Defiant and out-of-control 7-yo: Gifted child??

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Kangourou, May 30, 2012.

  1. Kangourou

    Kangourou New Member

    My son just turned 7, is finishing the 2nd grade and testing at end-of-3rd-grade level in every area. He was diagnosed as ODD, ADHD, PTSD. I get phone calls from his school daily, sometimes 3 times a day (!!), telling me he is out of control, more defiant than ever, impeding the instruction, etc. So far, he has been suspended about 6 days out of the last 22 school days, including today. He's driving me nuts at high rates of speed! He claims to be bored, and his shrink is requesting an IQ evaluation. The school has given up on trying to tell him what to do, because, otherwise, he disrupts the class. He actually told his teacher "You can't tell me what to do; I'm smarter than you!" Now they just let him read or draw while the other kids do dictation, math or whatever. In spite of his diagnosis, the school won't consider him special needs (nor provide accomodations) "because his behavior is not impacting his learning" (which I think is a crock!) The medications (we tried them all) don't make any difference except loss of appetite; he is currently on 2mg Intunive and 10mg Aderall. Oh, and there is no TaG programs in our area, of course! Also, he does not exhibit disruptive behaviors at his cello lessons or taekwondo, or at home. Could my son's behavior be simply due to boredom/not being challenged? (or am I dellusional?) Any ideas? Anyone with a similar experience?
    I am at the end of my rope!!:grrr:
  2. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    If he exihibits NO behaviors at home or other activities he finds somewhat challenging, it could be that he is very bored in school. If that is the case, there is little the school will do to help. He definitely needs IQ testing as well as thorough academic testing. You really should find a neuropsychologist that can do all the thorough evaluations you will need. Then you can present the findings to the school and, if testing proves gifted, then you could request he skip a grade or some other way to accommodate his giftedness. When they tell you his behavior does not impact his learning then my repeat response would be "Then why are you calling me all the time to take him out of school. He isn't learning when you don't allow him to be there and he's not learning when you don't give him any learning to do. Give him something that he doesn't already know." Good thing the school year is about over. You have all summer to get a thorough evaluation done.

    Who gave him the diagnoses he has? What does the PTSD stem from? If you don't want to share that, it's fine. It just might give us more to information to steer you in the right direction. As for the ODD, many of us here don't like that as a stand alone diagnosis. Usually it stems from some other reason than he is just being defiant. If he truly is very gifted, boredom in school could explain that.

    Welcome to our little corner of the world. Others will be along probably in the morning with other possible suggestions.
  3. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    The disruptive behaviors are ONLY at school?
    You're being honest? Not that it's impossible, just... not quite as common.

    Given that to be the case... I'd say school is a problem. But it isn't necessarily a boredom problem, or not "just".

    Who did the diagnoses? (dxes)
    What kind of testing was done?
    Has he ever been evaluated for anything other than "behavior"?

    Because it helps the other parents relate to your situation... is this your bio-child? adopted? step?
    Medical history, family background of issues?
    When did the "problems" start? when he started school? this year? last year?
  4. Kangourou

    Kangourou New Member

    Thanks, TeDo for your answer.
    To be clear, PTSD would stem from abuse, mistreatment, neglect and, possibly, molestation as he lived in an orphanage abroad, from birth until I adopted him at age 4 1/2.
    I have told the school exactly what you would have! And while he IS indeed headstrong and as self-willed as a mule -even with me-, he is no more than any other boy his age, IMPO; and I am not the kind of parent to automatically take a child's defense against a teacher; I am one tough mom!
    It all started at the orphanage, during our month-long bonding period, when I got my first glance at his strong-will side. He threw a tantrum because he did not want to do as told. I was very firm and showed him unequivocally that I would not put up with tantrums.
    Then, when he arrived in school in the US, he used to hit, kick, bite, spit at other kids when they looked at him with curiosity, poked him or cut in front of him in line (especially at the caf'). We got over that.
    He has had almost 3 years of therapy/shrink/medications, and it was the psychiatrist whom diagnosed him.
  5. Kangourou

    Kangourou New Member

    Actually, I did forget: his behavior is ATROCIOUS on the school bus too. He won't stay in his seat, fools around with others and throws things. I get notices all the time about his refusal to obey the driver, and he has been suspended from the bus MANY times.
    Outside of the school setting though, he is EXTREMELY likeable and charming (and manipulative!). He is invited to people's houses all the time, and even remote acquaintances (people from church, private tutors, neighbors, colleagues of mine...) shower him with obcene amounts of gifts and sweets all the time, which I totally object to, by the way.
    People in restaurants, stores and other public places actually approach me to say how adorable, well-spoken and well-mannered my son is. (major eye-roll!)
  6. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Given the background - rather than his at-home behavior - you might want to search for "insecure attachment" on this site's search. Buddy put together a great post on the range of insecure attachment, and some good links. It would only be one more factor... but may be something to consider.
  7. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    This forum has many wonderful qualities and provides an invaluable support to people. One of its drawbacks is that people get tempted to give "instant diagnoses" and this is rather a dangerous occupation, I feel. None of us can know from afar what is truly going on, though of course we can have ideas and pointers. With that proviso, what clearly stands out for me in your post is the fact that your son was adopted at age four and a half having spent his life until then in an orphanage.... anger would be a MAJOR issue with him, one would have thought. How much reading have you done about adoption and how much do you know about Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)? There is a lady who posts here, Buddy, who is very knowledgeable about Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and who often quotes a website for people adopting from China (but of general interest) which has a lot of info about this. Perhaps she will give details. The charm/manipulation thing is something you read about and see a lot of in adopted kids, particularly older adopted kids. A survival mechanism on their part? Also to do with depending on themselves, feeling that they are responsible for getting the world to give them what they need. The behaviour on the bus and at school... is rather intriguing. I wonder what he is really "saying" by this? School is clearly stressful and unwelcome to him. Have you considered, are you able to think about alternative schooling, eg Montessori, or even home schooling for the moment?
    Can I ask what country he was adopted from? There could be cultural factors at play also.
    Lastly, have you read "The Primal Wound"? Pretty fundamental reading for those adopting, partlcularly older kids. Your son CANNOT be treated as though he did not have the history he has, in my opinion.
  8. Kangourou

    Kangourou New Member

    He was adopted from Kazakhstan which is located in Central Asia, but he is ethnically Russian. I will add (and I hope it won't make me sound like a racist, but it may be relevant), that he has been the only caucasian kid in his class for the last 3 years. He attends an urban (public) magnet school. As a teacher of 20 years, I have considered home-schooling (he learns like a sponge), but it is unfeasible as I am a single mom with no child support. I fear that Montessori would be too unstructured for him, so I am considering (affordable) Catholic schools (I am a atheist, but our neighbors love to take him to church!)
  9. helpangel

    helpangel Active Member

    Welcome I'm glad you found us but sorry you needed to, I see the others have given you some good advise...

    that's a good one - use it

    You definitely need to get a thorough evaluation done including neurologist EEG, it's going to be difficult getting an accurate evaluation done missing family history and developmental milestones but I didn't know any of Angel's bio dad's mental health stuff till after she was diagnosis'd bipolar, ODD, adHd at 6yo and her milestones were advanced she was 12yo before ever occurred to me to take her to a developmental pediatrician.

    What I did was kept a calendar with decent size boxes and multi colored pens each color for different thing- a color for sleep what time, how long, nitemares etc., another for possible food sensitivities, school calls gets a color...

    What you feel needs to be documented - Angel had bipolar so my calendar used red/anger, blue/sad, purple/sexual, orange/stealing, green/food, black/sleep and everything else - fact I assigned a purple to a 3-6yo was a big red flag to psychiatrist's. 1-3 words if need more space put reference # in appropriate color and write it out in journal but it provides at a glance a quick visual of what is going on.

    I've seen parents going into psychiatrists office with boxes of charts & journals and that psychiatrist doesn't have 2 weeks to sit down and read all that - he might see something on a calendar he wants to read more about in the journal if its easy to locate the info though.

    hope some of this helps and welcome to the forums
  10. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Just an idea, Kangarou... what does your son himself identify as the problem at school? At 7, he will have an idea and be able to express it. My son aged 5 tells me a lot about what goes on and what he feels about it; of course one has to allow for the "fantasy factor" and know that things to the young child's mind appear differently than to the adult's but still... there is an important nugget of truth in there that could be a pointer for the way forward. The Catholic school could be a good idea. If Catholic schools in the States are anything like the ones in France, they are more human and caring communities than the average state (public) school.
  11. keista

    keista New Member

    in my opinion it's not racist. There are huge cultural differences that must be considered as well.

    When we first moved to FL, my son got zoned into a school where he was the minority (one of 3 kids like him in the whole school). He did not do well at all. This was kindergarten, and everyone was nice enough, but in my opinion the school was the embodiment of chaos. I was told that he was doing well socially, but not so much academically???????????? I was certain they had him mixed up with another student, because up until then, he was the exact opposite. The final straw was when he was left sitting outside the school by himself for an hour (he was 5) without being noticed by staff, and if he was noticed, no one did anything about it. (chaos).

    Anyway, fitting in, while one is a minority, is a huge obstacle and shouldn't be taken lightly or superficially.
  12. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Well...adoption alone causes certain unavoidable problems, such as feeling rejected by birthparents and wondering if he fits into his family and surroundings. When I see "orphanage" red flags go off in my head because usually the chldren are not nurtured or cared for, which can cause varying degrees of attachment issues which, in turn, cause behavioral problems. If he was also abused in every way, I'd be carefully looking into reactive attachment disorder. The abuse he suffered was severe and what happened to him will n Occupational Therapist (OT) just go away because you love him (yes, we are adoptive parents and we thought love was enough too). The older you adopt a child,t he harder it is for the child to attach to you, especially if he was maltreated.

    Ok, if anybody has a child here who was adopted at 4 from an orphanage and abused and does not have issues, please tell me so I can correct myself. But I've never heard of any child with that background coming into a new family and not having serious issues. We adopted one child at six from a Hong Kong orphanage and as far as we know, he was NOT abused, but he was still detached and distant and he left our family when he grew up. Adopting an older child with a difficult start is not for the faint of heart.

    I doubt this has much to do with school and more to do with all of his issues before you brought him home. Is he receiving therapy?

    Now he may have other issues on top of attachment issues. But it is almost impossible to adopt a child from an orphanage who has gone through everything that your son has and not have attachment issues too, and that is what I would address first. This is not a snap diagnosis. This is just almost the rule.

    It does not help when your child is the only child of a certain minority at school. We tried to avoid that with our kids. But, again, that is probably just another problem that this precious young man has to face. Do you know anything at all about his genetic background?
  13. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Hi there and welcome! I read your post and thought, oh wow, poor boy! Many of us here have adopted kids and it sure does add a dimension to things. I have (and many here have) lived through the calls every day. My son is only now at a school in the last couple of months were that is not happening.

    If your son has those diagnoses, I suspect, just MHO that he does have issues that extend outside of school BUT what he has going for him, (and I believe with all my heart our adopted kids are just as planned to be OURS and any child born into a family...for the better or the worst)...he has YOU. You get him and have him in activities that match his needs. You sound like you are a person who gets his style. Given his background, it would be hard for any kid to really internally think that people can fully be trusted, right? (again this is my son did not have a terrible background but did have a change of caregivers twice at an early age and was in pain for a large part of his very early childhood)...As a teacher you know that the basis of our core personalities is created in the birth through age 3to4 years. It takes a very structured yet SECURE, I wont give up on you, you are valuable, kind of setting to help overcome that. (and there are some who just dont, even when parents do everything they can..but your son is young).

    It seems like there are so many issues here that can be making what is a very challenging situation difficult. First, your school is wrong and if you get an advocate to help...this might be turned around. There are many many many kids on IEP's who do well academically but can't function well in the classroom so have to be on IEP's. IF behavior impedes their progress OR THE LEARNING of others, they needs support. Social skills are absolutely considered in special education (you probably see that yourself in teaching, are you in a public school??) If you look on you can search behavior and you will see how it is worded so they can't deny he needs support. Kids in EBD (emotional/behavioral disorder programs) and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) programs and PI (Physical impairment) programs often do great academically, but they needs support to function in all aspects of school.

    Secondly, being the minority is a factor. My son's new school has teachers that look like him (he is mixed Hispanic/African American) and students that look like him and he really needs that connection much more than I give credit for because he has so many other issues so it is often a lower consideration. But, even though he isn't culturally being raised in an Hispanic/AA setting, it clearly makes a huge difference to him, I am so happy for him. With kids with complicated histories and issues, many little things can add up and we often have to tick through many issues to start to get a handle on things.

    If a child already has a history of solving things on his own and not getting proper guidance, of course they are going to need a long time to help learn how to accept that people telling him what to do and getting along with others is the way to get ahead. Here is the attach-China website which I really like (they also have a yahoo support group much like this where parents talk about their adopted kids) was started by parents who adopted from China but is a site for people who have adopted kids from any country and even if not adopted, children who might fall on the spectrum of Attachment Disorders. Some of the things you mention, his being able to be sweet and charming in some settings and falling apart do fit, but his being great at home and struggling at school is a little different pattern for many (though on that site there are some like that, the kids who are insecure and really need to be with their moms alot and need small comfortable places to learn). Many kids do not have full blown Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) but have serious issues with trust ranging from being overly trusting and will glom on to anyone--to not being able to trust anyone even the person that loves them the most. This site has families who really have had a lot of success in this specialized field of therapy. Even the most well meaning therapist can really screw things up for us if they do not have specific training and practice working with kids who have attachment challenges.

    The other thing that I was wondering....many kids from this kind of setting have a couple of is alcohol and drug exposure during pregnancy and one is that they have sensory integration disorder (and many have both). This may not apply at all, but sometimes we just dont know and have to investigate because adoption records may not be complete. Kids with fetal alcohol spectrum (from "effects" to the full syndrome) often have behaviors that look like rage and anger. They just can't modulate it well. Well, they often can't modulate a lot of things well. They often can not do well socially, esp. with peers in groups. And if sensory things are involved well.....if I felt like someone was scratching me or poking me or screaming in my ears all day I'd be pretty darn crabby too (every child is different in how they feel, some as you likely know...dont feel things as much so seek out loud, touch, banging, throwing etc.).

    Given his style of learning...(from the settings/activities you describe where he is doing well) he does well in highly structured, clear expectations, low teacher/child ration setting, do I understand right? seems your gut is telling you that this kind of school is not a good placement. It could be that a private school IF they have a lower class ratio and can give individual attention might work. However, they do NOT have the obligation to work with you if he does have special emotional and behavioral needs. They can suspend as much as they want to and do not have to evaluate or consider your private evaluations. I am sure you have thought of this but you may want to go in when you look with a list of questions and ask for parents to talk to so you can play dumb and ask what they have seen happen with kids who have behavior issues or bully etc. (not saying your son is a bully, trying to find out how they handle kids). If they say there are NONE..RUN. That likely means they remove them so that their school is not disrupted. There are always kids who struggle. The kind of behavior modification your current school uses...(I am saying modification sarcastically) just gives our kids a day off, punishes parents, and often reinforces their low or "bad" self esteem. The law says that they must (in special education) use a POSITIVE behavioral intervention plan. This is common sense for any child. And it goes beyond rewards and means setting up the environment for the child to succeed. If you decide to stay in the public system, even if you switch schools, I would in writing request an evaluation so they have to put in writing why they deny it (if they dare to given his high frequency of calls home and suspensions, they have dug their own grave). Once you get past that since you put it in writing, they have time limits to get things done. That is federal law so no getting around it. It is well worth the fight, but sure is exhausting.

    Sounds like you need to borrow our warrior mom armor. I have had several suits shared with me over the past year especially! Just MHO, but I would get a private neuropsychologist evaluation to get a better handle on what is really going on with him, (a long.....not just a psychiatric test or psychiatrist meeting...evaluation...). A neuropsychologist looks at behavior and helps create a profile of how our brains work related to behavior, they give a much broader view of whether things are neurologically based versus or along with emotional/behavioral issues. They can help describe learning style and needs and if he is gifted but with special challenges they can help give recommendations for settings and ideas for what to do in the school and private therapy arenas. Schools MUST consider all private testing (again mandated) but do not have to blindly accept results. (makes it clear as mud) Looking at what you have written, I'd probably an Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation too. He may get overly stimulated in a setting like that. They can examine if there is anything they can do to modify the school setting that really is not a big deal (offer head phones, sit on a ball, etc.) but they wont think of it unless someone (other than mom) points it out.

    Finally with his intelligence level, well, even if a child has special needs, they also can have typical reactions and so again, adding another layer of what often happens with gifted kids....yikes! This kid is really lucky to have you!!! He seems really complicated.

    I am single and had to quit my job but had the option to be paid through my son's insurance at a PCA rate to care for him. Most dont have that, plus given your difficult child's needs, it could be very intense to have him be home-schooled. You are doing well with him so if it was me, unless there were no options I would not throw that complication into the mix and risk an issue, lol. Lots of folks here do it though and do it well.

    Well, I have babbled enough. Welcome so very much to this amazing group of people. I hope you find what I have, that this is one place where we can make mistakes, cry, complain, hate and love our kids at the same time and still be considered and supported!

    EDIT: darn I know I should shut up...sorry. I just looked down at my copy of LOST IN SCHOOL by Ross Greene and thought you might really be interested. It could help you sort through how to present what your son needs and why suspensions/consequence based methods do not really work for him. It is by Ross Greene. EXCELLENT book (he writes The Explosive Child, and you might like that your son gets older and teen years hit, could be good to start now, LOL)
  14. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    Welcome! My difficult child 1 was 2 grade levels ahead in reading and right on grade level with everything else when he got his IEP. His behavior would affect the learning of others.

    While it is rare I have seen kids act out just because they are bored at school. Not saying that the others haven't made great points about his history and Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). It would still be worth looking into even if you aren't seeing behavior problems at home.

    Getting your school to help him you might need an advocate. Someone who knows the law and can go to meetings with you. Private testing is a great idea too.