Defiant and destructive


New Member
We have taken in a child of one of our family members. He is 12 years old and has autism, ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder. Some progress has been made within the last year after starting ABA therapy but the same few behaviors are consistent. I will go through a normal day with him to give you examples but we are in extreme need of advise as there is no sign of imporvement for these behaviors. In the morning his alarm will go off, he will turn it off and go back to sleep. He will pee the bed because he is too tired to get up from bed. This happens about 3-4 day of the week. After he is woken up, on the days he does not pee the bed, the first thing he does is go to the bathroom. Some mornings it is problem free but recently he will stop at the doorway and decide to pee there. we let him know it is not okay to do that and start to clean it up. We do not allow him to clean it because he gets physically upset and takes it out on us. Then it is time to brush his teeth and get dressed. He is required to use a timer to brush his teeth, he will start the timer early if no one is around and sometimes just leave his electric toothbrush running or the water to make it seem like he is brushing. If you stand and watch him, it is more effective but still challening. He goes to school and comes home. At school he got introuble today for throwing an object at another childs head. when asked about the situation he said the child asked for the object and didnt catch it, which was deemed false by the teacher. it was purposful. When home from school he can have a snack within the first half hour of coming home, if he chooses not to he does not get one because dinner will be soon. an hour rolls around and he will ask for a snack and told no, there will be a temper tantrum. Explaining to him that his descisions are the reason for the outcomes does no good. When it is time for him to stop playing with something, he is given a clear time for it to be done. he will refuse to stop playing and when we inform him that he understood the rules, he will say we are lying and never said the rules. when it is bathtime he is required to gather his pajamas to get them in the bathroom. we will ask him hey buddy did you get your pajamas ready he will say yes. when we check the bathroom and they are not there we ask him where they are he will say he never told us they were in there and that we are lying. He cannot ever be help responsible for any of his actions because it is always an arguement saying that we are lying, which escaltes to sometimes him physically hitting us, walls or objects. When asked to complete task like can you throw this away? he will go and do 3 or 4 things he wants to do first and then maybe complete the task. If we redirect him he will scream at us that he knows and to leave him alone. when he screams he is instructed to go to his room, then he will hid in a corner and cry and say he is sorry and didnt mean it. When he finally gets to his room he will kick and punch everything in sight. there are multiple holes in the wall and broken furniture. After he has calmed down he will come out like nothing ever happened. Before going to bed he has to wash his hands and face after dinner. He will come out of the bathroom with his hands dripping wet, we will ask him to dry his hands and he will say he did hes not lying. We try to show him that if water is still dripping off they are still wet, but he will become too angry to explain anything to. This is just a few examples of everyday problems that if anyone can relate to or has any idea how to fix any of them it would be appreciated.


Well-Known Member
If this child has been ripped from his parents at age twelve, he probably has attachment disorder on top of everything else and it is truly unrealistic to expect him to not be angry, mistrustful, abandoned, betrayed and secretly not happy that he is not with his parents, even if they abused him. We did foster care and adopted two older kids and they don't adjust that well to being taken from one home and given new parents. You are probably doing everything right, but the child's life has been tragic and he has disabilities on top of his life being turned upside down and his ability to trust people ripped apart.

Is he in therapy? It could help. Attachment problems are hard to treat. The kids tend to be very defiant and worse. It is not easy to take a child and expect him not to be traumatized by the move. Our older adoptees never really recovered.

What's up with the parents? Was he taken out if the home abruptly? Did he know and love you before he moved in? If not, this is just like an older child adoption, and it is going g to be very hard. It's way different than a kid you raised from birth. It is way way different. And it's hard.

Look up Reactive Attachment Disorder. I have seen it and this child sounds like he has it mixed in with the autism. Autism on its own is challenging. Along with attachment disorder he is going to give you a run for your money and he is going to probably not respond to consequences regarding his behavior. It is beyond frustrating. At worst, these kids can be dangerous to others. Are other children in your home?

Love and light!
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Well-Known Member
Hi there,

The first thing I would do is decide if you are willing for this arrangement to be permanent. If you are, then I advise you to obtain legal custody of this child so you can decide how to proceed with his treatment and care.

From what you write it seems obvious that this young man, sadly, has many many problems and most likely cannot live productively in a home setting. He needs to learn the basics such as appropriate hygiene practices, controlling his anger so that he and others do not get hurt, and following directions appropriately.

I hate to sound heartless but if this boy is not your legal responsibility, I would think long and hard before signing up for this ride. The inappropriate peeing alone is a huge danger signal for possible psychopathic tendencies especially given that he seems to act out violently against others as it is.

He will grow bigger and stronger. You will not be able to control him when he is 16, 17, 18 years old and STILL doing these same things.

I am not saying there is no hope for children like him; there is, but usually that hope comes in the form of residential care. From what you say, he doesn't have the first inkling of how to interact appropriately in a family setting. He needs to learn those skills and unfortunately a highly structurerd therapeutic school, group home or treatment center is the best place. You CANNOT do this through parenting, he needs intensive therapy with skilled professionals 24/7 especially given the impact of his autism. Once he has learned more of these very basic skills he may be able to slowly re-integrate into family living.

Placing him in the hands of child protective services would be a good way to start him on the path to receiving this help.

If you are not legal guardians then you have no say and no power over his care. There is literally nothing you can do.


Well-Known Member
Our older adopted child who came to us at 11 went to residential and that didn't help him. I agree that if this is not a legal arrangement it may be best to terminate the agreement. Some kids are too damaged to live safely in a family. Ours was one and once he left he could not come back. He was very unsafe to everyone in the family and is probably unsafe today as a man who had been damaged as a very young child.