Does my daughter have a conduct disorder?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by emttori, Jan 18, 2009.

  1. emttori

    emttori New Member

    I've been having serious behavior issues with my 7 y/o daughter that started around October. She's always been a little "different" than my other children with her behavior, always very immature, gets into trouble etc. But since around October the teacher has been sending home note after note about her behavior in school. I originally thought ADHD but she can focus on assignments for some time, and other times she is just plain disruptive so the teacher didn't think she had ADHD. I still wonder. I was searching online today for behavioral disorders and came across ODD. She seems to fit too well into this category. I think I need to get some kind of ball rolling to figure out if this could be it, or something else, but something is definately not right with her behavior and I'm at my witts end. She yells at me all the time about how I am so mean, and I don't like her and I like her siblings better than her. She is disruptive in class, won't stay in her seat, doesn't listen to the teacher. She purposly bugs her sisters and brother because she knows it will **** them off. She now is writing letters and packing a bag telling me she is running away. She is sneaky and she lies and won't accept responsibility for anything. If she's told to do something she just tells me it's not fair and I'm mean and she doesn't want to live here anymore. I really don't know what else to do but this is a daily occurence and I'm just done with it. She has temper tantrums daily. She'll scream/yell in the middle of whatever we are doing if something doesn't go her way.
    We just got a guidance counselor at our school. I am guessing I'll start there. Maybe a meeting with her and the teacher.
    Any thoughts on what this could be would be helpful.
  2. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Hi emttori, welcome.
    Here's a cup of camomile to calm you down. She's a handful.

    I would ask the guidance counselor to recommend a therapist for you and your child. And to recommend a good neuropsychologist for testing. If you are just guessing by surfing the net, you know that she's got serious issues and she needs a good diagnosis and interventions.

    You've done a good job of describing her behaviors. You are in good company here!

    I would not label her with-CD right now. That's for older kids who've been through the gamut, and your child hasn't been diagnosis'd at ALL yet. Don't jump the gun. :)

    Have you read The Explosive Child? The Manipulative Child? The Bipolar Child? They are all great books and I recommend them. They will give you some great ideas.

    I am sorry that the teacher is sending home notes.
    What do you do once your daughter gets home? Does she have a routine? A strict routine would probably work well for her.

    Just some thoughts.
  3. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    All of our kids here have some behavioral issues, but your daughter is pretty young to be settling on the conduct disorder diagnosis. by the way- Welcome to the board!

    Anyway, the behavior is usually the result of underlying issues or other "undiscovered" problems, like a learning disability or mood disorder, at that age.
  4. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    P.S. Why do you think she started acting out at school in October? What sort of a trigger was there?
    And what was different about her from the beginning? Was she a difficult baby?
  5. emttori

    emttori New Member

    There was no trigger than I can pinpoint. Nothing big happened. That's what is so frustrating.
    A quick little view of her past.
    Rileigh is the 3rd of 4 children. My oldest is a girl 11, then a girl 9, then Rileigh 7, and then a boy 3. I did have a still birth when Rileigh was almost 3. I honestly think this is when some of her issues started. I was admitted to the hospital in pre term labor at 28 weeks (april 2004) with my son. I spent 6.5 weeks there trying to stay pregnant enough to deliver a healthy baby. I was discharged home, and 2 days later my son stopped moving and when we went to the doctor they told us he died. She was too little at that time to understand the baby died because she never actually got to see him. We had a funeral for him and all my girls went. We wanted them to be able to say goodbye even though they never met him. She didn't really understand. But my girlfriend babysat for me during that time, and she said she saw the changes in Rileigh. She was the baby, who I still rocked at night before bed and suddenly I wasn't there. And because my husband had to work they only got to come see me once a week. Shortly after that I got pregnant again, and at 23 weeks I was again admitted to the hospital for pre term labor issues (March 2005). I spent 3 months in the hospital on bedrest. So again I was gone. When she was a baby she was difficult just in that she wanted to be held from day 1. She hated the bouncy seat, the swing, the carseat...everything that didn't involve me holding her, and she screamed. She also had undiagnosed GI problems. She was constipated all the time, she had a hard time pooping, but nothing that would have led me to believe she had any kind of behavior problem.
    She was always more hyper than my other 2. She has always been kind of like a tornado when she goes through a room, she'd leave a path of destruction. She ***** her thumb, and since she was a baby she has been pulling her hair out. I asked the doctor and they thought maybe it was just a nervous habit kind of thing. She pulls a strand out and ***** on it (yucky). She even used to pull mine out to **** on it. Never did figure out what that was about. She still does it but minimally. She also used to scratch her forehead when she sucked her thumb, causing scabs and little infections. We finally got that stopped about a year after it started. I'm not sure if any of these little issues have anything to do with the big picture or not.
    When she finished pre K when she was 4 1/2, I didn't think she was ready to move up to Kindergarten and I was going to keep her back, but her teacher said they were all immature (many late birthdays in her class, Rileigh is end of August) and that she'd fit right in with them when they all moved up. She gave the K teacher a hard time, but not overly, just a little hard headed, not following directions etc. Then in first grade I began to suspect ADHD, but her teacher didn't think she had it. And she actually had a pretty good rest of the year with the occasional outbursts and issues. This year again I suspected it, and the teacher thought she was just very immature, but did not think she had ADHD. But now, I think her behavior is becoming an everyday occurence in class, very disruptive and I don't know what to think.
    I was away for 3 nights because I walked in the breast Cancer 3 day. But she spent 2 days with one of my sister in laws and had one on one with them and got to particpate in her own walk, so she didn't seem affected by me being away for 3 days. So i really dont' know why suddenly her behavior has become so horrid.
    We recently implemented new behavior charts (probably about 6 weeks ago) with a point system. When they earn points they earn rewards. (My husband and I have been in marriage counceling for over a year, we are done now and getting along phenominally), our councelor recommend the new charts and she also said once they earn something, they should get to do it no matter what happens. She said when we get paid at work we get paid no matter what, they don't come and take our pay away because we did something wrong. So I thought okay, positive reinforcement, and then the next day if she didn't earn something, then she doesn't get it. I'm not seeing much of a difference. I did have to take girl scouts away. that is not an earned reward and I didn't feel she should go due to the really bad week she had in school. That argument and tantrum lasted well over an hour. We also have a pretty good schedule (it's typed and on the fridge). school, snack, homework, chores, reward, reading time, alone time etc, then bedtime schedule. My husband also just had a one on one day with just her. Nothing seems to be helping. I wish I could figure out where all this is coming from.
    Thanks for the responses, it's good to know no matter what is going on, there is support.
  6. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    my son was like that as a baby, and we didn't have any death issues, so in my humble opinion, I'm not sure there's a cause and effect there, or if there is, it's just an exaggeration of her normal processing.
    I bought a Snugli and carried him in that, but I still had to hug him, hard, when I was wearing it or he would scream. If I did a load of wash and just let him sit against my chest or stomach in the Snugli, he would scream bloody murder. I even tried going to the bathroom while wearing it and it hurt my back (sheesh,the things we mothers do!) and had to put him on the floor and just let him scream.
    He also had very bad reflux and digestive problems. Still has digestive problems but they are better.
    I think that because your daughter is school age, and expected to conform, that's why some of these behaviors are more noticable. People let us get away with-murder with-toddlers' behavior because todders are so unpredictable. And you get used to the behaviors.
    Then, when they're placed in a social setting with-clear boundaries, they stand out like an odd-colored lightbulb.
    That's my 2-cents worth. :)
    I would find a child psychiatric and neuropsychologist and get her tested.

    by the way, I commend you on going to marriage counseling and implementing the suggestions from the therapist. It sounds like you really follow through. :)
    That will come in handy in the next few yrs, with-your difficult child ...
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2009
  7. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Oh, by the way, I think pulling hair out of her own head and your head and s*cking on it is a sensory issue, and related to everything else.
  8. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Welcome! I am glad you found us but sorry you need us!

    I REALLY think there is a LOT more going on here than ODD or ADHD. It sounds like she has some very strong sensory issues, and some other things going on as well.

    for the Sensory component of her problems you want to have her PRIVATELY evaluated by an Occupational Therapist (Occupational Therapist (OT)). The school will have Occupational Therapist (OT)'s. And they may be very good. But school will ONLY evaluate for how things are having an impact on academic issues. You need an Occupational Therapist (OT) who is trained in Sensory Issues and Sensory Integration Disorder (Sensory Integration Disorder (SID)). The good news is that with the sensory issues there are things you can do that are non-invasive (not medicine) and pretty easy to do. But you have to be trained to do them or there can be problems. Most specifically, you want to ask about brushing therapy - and you MUST be trained in this or there can be very serious problems. There is an author who has 2 excellent books on sensory issues. The first one is sort of the "bible" for these issues and explains what goes on in the brain as well as how some of the therapies work. It is called "The Out of Sync Child". The second one is packed with activities to do to help your child with sensory problems. It has LOTS of tips on how to make each one inexpensive (which is VERY helpful given the cost of many of the therapies our kids need!). This book is called "The Out of Sync Child Has Fun". If it were me, I would get the first book from the library (if your library doesn't have it they can problem get it through inter-library loan) and then I would invest in buying the Has Fun book.

    Your child also needs a COMPLETE evaluation by either a MultiDisciplinary Team (group of docs who work together to test your child and figure out what is going on) or by a Neuropsychologist (psychologist with special training in testing and in how the brain impacts behavior). either way you are looking at several sessions of testing that last 1-3 hours each. You can find either of these things at a children's hospital or a major university teaching hospital. You may also find them with a Developmental Pediatrician. And given her early experiences with loss, screaming, etc..... you may want a developmental pediatrician on board anyway.

    ODD is a garbage can diagnosis. It describes behaviors but gives absolutely NO ideas as to what causes them or how to help the child. Many of us, myself included, find that once we figure out what is going on to cause the behaviors, and we get treatment for that, then the ODD goes away.

    There is a thread about a Parent Report - a report YOU compile giving all the info about yoru daughter. You can share it with the "experts" involved with your child as they need it. It is best done in several chunks rather than one long session, simply because there is so much info. Here is a link to it:

    You also need to send a letter to school by certified mail, return receipt requested, asking for htem to test her fully and evaluate her for an IEP. If you go to the Special Education part of the site you can find out how to draft this letter. If you just hand it to school, or just ask verbally, you do not put into place the legal protections and timelines that sending the letter by certified mail, return reciept request provides. It is IMPORTANT to send it that way.

    Sending lots of support and gentle hugs!

  9. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Welcome! I'm glad you found us.

    My younger daughter M has severe anxiety. I am convinced she was born that way because she presented very early on with clingy behavior and separation anxiety. She slept in our bed for the first 3 years of her life because she was afraid of the dark. To this day, I still need to lie down with her when she falls asleep at night.

    She also twirled both her own hair and my hair while sucking her thumb for comfort. Sometimes she twirled her hair so tightly that it came out in clumps. At around age 2, she developed a bald patch from hair pulling so our pediatrician suggested we get her hair cut very short to break this habit. There is a bonafide anxiety disorder involving hair pulling that is called trichotellimania, which is associated with anxiety, depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

    Cutting M's hair short worked, but her anxiety shifted to selective mutism at age 4 and then a choking phobia at age 8. Temper tantrums, oppositional behavior, "running away" and inattention/distratability have all been part of the picture at various times.

    This is all my long way of saying that you should look into anxiety as a possible cause for the behaviors you're seeing in your daughter. Are there any mental health issues in the family tree?

    I agree with the need for a thorough evaluation. A child psychiatrist along with a neuropsychologist might be the way to go (neuropsychologists can be found at children's and university teaching hospitals). In the meantime, I recommend getting your hands on a copy of The Explosive Child by Ross Greene. It has helped many of us here parent our extra-challenging children.

    Again, welcome.
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there. She sounds like a difficult child, but 7 is way too young for Conduct Disorder. She may not even have any sort of mental illness, but a neurological deficit instead.
    Have you ever had her completely evaluated by a neuropsychologist? (This is a Psychologist who has extra training in the brain and is NOT the same as a pediatric neurologist. They test way different). If you haven't seen one with your child, I would do so. I also think this is not really a cause and effect thing (although I'm sure that didn't help). But I think you should have her completely evaluated to see what is causing her behavior and the best professional, the one who is most thorough, is a neuropsychologist. You can find them at university and children's hospitals. I agree that ODD is pretty much a "nothing" diagnosis. that says the kid is defiant. Well, we know that and all our kids have been defiant and at one time. However, it doesn't tell us the reason for the defiance. I'd check further. If she has sensory issues and is socially clueless, I'd be wondering about Aspergers. It could be many things, which is why a good diagnostician should check her out.
    Good luck!
  11. compassion

    compassion Member

    It in my experince is a neurobiological conditon. It is great to get it checked out and treated at an early age. My daughter behaved similarly. She was diagnosis with bipolar this past summer and does hae conduct disorder. It is usally like others hae said for older kids but the running away my dauhgter's behaior sounds ery similar to what you described. Mood stabilizers have helped. Check out My daugter came out Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) moderate. Now that she is getting more stabliled witj BiPolar (BP) starting to work on those issues. She gets oversw timualted very easily. T-doctor today had some great ideas for her to utilize. I share that I had wished now I would have ahd her on medications before adolascence hit. It did not get better. I was opposed to medications or therapy but both are helping. I now know this was something she was born with and exhibted bipolar traits form age 3. She is deaf in one ear so I always knew there was language issues. At some point, I will do neuropsychologist but trying to get her stabilized. It takes along time!!! Comapssion
  12. Mandy

    Mandy Parent In Training

    Welcome to the boards! You will get great advice from these ladies:D My suggestion is to get an evaluation and start from there. I just now started the process and wished I would have started sooner because it is definitly a long process!!