Beyond Difficult

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by ElizabethL, Mar 24, 2015.

  1. ElizabethL

    ElizabethL New Member

    This board looks like a good place to start.

    Upon turning 13, my child's behavior has gone from difficult to scary.

    My child is displaying clear signs of sociopathic tendencies. Everything from liking to cause himself pain, to enjoying and laughing at others in pain, causing others pain, manipulation, lying, stealing, complete lack of empathy, and the laundry list goes on. Most of this, he's had quite some time, but everyone attributed that to hormones.

    Yesterday, he pulled a kid's hair until the kid cried. He was promptly given an in-school suspension, and I got a phone call. The school is concerned following a conversation with my child about why he did it (because it was funny), and recent evidence of cutting (surface scratches, and he admits to doing it on purpose), and informing them that he hears voices in his head. My child won't talk to me, he says it's too personal. Forcing him to talk to me only results in me getting what he thinks I want to hear, even though I call him on his bs, he doesn't stray from his fabricated responses.

    I have a meeting with the school on Thursday to discuss the situation. I know it will be more of them talking at me about how they feel about the situation, and not really looking for my input on the matter at all (which is how our phone calls have gone).

    The thing is, he's gone through school mandated counseling before, and he fully manipulated that situation. He was given a puppet for a year and a half, and he had fun with it. It didn't help him at all, if anything, it taught him more manipulation techniques. The counselor was fully informed of what he was doing, and assured me that she had experience with this, and he was making actual progress.

    I go through the state for health insurance. Here, the primary care physician has to be on the insurance card in order to see that physician. So, when I find a doctor, and the doctor tries to diagnose my child as ADHD, which he is not, and ignores every other red flag, I find it's in our best interest to switch doctors. This is a 30 day process, with calling the provider, switching the PCP, receiving new cards, setting up a new patient appointment, and so on. It's not something that can be handled over night, but I know it's necessary to find the right doctors.

    The school is now involved again, and I don't want them to be. I understand they have to be because he's hurting other children, but I don't see their involvement as a positive thing. A month ago, following him having an outburst in class where he called his teachers "Stupid", we were informed that he will be expelled if he continues to display such behavior, and if he doesn't pass this year, he's not coming back next year due to being too old and too big to repeat the 6th grade again. They said this in front of my child, and so now all bets are off because either way he's not going to be in that school, it's only a matter of when they kick him out. They don't care that home schooling is not an option, and there are no other schools in this area (I don't drive). I can't not work, and I can't leave him home alone because I don't trust him alone. Hiring a babysitter would mean finding a second job to cover the costs, which would leave no time for him, and then I lose his health insurance because I'll be making too much money.

    I blame myself for not reading the warning signs sooner. I feel like I should have known it was more than a phase, more than prepubescent hormones, and that he would not just grow out of it. I feel stuck. And alone. My child is broken, and I don't know what to do for him.
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Hi, and welcome.

    Glad you found us... sorry you had to.

    It gets a bit quiet around here late in the evening... others will be along at some point.
    Can you tell us more about the background of your child?
    Was he adopted?
    What were the first few years like?
    What kinds of challenges run in his biological family tree?

    And yes... lots of us have been through the whole medical and school runaround. I'm still going in circles.
  3. ElizabethL

    ElizabethL New Member

    He's not adopted, and is my only child. Father hasn't been in his life since he was 4.

    He was a challenging 2 year old, very attached to me, to the point where he wouldn't sleep unless I was laying with him. Tantrums often included throwing hot wheels cars at my face (which would then end up in the trash), but he didn't really have too many tantrums, they were just complete meltdowns when he did. He was a perfect angel outside of the house (he never cried in stores, even if told no after asking for something), and at pre-school/daycare (teachers would tell me how helpful he was), and he would be a terror at home (getting into things he wasn't suppose to, not listening to basic instructions, etc). We moved several times, between two states, until he was 4. We've been in this place ever since. I thought the stability would be good for him. At about second grade, he was an angel at home and a terror at school. Problem behavior didn't surface both in and out of the house until about age 10. He was a bed wetter until about 12, which he admitted was because he "didn't feel like getting up". I'd caught him several times urinating on piles of clean clothes, and in corners of the room, which he also claimed were due to him being too lazy to go to the bathroom. Bed wetting stopped last year, just in time for him to go to sleepovers.

    I was diagnosed with depression and panic disorder, fully in check. Depression and addiction is common on my side. His father's side has a history of manic depressive and MPD (father's mother, MPD following childhood trauma), and I'm sure his father was manic, but I left before finding out for sure.
  4. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    :good_morning: Welcome to our little corner of the world. I do not know where you are or the particulars if your insurance, but if you can, push for a neuropsychiatric evaluation. It is a more complete evaluation. The school is not the expert in this area and can not diagnose anything. With his biological background, you are right to be concerned.

    Please do not beat yourself up over this. We do the best we can with what we know, and we know better we do better.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    What was his biological father like? Abusive? Was he ever abused? DNA stays in our Difficult Child, even if the other parent disappears. Your child is half the DNA of his father.

    He is acting like a kid with reactive attachment disorder. Did he have a chaotic first three years?

    Is he cruel to animals? Fascinated by fire? Sexually inappropriate?
  6. ElizabethL

    ElizabethL New Member

    Bio dad wasn't abusive, he just wasn't around. More interested in himself. Neither of us were stable when I conceived, and I didn't know him well at all. We weren't that close, and he was defensive about any questions regarding his own mental health. It's the issues his mother had that I have always been on the lookout for manifestation in the boy, because she told me that while the multiple personality disorder was due to severe abuse, her manic depression had a place in her family history, and she was sure bio dad had it too.

    When the boy was 1ish, bio dad was off to prison for forgery. He was released to house arrest 6 months later, but started dating the next door neighbor, so wasn't in the house at all. We'd broken up prior to his incarceration, and I had been sleeping in another room long before that. We didn't fight, we were a united unit as far as the boy was concerned. We all went to doctor visits and emergency room visits together. The animosity came later, when he started refusing to help with support or maintain scheduled contact, but the boy was completely sheltered from that. It wasn't until he came to me in tears around age 8 about feeling like he had a parent that didn't want him that I even spoke about his bio dad at any length, and I was careful to punctuate everything with how it wasn't his fault, bio dad loves him very much, he's just not in a place to be an active father figure (bio dad has gone on to have several other children, whom he also doesn't have interaction with). At the time, I had thought his behavior issues were directly related to a lack of a father figure in his life, and I'm sure it does play a role in how he handles his emotions, but the degree to which he has those emotions goes to the extreme end of the spectrum.

    We lived in 4 places before the boy was 8 months old, where we stayed in one place until about 2 and a half. Then bio dad and I parted ways, where the boy and I did a little roaming in two states before settling down in a third state, where we've been since he was 4-5.

    We don't have animals, so I have no eye-witness accounts of any interactions with animals. The boy hangs out at friends houses, and the next-door neighbor who all have cats and dogs, and the only thing I've heard about animals is how much the boy wants one. If he was caught being cruel, the neighbors would have let me know he wasn't welcome in their house (as a matter of fact, all I hear when I speak to neighbors and his friends' parents is what a joy he is, so polite, helpful, and kind- they simply adore him). I don't think he feels one way or another about fire, but I'm not going to ask him and risk putting the thought in his head that he should be fascinated by it. As for being sexually inappropriate.. I want to lean toward a yes on that one, but not in a physical sense. When he has unmonitored access to the internet, he gravitates towards pictures that involve cartoons behaving in a sexually inappropriate manner.
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I have no idea if so many moves in infancy can cause attachment problems, but I do think he needs a psychiatrist (with the MD). There is a lot of bad stuff in his DNA. Hearing voices is very concerning and I'd follow up since there is a strong history of mental illness in the family. Command voices tell people to do "bad" things and are so compelling that they do. Thirteen is an age when a latent mental illness can suddenly evolve into it's fullness. Could be early onset schizophrenia or bipolar...or something else. I wouldn't wait for it to get worse. Find out, get help, and be calm about it, knowing you are doing all you can for your boy. Feel some comfort, knowing that you DO care, but that you can not help him because you are not a psychiatrist. Take him to one. That's who may be able to help him. Mom love sadly does not fix mental illness. Don't feel won't help him. Take good care of YOU too. You need to be healthy and strong and you matter, just like your son matters.

    "Keep Calm and Do What You Have to Do"

    You may want to consider residential treatment if he is a risk to you or your safety and can't go to school. Some RTCs take Medicaid.

    Good luck and welcome to the board :)
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2015
  8. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I am not real familiar with state supported insurance plans but around here, it takes at least 30 days to get an appointment with a new pediatric doctor - whether that doctor is a therapist, a psychiatrist, a neuropsychiatrist, etc. It's worth have your son completely evaluated no matter the time or hassle. If you are near an area with a teaching hospital, that's a good place to begin or perhaps a close children's hospital.

    In regards to the school, does your son have an IEP? It appears you may have a long battle with the school -- the law specifies that your son, if qualified for services based on his disability (or disabilities) must be educated the the school system has to find placement for him AND provide transportation. You might want to look into finding an advocate to work with you to make sure his educational rights are protected.

    Welcome to little corner of the world! You will find some wise warrior parents to guide and support you.

  9. ElizabethL

    ElizabethL New Member

    I do plan to make sure he is checked out from head to toe, and am aware that we'll probably be spending a lot of time in doctor's offices for a long, long time. I'm okay with that if it gets him the help he needs. I just needed to know where to start with it. This is all quite overwhelming.

    I did a quick read through of the school's policy on IEP, and the only category that would fit him would be "emotional disturbance." He doesn't have a learning disability, he just chooses to not do any of the work regardless of what they've tried to do to make him do it (which resulted in a 2 day suspension the last time they tried to make him). An IEP is not something that's ever been mentioned by the school over the last 6 years. They did test him for a learning disability when he was in third grade, but he did so well on their tests that they came back with "he just doesn't apply himself", which was true, and their efforts stopped there. I'm not with him in school, I only know what the teachers tell me, and they tell me nothing other than "he doesn't apply himself" and when he's misbehaving.

    I'll try to keep the Thursday meeting centered on the IEP topic. It might be the only way I don't lose my mind with them. Perhaps if I get them focused on what they could be doing, they won't berate me for what I have not yet done, as they've been doing over the phone with me for the last two weeks.

    Does it require a doctor to confirm there is a disability that impedes his schooling in order to get the school to look at that seriously?
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    It helps, but many districts don't take ADHD that seriously so it would help if he saw a psychiatrist and got a more realistic diagnosis. Obviously, this is way beyond ADHD.
  11. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Who cared for him when he was little? Was he in daycare, for example? Babysitters? Abuse can happen in those settings, and you would not know about it, especially if he was very young. It could be one more factor.
  12. ElizabethL

    ElizabethL New Member

    There was only one bad babysitter, when he was 4. It only took one for me to only leave him with trusted friends and family forever after, even now. She used wasabi as a form of punishment, and only once- he told me about it when I picked him up and he never went back there again. My child doesn't consider what other people do to him personal, so has always been quick to tell me when someone has wronged him. It's what he does to himself or to other people that he doesn't tell me about.
  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    What is wasabi?
  14. Jabberwockey

    Jabberwockey Well-Known Member

    Wasabi is an EXTREMELY spicy sauce. Think ghost peppers. A drop will light you up if you aren't used to it.
  15. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Not good.
  16. Jabberwockey

    Jabberwockey Well-Known Member

    Not at all. I wouldn't touch it. I know people who love hot food who wont because its that hot. I don't know if it would burn skin like a raw ghost pepper will but if there were the slightest little cut? Yeah, you'd be wishing it was lemon juice in a paper cut.
  17. ElizabethL

    ElizabethL New Member

    Little guy had a tummy ache for days and wouldn't touch anything spicy for year.

    He still remembers that incident and can still describe exactly how it made him feel. That's why I'm confident there's been no other incidents along the way. He can't keep secrets and he loves to talk.
  18. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member


    A learning disability is not a requirement for qualification of an IEP. One thing that many of us can agree upon is that a pretty large percentage of our DCren are very intelligent.

    The law is clear and states that a child qualifies for an IEP that has an identified disability that impedes learning to the point that the child needs specialized instruction in order to close the gap between the child's own academic achievement and that of his/her age peers.

    Note is says nothing specifically about a learning disability nor does it say anything specifically about the child's intelligence. It is very often the dichotomy between the intelligence and the performance that qualifies a child for an IEP. Lost in School is a great book by Ross Greene that addresses some of these issues. Often schools/teachers/administrators label a child as "lazy" or "trouble" when they don't perform well academically or act up/out at school. Often a Difficult Child's attitude towards teachers/authority figures leads folks to believe the child is just disobedient or deliberately rude. But it is up to us to ask the question, "to what end?" If all the child gets are punishments, "no's", etc., what are they getting out of the behavior? The source needs to be identified and there are many schools that react to the disturbance rather than attempt to find out the why. And there are just as many school who are resistant when we force them to face the why and call upon them to accommodate our children.

    I've been thinking about your situation since I responded yesterday. I thought back to when my son was at his most difficult and darkest times. Making sure he kept up with this school work was the very least of my concerns. The first order was to make sure that the issues that led to his physical disturbances (raging at school puts in quite simply) were addressed. It was a long haul that led us from days to months to years in the blink of an eye. But things did begin to get better once we addressed his emotional issues and then I placed his educational issues back on the plate.

    Most states have an office of special education and you can begin your search for an advocate there. At 13, it's imperative that his case is fast-tracked.

  19. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Also, an IEP won't heal your child. You need outside resources to find out what is wrong and then get the appropriate help. He is young...this is a good time to start taking him to a psychiatrist and psychologist so you can stop the bleeding.
  20. A dad

    A dad Active Member

    You son does not seem to have sociopathic tendencies as truth be told and some people could disagree with me, what he does is not that uncommon to boys his age, now about hearing voices in his head it could be a problem but you must make sure that what he said its true and he did not fabricated what he said to the schools whatever they where.