4YO Daughter diagnosis with ODD - Need advice

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by My3girls&me, Oct 12, 2007.

  1. My3girls&me

    My3girls&me New Member

    Hi everyone. I am new to the board. I was referred to this site by my daughter's teacher. My four year old was recently diagnosed with ODD. I first started noticing a problem when she was about 3. She started going to a new daycare and almost immediately began acting out. I attributed it at first to this being the first daycare without her big sisters. My oldest started kindergarten that year and my middle daughter started preschool at a montessori school. After a few weeks, it got to the point where the school director was calling me everyday to come and get her because she was too disruptive. She would go into the library and pull every book off the shelf, kick her teacher, pull others hair for no reason and just cry and cry and cry. It got to the point that I was scared something was happening to her at school and even took her to the doctor to be checked and make sure she was not being abused in any way. After the school basically kicked her out, I enrolled her in a larger preschool in our town. Again the fits started. Luckily the teacher in her classroom has really taken her under her wing and has even gone to the extreme of reading books on the subject to better deal with my daughter and give her the tools she needs to succeed in school. We have truly been blessed by this wonderful teacher coming into our lives. To give a little more background on EK, she is about to turn 5YO, she has classic ODD symptoms, constantly picking on other kids, blaming everything on others, demanding my attention, disagreeing just for the sake of disagreeing, kicking and saying hateful things to other kids. She is however very smart and has tested into Kindergarten at 4YO. She has no developmental delays at all and became verbal and mobile by 11 months old. It just seems there is no rhyme or reason to her. She is the sweetest most loving child one minute, but as soon as she feels rejected or left out, she starts brewing like a tea kettle and cannot be consoled until she has completely blown up, often times exhausting herself. I am a single mom with two other daughters and I think the hardest part for me has been the guilt. I really do feel like I am doing the best I can and get very hurt when people tell me all the things I should be doing and that ODD doesn't even exist - it is just her being difficult. I am starting to notice changes in my other two daughters because I have to devote so much of my already stretched out time on the baby. I know I am young and I do not have a husband, but I have very specific feelings toward parenting - I will physically punish her within reason but I will not put her on medication until I have done all I can first. I am terrified that next year when she goes to public school she will be labeled as a "bad kid" and slip through the cracks. My heart is breaking for my daughter and I need to know how to make our lives better. Please help us.
  2. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Hi Mandy, I'm glad that you found us. We were all pretty desperate when we landed here and understand the mother guilt complex all too well.

    I don't know what's up with your daughter but I think we can help you. Most of us here have found that ODD is only a symptom of some kind of underlying neurologic issue so we can give you some ideas on where to go digging for answers and how to go about getting an evaluation for her. If your child has grown up in a loving stable environment there's usually more going on neurologically. What kind of specialist gave her the ODD label?

    We can also help give you guidance on handling behavioral issues because honestly most of us were doing the exact opposite of what these difficult little ones needed until a more experienced parent came along. A good place to start is to order a copy of the book "The Explosive Child" by Ross Green. While you're waiting read the thread about the book at the top of this board.

    A few questions--
    1) Is there anything going on developmentally unusual or in terms of mental health issues in either side of the family?
    2) When you say she's bright, can you identify a little further what that looks like-do you mean like she knows all her letters at age 4, is already reading, doing double digit math, memorizes sections of movies and books, etc?
    3) You said no developmental differences but is there anything really quirky or unusual about her--ie unusual interests or obsessions, play behaviors that are different than your other kids?
    4) The problems that flared up with starting school are often related to transition problems. Does she have trouble when you try and get her to change actitivies or perhaps go from location to location (such as home to the store)?

    Hang in there--we're here to help.
  3. My3girls&me

    My3girls&me New Member

    Thank you SRL for the quick response.

    I will try to answer some of your questions first. Ek was "diagnosed" if you will by a child behavior specialist that comes to her school to see her weekly, starting back in early August. There is a whole behavioral health initiative going on in the public school system where I live. (it is considered innercity)The program is relatively new but has been a lifesaver for us.

    To answer some of your questions, I do not think she has any developmental issues. She knows her ABCs, letters, numbers, how to write her name and she will sit and write an entire letter to her cousin in WI if I sit with her and tell her how to spell the words. She memorizes parts of movies and has a few of her favorite stories memorized - she also knows the words to full songs.

    I don't really notice anything unusual about her play patterns, other than she seems to struggle with playing with more than one friend at a time. It seems like if she is playing with "Jenny" one day, she must play with Jenny the next day and only Jenny. Her teacher said she struggles to make transitions - like if Jenny decides she doesn't want to play with EK, she has a complete meltdown, instead of running along to play with another friend like most kids would do - especially at age 4. She seems to have extreme emotions - if she is sad she is really sad, if she is mad she is really mad, etc.

    One thing I must say is she does seem to struggle with change of any kind. If we set out to go to the grocery store and then to the post office, but something comes up or I decide I have to stop at the bank first, she asks me nine million questions why we are doing something different than I said, why we have to go to the bank and not just the grocery and PO like I said. 6 months ago this would have caused a major meltdown, but she is progressing, I must say. There have been instances where I have sat in the bathroom with her for more than 30 minutes at the mall because she flipped out when I decided to shop before going to the playland rather than the playland and then shop. And I must be clear that it doesn't seem to be the typical 4YO "but I want to go to the playland mommy" it's more like "but you said we would play then shop, not shop then play." She just craves structure and routine so much and I am not only a single mom with alot going on and changes daily and sometimes to the minute, but I have always kind of been a free spirited, go with the flow type of person. I get frustrated that she can't be more laid back and I think she gets frustrated that I don't seem bothered by change in plans or scenery. I have also noticed that she seems to struggle if we are in big crowds or if we have company at our house or there is a visitor in her classroom.

    One thing I have also wondered about is, she seems to think things are funny. When she is getting in trouble or I am trying to talk to her about something, she immediately puts her hands to her mouth to cover up a smile. If I even start to look like I am getting upset that I am disciplining her and she is smiling, she will burst into uncontrollable tears. She will just go from one extreme to the other.

    One thing that does bother me is that sometimes when I sit and listen to her play in the other room with her baby dolls or her dollhouse and she is roleplaying, she is mean. She is always being bossy and saying hateful things. I am not going to sit here and pretend like I am a perfect parent, but I do not berate my kids or speak to them in the manner I sometimes hear her speaking and that worries me. It's like it comes from nowhere.

    TO give you some family background - my father has 5 sisters - all of which have been diagnosed with some sort of mental illness, ranging from severe depression to bipolar disorder. My dad was raised in a tough household and though he was and still is a great father - he was tough. I think I try so hard not to be so tough on my kids like he was, that I can be too lenient. Again - bring on the guilt. I sometimes worry that she is like this because I just don't know how to parent.

    Her dad (and the father of my other two daughters) simply up and left when I was 6 months pregnant with her. She has seen him maybe three times in her life. She does not even know him and I seriously doubt if he walked up to her on the street that she would know who he is. However, my oldest 2 daughters do remember him and my oldest daughter does miss him. If she asks about him or says something about him EK will just meltdown like she is mourning for him. I don't understand this. Sometimes she will be mad at me and cry for him - but not like I am mad at mom so I want dad (even though she doesn't know really what a dad is) I mean like she is truly hurt. It is hard to explain but I hope I am making sense.

    I have heard really good things about the book "The Explosive Child". That is the book my daughter's teacher has recommended also. I will have to get ahold of a copy somehow.

    My daughters are growing up in a loving environment, but we are a single parent household and we endure all the struggles that goes with that. My kids don't have a whole lot. They don't have namebrand clothes and they don't get their hair done like the other little girls, EK of course always has hand-me-downs from her big sisters and to be honest, there have been times we haven't had hot water or heat, but I refuse to allow her to grow up thinking she is beneath others or allow her to slip through the cracks because we are poor. I worry severely about my girls' self esteem and mental health. I want to help us now, not try to fight for their lives when they are 14, 16 and 17. I am sorry if I sound desperate, but I guess I am. Any advice I receive, I assure you will be taken to heart.

    Thanks for "listening"
  4. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hi! Welcome to the club! You're going to get a lot of advice on here from a really experienced group of people.

    Don't feel guilty - if they came with an instruction manual when they were born, and you ignored it THEN you'd have a reason to feel guilty - no book, no guilt!!! :wink:

    Get a copy of Ross Greene's book "The Explosive Child". It's an easy read (not a lot of technospeak!) and he gives you a lot of insight about how your childs brain works.

    Get a neuropsychologist evaluation. done. ODD rarely stands alone and this is the best way to see what might be going on.

    As for everyone having an opinion: it's true...everyone has an opinion. Most of them are wrong and no one cares to hear them.

    The thing about our kids is that everyone thinks a spanking will cure it. "If you'd just let that kid know who's boss, she'd stop it!". Yeah right! My dad was that way. Then I posed the question to him: If he was in a wheelchair, would you throw him out of it and then tell him to change the channel on the tv? The criticism stopped! :hammer:

    If you were a lousy mother, you wouldn't be worried and trying to investigate! :smile:

    Keep your chin up!

  5. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Outside of problems with crowds, have you noticed any other sensitivies such as being overly sensitive to light or extremely picky about clothes and/or foods?
  6. summertimehelp

    summertimehelp New Member

    I feel for you form the bottom of my heart, I also have a 4 year old and I am trying to just get someone to see him and help me get a diagnosis. I go thru so much of what you are and I know how hard it is. I to am a single mom and I don't know how you are doing it because it is taking all I have for him let alone 3gfg. Stay strong you are doing all you can. I will keep in touch with you and try to help you as we both go thru this.
  7. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    Have you looked into Asperger's Syndrome? Your daughter sounds like she meets many of the criterion, which include being very bright and verbal at a young age (my Aspie son read at 3, my gifted daughter not until 7), having trouble with transitions to the point of meltdown, having difficulty making and keeping friends, having certain, limited people or things they are interested in and obsessing over those. Another thing that struck me was your comment that she thinks it's funny when she does bad things or gets in trouble. Aspies often have difficulty reading body language and facial expression and many times what shows on their faces does not necessarily mirror the situation at hand, such as smiling when being disciplined.

    Tony Atwood's book "Asperger Syndrome" is awesome or google him and go to his website to read.

    The good thing is that your daughter is young enough and bright enough that if she is Aspie, she can benefit greatly from many new therapies and things you can do at home. For instance, you can show her pictures and ask her what the faces show - they make special cards for this but you can do it with magazine pictures or family photos. When she tells you what she thinks it is (for example, a picture of a girl smiling has her say "She is getting yelled at by her mommmy") talk to her about it and then show her a picture that really shows a girl getting yelled at by her mommy. Don't overload, do one emotion at a time until she gets it and then move on, afterwards you can review a few at a time. Ditto for body language - what does SHE thinks it means if someone has their arms crossed over their chest or is beckoning someone to come over? The part of their brain that analyzes emotion visually doesn't always work right but because they are smart, they can be trained and taught.

    Another thing is tone of voice. Many Aspies speak in either monotone or loud shrill voices without real modulation. They don't get tone of voice. I will never forget my son in grade 4 being told by a girl "Oh, you are the most annoying person I have ever met!" I was standing right there and it was obvious from the smile on her face and the laugh in her voice that she was joking. He did not get it and said to her, quite seriously: Not only are you annoying, your new haircut is hideous!" I was wishing the floor had opened up and swallowed me whole as I comforted the little girl, who began to cry.

    My son was diagnosis'ed aspie at the end of grade 8 and he now attends a special HS for kids with his type of issues. He is a senior, has his license, has peers and while all is not perfect (a child with a gifted IQ and massive intelligence will be attending community college because he doesn't want to be away from home), things are so much better. His ability to read and decipher body language and tone of voice have improved, he has friends and will fit in somewhere someday. He even got asked out by a girl last weekend!

    If you want to keep her mainstream for now, Aspie is one of those cases where it's truly possible. She most likely will not need any academic help at this age. Social skills training in or out of school, a circle of friends at school, counseling, are some things you could try. If she is aspie, once you deal with that issue, her actin out behaviors, which stem from frustration, should improve dramatically. My second son's friend has an Aspie sister, who is now a HS freshman. She excels in math, has friends, plays sports and I have not seen or heard of her melting down in several years now. I see her and she is a success story so far.

    Do be aware though that bright as she is, your daughter, if she is Aspie, may encounter academic issues down the road. My son read at 3, understood everything he read but even now still has difficulty with the emotions in a story. He can tell you what happened on page X in great detail but if you say to him "How did Jane Eyre feel when she learned about the lady in the attic?" he will look at you like you have ten heads and say "Why should she feel anything, it just is" He does NOT get emotions in writing either, unless they are spelled out - like in "Jane Eyre was terrified when she learned of the woman in the attic" by the way, those are not actual quotes, just paraphrases. Terrified he gets, but if it's not there in black and white, he has trouble, though again, he is improving with age and maturity. He just is one of those people who will never read fiction for enjoyment, but he loves history books.

    The other academic worry is that many of these kids just partake in what they are interested in. My son loves history so he has always done well in it. Math is another story. Although he scores in the 99 percentile in ability, he has barely passed it since it bores him and he doesn't see the need to apply himself to something that doesn't interest him. Doing well in school just for the sake of doing well or even because it will benefit him in the future holds no attraction to him. The flip side of that is that peer pressure also does not faze him. He has never felt the need to conform and does not yield to peer pressure. When you have HS'ers and drugs are rampant and easily attainable, a child who doesn't care about fitting it is in some ways a blessing.

    This is long I know because I wanted to share a bit about how Aspies grow and develop. When I was a kid (and I am almost 50), there were kids who were "weird" or strange and didn't always fit in. I went to a HS for gifted kids which was full of them. I wasn't one, I was just smart, and "I" didn't fit in amongst them. Years later, so many of them are now being diagnosed as adult Aspie (the diagnosis did not exist until 1994).

    Good luck.
  8. My3girls&me

    My3girls&me New Member

    Thank you everyone for the responses. I must say we had a relatively uneventful weekend. EK's oldest sister was kind of enough to grace her with her presence yesterday and play with her for most of the day so she was elated. They had one incident where they were sitting on the porch painting and EK accidentally spilled water on her picture and she just completely had a meltdown. I have also been using this technique where I put one hand on her belly and one on her back and talk to her softly about how the situation is okay - her teacher was telling me about this. It has to do with your body's chakras(sp?) or something and that your stomach is your lifeline. I don't really understand the whole theory of it all but it seems to really help. One or two deep breaths and she seems to be okay. Definitely a big difference from the past. I really do appreciate everyone's advice. It is so refreshing to hear kind advice rather than - you need to spank her butt and put her in her room and then she'll learn! (Lord knows I have heard that a million times)
  9. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Oh, I so hated people telling me to spank my child! I must say that with most of our kids spanking is hands down the most useless parenting technique ever used!! (I always believed spanking had its' uses, for major running out into the street safety kinds of things, but with my first child I found that it just made him want to do it again!)

    ODD is an often used diagnosis, but few of us have ever found that it is a complete diagnosis. It describes behaviors, but it certainly doesn't give any insight as to what causes them or how to fix them.

    The library should have The Explosive Child. If you are close to Cincinnati, they have an excellent Children's Hospital. It was there that we got our first real help with my difficult child. My son is now almost 16 and living with my parents. He has always had major problems with acting violently toward his sister and I. We got much more help through Children's than through any of the therapists or counselling centers we saw previously.

    It is a really good idea to go to the archives and print out the Parent Report guidelines. A Parent REport is a way to organize info on your child so that you have it to take to any/all professionals who try to help with your child. It has great questions, and many of us have had days we thanked ourselves for doing one - esp when we had to see a new doctor or therapist and our difficult child had a fit while we were still trying to introduce the problem!! It also keeps track of things as your child grows so you don't forget crucial info.

    Welcome, come visit on the Watercooler and General to get to know us! (General is about our difficult child's of all ages and Watercooler is the fun stuff!)



    oh- about the dad thing: Is it possible she sees other kids with their dads and sees that she doesn't have one? Could this be the source of the longing and pain you see? It is NOT something to beat yourself up about, not at all! I jsut thought it might be the source of the behavior, so you could talk to her about how every family is different?
  10. My3girls&me

    My3girls&me New Member

    Thanks Susie. I actually live very near Children's Hospital in Cincinnati and have been in the medical field since I was 18. The waiting list to see any physician at Children's can be a challenge. I have an appointment for her at NorthKey Community Care - the mental health clinic in the city I live in. I guess I will start there and then move onto Children's. Thank you for the advice of the parent report. I didn't know anything about it. I am feeling so much more positive since finding this website. I confronted the weekend (which can be the most tiresome for me) with renewed energy. I will keep everyone update of EK's progress.
  11. dumboelephant

    dumboelephant New Member

    It may be rare yes, but my son was diagnosed with ODD at age 2 and he is now going on 9 and he only has ODD. He has been to everyone under the sun and every test done possible even genetic testing, so ODD can stand alone. Any questions, I am here for you. We have been through lots of medication trials and behavior therapies.