Another Running Incident

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

  1. Christy

    Christy New Member

    I posted a week ago about difficult child's new tendency to run when he gets angry. He has now had 5 incidents, three of which involved the police. Last night was so scary. We were leaving his TKD class and the car wouldn't start. I called emergency roadside and they were sending someone to jump it or tow it if necessary. They gave me a timeframe of 60 minutes. Next I called husband and asked him to pick up difficult child so he would not have to wait. difficult child became angry and said he wasn't leaving. I asked him why and he said that he wanted to ride in the tow truck. The roadside assistance person had already told me that the tow truck could only transport one person. I told him that this wasn't possible and why. When husband arrived, he was in full meltdown, nothing we said got through to him. He settled down finally and got in the car. He started up again while my husband was driving. When they got home, husband asked difficult child to wait in the car while he opened the garage door and pulled in the car. Instead difficult child got out ran into the garage and into the house. husband pulled in the car, went to go in the house and found the door locked (by difficult child). He got his key out, opened it and discovered that difficult child had taken off throught the front door. husband is picking up deadbolt on the way home today. He was no where in side but the door was wide open so he knew what he did. He called me who luckily only had to wait about 5 minutes longer for the roadside assistant, the car took the jump and I was close to home. I siad I would drive around the neighbor looking for him. I did this for a half hour asking everyone I saw walking, jogging, on bikes, etc... Only one group of people saw him and he was no longer on the road that they saw him take. It was getting dark at this point, so I called 911. Two cruisers began driving the neighborhood with spotlights and asking neighbors. I came home and my husband went out to drive the path back to TKD and see if he was trying to go there. An officer took a missing person's report asking horrible questions like .. Are dental records available? I was terrified, they called in county and state police, and were going to get a chopper and a bloodhound and then husband who was back to combing the neighborhood, found him wondering the street (THANK GOD!). Gfs exact words: "Oh hi dad, I knew you'd come looking for me." He gets in the car without a fuss. I get a hold of the police and two officers are at the house waiting. He returns and tell them how he wanted to be alone so he ran away. They give the standard lines about how worried everyone was, what could have happened to him, etc.. They tell him suggestions for what he could have done. We have already put together a safety plan with his therapist and behavior counselor so he knows what he could have done, should have done, etc.. He is either uncapable or unwilling to access this information when he is upset. During all this, difficult child is not phased. He pulls pinecombs out of his pocket that he had collected and talks about the black and white dog he met. He says, I won't do it again, I promise. Two of the most meaningless word in the difficult child language-LOL! He is infruiated today because his behavior counselor will not take him to the office and is working with him here at the house because he's a flight risk. He stood on a kitchen stool and through his cereal bowl across the room. He says he won't do it again and is outraged that we won't believe him. We talk about building trust and it goes right over his angry little head. I am glad she is not taking him out because it's not safe BUT this is a punishment for me as well because the few hours a week he is with his worker are my alone time, my errand running time, my get it done time. I do not know what to do. We had a psychiatrist appointment earlier in the day, I discussed his last weeks running away, his unstable reactions like breaking things and hitting, she added to his trilleptal but wanted to wait until we see how that goes before adjusting the serequel or trying to wean the geodon. The good new is she is going to see him again in two weeks and says call if there are problems in the meantime. There are always problems in the meantime! I don't want him to end up in psychiatric hospital again, it just fuels his fire and gives him more authority figures to butheads with. Insurance won't let him stay long enough to get anywhere with a medication change.

    If you're still reading, thaks for hanging in there. I feel a little better just venting.

  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Okieeeeeeee. Wow. I have a few questions as a mother who adopted many kids, and a few were foster-adopts (one was too dangerous to others to still live with us, but we did have that experience!). First of all, was your boy in any way exposed to drugs or alcohol before he was born? I am assuming that he probably was, but it's important to know. He could have fetal alcohol effects (not the entire syndrome, but the effects can be behaviorally just as bad). It is organic brain damage--the kids MUST be watched all the time because they are INCAPABLE of learning cause and effect. It's not deliberate. They just have a disconnect and do not learn from their mistakes. Also, do you have any history at all on his biological parents as they could have passed along some lovely mental health issues. Was this child ever abused in foster care or before foster care? A kid who was abused, especially sexually, can act out terribly. Also, older adopted kids can have attachment issues.

    In all, our older adopted kids (especially who were in foster care) come with a unique set of issues. Most were exposed to substances prenatally. Certainly that causes problems. Beleive it or not, alcohol has been proven worse than crack, but, of course, if a birthmother doesn't say no to crack, she doesn't say no to alcohol either. The worst part is we only have half a story on the child's genetic and foster care history. So when we go to a psychiatrist, they don't always know what they are dealing with...nor do we.

    I highly recommend taking this child to a neuropsychologist. This is a Psychologist with training in the brain. More than a regular psychiatrist or a regular therapist or even a plain neurologist, he does evaluations that can point to neurological differences, such as Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE). This boy is not learning from his mistakes. It is very important to find out why. I am not convinced that he is trying to drive you nuts. I am more concerned thata he can't help his behavior.
    All children are commonly misdiagnosed, but kids from foster/adoption probably get misdiagnosed the most often because we don't know their past or total genetic history. It takes a very sharp professional to help our kids. I recommend a neuropsychologist because that particular professional actually tested my son long enough to nail him correctly. Everyone else completely missed the boat.
    I wish you luck with your child. I hope you have him re-evaluated. It could be a long journey until you know the big picture with him.
  3. 4sumrzn

    4sumrzn New Member I was hanging in there alright! I'm sorry I have not experienced anything like you are going through. But, wanted to say I'm sorry you are dealing with this & I hope difficult child finds a way to turn things around in a positive direction. {{hugs}}
  4. Christy

    Christy New Member

    Thanks MM,
    You're right it is a journey!

    What I know about bio-parents is mom is mildly MR (difficult child has average IQ), no history of drugs or alcohol, she did smoke during pregenacy, severe negelect was noted at the time he came into care, no abuse physical or sexual.

    We had a neuropsychologist last year. Outlined a lot of things we already knew about his executive functioning difficulties, his learning issues, speech and language concerns. We were concerned about autism, particulally Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), their opinion was that he is not on the autistic spectrum. His diagnosis is bipolar and ADHD.

    He's been in counseling since we began fostering him. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) was suspected at one time but his behavior are across the board and not directed specifically at me. He is loving and caring when he is emotionally stable. He see a talk therapist and a behavioral specialist. I would like to have more testing done but really am not sure wher to go next since we've already had a lengthy neuropsychologist where none of the behavior issues surfaced just the learning issues.

    Thanks for the suggestions.
  5. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I don't have any additonal suggestions, except the deadbolts, which you say are on the way, but sending hugs. How very scarey.
  6. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    We've been dealing with running with difficult child 1 -- he always comes back, though, and he's a few years older than your difficult child. I'm learning that I play a role in the situation by allowing things to escalate, since he usually runs when there's a heated argument going on with him and the situation just becomes too emotionally charged. The timing also tends to coincide with his medications wearing off.

    His dad has done the "running away" thing with me, too -- usually during an argument or back in the days when he took medications for his ADHD and they were wearing off and he got upset over something -- he just couldn't cope.

    It's definitely a scary situation, whether it's a child or an adult (acting like a child). I think it all boils down to anxiety and insufficient coping skills. Thankfully, husband is now on a mood stabilizer so he's behaving much better these days ;)

    Hope the deadbolts get there soon and you get some good support from the tdocs on this!
  7. jannie

    jannie trying to survive....

    Wow!! Sending hugs--it certainly sounds stressfull--I think it's a smart idea to put on a dead bolt husband and I have definately stood in front of our doors holding back difficult child.

    I know the running away is very scary--but where does he go when it's daytime? Does he run further because you are chasing him? Is he running into a busy street? Recently my difficult child has needed some of his own time...he may run off and hide in a bush for a few minutes or so...and if I don't chase after him, he will use this few minutes of down time to calm down...and then he returns home. A year or so ago, I would have never left him to be alone because I'd be afraid he's hurt someone or something...he can now do it since we've worked really hard to use strategies to self-calm....If I chase him it gets totally worse...
  8. Christy

    Christy New Member

    Since this is not the first time it's happened, we had worked on a plan with his therapist. We had him describe what it feels like when he is about to run and worked out a plan. We have had drills and practiced this as well. We agreeed that it was okay to run into the backyard. We have a lange fenced in yard with plenty of "hiding" places. We have talked alot about how his room is a safe spot where he can go to be get away and be alone as well. We've discussed how when we are out in the community, it is not safe to be alone so when he feels like this, he should say a code word and freeze. We would all stop what we were doing, he would take a few seconds to breathe, and then try to tell us what he was upset about. We promised to do our best to work out a solution. Good in theory but when he is upset, he is unable hold it together long enough and reacts immediately on his feelings. This time, yes we did know he was upset when husband came to get him but it was an unavoidable situation.
  9. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    How totally scary! Don't give up on the plan though. My difficult child is struggling with remembering to put his calming plan into place when he starts feeling weird. They can practice, practice, practice but until they actually start using the plan, it is hard to remember it in the moment of need.

    Like that incident, things do happen very fast or so slow that you hardly notice until it is too late. It takes practice for us moms also to see a start of something. difficult child wanted a ride in the tow truck but that was not possible - There was no alternative that would have satisfied difficult child - he just couldn't handle that opportunity being so close yet unassessible. That frustration kicked in real quick. You were under pressure of an upset difficult child plus a vehicle that wouldn't work - what would you do if he ran then? Frustration was in the air - by then it was hard to stop it.

    I am so glad he was found safe - I can feel your panick. Did you talk to him about it and ask him at what point he thought the plan should have been implemented? It may help him start learning or remembering the plan? But then, he is young to understand some of this - you will know if he can process it or not.

    Don't give up on the plan. Like every plan we make with our difficult children, it will take time for him to really embrace it. Right now he is unable to access the plan when under stress. What will help is the hard work of trying harder to predict those moments - trying to read an even earlier sign. When you start sensing a possible problem, start implementing the plan - I would not mention running but ask if he needs to do whatever the 1st step of the non-running plan is - which I am guessing has to do with destressing? I am assuming that the plan's first step doesn't identify the running instinct but the anxiety building up?

    I am so sorry you are dealing with this - it is such a sick feeling to not know where your child is. Let us know what works.
  10. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    You must be a wreck, Christy.

    Clearly, your difficult child doesn't "get it." The statement about how he knew dad would come looking for him, and how he was picking up pinecones, etc. tells it all.

    Adrianne has some very good advice. It takes training and practice but it is a good plan.

    Best of luck.
  11. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Mine was a runner. She ran from age 6 to age 10 or 11. It actually reached the point that the police refused to look for her -- she was good at hiding from them and always came home. I also quit looking for her. Strangely, she quit when I quit making a big deal about it. That is, I wouldn't chase after her, wouldn't hunt for her, would simply say welcome back when she walked in the door. I gave up on giving her consequences for running. I gave up on trying to give her rewards for not running. When she didn't get her way, she ran.

    Like you, when she was in flight mode, she couldn't or wouldn't stop herself. Mind you, I'm not counting the times she would sneak out of the house to go do what she wanted. To me, this wasn't running -- this was getting her way regardless of the consequences. Also like yours, there was no concern when she returned. As yours so blithely stated, he knew you guys would look for him. I was lucky that we lived in a very safe neighborhood but, even so, no neighborhood is 100% safe -- there's dogs, cars and even some bad people. I was worried sick when she did this. She frequently didn't come home until it was well after dark.

    I don't know whether she quit running because there was no longer any drama in it or simply because she had matured somewhat and began to see the dangers of running. Either way, I was grateful it stopped but nothing I or her therapist did or suggested ever stopped the running.

    I'm sorry you're going through this. I know the fear and anger you are feeling. I wish I had some trick that worked that I could suggest. I hope you find something.
  12. Christy

    Christy New Member

    Good Advice Everyone.

    Yes, we will stick with the plan but at this point I don't think it is likely to work.
    We talked about things the next day and that's how we knew that he wanted to ride in the tow truck so badly. We also got the standard line about how he was angry. he won't do it again, he was on his way home, etc...

    Meow, I very much agree with you on one level and husband and I had discussed it before hand and decided that the next time difficult child ran in the neighborhood we'd let him go figuring he'd return on his own. I'd like to be able to do that but, this time it got dark and I got too scared. I am also concerened because difficult child is impulsive and doesn't always and look both ways. He is not very street smart even though we have discuss stranger danger, etc.. If a guy offered him chocolate he'd be all over it unforunately. :( All this being said, I also agree with what you , nothing will work except possibly maturity or the drama wearing off.

    Then, I found out that while he was in the neighborhood he let two dogs out of their fenced yards. Why, I asked? He said that he wanted to play with them. (From what I gather the owners came out and got the dogs.) What did the owners say to you, I asked. He said he doesn't remember. We talked about all the reasons this was unsafe for the dog, for him, and the fact that is was against the law. He nodded in agreement. What would happen if someone let Barkley (our dog) out of the back fence? I would hit him with a stick he replied. So the owner should have hit you? I asked him. NO! he thought that was a ridiculous idea. This would not apply to him of course! Too bad the dog owners didn't call the police, we'd have found him sooner.

    Thanks again!
  13. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Perhaps if you remind him gently on a daily basis, or at least a couple times a week, about the whole safe place plan, he WILL remember. It really needs to be ingrained with repetition for him to remember it in the heat of an emotional eruption.

    I noticed this week that my difficult child 1 only ran to hide on top of our swingset/monkeybars (there's a platform on top) when got really upset about something. I think part of it is the talk I gave him after his last bolting incident:

    On July 4th, he had bolted to a tree in a park and refused to stay with the family when we were walking to a fireworks show at a local school because he was mad about something. Right or wrong, we decided to just let him stay where he was and told him if he wasn't back at our car by the end of the show, he'd have to walk home (we live about 4 miles from the park).

    He was right by his tree when we walked back after the show, and he was really apologetic and took my hand right away. I explained that I don't mind him taking a time out, but he can't take off like he had been of late and he needs to talk to us about what's going on instead of just splitting without saying anything.

    Again, I know mine is older, but I think talking about this kind of stuff repeatedly when they are calm will help it be remembered when they are not.

    Good luck to you! I really hope the plan you have in place works.
  14. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Just a thought. What would happen if he had to go back on his running route and apologize to everyone he inconvenienced? That is, the dog owners, the people you had to ask about whether they had seen him, the police for wasting their time? For mine this wouldn't have worked but maybe it would for him, at least at this age.
  15. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Whoah, cool idea, Meowbunny.

    My sisters, who are twins, went around the neighborhood and collected $ for the Red Cross or some such org., but really had no plan to send it anywhere. They just wanted $. They were so cute in their matching outfits, who could resist? My mom had to go door-to-door to return all the $ with-them.
    As is typical, some of this behavior is developmentally normal, but with-a difficult child, is very exaggerated. Plus, they can't seem to remember half of what they do. My sisters remembered and had a plan. (Don't know if that's better or worse!)
    Christy, while your son's contact didn't involve anything physical or tangible, such as cash, it's still an interesting concept.

    Also, as a motivator, what do you think about the idea of setting up a ride for him on a tow truck sometime?
  16. Christy

    Christy New Member

    Good Idea! I asked difficult child to show me the homes where he let out the dogs (didn't tell him why) and he siad he counld remember. This may be true or a case on convenient amnesia.
  17. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    My difficult child has convenient, or selective amnesia, too. If you just go for a walk with-your difficult child, maybe he'll remember ...
  18. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    You know, when we had difficult child 1 and 2's neuropsychs done, they came up with Aspergers. Both have what I'll call an "enhanced fight or flight reaction". Whenever they were overstimulated sensorally, emotionally or had a stick in their "b#tts", they'd run (mostly at school). The neuropsychologist said that aspies tend to have that type of reaction.

    Now I know that this may sound totally off the wall, but could this be a sort of step in the right direction? Ok, before you write me off as a nut job, let me give you my theory. You mentioned that he's been in behavioral therapy for quite a long time. Between you and your husband, counselors, teachers, therapists, psychiatrists, etc., he's been learning (albeit slower than ANY of us want them to learn) to change certain behaviors such as fighting, yelling, antagonizing, lying, breaking things, etc.

    Could it be that he's running so that he doesn't react in previously incorrect or unacceptable ways?

    If so, different tools could be given him that he could do rather than taking off.

    Here's a little info I found on fight or flight responses:

    All organisms have been given a fight or flight response mechanism that protects and preserves them. It is an adaptive function placed in us for the sole purpose of self-preservation. Anxiety, in a sense is an ally. When we experience a danger or a threat, the fight or flight response kicks in, adrenaline and other chemicals are activated and physical symptoms occur, rapid heart rate, palpitations, increase in blood pressure, etc. For most people these debilitating symptoms taper off and the body is restored back to it’s normal state. However, for some individuals, the adrenaline is not metabolized as easily and it may linger in the body longer. Hence, we need to look at anxiety as a physiological condition that needs behavioral adjusting, as opposed to a psychiatric illness.

    Could he be anxious about whatever is going on to set him off AS WELL AS possibly reacting the wrong way?

    Just trying to put a different spin on it!

  19. Christy

    Christy New Member

    you could be right. difficult child was always quick to react violently and this may be an effort not to do that. I agree, it's fight or flight. He can't handle his emotions and is running rather than lashing out physically. We will continue to talk about safe solutions and hopefully he will be able to start to work though this.

  20. Christy, I cannot imagine what you have been through. I am so sorry. I hope that you are able to get this resolved. Sounds like you are doing what needs to be done to get this worked out. So sorry.