concerned and worried about difficult child 2... Hoping for suggestions.

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by zoo_keeper, Aug 6, 2011.

  1. zoo_keeper

    zoo_keeper Member

    Hi everyone. I read a lot on this site and am amazed by the wisdom you parents have. Hoping for advice, suggestions and shared experiences. I'm getting very concerned about difficult child 2. Sorry in advance for this being so long..A little background, difficult child 2 came to live with me and my ex when his mom passsed away at age five. husband and I officially adopted him last year so we would be allowed to move out of state with him but I've always had guardianship of him since age five. He's had very little contact with his bio family in the last three years since his paternal great grandmother died of a heart attack.

    He is such a sweet-natured, wonderful boy and he is really, really struggling academically specifically with reading. He has number of learning disabilities but no developmental delays. This past school year was perhaps the worst. His self confidence has just plummeted. The twins have started reading and have already surpassed his skills. He was suspended three times due to fighting which is just not in his nature. He refused to talk about the reasons behind the fighting but its pretty obviously to me that he was being bullied. He has been showing increasing frustration at home as well.

    When he was seven I reached out to the Education school at a very good nearby univerisity. He got involved in an excellent reading program. We worked with a phd student specializing in reading disorders and he thinks difficult child has a serious 'reading block' which has been known to present in children who suffer dramatic events (death of mom) during the 'critical reading years.' Also he has been diagnosed with visual processing disorder and dyslexia. Since working with this program he has gained some sight vocabulary. We've had mild sucess with colorcoding his words in three different colors: green for words he knows, yeloow for words he's learning and red for difficult word to try and sound out. We've recently moved but he will continue to use the computer program from the university for ninety minutes a day and once a month we will have a conference call with the phd student.

    It is sooo hard getting difficult child 2 to share his feelings. All my other kids spew their emotions at me but with difficult child 2 its like trying to extract gold bars from Fort Knox. When he was young he went to a play group for kids who lost bio parents and I've tried getting him into talk therapy on one occasion. difficult child 2 just wouldn't participate and after four sessions of failure we stopped attending. Also, at age 8 his pediatrician suggested Zoloft to help with his confidence and depression. He had a HORRIBLE and scary reaction. Have never tried medicating him again and dont think I will in the future.

    So to the present... this past week difficult child 2 slugged difficult child 1 in the face and absolute chaos insued. He had every reason to be frustrated because difficult child 1 is currently what I would call 'unstable' and just generally clingy, demanding and annoying. It feels like we walk on eggshells around difficult child 1. The world generally revolves around him, if you know what I mean. Sometimes I feel bad for difficult child 2 because he is shoved in to contact with difficult child 1 so much. He hasn't minded in the past but now that the boys are getting older...
    Our new house only has three bedrooms and all four boys are in one room currently. However we plan to remodel the basement as a private room for difficult child 2 in the near future. Also we plan to give into his desire for his very own dog next month for his birthday. I tried to talk to difficult child 2 after this incident but all i got was "he was asking for it." I made him suggest his own punnishment (grounded off of electronics and outside play for a week) and he does understand he was clearly in the wrong. Meanwhile difficult child 1 had sworn revenge because difficult child 2 wasn't admitted to the psychiatric hospital (we make it clear to difficult child 1 that for him, physical violence = 911 due to past incidents). We've kept them seperated and difficult child 1 has calmed down somewhat.

    I'm not sure what my question is, but any feedback regarding difficult child 2 would be soo appreciated. How to get him to open up and share feelings? Decrease his anxiety, frustration & depression? Improve his self esteem and happiness? I'm worried about him. Thanks so much for reading this if you got this far, lol. The new school district also want to hold difficult child 2 back which is a whole other can of worms I will try and post about when I have the energy.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    You sound like a fabulous mother, really in touch with why he may have extra issues.

    Has anyone ever suggested allowing him to have books on tape? A lot of kids who have reading problems (at least in our school) are allowed to do their reading work this way.
  3. keista

    keista New Member

    I've got tough nuts to crack open as well. For your difficult child 2's situation I'd suggest continuing to ask him to open up. Add to that the explanation that if he refuses to tell you what happened from his perspective, then you can only go by what was observed and what other ppl said. IOW if he throws punches, he's in big trouble. IF others "caused" him to do it, then there may be ways that you and teachers can help to avoid the situation in the future. (yes caused is in quotes because no one makes us do anything, it's our choice, but things like self defense and getting pushed to the brink of frustration can be understood and/or excused) If you keep repeating and getting him to see that he may have other options, he might start opening up.

    I understand your leeriness of trying medication again, but you've only tried one. Zoloft wasn't good for DD1 either. Neither was Prozac or Paxil or Abilify. Wellbutrin helped her quite a bit. It did nothing for her anxiety, but did help with depression and frustrations. (I'm thinking of putting her back on that one and dealing with the anxiety through therapy.) Checking out some other medications might be worth a shot. When a child is so consumed by emotions that they can't/won't share then any kind of therapy (with a therapist or at home with you) is virtually impossible. That is the reason I started medicating DD1 in the first place. It was only AFTER we got medication (even the unsuccessful ones) working in her system, that there was any communication and assistance from her.

  4. zoo_keeper

    zoo_keeper Member

    thank for the reply, what a great idea. the computer program he uses reads to him as he colors the words and it seems to help his memory. but i never thought of books on tape. it would be ideal if we could get his texts on tape. maybe i can get it worked into his iep. with technology the way it is, i dont think it would be a huge deal. maybe even on his ipod (that he loves to use and would encouage him)!
  5. zoo_keeper

    zoo_keeper Member

    I understand your leeriness of trying medication again, but you've only tried one. Zoloft wasn't good for DD1 either. Neither was Prozac or Paxil or Abilify. Wellbutrin helped her quite a bit. It did nothing for her anxiety, but did help with depression and frustrations. (I'm thinking of putting her back on that one and dealing with the anxiety through therapy.) Checking out some other medications might be worth a shot. When a child is so consumed by emotions that they can't/won't share then any kind of therapy (with a therapist or at home with you) is virtually impossible. That is the reason I started medicating DD1 in the first place. It was only AFTER we got medication (even the unsuccessful ones) working in her system, that there was any communication and assistance from her.:hugs::notalone:[/QUOTE]thanks for the reply. currently i'm using a combination of the broken record/sneak attack approaches. hes just soo stubborn ! he has a huge rapport with animals so i'm hoping the new dog will be theraputic for him (please let it be a easy child, lol).as for the medication, he had a psychotic reaction to zoloft. i already have one difficult child that cant be out of my sight. i dont know how i could deal with two. if he lashes out physically again, i may have to reconsider.
  6. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    I have a slightly different take on the communicating feelings issue. My difficult child is UNABLE at this point to identify how he's feeling much less put words to his emotions. That is something I and the school are trying to teach him. Currently he can identify when he's happy, sad, or mad. He gets very frustrated and angry when we don't understand how he's feeling and help him deal with it. We are also working on lashing out when he can't express how he's feeling and lashes out instead. It might be something to think about.

    Welcome to our little (but growing) family.
  7. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Re: dog as therapy...
    Been there - really depends on three things... 1) the nature of the dog, 2) how the kid actually reacts, and 3) how pet-friendly the rest of the house and household are... because its lots of work.

    We have fairly responsible kids (still difficult child kids... we have our hands full too) - as in, they can hold it together well enough to actually be doing the major portion of work in dog training. But ours are older... and used to dogs... and hold it together fairly well "in public". Having said that... ours were not exactly "puppies" (try, "teen-aged dogs") - a pair (yes, I really am totally insane) of 7-month-olds from a shelter. Took me months of sleeping in the same room as the dogs to get them night-broken and past some basic attachment issues. BUT... the unconditional love and friendship have been a big boost to a kid who has trouble making/keeping friends, and the responsibility has been good for both kids, (and the rest of us too!)

    And yes - here's hoping you don't end up with a difficult child dog! (been there done that - I was insane before, now I'm totally insane)
  8. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    One of the issues I wish I had been more aware of was bullying/humiliating of kids in grade school. Especially kids who outside the spectrum of typical. It's outrageous and unacceptable. If you find that your son is being treated badly by other kids, it can do a lot to hold kids back from blossoming. My difficult child wouldn't even remember what was said but he was so much more anxious about school than he needed to be.
    I hope that your difficult child 2 can verbalize his emotions in a healthy productive way soon. It sounds like you are doing a good job of keeping on top of his needs.
    by the way, if someone ever says "everyone gets teased and that it will make a man out of him" to me ever again, I may just have to jump across the table and shake them until their teeth rattle. Stupid, small minded, mean hearted or sheep like followers say stuff like that.
    Don't let anyone get away with making your child feel bad for something he has no control over.
  9. exhausted

    exhausted Active Member

    First a big hug to you! You sound like a mother this boy is lucky to have. That said, holding a child back at this age is not a good idea, esp. given his issues. The general education community would really frown on this unless there is some good empiracle evidence to support giving him another year now. He is entitled to 2 extra years to graduate as a special education student. I know that can be touchy in high school but sometimes it is so helpful esp. when vocational training is available. Many high schools work with the local community college and offer training for free! Our son was able to get several of his mechanic certificates this way at no cost to us. Just an idea. What does difficult child 2 say about this? Secondly, reading issues are tough, at his age he needs to be reading to learn, so I second the books on tape thing and continuing to help him at home with learning to read. Some schools even have programs on computers that can read text. As for the anger and frustration, there are so many ways to communicate this besides words. The trick is finding a healthy way-and I agree he may not even know what is going on inside himself. Animals can be a big help. There are therapy dogs that visit our library and "help" kids read. Maybe you can find out if this is a posibility where you live. As for being bullied, you cannot allow this to go on. Inform his new school that it has been a problem, inform his teacher and ask what kind of training she does to prevent this in her classroom. What is done on the play ground and other unstructured times (most bullying goes on during these times)? Is there a schoolwide antibully program? Let him know that bulling is a problem for the big people at a school and that you will support him. Help him find some personal tools that can help him should he encounter bullying again. By the way,the punishment he gave himself is so harsh in my humble opinion! He must feel pretty bad about what happened.
  10. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    medications can be so different for everyone, even related people. I did great on zoloft, my sis had a psycho reaction. My daughter has reacted to so many medications she's pretty much a guinea pig now. Some reactions we can work around. Her abilify activates her instead of having a sedative effect it does on some, so she takes it in the morning as a work-around. Her topamax is for her anxiety. Just saying don't give up on medications helping, it's mainly a matter of finding the right one(s) if they're needed.

    We're also having self-esteem issues, and I wish I knew how to help with that, I'd sure be using it! She did have a summer program that worked on that, anger management, etc. but how much she'll retain and utilize is anyone's guess. Ask his therapist if there are additional programs to help with self-esteem that are separate from his regular therapy. Ditto asking the SD SpEd dept. Has art therapy been tried? Sometimes they can express in art (pick a medium, pencils, paints, music, whatever he likes) what they can't say with words.

    *hugs* and hang in there, and make sure to take time for you.
  11. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Not that we've found "the" answers... but some things DO help...
    1) get to the bottom of the self-esteem destroyers - which is what we are all trying to do... everything from non-diagnosed problems to finding right supports to bullying to...

    2) find something that this kid is good at and loves to do. (not always the same things!) Then, go out of your way to find ways to support that, grow it, make it multi-faced, find ways for them to shine, etc. Nothing helps self-esteem so much as a positive label.

    3) once you find ONE positive label, start looking for others. These always have to be things where the kid is willing to admit that they are good at it or where multiple others recognize their skill... but there should be multiples. "Wow - you sure cook (xxx) way better than I do... if you don't believe me, ask the rest of the family because they don't want my recipe any more!"

    4) review positive experiences... the times when THEY rescued YOU in a situation - had the right idea for a work project, knew where your keys were, etc.

    Some book somewhere that I read way back when said something like this:
    You can take away an Atta-boy with a Bad-boy, but you can't take away the memory of positive contributions.

    Build self-esteem by finding ways to build a bank of postive memories of skills, helpfulness, kindness, etc.

    We've had some success with this... not the whole answer but it does help.
  12. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Thanks Insane. We have tried those, one of her IEP goals is to feel good about herself in other ways than "smart" and "good artist" to expand her self-esteem. She focuses on the negative side of being quirky/weird/unique/eccentric instead of the positive side. Having been on both sides of it myself I try to point out the good things about being different, but knowing it and applying it to emotions in the moment you're being ousted (or feeling ousted even if you're not) is a horse of a different color. She is still heavily ruled by emotion, that part of her brain seems to be lagging behind quite a bit, she reacts before thinking a higher percentage of the time than her peers.

    When her medication combo is working it helps and the thinking part can get through to the emotion part more, it just seems to need adjusting so much. Not sure if that's the BiPolar (BP) cycling, her growth, her tolerance to a medication, some combination of these and other factors. She'll be all right for a while, then spiral, then we adjust by trial and error until she's all right again. Rinse and repeat.
  13. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    Your difficult child 1 sounds a lot like my difficult child 1.

    How is difficult child 2's short term memory? What did the testing say that the school did? How is he at memorizing in other subjects?

    Having a sib like difficult child 1 is very hard. Maybe finding a support group for him will get him to start opening up to people his own age. I'm hoping then he'll also be more open with you.

    Good luck
  14. zoo_keeper

    zoo_keeper Member

    Hi everyone. I read your responses but have just now found the time to reply. Life has been hectic to say the least.
    I think you guys make a great point about how he might not know how to express himself. And then all his emotions get bottled up and he gets overwhelmed with them. difficult child 1 has previously worked with an inhome therapist to rank his moods, mainly his anger and frustration, from 1-10 with 10 being the worst. This past week we have been trying that with difficult child 2 and its working somewhat to at least know where he's coming from. Next week is his birthday and we plan to surprise him by taking him to a local breeder and allowing him to pick out his very own puppy. He is going to be thru the moon. The main concern husband and I have is that he will demand to take more than one puppy home (which has happened before with pets and is the reason he has three turtles:groan:which he takes care of very responsibly). I have finally found a pediactric psychiatrist in our new area with a great reputation that is covered thru husband's new insurance and have made appointments for difficult child 1-3. The appointments are in mid september and I am going to try and stay open minded about the possibility of medicating difficult child 2 again if she suggests it.

    Also, husband and I have a very important "school week" coming up. difficult child 1 and difficult child 3 are getting their 3 hour long iep evaluations done tomorrow morning. We have already filled out a bunch of different forms and questionaires and I have prepared a flash drive with digital scans of all of my school, medical and therapist records for them to view. I was pleasantly surprised that it was so easy to get these evaluations in this new school district. When I went to register everyone the official I spoke with told me it was mandatory for all children with diagnoses and taking medication to be evaluated upon entering the school district. Wish our last school district thought like that...

    As for difficult child 2, we have a meeting set up for wednesday (with an assistant Special Education director of the district and his new school's psychologist) to discuss them wanting to hold him back. We vehemently oppose this and plan to go fully prepared. There is just no benefit to this as he was already held back in 1st grade and in his current iep he is pulled out of the regular room into a Special Education room for the majority of the day anyways. We think that his current iep will be completely valid until the first new iep meeting, does anyone know if this is a correct statement? We've had the reading specialist we worked with send a letter certified return receipt explaining his view of difficult child 2's reading and academic issues and opposing the current districts plans. He will also be available over the phone during the meeting. We have not told difficult child 2 that the new school district does not want to promote him to the 4th grade because he will be devastated. He is already almost two years older than his peers. It will be a huge stab to his already low self esteem and I fear he will just completely shut down academically. We are really hoping this new school district will see sense as they have been very reasonable regarding difficult child 1 and difficult child 3. As his mom I just can't let this happen and husband and I are willing to hire a special education lawyer if need be. We just don't want to open hostilities if we don't have to.

    Thanks for all your brilliant feedback. I do read your posts almost daily and admire all you strong warrior parents!
  15. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    I'm so glad to hear from you again. I hope all goes well with this new school district.
  16. keista

    keista New Member

    I do believe this is correct.

    So glad the new school district is being so "easy" with your other two. 2 out of 3 ain't too bad.
  17. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    If you haven't already, create a parent report for each of them on your computer (to update easily) and print them off for school and psychiatrist. There's a template running around here somewhere.
  18. hamlet

    hamlet New Member

    You have gotten some wonderful advice and already taken positive steps forward for your family. I just wanted to add my experience in case it resonates with you. Please consider that difficult child 2 may, in fact, be depressed or have ptsd related to the traumatic events of his life. When my easy child was diagnosis with leukemia, difficult child was just 3 years old. Pediatric cancer, (and subsequent divorce,) changed everyone in our family, but had the longest lasting effect on difficult child. He retreated into his own world and it has taken 7 years of therapy, medications and persistence to draw him out.

    My son's depression and anxiety caused him to have many social difficulties. He regressed in many behaviors and sometimes still acts immature for his age. His depression manifests as anger quite frequently and it is only with a great deal of patience and persistence that I am able to get to the truth of how he feels. It has gotten better, very slowly.

    difficult child has had four therapists. The best by far, head and shoulders above, was an intern getting her masters degree in child therapy. She conducted play therapy with difficult child for about a year, and although I was skeptical the results were astonishing. I do not know how one finds these gems; the excellent practitioners in any field really stand out but one almost has to "run across" them. Play therapy is not generally covered by insurance - difficult child's was covered because it was billed under the doctor who was supervising the intern. Play therapy is recommended because most five year olds will have trouble describing verbally their thoughts and feelings. With play therapy it comes out another way, which I can go into detail about if you're interested.

    I also purchased a puppy for our family and accidentally happened upon a great therapy dog! I have raised five puppies to adulthood, so I knew what I was getting into. Breed selection and proper socialization are critical to the dog's tolerance of a difficult child's emotion and periodic upheaval. In our case, the new puppy now dog has really helped to give difficult child a solid friend, unconditional acceptance and someone to talk to.

    I would love for difficult child to have equine therapy as well, because he adores horses. That is something I'm looking into through his group therapy for siblings of childhood cancer survivors. Perhaps there is a group your son could attend for bereaved children.
  19. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Befpre th emeeting about holding difficult child 2 back, go to the Special Education forum and ask the ladies over there about it. I am SURe they have some resources taht can help you - they are amazing. I am flabbergasted that they want to hold your son back. here is it unheard of to hold a child back in a grade. the only exception in our district is kindergarten - and they have a special class that is between kdg and grade 1 for those kids that need the extra year. As he is already 2 yrs older than his peers, holding him back will do a LOt of social damage.

    As for feelings, check out the feelings posters/flip books. Cartoonist Jim Borgman has one that is a favorite of ours. It shows different faces with a description of the feeling for each one. It was invaluable for Wiz - often he had no idea how to name what he was feeling or what other people were showing on their faces. He recognized happiness when someone was grinning madly and anger as everything else. That was IT. Here is a link to a search that has the Borgman poster and another artist's version made into playing cards:
  20. keista

    keista New Member

    Holding back has some very un-thought of consequences as well. In our district you MUST graduate by a certain age, so if you are held back more than 2 years, you have NO HOPE of graduating before that age, and then it becomes a "why bother?" scenario. I have a young friend who's been held back for 3 years. There are various reasons she was held back including several cross country moves. She's currently in 8th grade and is working her little hiney off so she can skip 9th and graduate in time. She may be forced to do the 3 year HS track if she can't skip 9th. Seriously, It's quite a nightmare for her. The good news is that now she is pulling mostly As