Beginning this journey

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by littlecritters, Jul 5, 2011.

  1. littlecritters

    littlecritters New Member

    After a terribly stressful, rage filled two weeks, I find myself absolutely ready to resign myself to a life of misery, but I refuse to give up. Reading Maddie's post, allowed me to recognize so much in my own daughter. I also found behavioral tracking charts to use in trying to find triggers for my daughters behavior. I am at a loss. I feel like my family is being held hostage by my daughters behavior. I don't know what to do, and for the first time in my life truly feel like I am descending into black.
    As I get deeper into parenting a high intensity child, I realize how early her behavior was probably different from other children. She screamed non-stop from birth to about 3 months old, she had to be entertained and engaged constantly, she could never change a routine. She was my first child, and I didn't know that children were not supposed to behave that way. I thought a good mother would play/cajole/coddle, I thought all kids threw 3 hour long tantrums when you said a toy fruit was an apple not an orange....
    We went through her second year, with multiple hour long tantrums and rages. We went through self-biting, although that has stopped. Currently, she will be 4 in October. The rages seem to ebb and flow, and for awhile, they seemed to be limited to the house. Generally, my daughter is tremendously kind to other children, especially young children. I am trying a reward system, when she gets "caught being good." I am truly committed to my child, but am total at a loss.
    Let me digress...and give you more background. We started preschool in December, and for the first few weeks, she would make herself vomit when we got to class. Never, did her teacher ever complain about her behavior. She received complements about how good she was at school. However, the afternoons and evenings, we still saw patterns of difficulty. As we moved into summer, her back talk, disobedience, and difficult behavior has increased. I am also seeing an increase in public tantrums, which I didn't see before.
    Let me tell you about Saturday, and then ask for advice. On Saturday, I, my 18 month old, my difficult child, my sister and her daughter went swimming and out to lunch. We then had ice cream. At the ice cream shop, my daughter decided, after she was done eating, that we forgot to give her syrup on her ice cream. I told her she wouldn't have syrup that time, we had already almost finished. She then proceeded to go into a rage so intense that people we starting and pointing at us in the parking lot as we left the shop. Today, she went into a rage at swimming because she didn't have the same teacher as her last class. Then, she had another rage today when I wouldn't allow her to wear her dress at bedtime.
    Here is where I struggle, I am a former high school teacher who long believed many teenage behavior problems in my classroom was due to lax and inconsistent parenting at home. I am very focused on not allowing her to be disrespectful, but her emotional rages are not good for her or our family. Do you let some standards go that a "regular" parent might have? Do you allow your child to be defiant if it means avoiding a tantrum? Should I have given her the syrup? I am beginning to realize I am not parenting a regular kid, but want to give her a strong foundation for the future.
  2. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    Have you ever had your daughter evaluated by a child psychiatrist or DEVELOPMENTAL pediatrician, not just your run-of-the-mill pediatrician? "Obsessive" thoughts (NEEDING to have syrup even though she was about done), change in routine (different teacher at swimming), things not going as expected (getting the idea of wearing her dress to be out of her head once it was there) are very classic symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Those are things my son has been displaying for years and we only recently realized the signs were there since infancy. If that is the case with your daughter, punishing won't work very well. I find I do a lot more teaching than punishing because at this point in time, he can't help that he really doesn't know better YET. We have only begun our journey but already I am seeing some progress, although small. Yes, I do find I have had to let some things slide.

    She needs to be seen by a specialist. In the meantime, you might want to start having conversations with her about WHY she acts the was she does in certain situations. It took some "digging" into my son's reasoning to realize he thinks very differently than most people so I need to point out to him what is so obvious to me.

    All of this is just from my experience so take it for what it's worth. There are many others here who will also offer help. You have found a great place. WELCOME to the "family".
  3. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    HI littlecritters, welcome to our forum.

    What you're describing is definitely causing functioning problems for her and family, and has been a pattern from birth so I agree that an evaluation is in order. I would try and schedule the most thorough evaluation you can with the most reputable specialists in your area. Ask around for a developmental pediatrician or pediatric neuropsychologist for the main evaluation and at this age and stage speech/language and Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluations are a really good idea. The more info you can get via assessments, the more info you will have on how to handle specific situations such as the syrup incident. Personally I would get a private evaluation done on her if you have insurance, but school district evaluations as a secondary source can yield some helpful info.

    In the mean time, I would lay low on everything not safety-related--read the thread at the top of this board about adapting The Explosive Child by Ross Greene for younger children.

    Also while you're waiting, What Your Explosive Child Is Trying to Tell You: Discovering the Pathway from Symptoms to Solutions by Dr. Douglas Riley would be good reading for you. You also may want to read up on Sensory Processing Disorder--sometimes that is one of the various issues going on when little ones are difficult from infancy.

    Outside of the raging, what else are you seeing?
    How is her speech--any delays, advanced or different sounding speech?
    Cognitive/academic type abilities?
    Are interests typical of a typical 3-4 year old girl?
    Is she lining up toys or any other household objects?
    What's the family mental health history like?

    Hang in there--we know how stressful this is on Mom. Hopefully we can get you pointed in the direction of getting some help.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Good heavens! Give yourself and your family AND your child a break and take him to a neuropsychologist for an evaluation. That behavior is nowhere near normal. Once you have some idea of what is doing on, THEN you can amend your parenting as needed. by the way, I disagree that "bad" teenagers always come from inconsistent, lax parents. Sadly, too many teachers do blame the parents. A lot of it is the child's inborn personality and, as you can see, it's not always possible to reign it in. Parents can have three well behaved, nice teenagers and one turns out just the opposite. There isn't always a reason that you can put your finger on...some kids have untreated disorders and the parents are just confused...and some disorders are very hard to treat.

    Good luck and keep us posted!
  5. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Lots of us around here have been exposed to that theory - and proven it wrong. But I think teachers are TAUGHT to think that way.

    On top of the other advice already given (no need to repeat), you might want to also start a Parent Report (see site resources). Its a way to hold together all of the notes, observations, evaluations, etc., because you're going to need that info on a regular basis.

    Parenting challenging kids is a huge job - and no training, either 'before' or 'on-the-job'!
    What usually works is a combination of...
    - correct diagnoses (often multiple, and it takes time to get them all)
    - appropriate supports (various therapies, IEPs at school)
    - creative thinking
    - flexibility
    - some sanity outlets for yourself, etc. - which is part of why you're here!

    Keep us posted as you work through the process...
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2011
  6. littlecritters

    littlecritters New Member

    First, let me apologize for anyone being offended about the HS comment. I think I mentioned to sort of share where I was struggling in and with. That was my background, and wanted to share about where I was coming from. I downloaded the parent reports and will start keeping notes. We originally had started some workups for precocious puberty. I thought her behaviors might be related to some hormones, although we hit a wall in that area.
    Outside of the raging, what else are you seeing? My daughter is very rigid about routines. She also needs consistency in her day to day to routines, she has trouble with change.
    How is her speech--any delays, advanced or different sounding speech? She was a very early talker, at her second birthday birthday she said, "I am so excited, I got a stethoscope for my birthday."
    Cognitive/academic type abilities? She was recently tested and was at 4.9 years to 7 years on all areas. (receptive language, pre-literacy, math, etc.)
    Are interests typical of a typical 3-4 year old girl? I would say yes, although she is not a big player with toys. She loves Toy Story, and princesses! I guess I would say she is typical.
    Is she lining up toys or any other household objects? No.
    What's the family mental health history like? We are a bit troubled. My dad has undiagnosed issues, and my brother in law is mentally retarded/autism.

    I did order the book that was recommended, and made an appointment with my peditrician. I am working on doing a psychiatric evaluation, I really just need some guidance. I want (like most parents) to raise a happy, well adjust kid! I feel like I am failing her! I would say there were some oppositional defiant characteristics, (although, from what I read, she is young for this?) anxiety type issues.
  7. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    The HS comment... is a brick wall many of us have hit... it must be even harder for you, when it's in your formal training!

    What else can you do?

    I'm backing SRL... I'd be looking at an Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation. This will not result in any diagnoses... but the results from the Occupational Therapist (OT) report can be very useful for any of the other professionals involved. AND, they often have therapies that help. In this case, you'd probably be asking specifically about sensory issues.

    Ditto on the Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) (speech/language) - not for speech issues, but for auditory processing issues. It isn't likely to be Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD), but could be difficulties with auditory filtering/focus/discrimination. This can lead to the child being overwhelmed when they have been around too much sound stimulation for too long.

    These two are usually faster to get in to see, than "specialists" like psychiatric etc. - so, it may give you an early start on the process. And if the reports come up with nothing... that adds to the picture, anyway, by ruling out certain things.
  8. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Not to worry--it helps to know where parents are coming from. This is board is meant to be a soft place for you moms of little ones to land.

    Honestly I was also fishing around a little for signs of high functioning Autism or Asperger's Syndrome or spectrumy/on the fence. Since there is a family history, do be sure and mention the brother-in-law to the diagnostician. That realm is hard to diagnose in little ones, especially if the kids are on the fence diagnosis-wise. There is no one ace-in-the-hole red flag but with her rigidity to routines, advanced speech, anxiety issues, and over-reactive rages you'll want to educate yourself in this area. I will mention that a child with very high functioning Autism will look very different than one who functions at a lower level, so comparisons there won't be useful.

    Within her advanced speech, a few past/present signs would be memorizing large chunks of movies or books (more so than a typical child). Another would be repeating memorized lines back to you instead of answering questions or repeating the question back to you. Answering inappropriately might be another (ie Q "How was your day?" A:

    Good start. I'd talk to the pediatrician before scheduling with a diagnostician. Also, with the issues you're dealing with we'd usually recommend not going with a regular child psychologist or psychiatrist to start with. Those may be beneficial in the future but you want a more thorough evaluation--not just help with behaviors or a short evaluation leading to medications. That's why we recommend a pediatric neuropsychologist or developmental pediatrician.

    I want to emphasize that we are all just parents here, and even though several of us have mentioned Autistic Spectrum Disorders, there could be any number of things going on here so take what we say with a grain of salt. in my opinion, if there are any signs of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)'s it's best to assess for that up front, because many of the other diagnostic pathways often lead fairly quickly to medications. We have had a lot of families arrive here whose diagnosticians missed it early on and medications clouded the diagnostic picture for years. Hence, the stress on educating yourself right up front.

    Here's a helpful link about talking to your pediatrician about an assessment. While it is specific to Autism, it really covers how to go about getting a thorough evaluation for most of the types of issues parents land here for.

    Hang in there.
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I would check out the spectrum too. I think a good deal of our kids are on the spectrum, which frustrates and confuses us because our kids are so difficult and rigid. Not saying she's on it, but it's a good idea to check it out. A pediatrician would likely completely miss it.

    Aspies tend to have very advanced speech, but still have communication problems, if that makes sense. They tend to monologue at people about things they like rather than sit back and listen to what the other person is saying. It can cause rather bad social problems because the other people aren't always interested in THEIR interests that they LOVE to talk about and the child is usually ONLY interested in the stuff he/she enjoys. There is little give-and-take conversation and the older the child gets, the easier it is to see this.

    My son didn't play with toys. The only thing he did with them was take them apart sometimes. He would (and still does) watch the same movies over and over again and memorize them. He had a lot of trouble entertaining himself without props (video games or the television) because of a lack of imagination.

    I would recommend a neuropsychologist for testing. I think it's best to start at the top. I agree that it is common to get a wrong first diagnosis (usually ADHD) and then the child starts on stimulants. May as well in my opinion see the best diagnostician. At least then you may be more comfortable giving your child medication, if you feel certain that he/she needs it.

    Good luck and keep us posted!