as long as you do your very best and that it feels right for your child, then you have done the best. Anything done that we wish would have been different have to be turned into lessons - you can not change the past so don't dwell on it except to use it to make the present and future work.

    You are the ONLY expert on your child. Doctors and other professionals do not really know your child - they don't live with the child - they have not seen the child's reaction to life situations - they have not been involved in the child's decision making - only you have the most insight on your child. You know how your child will react to something. Like when our psychiatrist recommended having difficult child scrub the toilet and pick up dog poop as a unpleasant chore - that does not work for us because difficult child does not view it as unpleasant and in fact enjoys it.

    I could write a book on what works for my kids and because what I write may work for others, some may view me as an expert - but I am not and my experience is just meant as another option/view point for others to consider - only you know if my experience may work for you. So, we read books to get advise and some books we disagree with and some we love and recommend to others. Our opinions of these books are based on what we know will and will not work for our kids. Once in a while a book like the Explosive Child appears that has helped countless numbers of families and this is the first book we point to because it has proven helpful.

    You are your child's expert - you are the one to see the effects of medications - you can tell what is and is not working. It is hard because if you feel the medication is not working, you may not know what medication options there are, you usually go with what the doctor says. This forum will help with that also - If my difficult child starts having difficulty with medications, I will look to this panel for their experiense on the medicaiton and then ask my doctor if a certain medication is an option or not. (we know that we can not diagnosis or medicate each other's kids, however, we can share our experienses knowing it may or may not work for another child)

    You need to be your child's advocate in a world that sometimes have "experts" who refuse to give you the respect you deserve with the knowledge you know. Sometimes these doctors refuse to see that yes, you do understand what is going on and yes, you do have input that needs to be taken seriously. It is extremely difficult, but we must get doctors to treat us as equals - just because they have a medical education doesn't mean we don't also understand our options.
  5. MyFriendKita

    MyFriendKita Member

    I know everyone says there is no magic pill, but in my son's case, medication has been the number one thing that has worked. He went off his medication (Lamictal) when he turned 18, and I was waiting for him to come to the realization that he really did need it. A few months ago, after the umpteenth violent incident (against property, not people, and yes, we did call the police on more than one occasion), we forced him to go back on his medications. Well, I did give him a choice-take medications or don't drive my car. Since then, he hasn't been a easy child, but he isn't violent any more, and he's more pleasant to be around. husband and I have come to the realization that our son just can't be dealt with unless he's medicated (and husband was anti-medication at the beginning of our journey). We hate it, but we've come to the conclusion that we have to accept that that's the way it is for him. Now if we can just get him to accept it.

    The other thing that has helped is for him to have a goal. He has done much better when he has something to focus on. For a while it was joining the military; right now it's having his own car. He's much more willing to work toward something he wants rather than something we want for him. The old saying about leading a horse to water but not being able to make him drink is a thousand times more true of a difficult child.
  6. Pam R

    Pam R New Member

    We never tried medications.

    What worked for us was the food program and homeschooling. The food program gave him the tools to control his behavior himself and to deal with addictive behavior positively.

    Homeschooling allowed him to learn in a way, and at a speed that was right for him. We've been told that because we homeschooled him, this is the reason he's as high functioning as he is.

    Pam R.
  7. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    Adrianne said it well. Trust your instincts. You know your child the best.

    For difficult child 1, we have had great success with the girlfriend/CF diet. I don't think the diet controls her problem, I think a gluten and casein were her problem. If she doesn't eat them, she is a typical kid.
  8. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Good post and topic.

    For us it was Lithium. It was an unbelievable miracle. Suddenly so many of the manic behaviors difficult child had since such a young age, stopped. It was amazing.

    However - every child is different! And each one has different a diagnosis and set of issues. For my son, who is hypo-manic, Lithium was unbelievable - but for another that may not be so. I think you have to look at each child, and their issues, and then try every medication in the medication category that is tailored to them, until you find the right one. For instance, for me personally, Lexapro has been the ticket. Solved a lifetime of depression. However, I do not have mood liabilty issues - just depression and anxiety.

    I think that medications can work miracles - it is just that you have to be determined and focus to find the right ones.
  9. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    I remembered that I posted to a similar topic a couple of years ago. It's probably too much information, but hope you don't mind if I cut and paste.

    In 7th grade, Language therapy and reading tutoring continued for his reading disability. IEP in place.

    In 8th grade, Language therapy was dropped; math tutoring was implemented. IEP continued.

    I have to say though, that it was and is difficult child's medication that gave/gives him the opportunity to respond to the interventions.

    He's come a very long way; things are much better now in many respects, but I suspect he'll always have problems to a degree with social skills. He's now doing very well with reading, however, math is the issue. Organizational skills are weak, complex directions can still through him for a loop. He's not always good at self-regulation -- he may never be.

    The thing I have found most difficult to deal with is difficult child's anxiety. When it's out of control, life is difficult for all. Too, it's so strange that when the anxiety rears it's ugly head, he regresses across the board. You would think he's had little to no intervention.

    We still provide "therapies" of sorts. I've done things that I said I'd never do as a parent -- like allowing a child to jump on the bed (Occupational Therapist (OT) therapy related). Yea, I was one of those "my child would never...." After my cat died several years ago (and having dogs and/or cats in the house for 30 yrs), I said I'd never have another animal in the house. His new dog not only roams in and out, she sleeps with-difficult child -- more sensory therapy.

    He's matured enough to stay home alone with-intermittent supervision now (my office is across the driveway), but he goes to the YMCA Teen Center for more social skill interaction. Next week he'll be working with his dad one or two days a week (much to difficult child's dismay). difficult child mows the lawn, can wash his clothes, load unload the dishwasher, cooks when he gets a wild hair, feeds dogs and horses, etc. However, he still tends to look at the world as if it's all about "me, me, me" and life is all about having fun. We are hoping working and earning some money will help him gain more responsibility, manage money (no son, it won't go bad if you don't spend it all immediately because you have it), reinforce that if he doesn't want to do more than laboring he best keep his focus on academics and college planning. [And if he can't or won't, he'll have some marketable skills.]

    So, he's doing well presently, but we had a rough end of school year (anxiety). We were told when he was dismissed from counceling at the end of 5th grade, that he will probably need more counceling in the teen years. Still a work in progress....
  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Adrianne said it very well - as parents we know our children best and have to learn to listen to our instincts and trust them.

    Also, I have an important message. Perhaps this is because we are more isolated from services we would like to access, plus poverty restricts us even more, but I have learned perhaps one of the most important lessons - just because something is professionally available, and just because you throw money at your child's treatment, doesn't necessarily mean it's what is best for your child.

    The Dore program is a classic example - it's based on practices that were used in the 80s and that were very much 'do-it-yourself with the help of these basic notes' and which I saw my sister trying with her son, with some degree of success. However, what was re-badged and re-packaged was then priced according to demand which put it out of reach of a lot of people. That didn't suddenly make it any more valid or worthwhile than the things my sister did, although perhaps a higher level of technology may have made a little difference, but this was offset by the reduced access. When you pay for therapy which is available one session a month, vs equipment in your garage that is available every day after school, the balance often comes down on the side of more frequent access.

    And Dore have gone into receivership, in Australia at least.

    That doesn't mean it wasn't good. But it wasn't necessarily as good as the price and exclusivity would indicate. And the system my sister built in her garage - it wasn't necessarily less good because it was cheaper, or more easily accessed.

    We tend to expect medical science to have all the answers. We want a magic machine with a conveyor belt that we can load our kids onto at one end, and at the other end receive them neatly packaged with a diagnosis and a magic bullet medication package tat will magically turn our kids into perfect model citizens.

    It doesn't exist. We are each the sum total of our experiences, and if a kid's early experience includes struggles with personal difficulties (ie behaviour; social problems; self-esteem problems; sensory overload confusion issues; any level of brain dysfunction) then even if you COULD magically fix the underlying problem, there will be in turn a functional overlay resulting from the early struggle.

    We do the best we can with what we've got. We can't do any better than that and shouldn't beat ourselves up over it.

    But you asked what has worked for us, so now I will tell you.

    1) Believing in my own parental instincts. Something was wrong, even though it took years to convince health professionals of this. I even backed off and stopped seeking medical opinions, only to meet teachers who were almost rigid with anxiety over what my child was doing to them in the classroom. My instincts had been right.

    2) Medication. Yes, I am one of those horrible parents who "drugs the children into submission", as a local anti-medication campaigner has called me. I stood up to her and told her that I stand by my decision because in our case, the results were spectacularly successful. Temple Grandin calls it the "Wow!" factor - if you dose a kid (or try a therapy, or change parenting styles) and you don't notice much, if any, difference - then you may as well not have bothered. But if you make the change and notice an amazing result, a "Wow! What a difference!" then you are onto something worth pursuing. But I recognise it's not for everyone. The medication used in our case - stimulants. difficult child 1 was put on ritalin to begin with, but after a few years and a necessary dosage increase we noticed rebound problems. At about this time ADHD was diagnosed in the younger two, and so difficult child 1 was changed to, and the others began, dexamphetamine. Once dosage was established this was changed to a sustained-release formulation which actually made it possible to reduce the overall dose.
    Other medications - the boys were recommended to try antidepressants as a group, to try to deal with their anxiety/Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) issues. difficult child 3 developed problems on Zoloft - he didn't sleep and became increasingly manic, we dropped it on the third day. difficult child 1 was more settled. easy child 2/difficult child 2 has only recently (a few months ago) started taking antidepressants but for her stomach, not for her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Hoxever, we've noticed she has been more settled and far less obsessive.
    Risperdal - we tried it with both boys. difficult child 1 was sedated on it and doubled his weight in a few months. difficult child 3 was taking three times the amount (or more) with not much change; maybe some smoothing of symptom peaks. But no Wow factor, so we eventually stopped it because it was costing us too much and there's no point taking what isn't working. But I emphasise - that's OUR story.

    3) Communication. We set up ongoing communication, in writing, between home and school. I had an exercise book clearly labelled in a plastic cover, which travelled in difficult child 3's school bag, to and from school. I would write in it; the teacher would write in it. It avoided the need for classroom step consultations at the end of a school day when undoubtedly the teacher would be desperate to get out of there and get home for a stiff drink. As a result, we were much quicker in getting on top of any problems as they arose, instead of having them fester for days, weeks or months. It was also much quicker and easier to recognise what was causing a problem, before it escalated.
    husband & I also needed to communicate with each other, to make sure we were on the same page. And to that end, he now lurks on this site and reads just about every post I make. He also has joined the site and sometimes posts in his own right. It has improved what was already pretty darn perfect communication.

    4) Dropping the martinet form of discipline. I thought I knew how to raise kids. I helped raise my sisters' kids, I already had one easy child and was sure I knew what to do. ANd it was working, for easy child. It even worked, to a point, with difficult child 1 and easy child 2/difficult child 2. But difficult child 3 was a totally different kettle of fish.
    This site put me in touch with "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. And again, harking back to point (1), it reminded me that my own parental instincts were important. Only now, I needed to use them to plug into my own child, to change my mind-set and see my child not as a perpetrator, but as a victim. Once I stopped seeing the kid as a malicious troublemaker, I found what was really driving him and found a better way to get what I wanted from him, with fewer tears and better cooperation.

    5) I'm repeating myself a bit, but this can't be stressed enough - you need to connect with your child, meet the child where he/she is and use that as your starting point. If your child claims that everybody is being unfair, listen to him. Find out what is so darned unfair. Try and feel, at least for a minute, what your child is feeling. Because if you do this, you will be better equipped to help your child see the situation with more balance. Life IS unfair. Parents DO get it wrong sometimes. The child needs to know that if you make a mistake, you will apologise. Only then do you have a chance of teaching the child to apologise when they make a mistake.

    6) Respect. Treat your child with respect, and you stand a better chance of them understanding what respect truly is. Put away the "Because I said so, that's why!" and get back into, "I will help you do this, if you will help me do that, please." Adults often require a child to say "please" and "thank you" and yet do not use those words themselves, when interacting with the children. Set an example - some kids can't learn any other way, but by patterning their behaviour on the example you set.

    Trust yourself. Trust your child. Listen. Think. Feel. Communicate. Love. Learn what is available, use what works, dump what doesn't. Keep fighting for your child's rights (and yours). Talk to other parents, network with people who can advise you. Really use sites like this - the mutual support is what keeps so many people going.

    Be reasonable but strong when needed.

    And then detach, detach, detach...

  11. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    Medications have helped tremendously. Daytrana calms him just enough so that he might listen, and Lamictal keeps his frustration level lower, and keeps him from being so irritable and sensitive.

    What has helped more was my realization that medications cannot fix everything. That my son is different, will always be different and that is ok and it is not my fault. I have to repeat things several times to him and have to make sure I have his attention before I ask him to do something. I cannot parent him the way everyone else thinks I should, and I need to ignore the peanut gallery.

    Books have been a good resource also, just in my learning about the disorder. This site has been a huge help also. Knowledge is power, and the more we know about our children (though sometimes so little is known) the better.

    difficult child's psychiatrist once said that we were going to have to be extra good parents (or something like that) and man was he right. I am still not sure if I am there yet.
  12. ML

    ML Guest

    Thanks everyone! What great wisdom and insights. I love these responses.

    I do realize that I have to be the one who connects with my son. I am just looking to see what has worked for kids who seem to have similarities with mine. I do realize that everyone is different. But when you feel like your hitting walls you just think "maybe I can look to see how Marg or Terry handled these situations and glean insights from people whom you have grown to admire and respect. Not so much looking for answers as ideas to try.

    The other reason I wanted to start this thread is because lately I've seen so much negative responses to medications and I was beginning to think they didnt' work for anyone. Frankly I'm getting to that point. I have one more class to try, the mood stabilizers. If this tenex doesn't work, or even if it works partially, that's our next one. If it's a bust, I'm done withe medications and I can truly say that I gave them a try. That's not exactly true, we haven't tried stims, tenex was the closest psychiatrist felt she wanted to go to them because of the anxiety.

    Anyway, I thank all of you for sharing your experiences and I've gotten so great perspectives.


  13. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    For my truly ADHD son...the middle one...ritalin was a lifesaver. He could have been the poster child for Ritalin success. It simply worked. Of course, he had no other behavior problems outside those normal boy things.

    With Cory, I dont know that a whole lot worked. A locked Residential Treatment Center (RTC) worked well for awhile because it kept him contained and safe from himself. He did seem to make some better choices for awhile after that and was on lithium and abilify after that for a time. That worked well for a time.

    Nothing seems to work well for long with him. I think he has to make the decision for something to work and until he does, nothing will make a difference.
  14. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    I know what worked best for my son's anxiety -- letting him take the lead.

    He wanted to be normal, he wanted to leave the house, but my pushing him wasn't going to cause that to happen. I sat back and let him do things when he felt strong enough, when he was ready. My job was to support, not push. It meant that sometimes I caught him when he fell. It meant I let him try things I didn't really think he was ready to do. Left to doing things when he felt ready and strong enough knowing that I was his safety net, he bravely tried more and more. There were some successes and some failures; he learned from both.

    Letting him take the lead and throwing away the idea that he would follow that fairy tale idea of normal -- go to college, get a job, meet Ms. Right, get married, have children, live happily ever after all right on schedule. Reality is that isn't as normal as we are led to believe. Turned out it wasn't that hard to let it go.
  15. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    I have to say that the "right" medications (after many trials) made a world of difference for kt. Seroquel was kt's saving grace.

    A well written IEP, with school staff supporting the family on the goals that must be met. School staff treating the family with respect was unexpected AND well received by husband & myself.

    I believe that the respect & the response from school district was due to the fact that I was brutally honest with the school district as to the tweedles severe needs & behaviorial issues & that I walked in with strategies that worked at home. It paved the way for a positive BIP & in turn gains in academics for kt.

    We have an exceptional psychiatrist & attachment therapist along with in home therapist. All are on the same page & following the treatment plan that kt left the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) with. Residential Treatment Center (RTC) really jump started kt into believing that she could succeed.

    That's another factor - kt is beginning to believe in herself.

    Everyday I look for 3 positives to every negative that kt presents. Some days it's difficult - others not so much.

    The Explosive Child helped - Parenting with Love & Logic proved to be a great deal more in tune & helpful with day to day life around here.

    I have email addresses to all the teachers & tdocs that work with kt & wm at the individual day treatment programs.

    I have a good working relationship with the foster parents that run wm's therapeutic group home. We are all on the same page as well when it comes to wm & his treatment plan.

    And after several years I've begun to relax & see what happens. It's taken the pressure off all concerned. wm's treatment team needs some "tweaking"; kt's treatment teams stays on task.

    What can I say?
  16. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Sara, you said about your son, "I sat back and let him do things when he felt strong enough, when he was ready. My job was to support, not push."

    That fits very much with what I said about showing your kids respect, listening to them and meeting them where they are.

    A difficult child is often very strong; they need to be, in order to cope sometimes. If we clash with our kids or try to use force, we generally will lose because our attention is often spread thin. They, on the other hand, can put all their effort into one thing and therefore have the advantage of intensifying their effort.

    If you're sent out to walk a dog, and it is a very large, exuberant mastiff, you often have better success if you guide him rather than try to drag him in the opposite direction to where he is determined to go. By careful guiding, you may have more success in gradually steering him bit by bit in the right way. Alternatively, let the dog explore what it wants to and get it out of its system, and then maybe the dog will be less distracted and not fight you so hard in taking it where YOU want to go.

    Sara, that sounds like what you did - and it was a good thing. You are right - especially when our difficult children try things at the rate THEY want to, even if we don't think they are ready for it, they will still learn from both their failures and their successes.

  17. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Thanks Michele. Neat idea.

    1) Consistency and follow-through
    2) Removal of wheat and dairy for difficult child
    3) Detachment and training on my part, support from this group :)
    4) Adderal for difficult child
    5) Educational tutoring for difficult child
    6) Getting spouse on the same page ALL the time
    7) Family counseling (for ideas, and for a 3rd party authority figure)
    8) Getting friends, family and teachers to provide a united front
    9) Rosemond books, Ross Greene's Explosive Child
    10) A sense of humor
  18. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Ditto Sara and Marge...I'm doing less pushing and more guiding. His teacher at school has learned to tell when he has those rare "everything's on" days and really uses those days to introduce new material to difficult child. On days when he's not so on, she puts more emphasis on practicing what he knows.

    The explosive child was a Godsend.

    And Risperdal, the third time, was a Godsend.

    A good babysitter who figured out early on that difficult child wasn't being mean when he plowed other people over, that he simply didn't realize his own power, and worked to guide difficult child and those around him to deal with it.

    Early Occupational Therapist (OT) and BT.

    A WONDERFUL early intervention preschool with a most wonderful teacher - so wonderful, they put him there twice.

    And Miss L and private school, who recognizes his struggles and really, really works with him.

    And my friends and family, who, against all odds, are for the most part on board with all this.
  19. Christy

    Christy New Member

    Still looking for what works! But here are a few things that have helped along the way.

    Some medications. In our expreience, the trouble is that as difficult child grows and changes, the medications lose their effectiveness and we must try others. These medications resulted in a noticable improvement at least for awhile: risperdal, geondon, abilify, serequel (not all at the same time! but these were medications that made a difference in difficult children behavior shortly after taking them).

    Other things that have helped...

    Homeschooling, social skills classes, Tae Kwon Do, Horseback Riding, a program we have recently qualified for through our county call Intensive Behavioral Support Services. ( He has an IBS worker that focuses on behavioral goals both individually and in a group.)

    Thanks for posting this. We can all learn alot from others who have posted!
  20. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    Focusing on the anxiety again -- Hypnotherapy and relaxation techniques. My son couldn't believe what not being axious felt like the first time he was hypnotized. I would have liked for him to practice the relaxation techniques more than he did, but just being exposed to it helped him a great deal.