By a thread


New Member
I'm a 30 year old mother of two girls and I feel like each day our family is coming apart one moment after another. I love my family and am committed to them in so many ways but I feel like I'm being torn limb from limb.

My husband Eric and I have been together since Ashleigh was a year old. Ashleigh is now 11 years old, Darrian is 8 years old. From the time Ashleigh was 2, we realized there were problems. The main concern was her behavior due to the speech delay she was experiencing. At that point we got her involved in the "Birth Through Three" program in our area. The school and mainly the staff have been very consistent over the years (especially who has assisted her in special education - the MAIN teacher in that Learning Disability (LD) classroom has never deviated through all the years she's been there)

At three years old when she was going thru the headstart type program they had at her school I heard for the first time that she was very manipulative and you had to be careful with her because she will try to bend you to her will. At that point I shook it off as just being "normal". As time progressed after that school year things became worse. Her biological father (who has not seen her since 1999) allegedly abused her both physically and emotionally. We went to court over this ordeal about 6 times that year. It was quite emotionally draining. For the most part, from the time she was 3 1/2 years on - there was a steady decline in behavior and more triggering points made us nervous and wonder what was going on. We worked with state appointed social workers, neuropsychologist, psychologists, outpatient day treatment, IEP's thru school, etc. We were quite involved in the process of trying to go for wellness.

I had consistent coverage of health insurance for almost 5 years through the same employer until I was let go and then I had no insurance for almost 4 months - but by the time I was eligible I couldn't afford the coverage that was being provided from my new employer and my husband doesn't work at this point so there was no coverage for my husband or my children. I felt horrible because I could not continue on with the obligation I felt that I had to protect my children in the case of emergency or medical treatment was needed.

Over the course of this year there have been many things that have made us nervous about her behaviors. Sexual things that have been talked about to friends and such, notes of sexual connotation between herself and a classmate, aggressive tendencies to her peers, swearing, overeating, lack of respect for others, lack of empathy, tantrums when having to be instructed to do something other than what she wants to do, and definite jealousy issues between the two girls.

This past week I have been through a lot emotionally. My husband and I are pretty much at our wits end and when I saw this board, the 'battle weary parent' really fits the bill for both of us. My husband is particularly finding himself at a point where he's ready to explode because we have had no support for so long and because we keep hearing "you're doing the best you can" - well, that's not enough and we're sick to death of it. We just want to know how to help her before it's too late. If we give up, society is in trouble - as is she. If we keep trying, there is a possibility she could be fine and live a wonderfully successful life and learn a lot from what she's gone through - but we have to try.

On Monday I woke up to hearing my husband tell me that Ashleigh (our difficult child) was suspended from school. She had taken an undisclosed amount of tylenol and brought a razor blade to school in her backpack. Essentially my husband contacted the crisis center and was told that we couldn't take her there unless they had medical clearance saying that she was okay and was not in any medical danger from what she took. Fortunately after hours of sitting in the emergency room we were able to get that clearance and start with the crisis center in my area - where we were directed to a support group that hopefully my husband and I will start going to every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month. My hopes are that other parents can help us understand where to go (as is some of my hopes for here). We are also getting this all down and documented any situations that occur if documentation is needed, we have it.

Today it wasn't until about - oh... 2:30 p.m. that the social worker from school called saying that she was threatening to kill herself. All she said was that she wanted to stab herself but didn't really know where to stab herself, therefore no plan had been made. Of course it was reacted to seriously enough - as it should be. Again we took her to the crisis center for evaluation. Since sexual concerns were brought up she also went to the sexual assault portion of the crisis center and was talked to by the person there.

I don't know if Ashleigh is taking this seriously but I'm hoping that something gets through to her before it's too late.

My coping mechanisms have been talking with my husband, baking my favorite cookies, and consume myself with other mind numbing activities such as video games and work.

I hope that if you made it through my entire post you can at least feel somewhat like you can understand and relate (although at the same time, I hope you can't).

Lots of love from my family to yours,




Welcome! I'm glad you found us. You certainly have a lot on your plate. You'll find a lot of support here from parents who have experiences similar to yours.

Sorry about all the questions, but your answers will help us point you in the right direction:
Has Ashleigh ever been diagnosed with any disorder?
Has she ever been on any medications? If so, what?
Any developmental delays besides speech?
Any sensory issues (sensitivity to clothing, loud noises, food textures, for example)?
Any mental health issues or substance abuse in the family tree?
What happened after the crisis center visit today?

Again, welcome.


Mom? What's a difficult child?
Hi and adding another Welcome!!!
Sorry you had to find us. I would recommend the book "The Explosive Child" By Ross Greene. He offers some great ways to help a family and new ways to think about the whole situation...

Smallworld asked some good questions... weekends are kinda slow.

Hang in there this is not an easy battle but being here helps.


New Member
Hi Janet - I'm new here too, and my heart goes out to you and yours. It's ok to take a rest, but I know you won't give up and I admire you for trying so hard to help her. I don't have much advice to give as my kid has autism, so that is my "specialty" =)and different from what you describe of course. I hope you feel welcome and find support here with us. Love to you and yours as well.



New Member
Welcome! I am new here as of this week, but have already found caring and support that I found no where else in the last nine years. Let us know what happened at the crisis center. We may not have all the answers, but we are always here to listen!

Hugs and prayers...


New Member
Has Ashleigh ever been diagnosed with any disorder? Initially @ about 5 yrs old she was diagnosed Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) (Reactive Attachment Disorder) but then as she got older it became ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) and Depression with-seasonal affect. That was the last diagnoses

Has she ever been on any medications? If so, what? She was on Prozac for a short time but never saw any changes as it seems the ODD is more profound. Now I'm thinking about getting her back on it because of the suicidal ideation.

Any developmental delays besides speech? Not particularly.

Any sensory issues (sensitivity to clothing, loud noises, food textures, for example)? At first the teacher thought maybe she was overwhelmed sensory wise with her environment but it was never anything texture oriented or anything - but that concern faded. I don't think anything truly came of that.

Any mental health issues or substance abuse in the family tree? I have been diagnosed with major depression and have been on prozac myself. Her biological father has mental illness issues himself and around this same time of life was put into a psychiatric facility for a time.

What happened after the crisis center visit today? Other than the meeting with the sexual assault representative and the main person we've been dealing with - they tried getting a referal to the psychiatric facility in our area because of her suicidal ideation and our concerns but because she hasn't been in therapy lately because of the lack of insurance they wouldn't take that referal. I have our first appointment with the therapist on the 29th of May ... so we're getting started. Mainly what they did is had Ashleigh sign a contract saying that for tonight she would keep herself and others safe from harm. Tomorrow we'll call them just to let them know how everything went after we stopped in. We'll continue to work with the crisis center when the need arises and contact the police if it gets to be too much.

Any other questions, let me know.

If you want to contact me by IM - I'm FinnGrl23 on AIM and on yahoo, I'm janet_s_seppanen


Janet, I know insurance is an issue, but you have to make certain Ashleigh gets a very thorough psychiatric workup. Because of alleged sexual abuse, mental health issues in the family tree and her own suicidal tendencies, she has a complicated history that needs sorting out. She could have unipolar depression or she could have bipolar depression. It matters because the medications for unipolar depression (SSRIs like Prozac, for example) can make bipolar depression far worse. In fact, it is estimated that between 30 to 50 percent of children who initially are diagnosed with depression actually end up having bipolar disorder.

ODD, by the way, is a collection of behaviors that is generally fueled by an underlying disorder like depression. When the underlying disorder is identified and treated, the ODD behaviors typically subside. I have certainly found that to be the case with my own children.

You said nothing happened when Ashleigh took Prozac. Do you remember what dose and how long she was on it? Did her behavior worsen or just stay the same?

Do you know what kind of health professional the therapist is? Will the therapist be able to refer you to a child psychiatrist?
Janet, I'm new here too, and I don't have any answers for you. I can tell that you have really worked hard for many years to try to help your daughter. You should be proud of everything that you have done over the years to get answers for her. I know that it is not easy at all. Take care, and please let us know how she is doing over the week-end.
from Pinevalley


New Member
You said nothing happened when Ashleigh took Prozac. Do you remember what dose and how long she was on it? Did her behavior worsen or just stay the same? I don't remember the exact dosage that she was on, but it was the minimal dosage that they were starting her on. I don't know exactly - my memory doesn't serve me well at times. My apologies! She pretty much stayed the same. She was on it for a few months (maybe 2-3mos)

Do you know what kind of health professional the therapist is? Will the therapist be able to refer you to a child psychiatrist? To be honest with you, I don't know. I could probably inquire about her credentials - but I'm sure if it is necessary they would refer us to another professional.

I'm also concerned about Darrian's well being as well. Darrian is reacting to Ashleigh in very physical means at times. I almost look at it very Darwinian (survival of the fittest). Darrian is also a very sensitive child and really is starting to resent Ashleigh because of the way she treats her. She does not like the fact that Ashleigh tries to steal her friends out from under her and it seems as though at times friendship becomes quite problematic because it becomes a war between the two girls. (Who gets who?)

I understand that both girls have very specific needs and I'm trying to address them both - but no matter how much I try to show them that they're both very unique individuals and let them know why I do the things I do, Ashleigh doesn't care (or just doesn't understand) but Ashleigh feels like it's a favoritism thing and it's not! She evaluates things to her liking, no matter how accurate it is.

Darrian hates her sister at this point. I keep trying to tell Ashleigh to be nice to her sister because it's the only sister that she'll have... but it doesn't matter.

I try to keep my sanity.

We are getting state assistance for the insurance. We qualify for it. Thankfully. So I'm hoping we'll get all the necessary stuff to start this process (all the income verification, birth certificates, etc.... ) so we can all begin our process. There is much work that has yet to be done and it'll all be worth it. Regardless of the turn out.


Mom? What's a difficult child?
If you could do a signature at the bottom of your post like mine and Smallworlds for example.

You can find how to do it under:
FAQ/Board Help
At the top of the Forum list.
This helps everyone understand what you are going through and we won't keep asking the same questions!

Keep up your search for help. It is hard and frustrating, we had a difficult time and are still struggling to get help. We have had to travel long distances for an evaluation. by a psychiatrist. We have had to push and fight for doctors to take us on...

If I didn't listen to my heart and gut, and listened to that first pediatrician, and many other "professionals" my daughter would be undiagnosed right now or badly mis-diagnosed.

You can find good advice here, keep asking questions. You are doing a good thing.


Active Member
Hi Janet, welcome.

I have a few concerns - your daughter had a history of language delay. You now say she has learnt to be manipulative, which indicates she has gained the language skills she previously lacked.
My youngest is autistic, but very high functioning. He had significant language delay and is VERY manipulative. he has also been VERY oppositional - six years ago his teacher first suggested to me that he had ODD. This was coming from a teacher who has an autistic child herself, she thought she could handle my son. She was wrong!

We've 'turned round' difficult child 3's oppositionality. He never got a diagnosis of ODD, for several reasons -
1) It's not a diagnosis handed out easily in Australia; and
2) I wasn't considering it. I was plugged in to him and could see WHY other people considered him to be oppositional. But I freely admit, I'm plugged in to him at a VERY involved level, few parents would have the time or the energy to be doing this on a daily basis. It's simply because of a number of factors, not the least of it is my inability to do much else, physically, but wait on my son.

Since then and especially since finding this site, I can see that difficult child 3 probably would have fit the criteria for ODD. He had to have everything exactly as HE wanted it; if he wanted something he would nag and nag until I gave in; if he wants to do something before starting his schoolwork (such as clean out the bird cage) I know that if I don't let him, he will fret and worry about that blasted bird cage so much that he won't get any work done all day. I get angry with him; he gets frustrated and shouts back - in the end it saves me time and effort to say, "OK, clean out the cage, but your school day will be continued for the extra time it takes you to get started." He will accept this, and I've found that once the bird cage is cleaned, he happily gets down to work.
So he's not merely stalling, he really HAS been fretting about his birds (or whatever it is) and once he can put these distractions out of mind, he can work much better. In a classroom environment, this simply doesn't work.
"Please miss, I want to change the calendar today."
"No, difficult child 3, you did it every day last week, it's someone else's turn."
difficult child 3, who can see that NOBODY else loves that calendar as much as he does, resents little Johnny getting to change the calendar reluctantly, when difficult child 3 would do it willingly. He nags the teacher all day (and maybe all month) until it's his turn again. Most teachers would respond with, "If you're going to nag, you're NEVER getting another turn," which is the wrong response with these kids. He's nagging all the more because he's anxious that this beloved chore will never come his way again. taking it away justifies the anxiety and makes it worse.

Is t here a chance that your daughter's manipulativeness and oppositionality fits under a similar umbrella? Because there is a chance that she may have some form of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). There are other possibilities too, ODD rarely is found alone. The language delay alone can be enough to kick it off. Whether it's actually ODD, or something almost indistinguishable from it, kids can get this "ODD lookalike" condition as a result of discipline gone wrong. That doesn't mean you're a bad parent - far from it. But FOR THESE KIDS, the discipline method loved by generations of parents and working like a charm on easy child kids, is a disaster for these kids. You have to change tack and think outside the square.

That's why you were recommended to read "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. I thought I was plugged into my child before - it's much more now. Sometimes people from the outside say he's spoiled, but I get compliance and good manners. Yes, he still has his problems and still obsesses about getting things done his way, but by choosing my battles according to well-thought-out rules, I get what I want when it really matters. If he wants to wear his brown shirt with black trousers, and we're going to be home all day anyway, I let him. If we have to go out, I tell him to change just for going out. He can choose to change the trousers, or the shirt. I give him the dress code - do not wear black and brown together.

difficult child 3 loves rules. He makes up his own, though. Rules given to him get tested in his head - are these real rules, or just what he is being told? Real rules are how people actually behave. "Don't hit back, you will be put on detention" is not a real rule, because when Fred hit Bill and then Bill hit Fred, nobody got into trouble. Of course, the teacher wasn't there, but there have been times when a teacher was present and nothing was done. But if difficult child 3 hits back, it means detention. To difficult child 3, this isn't a fair rule, he's being bullied. And he's right. But it also means, he will continue to hit back until he can understand the conditions which do NOT lead to detention for the other boys.

For a kid who didn't even understand he had a name, and who couldn't understand more than "who" and "what" when he started school, I now have a kid who is heading for a career as a lawyer. He has studied logic, rules and human behaviour and now it's all coming out as his public analysis. He's also studied humour and now is working on it. He has learnt that if he tells a joke he needs to smile, even a small quirky smile, or people will not realise it's a joke. This is something that took his father three decades to learn.

Your daughter may have something very different to Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). I do believe she has more than ODD and depression, because so often I've seen this as an initial and only label, and then further testing shows up an underlying, more treatable condition. For example, a kid who has limited expressive language is going to get very frustrated at not being able to ask for what they want. They will throw a tantrum out of sheer frustration. Put with that a short fuse, poor impulse control and extreme anxiety, and you get a kid about as stable as sweaty gelignite.

To informally check the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) possibility, do the online Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) questionnaire at You can't diagnose Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) yourself this way but you CAN print the results (even if she scores as normal) and take it to the doctor, purely to get some thoughts on a different line.

To find out more about "the book" there are links online, including some really good discussion in Early Childhood. I wrote a review of the book for my family, because I couldn't take the time it would take for them to read the book; I needed compliance from them NOW. And from the teachers, who also got a copy of my review.

To communicate on this site - you can send/receive a PM (private message) through this site and I'm fairly sure you can include your email contact in your members page. I STRONGLY recommend you do NOT use your real name or usual email address. This is to protect you from being 'stalked' online by any people you need to whine about. Speaking from experience - I've been stalked online by local educators, trying to keep track of what I'm up to, find out what I'm saying and writing, in order to stay one jump ahead of me. If I said I was angry with the school or the district office over a particular issue and that I intended to take certain action, I would sometimes find that my words I'd written were being quoted in the staffroom. I've actually been told that teachers have been given copies of what I've written. I've been shown the copies. It's easy to track you by your real name. When you have a kid who is a significant difficult child and educators are finding you as much a handful as the kid, because you WILL NOT behave yourself and do what they tell you (such as let them drop his behaviour program, they don't want to spend the money), then you risk them tracking your real name to see what you're planning.

I know this sounds paranoid - I'm actually not paranoid, I KNOW people are out to get me! And I'm only partly kidding.

Right now, I don't worry too much about it. But there have been times when I was VERY grateful I could share freely on this site, and times when I could share nowhere else because at one point even a GP I'd consulted was gossiping about me, to a bloke who began stalking me in various ways (including via email, which is how I got the evidence against the GP). This bloke would also pump people for information about me, then I'd hear it back distorted as gossip. Not good. I learned to keep my mouth shut.
And on this site, you need to be able to speak freely. It's good therapy, and it's the way we help each other, by being frank with one another.
Many years ago I posted regularly on another site, using my real name. I got stalked badly online (not my usual stalker) and it upset me a great deal when it became clear that this stalker knew too much about me personally, including where I lived and who I'd been speaking to. Then the stalker said something too much, I recognised a pet phrase and realised who it was - and stopped worrying, because it was a sad, pathetic, vindictive woman who liked to torment people for her own amusement. I was one of many victims, she hadn't picked on me especially, she just was having fun. I simply shut off all possible information lines to her, only ever talked about the weather, that sort of thing. But I learnt my lesson, I will never leave myself so badly exposed again.

I know anyone here could track me down easily, but going back that way is not the problem. It's being tracked by people who already know me personally, that I'm guarding against. And advising you to do the same, even if you think you will never need it. I know I've occasionally put in a link that names my village - I trust you guys. But as for telling other people I know, about this site - I'm paranoid, thanks to experience.

We WILL get back to you; generally on a thread like this, but anyone with more specific information, perhaps mentioning the name of a doctor, a town or some other person, will use a PM to keep the information (yours and theirs) as confidential as possible.

And once again, welcome. And if you can get your husband to lurk here too, like mine does, or post with you - it can help a lot.