Difficult 10 year old

Hi all ! I am a grandparent raising a 10 year old with a diagnosis of anxiety disorder (non-specified) with underlying ADD/ADHD and ODD. Aside from the nerve-wracking day to day life, we are going through the process of increasing gradually lamictil (lamotrogine). We started at 25 mg, went to 50 then to 100 and now are at 150. When we were at 50 mg most all the problems were gone. Then school started and things began to happen; we went up to 100 and things happened worse. Now we have increased to 150 and the poor boy seems to be a wreck of emotions...laughing and crying simultaneously, angry most of the time and more defiant than ever. Has anyone else had these issues with increasing this particular drug? This is the only one he is on and at the lower dose (with no school involved) I thought it was a miracle drug. Now, I am not so sure..................


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No experience with that particular drug, but lots with helping raise grandkids and one with pretty much the alphabet of letters that you describe. I have a signature below that kind of summarizes our journey until this point. I mostly jumped on to say that I understand, you've found a great place, and we, too, are searching for the "perfect drug." Some work for awhile, then don't anymore, some make the symptoms worse, and some help a little bit.


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Hi, and welcome.

I'm not raising a grandchild - but my kid is another "alphabet soup" list of diagnoses.

You may be dealing with more than or something different than the diagnoses given. We sure were. We found that ODD was not helpful as a diagnosis - there is no treatment for it, really, but it did work as a "placeholder", essentially acknowledging that there is something going on and that we still needed to keep finding the root cause. ADD/ADHD is often either co-morbid with other diagnoses, or may be incorrectly diagnosed. And Anxiety Disorder can be a stand-alone diagnosis, or co-morbid, OR a symptom of other missing diagnoses, because the kid doesn't know what is going on either, and being a misfit tends to produce anxiety. We've been there!

Who provided the diagnoses? We had to keep fighting for additional layers of testing, until we got down to root causes. With root causes identified, we are making some progress.

If a medication is causing the child to become unstable, it would probably be worth pursuing other alternatives.
For a long time his only diagnosis was ADD/ADHD and we went through the alphabet soup of drugs there. None helped. He was either a zombie who could not focus long enough to read a page in a book, or an over-wired out of control thing. We finally just quit all those..not worth the side effect risk, blah, blah blah. He has been drug free for a couple of years but we had a horrible year at school last year and a new diagnosis, so I wanted to take the edge off, so to speak. Now I am not sure........................ We are having another horrible year at school to the point that I have taken him out awhile to see if the medication will level off..............
Diagnosis was by a psychologist and then again by a psychiatrist. If it were not for school, we could be medication-free, but he does need an education............................. I am just wondering how long to pursue the leveling off phase of this drug and was wondering if others had had any success with it.......................

Wiped Out

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Staff member
My son had some success with Lamictal and was on it for a few years but it was never great for him. That being said medications are different for everyone. What does the psychiatrist have to say about it? Does your grandson have an IEP that is working for him at school?
At this point the psychiatrist just continues to increase it to reach what he would call a leveling out. No, our IEP is not and has never worked. We will be meeting with the school again Monday to decide which direction to take. While he has been going through this struggle to raise the level I have kept him at home and we have kept up with his school work. He has been too angry, to aggressive and too emotional to attend school. They would just send him home and that helps nobody (well...except the teachers).


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If he isn't functioning at school, and this psychiatrist insists on taking this one medication a long ways down the road... what are your options for switching psychiatrists?
We just started with this one in June, so I am a little hesitant to switch again, already. I think the major problem is that our school understands nothing about anxiety and just assume he is a little you know what...................
But I should also say, that no medication has ever really helped him. He is either a zombie, or just himself, generally magnified. This drug worked fine before school started. School causes him much anxiety which triggers the ODD and round and round we go...........


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School causes him much anxiety which triggers the ODD and round and round we go
OK, so then the next area of investigation is... school. What is it about school that is causing anxiety? It can be a combination of factors...
- at this age, school just got a lot harder - from learning basic skills, to having to use them on a daily basis. If you don't get the basic skills mastered, you tend to get lost in the next layer.
- social skills are vital for kids in school - and kids are brutal with those who don't "get it".
- auditory processing disorders can make it difficult to follow instructions, listen to stories being read, or participating in general in a classroom setting. In particular, this tends to be treated as "not paying attention" or being lazy or bad attitude.
- sensory challenges - can cause overload really fast, and school is loaded with sensory challenges if you are sensitive - chalk on a board, the squeak of erasers, runners on floors, paper rustling... and so on!
- size of school can be overwhelming
You have asked a question that I just asked my district. Learning is not an issue...he is qualified for gifted, but they will not place him there because of his behaviors. His social skills leave a little something to be desired; however, this is a child who can be left unattended at our local Y for four hours or more and have no behavior issues at all. Our local Y has an indoor pool and he loves it and has passed all his swim tests, so he has a glorious time on the waterslides, etc. This has been a big achievement for him because he had a deep seated fear of water and a very kind older instructor got him over it. What causes his anxiety at school is being around instructors and staff who do not understand his behavior and assume he is just an ill-behaved child. We will be looking at alternative schools. His behavior does leave something to be desired at times, even at home, but there are ways to deal with it if you are not too lazy to learn.