Average age of onset of problems....

timer lady

Queen of Hearts
Just out of curiosity, at what age did you note problems in your difficult child?

Our situation was a bit different in that the tweedles were placed with us at the age of 6 (almost 7).

I remember that at the age of 7 there were so many challenges & no direction. Every professional we consulted was at their wit's end trying to "evaluate", to diagnosis & therefore come up with appropriate interventions.

We've gone through parent training, ADHD, ODD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), therapy, cognitive behavior training, attachment therapy, hospitalizations, Residential Treatment Center (RTC), group home placements, etc, etc, etc.

It's been quite the journey & we still aren't where we need to be. Though the last three years have been hell on wheels, I feel we're seeing our destination point, if you will. We know what needs to be done treatment wise.

So...what was your journey? Are you at peace with the diagnosis, treatment plan & interventions for your difficult child or are you still searching? Have you found that you need to relax & try a plan even though you can't wrap your mind around it, just because you're too exhausted to look further?

As I said, just curious. I'm noting many parents with children between the ages of 5 to 7 really trying to figure this out.


Well-Known Member
The head nurse at the nursery gently told me to remember that some babies are more difficult than others. So that would be, what, two days old? :rofl: I finally gave up thinking she would grow out of "this difficult phase" when she three and a half years old. :warrior:

Sara PA

New Member
I identified my son's partial seizure (though I didn't have the name for it) when he was about 18 months old. We got no help because the doctors I talked to about it blew me off. I guess that was better than even more years of the wrong drugs because of misdiagnosis.


difficult child 1 was difficult from the moment I met him. He was 3 1/2. We blamed it on his exposure to rough lifestyles and abuse for many years. Around age 7, I started asking questions, and at 14 I started demanding answers - this wasn't aftershock from what he saw as a small boy.

difficult child 2, well, I asked my ob about Ritalin when I was 5 months pregnant. He was an odd, tho very easy, baby, but it was when he started walking at 8 months that I first called my mom, bawling because he was out of control. He had no attachment and no language at all going in or coming out of him. It was another 6 months before my first trip to the pediatrician voicing my concerns to her (which were discarded, by the way). And another 6 months before the second trip (Which was also discarded, and after which, I discarded her and started seeking help).

easy child 1 was a colicky baby, screamed for hours on end every day (second shift, 3-11pm). We laid him on the floor over a pillow and literally beat on him. As he grew, he was a hard-headed little lad, but he was still "normal".


My situation is different to the effect that I came into difficult child's lives when they were12 and 9. I saw major issues right away but thought at the time it might have to do with the changes in their dad's life getting with me and having another sibling come into the situation. It didn't take long when people kept saying things like "Do you know what you are getting into with these kids?" I had that question posed to me so many times I should have known it wasn't me. Then when I posed the careful questions to husband is standard answer was their is nothing wrong with my kids. He was very much head in the sand when I started to realize that difficult child 1 had been in a BD classroom setting right from kindergarten. difficult child 2 was evidently first diagnosed with ADHD in early learning which was age 3. He was out of control in school settings always too. Bio mom didn't even talk to the schools until I got involved and husband was living in blinders. The first time he realized more was wrong was after difficult child 1 threw easy child down the stairs for trying to protect difficult child 2. What concerned me most about that was their was no remorse on difficult child 1's part. This was after the full school year of huge problems. So when was onset to get back to your question...long before I was involved. When did treatment start? When I insisted on it or that I would move out with easy child and difficult child 2 to keep them safe from difficult child 1. Bio mom then made a play to try and be involved and discovered how hard it would be and walked out on difficult child 1's treatment and told difficult child 2 that she wanted nothing to do with him again. Not sure if that is what you were looking for or not.



New Member
Funny this post comes up today, it is feel sorry for my difficult child day. I knew something was wrong with difficult child within a couple of weeks after he was born. He was soooooo good and then after a couple of weeks he was impossible to keep content. As time passed it just got worse. He was only a little over 2 when I found this board and it all made sense. A few months later, he wasn't even 3, we got the ODD diagnosis and he was on Ritalin, it was so bad.

Our journey has been rough, but his journey has been rougher and I try and remind myself of that when I find myself getting frustrated with him.

Now, we have doctors and we have proper diagnosis's, I am happy for that. We are constantly trying to make a plan and have been very fortunate with the new school to have a lot of support. Still trialing with one of the medications, trying to find what works. I has definately gotten better.

But I am still searching...truthfully the answers are there, now it's just accepting them.
Ummmm...from birth!! I was there for her birth and she was first handed to bio mom who only held her for a few minutes then told the nurse to give her to her "mom". I took her to "home, aka hotel" where we stayed for 3 weeks while bio mom made our lives a living heck!

As soon as we got home, when difficult child was 21 days old, I immediately took her to our pediatrician because the kid NEVER STOPPED CRYING! pediatrician asked if she was a "drug" baby, and I said bio mom said NO! So, we went from the approach of colic and milk allergy. Several types of formula and medications to calm her tummy and she was still screaming. Many tests later and she was still screaming. About 6 months old was the first time I saw her smile.

It has now been established that difficult child WAS drug addicted at birth and was hypertonic and miserable. Ya think??!!??

Anyways, about 7 months, she started crawling and was into everything. Walked right before her 1st birthday, then was heck on wheels.

Did the same thing as Shari, took her to pediatrician when she was about 2, was told it was the "terrific two's" and sent with a brochure of how to baby proof the house! Give me a break! Then about 3 took her to see another pediatrician, who told me that it sounded like the beginning of ADHD but he would not medication a child that young. By 4 she was running away from me into busy streets, beating the tar out of me, screaming at me so loud the neighbors would all pop out of their homes to see what was going on.

By 41/2 and being kicked out of a childcare center, I took her to a different pediatrician in the same office. He felt it was time to start her on Ritalin. That was a NIGHTMARE that, within a month, almost landed her in a psychiatric hospital. About 5 she saw her first psychiatrist, who changed her to Adderal. She did end up hospitalized that time, at 5 years old!!!! psychiatric hospital felt she had something more than ADHD going on, took her off of Adderal changed to Strattera and Risperdal. Brought her home 3 days later and she couldn't stop crying. Got a new psychiatrist who said "what the heck are they using stims on a child who does not have ADHD!?!?!" He started her on Seroquel, Depakote and kept the Risperdal.

He was an amazing psychiatrist and I wish he was still in practice. Even though he was oldish, he was so up to the times with how to medication these little ones.

difficult child has had probably 8 hospitalizations or day treatments in her young 9 yo life. We have had the total medication-merry go round thing going on. Finally think we have a good medication combo as she is the most stable she has ever been.

Have we been happy with treatment plans? For the most part, but am sooooo tired of having so many professionals involved in our lives. And now we start with J! There are so many times I felt "not heard". Now I just "speak a little louder" if it is something I feel is really important for difficult child or us!

Linda, I wonder if the age of 6-7 things really take off because these kidlets, for the most part, are now being expected to do "regular" kid stuff at school and most if not all of our kiddos are usually several years behind emotionally. By 1st and 2nd grade, my difficult child started to really stand out from her peers with her behaviors. Hmmmmm... interesting topic. Will be looking for others posts to see if there is a trend in when "things got bad".

Hugs and thanks for the great post!



New Member
My now 18.5 oldest difficult child was a couple months old when we realized if she took even a tiny nap in daytime she would not sleep until very late into the nite. By 12 months we could not let her nap or she could not sleep at all at nite. But we also noticed she did not wake at nite once she was asleep. We began seeking help at age 3 becuz by then we saw how very different she was from her sister. Punishments never had any effect on her, neither did bribes or praise. SHe would not try anything like coloring with crayons or building with blocks. And she seemed to "hoard" almost everything.
We started with pediatrician, pediatrician said we were "inexperienced parents" "unable to accept our child was fine" WIC sought our child out to go to Headstart and Headstart complained she was a difficult child. We began with parenting classes, and in home play therapy and added in a psychiatrist, a therapist, childrens social skills group, then added in siblings group, girls group, peer group, in home behavior mod, case manager, facilitator, family therapy, SASS, WRAP, pre teen group, teen group, a Big Sister, a mentor,
Her diagnosis ranged from ADD, ADHD, depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), mood disorder, anxiety, bipolar, social anxiety, general anxiety, panic attacks.
My son was a preemie, born 2 months early, when I was 37. His at birth PKU came back 3 times with "incomplete" results. He was tested for cystic fibrosis, we were told at birth he could have spina bifida occulta, but they did not check him for it at that time. We were also told they suspected mild cerebal palsy.....but his pediatrician thought those ideas were "silly" and she continually dismissed them.
He was colicky and slow to progress but pediatrician still felt he was within normal ranges. He talked extremely early and he spoke in full sentences. He walked at a normal age, but he walked on tip toes. AT age 3 psychiatrist thought he was ADD......but I did not see signs of that. At age 6 dtrs psychiatrist insisted trialing son on stims. They made him suffer weight loss, and he was already very frail. They also caused him excrutiating headaches. SOn was not toilet training on the normal time line..nor was he riding a bike and he was poor with handling a ball at school in gym. ANd his handwritiing was illegible. He could not name colors. psychiatrist insisted my son did not WANT to- psychiatrist said my son was "lazy" School also said same. pediatrician said son was normal and fine. I went behind everyone and got him in at SHriners and they did an MRI and bloodwork, genetic testing etc. The MRI discovered heterotopia, atypical seizures and mild cerebal palsy, shortened tendons thruout his body especially his achilles. They also found some concerns in genetic testing that now continues to be investigated and followed. With Occupational Therapist (OT) and PT my son has learned to ride a bike, but his handwriting remains illegible. He also still toewalks altho has Occupational Therapist (OT) and PT and wore bilateral leg braces for 3 years.
My husband seemed ok when we met, back in early 85. He worked as a systems analyst, private consult......but by 1990 he began to withdraw and become paranoid and anxious. By late 91 he became catatonic. He was admitted to phsop, diagnosis started as adult ADD, then adult ADHD, then anxiety, then depression, then failure to thrive, passive suicide, mood disorder, PTSD, combat PTSD, early onset ALzheimers at which time the VA took him into their PTSD program. They then diagnosis'ed bipolar and then scizoaffective disorder. and then brain tumors.
He began in home therapist, also behav mod, life skills coaching, day treatment program, several psychiatric hospital stays, some short some longer. Biofeedback, light therapy, and many many many drug trials. He did day treatment in community treatment for 5 years and 5 more years at the VA in the combat PTSD program.
SO, in my children age of onset? I would say toddlerhood or birth. In husband I would say 40 yrs of age?
what was most difficult time? For my oldest dtr, age 12-17. no doubt. the VERY worst with her? when she was in Special Education classes. What does she say NOW? her Special Education classes were times when her peers and her compared notes on what drugs were most exciting, how to get away with certain behaviors, how to sneak out, how to cut school and not get caught, where to hide your stash, how to manipulate any system to get what you prefer. and in her Special Education classes she says the kids with the most out there behaviors, most psychiatric hospital stays, were the most respected, most popular.

My most difficult time with my son? NOne by his hand. Trying to convince his school low muscle tone is a valid reason for crummy handwriting......and seizures are NOT "willful" behavior or choices.

Most difficult time with husband? Used to be I thought catatonia was most difficult. I no longer feel that way. Catatonia is far easier to live with day in and day out than paranoia, rages, etc.

Truth is my easy child is giving me a run for my money right now. SHe will be 17 in May. Sadly she was victimized and had never let on, for YEARS by a friends parent. BUT, LOL_ I think what is difficult is NOT related to that, but just ordinary simpe typical teen stuff!!!!!! LOL. SHe is becoming quite independant- working, had drivers ed etc.but our family finances cannot afford her to drive.....and her job does not pay quite enough for her to drive.....and it is causing some s erious difficulties. And I am getting weary of all the court dates for the person who hurt her-----it has been dragging on and on and trial has not yet begun.....new charges keep getting added, new victims keep getting found......and the suspect keeps getting re-arrested for contacting the victims.

What has helped most? A sense of humor, not taking very many things TOO seriously, remembering things change..sometimes quite quickly.
I wish I could say some of our professionals helped......in my humble opinion they didn't. Often they made things worse, sometimes MUCH worse, especially when they fought amongst themselves and trapped us in the middle. medications? Eventually all our docs removed all the medications from husband, oldest difficult child and well, son still uses steroid eyedrops, but thats all. 15 years of intense medication trials never did uncover a medication combo or medication that gave any positive effect.
I can say the last 2 years or so, less and less people notice anything about my oldest difficult child or my son....the biggest noticeable thing about my oldest child is she cannot, absolutely cannot go onto school grounds at all for anything------most recently she has begun to disassociate when anywhere near the school. And her needle phobia......when I do my injections for my illness, I have to warn her the nite before, and again in the morning, and usually she leaves the house. I also have to hide all the supplies so she cannot see them or she sobs, trembles, shakes, vomits, breaks out in hives. I also cannot use the word shot or injection or needle or sharp- I have to say...it is The Day, Buffy. Tomorrow.
MY husband? forget it, I keep him in the house, away from people.....I keep people away from him.....he now lives his life in videogameland.
My kids know each others triggers, but what is amazing? Our home is a preferred gathering site for my kids friends and peers. My teeny tiny 900 sq foot house.....with no hi tech gadgets.


New Member
My son didn't sleep through the night until he was 4 and a half. He was a happy baby,but when he turned 2 he changed. The terrible twos never ended and continued to worsen. He did have a lengthy illness when he was 1. I always wonder if that had something to do with it. We had him to the doctor several times and wondered if it was allergies. Finally we took him to an allergist who put him on medications and antibiotics just in case. He was better within days. I told the first doctor I had thought it was allergies and his response was he's too young! What an idiot. This was the same doctor who kept telling me he had 4th child syndrome!


New Member
i agree with-what was said about being put in the school enviroment making it seem like it just started.

as i look back i can see where difficult child started to change from the most easy going but curious baby(he pulled himself up on top of the kitchen counter at 18 mths)to temper tantrum dude around 3 yrs old.

unfortunately some of the 'symptoms' like egocentric based anger bursts and lashing out are truly age appropiate behaviors in preschools. i asked in k-garten to have him evaled and i was told that he would grow out of it and he just needed to get used to being at school for 5 days. i think it is hard for professionals to weed out the immature from the ei, Know what I mean??


New Member
Oh my oldest child could not tolerate being in a room alone, - and since she shared a room with sister, it was not a problem, until psychiatric hospital stay when they put her in her own room. SHe also could not ever ever tolerate total darkness and neither could husband.
My son, from birth could not sleep at all unless touching another person. He slept on my chest or dhs till he was 4 or so, and then moved to sleep beside husband- holding hands, and he also could not tolerate darkness. Oldest difficult child now sleeps in dark in a room alone, but neither her nor husband can tolerate being alone in the house. EVER. and oldest difficult child cannot sleep unless someone is awake, neither can husband.
My son does now sleep alone....in the dark. nd he will stay home alone on rare occasions when it is needed. He is fine.
I think the most difficult ages overall and in a general manner were age 8 and age 12 and age 16 in the girls.


New Member
I was always confused becuz my oldest difficult child did GREAT in girl scouts, day camp, band camp, red cross classes and Tae Kwon DO, gymnastics, ballet, swim class, . she even did very well at sleep away girl scout camp. BUT school? that was an entirely totally different situation.
For both my oldest and my youngest school was the very very worst problem of anything.

hearts and roses

Mind Reader
Well, if I think back, I can honestly say that she was still in utero and already giving me grief! LOL - Seriously, she was breach and everytime we had her turned to be ready for birth (which was supposed to be at home with a midwife) she would flip back over. I wound up having a C-section at the hospital with DR's I didn't know. It took two weeks to recover from the spinal headaches and all difficult child did was cry non-stop until she hit exactly 3 months old. Everyone said it was colic or my fault (I had trouble the first couple of weeks from my constant pain). But as if someone hit a switch she stopped crying at 3 months. She was a Johnny Jumper baby - always had to be moving, constantly. I still didn't think much of it really - she moved a lot in utero.

At about 2 yrs she started with some eye blinking and hair flipping, and again, we just thought it was a quirk. By 7 her rage attacks began and that finally caught our attention and we sought family counseling, eventually were referred to a psychiatric dr and then the rest is history.

So, I guess I could say we always knew, we were just in denial? I don't know, a lot of other stuff was going on along the way, like my separation from her bio-dad, moving 150 miles away from everyone, remarriage, etc.


Active Member
As JoG said, I had problems from the start. I had spotting for 2 weeks right around the 12 week stage, thought I was going to lose him (doctor did too). Lots of nausea etc. Had high blood pressure and swelling for the last 3 months, had to spend the last 2 weeks sitting with feet up doing nothing. Induced labor that lasted 29 hours and ended with a c-section. He was actually a pretty good baby tho, slept right throught he night from birth, no colic. Had to wean him to a bottle at 4 months tho and he didn't like that. I did notice little things that were different all along though, he didn't like to interact with other kids, didn't talk except for a few words until he was past 2 and then it was pretty much bang full sentences, didn't handle transitions well. In preschool (3-4), the teacher would tell me he preferred to go off and do his own thing, and she didn't push him to join the kids, I remember one almost meltdown when another kid sat in "his" spot (no assigned spots) and he just couldn't handle it. Grade one (6) he started having more problems, teachers would tell me we needed to socialize him more (then they'd keep him in at recess and lunch to do work he hadn't finished - go figure). Grade two (7) it pretty much exploded. He started having meltdowns at school, some at home, and the whole road to figuring out what was going on started then (therapist, psychiatrist, behavior programs for school etc.)

I think 5-7 is a critical time, because that is when more is expected of them, and their not ready/able to handle the expectations.


New Member

My oldest easy child/difficult child was colicky the first 6 mths, but 18 mths I was reading books for the strong willed child. at 8 yo he was put on stims and it was life changing. I never questioned the diagnosis, it fit. But I would question using medications every Sept. when the TV would do the "your drugging your child" shows on TV, until I realized it was allowing him such a better life, then I use to say that if my state outlawed ritalin, I would move . LOL
My present difficult child was placed in my home right from the hospital for physical abuse at 10 mths of age. He had multiple caregivers( I use that word with sarcasism). The caseworker commented that he was quite and light to carry, ie easy baby. He would just sit for a month or two then he started. If I had everything right he was a joy, but forget it if something was bothering him. He didn't seem to know he was hungry until he was starving hungry and he would rage a bit. If he was tired he was miserable. If 2 things were wrong he was screaming uncontrolably. Usually I got everything right. When I needed to do work around the house I would put him in the play/TV room with a gate. He would tantrum for 10-15 minutes, including running into the walls. I sought out EI services then Preschool handicapped classes throught the school. By the start of kindergarten I took him to a p-doctor who diagnosed BiPolar (BP) and put him on Zyprexa..We saw improvement but not a cure-all like ritalin seemed to be for my older boy(while in his system). When we attempted to up it he grew worse...I believe manic. So Zyprexa helps more then anything but we can only go up to 2.5 mgs with it.
The next 2 p-docs see ADHD and want to give stims, they do help some with his focus but cause him to do more bad things. They increase his aggression lower his common sense for staying out of trouble, they seem to lower his desire to please. Oddly enough, they seem to keep him from being depressed so he rages less from that source but he continues to rage with a deeper angry (not despair)because of irritation with people and school frustrations. He is much more manipulative and mean. He now likes to divide his siblings and gang up on his sister with verbal attacks. I am feeling stuck with a kid that I don't like(always will love him) and teachers that prefer him this way.
I am tired of trying to fight to be heard and am not even sure I am right anymore. I can relate to just going along with the treatment plan for a while just cause I get worn out. I do not believe my difficult child is only ADHD but the medications do help while they are in his system. I am following up on advice I was given to get neuro-psy testing done maybe that will help...but he has had counselling, he has been tested for Learning Disability (LD)'s he has and does recieve Occupational Therapist (OT). I don't know what I have to do to get them to try a first line mood stabilizer on him but I will keep plugging along, I can't stop trying but I sure to get tired and take breaks. :blush:


New Member
oh pre birth? I had a total of 14 miscarriages. Oldest difficult child I had daily blood draws to monitor hormone levels. Labor was fast and quick, 5 hours.
we went home in a couple hours after birth.
easy child was 15 mins labor, went home within hours of her birth, too.
SOn was preemie, the only of my children whose water bag ruptured on it's own, and my longest labor. 19 hours, with highest possible doses of pitocin. I had daily hormone shots thru preg with him to sustain preg.
BUT him and I went home from hospital within hours of his birth, as well.
I was exposed to active TB multiple times thru preg with son, working in county nursing home, and a horrible flu epidemic that took more than half our population in nursing home and sprained my back at 5 months preg....mother in law passed away long distance at 5.5 months preg....we had to go to mountains in VA to bury her.
He was my only perg where I LOOKED preg....he stuck out in front......I lost 80 pounds preg with oldest difficult child and lost 70 pounds preg with easy child. I stayed same weight during preg with son.


Going Green
As husband and I are/were in a similar situation with our difficult child as you are with the tweedles I don't know how much I can answer. We got him at the age of 9 but had heard some stories from his life before. In addition to various foster homes, difficult child had also lived on and off with an aunt and unlcle. I don't really know anything about his development as an infant other than he was premature. By how much though, I don't know. He was exposed to at least marijuana in the womb and it's possible there were other "chemicals" mixed in there also. I do know that he wasn't born drug exposed because bio mom had been hospitalized for a week or two prior to his birth. From what we can gather though, difficult child was a handful from the time he could walk. Apparently at one point, he had gotten ahold of over a thousand dollars from the uncle's wallet, given it to other kids and also cut the pictures off of the bills. He was sent home on the first day of kindergarten for his behavior and had also been diagnosis'd BiPolar (BP) a few years before we got him but it was never kept up on and we were never told about it. (That would go a long way to explaining why he had repeated disrupted placements due to his behavior :hammer: ) When he first came to us, we were asked to keep his current therapist for a bit because of the adjustment period. Not a problem, it made sense to us but the man was useless. Even as inexperienced parents (especially for a difficult child) his "solutions" didn't come across as effective for the behaviors we were seeing. (1-2-3 Magic for rages that required me holding him down? Don't think so) Plus as we were first time parents he was very condescending to us and did everything but pat me on the head and say "Good girl". Granted, we WERE new parents (and completely unaware of what we had on our hands) but we weren't idiots either. My favorite example of this was when we had issues with difficult child doing bank shots off of the inside of the toilet lid when he urinated or going all over the seat. Talking to him a couple of times didn't work so I started making him clean the entire toilet everytime he did it. Common sense right? Well by the docs tone you would have thought I was a 4 year old who just figured out world peace. "That's a really good idea!" Well Duuuuuuhhhhhhh. difficult child or not, pee all over the toilet....you're cleaning it up.

Anyhow....got off track there. I would say with ours there were signs/symptoms/issues showing up at an early age. But as with your tweedles, who knows if it was situational, diagnosis related or a combination.


New Member
My Daughter I knew from birth she was going to be difficult. Thirty years ago no one would believe that such a beutiful child could be mentally ill. By the time I got anyone to listen she was already in middle school and very controlling and non-complient. My boys came to me later (both born in the 80's). I noticed that both my boys were lagging as infants. They both were in programs by age two. so when behaviors manifested they were already in the system. -RM


Well-Known Member
Arrrgh! I had a long note here and it disappeared!

Just Keep Swimming, now you've got me wondering... we met our bmom at a restaurant, where she was referred to us by the adopt. svc. She was in labor, 10% dilated and 70% effacted, and she scarfed down spaghetti and bread like a typical teenager. Her pupils didn't look dilated or anything but I'm no expert. Still, the behavior of our difficult child... the constant screaming... it's so hard to say. She and her mother are both stubborn and argumentative so I don't know how much of this is genetic, as well. Plus the bdad did grass and who knows what else, and the bio grandfather on that side was alcoholic, so there's a problem there... and the other bio grandfather isn't on speaking terms with-anyone. There's got to be something genetic there, possibly combined with-drugs or medications, or even the ever present mercury-in-immunizations argument.

I knew from birth that difficult child was different and would be difficult. But everyone around me just said he was loud and a boy. I'm an artist and writer so right away we have opposite temperaments. He used to shake the bars of his crib and roar like a wild animal. I called them his "monster noises."
He had 13 ear infections from ages 1-7 and were going to do tubes "next time." Next time never came, and the screaming stopped. I remember crying myself to sleep because it seemed he would never speak and we couldn't even take him to McDonald's with-o a scene. He did speak when he was 3, and almost got himself kicked out of day care. He argued with-the staff, and I was pretty happy about it because he used real words. They were not amused.
He's always been horrid with-transitions. We used to take my easy child daughter everywhere... she was so portable, like a make believe doll. We were so spoiled.