First post... 8 year old violent ADHD in shared custody situation

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Suliah, Dec 15, 2016.

  1. Suliah

    Suliah New Member

    First-- Hi. I'm new, I've been reading through many of these posts and it's helping me realize I'm not alone.

    Second-- I just ordered that book everyone recommends, the Explosive Child, and that will be my weekend task this weekend.

    Here's the situation.
    Dad's sister is diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic.
    M* is the middle of 3 sons. They are in 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades.
    Dad and I split when M* was 4 years old. We have week on-week off custody and do NOT get along. Dad is very self focused (always traveled before the divorce, so never really raised kids, refused to feed or bathe them, etc, but insisted on "his share" of the custody because he is money focused and didn't want to have to pay that much child support) and is currently with his second live-in girlfriend since the divorce, and the kids say she is ALWAYS around dad.

    M* was taken in at 2 and a half for an evaluation by a child psychologist for anger/violence issues as well as the fact that I knew he just wasn't right-- he seemed to have no remorse or guilt for anything he did, no matter who he hurt or what he broke (there was one son a year older and one a year younger to compare to, so we know it wasn't environmental). He told us there was ODD with high anxiety but didn't want to strap him with that diagnosis at 3. He did not think ADHD at the time and suggested working with both parents. At the time my husband and I were not getting along and he refused to attend sessions, we were already seeing a marriage counselor.

    shortly after the divorce (at 5) M* behavior got worse. We had him evaluated by a big center who said Sensory disorder, he needs Occupational Therapist (OT). They were NOT good about testing, they put him in the best possible environment and never set him off, of course he didn't have a behavior issue. Got him the Occupational Therapist (OT), which did nothing except cost lots of money.

    By the time M* was in first grade, he was constantly in trouble at school for impulse (anger, violence) and hyperactivity issues. He was behind in reading, and the school talked about holding him back. Dad and I both did intensive interventions. We also took him back to the original child psychologist. That test read ADHD LOUD and CLEAR.

    M* was put on adderall just before the start of 2nd grade. The change was amazing. He was able to focus, to do well in school, and found a love of reading and writing. He also had a teacher that year who was flexible enough with him to allow him to get what he needed. Dad stopped giving him the adderall when he was out of school, so I did the same. He only was medicated during the school day, and would have outbursts at home. He was still violent and incredibly impulsive, especially with his brothers.

    Sometime around then, he began to have increasingly wild and violent temper tantrums. I would restrain him so that he didn't damage property (he is VERY small for his age, actually seeing doctors for that as well finally) but he would kick and bite and try very hard to hurt me. I would end up with bruises and scratches and bite marks from these episodes, but I will NOT allow him to destroy property. These would happen typically in clusters, 2 in one weekend then nothing for a couple weeks. Then 1 or two in a week then nothing for a month or two.

    This summer he was having those rages while on vacation. My mother saw them for the first time, and she was very concerned. I asked his pediatrician for a sedative or something, she referred us back to the psychologist.

    And then last week. twice in one night and once a couple days later. The defiance is suddenly MUCH worse, and then the anger and violence quickly follow. I'm battered and bruised from restraining him, but I was afraid that he was going to throw something through the window and it's winter in Michigan. He finally stopped when he threw his head back into my face (nearly breaking my nose) and I started crying, he immediately stopped and turned around and asked me if I was OK.

    I feel like I am much more consistent about rules than dad's house, as it sounds like he basically just lets them do what they want. But these tantrums only happen at my house. I have finally told M* that if he continues, I will not allow him to come to my house and he will have to stay with dad all the time. I can't have him hurting me. He has said he wants to be at MY House all the time and not go to dad's. I would love full custody but I'm sure that dad won't allow it because he'd have to pay more in child support. But I also think him living at dad's all the time would be the worst thing possible for him.

    1. He does not do this at dad's. WHY???
    2. Would having full custody at a single parent's house help? I think so, but would a medical person agree?
    3. WHAT IS THIS???
    4. He's on adderall during school days, should he be on it all the time then? Or does this mean we need to switch medications?
    5. Concerned about bipolar, since this seems to go in spurts or cycles. Is that a possibility?

    I'm just looking for ideas from others who have experienced this. I'm at my wits end.

    And thanks if you read all the way to the bottom... I guess just sharing is my own kind of therapy.
  2. stressedmama

    stressedmama Active Member

    I wish I could give you advice but I have no experience with this stuff. One suggestion may be if you can afford to-and you want to-have him full time but tell dad you don't want extra child support. If money is truly the motivator, he may just go for it. I would preface it by saying it's a trial basis so if you need M to go back to staying with his dad, the option remains.

    Others with experience in this area will be along to give advice. Take what works for you but don't feel obligated. That's what's great about this site! Just know you're not alone. Hugs
  3. JRC

    JRC Active Member

    Hi Suliah-

    I'm new here too. :) Hi!

    Alot of kids with Borderline (BPD) do present with violent tantrums like you describe. (My youngest has Borderline (BPD) but he doesn't tantrum. It was why we didn't believe the Borderline (BPD) diagnosis at first). What I don't know is if they (tantrums) are as intermittent as you describe. Also, bipolar disorder includes hypomania or mania. Does he show any signs of that? We confused some of our son's ADHD symptoms/hypomania for a while. That can make it confusing too.

    Have you talked to the doctor about Borderline (BPD)?
  4. Suliah

    Suliah New Member

    Thanks for the responses so far... To answer questions--
    Stressedmama: It would be a huge burden for me to take him full time without child support and a court order, because I live out of the school district. If dad would be willing to make it a court order and allow me to move his school district to my own home district then he could use the bus system. As of right now I have to take him to a daycare within the district boundaries just to get him to be picked up by the bus. And his school district, along with joint custody, are written into the divorce decree. I guess what I'm saying is that I'd be paying over $100 per week just for child care because of the school district, and I really can't afford that without help. And I wouldn't move his school district unless I knew it was permanent.
    JRC: I have NO idea about any of those diagnosis... He has an appointment with his psychologist next week and we will see what he says. He is very withdrawn part of the time, so it does kinda make sense... high anxiety. However I've looked into attachment disorders as well and honestly that seems to sound about right as well, with the exception that I don't know what would have caused it. He was the middle child of 3, very close together, and dad was out of town for work most of his life (so I played single parent, I was dealing with a 2 year old and pregnant and working full time during his first year of life) ... He never wants to go to dad's house, I have to coax him out of the car...

    Anyway, I just don't know... But if you can help me rule something out, by all means do it!
  5. JRC

    JRC Active Member

    My post should say bipolar disorder, not borderline personality! Not sure how that happened...autocorrect?

    Have you had a neuropsychologist evaluation done? I would ask for that.
  6. Rannveig

    Rannveig Member

    Logged on to ask a question for myself but saw yours and really hoped I could say something helpful. Not sure I can, but as a divorced parent with shared custody and a bad relationship with my ex- I really feel your pain. I've also seen this phenomenon where the kid has problems at one parent's house and not the other's. A lot of people will say that your son acts up with you and not with his dad because he feels safer with you; he knows you will still love him and care for him and not reject him. Small comfort, right? But it sounds like it could be true, given how cold your ex- sounds.

    Any possibility at all that M* was ever a victim of any kind of abuse or neglect? Was he ever in a care situation different from that of his brothers where something bad could have happened that traumatized him? There's just something about your description that gave me a feeling that maybe he has some sort of PTSD. With a kid so young, and in the absence of witnesses, it's very difficult if not impossible to get a straight, reliable story about something that happened to him in infancy, but I'm wishing M* could have a long-term relationship with a really good child therapist. Sometimes if there's a trusting relationship with a therapist the kid will act out the trauma they suffered, and the therapist can help them find more constructive ways to deal with their pain.

    Maybe don't torture yourself trying to get a diagnosis right now (there's lots of disagreement about whether bipolar is really even a thing in children, much less how to treat it safely); just find what works to moderate the destructive behavior. Nothing wrong with trying Adderall (preferably extended release!) on weekends, as far as I know. And yeah, going back and forth between homes is totally non-ideal, and it would be better if M* didn't have to; that said, I have no idea how middle class people find the money to go to court and get these arrangements changed. With my own ex- it has been a war of attrition.

    Others will be on who are far more knowledgeable than I, but mainly I wanted to express my sympathy. By all means you should not be having to deal with physical violence. There's something called a CHINS petition, I think, that may be relevant here, but I don't know how it works. I gather it's kind of a last-ditch effort, but it concerns me that you say your other sons are also suffering physical abuse.

    Warm hugs and best wishes; you will get through this, I'm sure.
  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Hi and Welcome! I am so sorry you had to find us, but so happy to meet you, if that makes sense. I think the reason the borderline personality disorder comes up is that you are trying to use an abbreviation of "B P D" and some years ago that was commonly used here to mean borderline personality disorder, so the forum was set up to automatically change the abbreviation to the words so that search engines could make us more visible to people looking for help. I am sorry about the glitch.

    I urge you to read "The Bipolar Child". It gives an excellent understanding of the illness in children and this illness truly is very different in children. I am not at ALL certain that this is what your son has, but I am not an expert. Most libraries have this book, so it should be easy to find. I do urge that if you and your son's doctor feel that this is what your son had, then you follow the approved medication protocol for bipolar. The Board of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists has an approved protocol for treating bipolar. It is proven to work and to have the best chance of success at treating the disorder. Sadly, many doctors ignore this and you may have to push or insist that your child's doctor follow it. Doctor's get a LOT of pressure from the drug company reps to use their drugs rather than the approved protocols and this can get in the way. So can other things, and I don't understand why many docs don't use the protocol, but I know the protocol works. The protocol is to use mood stabilizers first (one or even 2 if needed), then to add an atypical antipsychotic if needed, and then once moods are stable on the right medication combo, if symptoms are still present, to add a very small dose of medications for adhd or depression, watching closely because those medications can trigger mood cycling or mania.

    The book I recommended explains this far better.

    I think there are likely a lot of things going on with your son. Why doesn't he act out at his dad's house? He knows no one there cares enough to make him stop. He can go and get away and no one will come look for him as long as he isn't causing a problem for his dad. So he can go and get the sensory things he needs, but he also knows no one cares. At your house, he knows you care enough to make him stop. That makes no sense at first, but it does make sense. An experiment was done with kids at a playground near a busy road. First the kids were let out to play and there was a fence all around the playground. Kids played everywhere and used all of the equipment, even kicking balls against the fence right by the road. The next day they came out to play and the fence was gone. The kids only played right up against the building. They used the equipment that was close to the building and far from the road, but not even the equipment in the middle of the playground. The equipment in the middle of the playground was well away from the road and would have been very safe to play on, but not a single kid left the area the kids were huddled in. Then the 3rd day the kids came out to play and the fence was back. The kids again used every single inch of the playground, and every piece of equipment.

    when asked why they didn't use even the equipment in the middle of the playground when the fence was gone, the kids said they just didn't feel safe, they felt the cars might get them. When the fence was there, they felt totally safe. I think you are your son's fence. He feels free to let go, to let it out, and he knows you will always love him no matter what he does. This means you get all the difficult behaviors and he can just let it all out around you. Not a lot of fun for you, of course.

    I know you think the sensory stuff was a waste, but a good Occupational Therapist (OT) can make a world of difference. I have major sensory issues and so do my kids. For me texture is a major issue. I cannot touch certain things without having real problems. Trying to swallow a cooked mushroom or liver makes me sick. I think my kids got lucky because I understood their sensory problems more than a lot of other parents would. But then they got unlucky because certain things are big problems, and I had to teach them not to do them early or on a bad day I could react without thinking and it might be bad.

    Did anyone teach you brushing therapy? Using a soft brush to go over the body in a certain pattern usually followed by gentle joint compression? Even if it only happens on the days he is with you, it is worth it. This actually will rewire how the brain handles sensory input. Think about that. REWIRING THE BRAIN. Without medication. We were told that we were nearing the top age that it would work (thank you was 7 at the time) but even just the one session during the Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation made a HUGE difference in how my youngest felt and his perception of his own body - where it was, what to do with it, etc.... It also improved his self esteem. At the time he was missing about 1/3 to 1/2 of the school year do to sensory overload. He just couldn't handle the florescent lighting, the noises, the other kids, the smells, the heat, the everything. He would do his best, and then get to a point where he would vibrate.

    His entire body would just shake like a tuning fork that someone hit. He couldn't stop it, and he could barely function. If I left him at school, or sent him to school if he woke up like that, he would shortly end up almost catatonic. He would sit and stand and walk where you told him to, but otherwise he would just be there. No talking, no responding of any kind, he wouldn't eat (which freaked his teacher out because he was a little skinny kid who was a bottomless pit when it came to food), and had the most blank look in his eyes. The other kids in his class would get really upset and would cry and wonder who hurt him to make him like that. So when he would start to vibrate, thank you came home. School just considered it part of his 504 and never got us into trouble with the state or anything (esp as he was still the top student in all of his classes).

    Brushing therapy really helped with this. Within a year he was down to only missing 1/4 of the year, and then six mos later he was only missing 2-3 days for normal things like the flu. I know they told us that brushing wouldn't work on older children, like my then 11 year old, but they were flat out wrong. I did it on my other kids anyway. They said it wouldn't hurt as long as I did it correctly (done incorrectly it can cause major problems, esp if done over the abdomen where it causes major problems with the digestive tract) but it wouldn't do anything but maybe be relaxing. It was relaxing, and both of my older children enjoyed it. That was a shock because my oldest didn't enjoy being touched by anything, ever. It cut down on the severity of the sensory issues that the kids had, it made them all less intense, if that makes sense. They didn't go away, but they were more manageable, less intrusive in daily life. I started doing it on myself. My daughter wanted to learn to do it (she loved learning this kind of thing) so I let her do the brushing and joint compression on me. I was actually able to use cotton balls for the first time in decades. I also became more adventurous with food, and we were all able to manage our sensory issues a lot better than we had been.

    If you have not read The Out of Sync Child, I urge you to read this. Get it from the library, most have it or can get it for you. It explains sensory integration disorder and can help you understand how it is a problem in daily life. Then buy a copy of The Out of Sync Child Has Fun. T His is packed with activities to help your child get the sensory diet he needs to deal with his sensory issues. The more the sensory issues are dealt with, the more able to cope with the world your child will be. Regardless of his other diagnoses, dealing with the sensory issues will provide a foundation that will help. I think most children with problems have some level of sensory problems and need some level of help because it gives them coping skills to build on. These coping skills are especially important in my opinion because they are medication free. They are also fun so the children are willing to participate.

    The Has Fun book is great for the entire family. The activities are fun for everyone - our entire neighborhood used to come over to see what we were doing when I got the book out. I actually wore out 2 or 3 copies. The author includes tips to make activities less expensive which is especially helpful. One thing to remember is to let the child lead in choosing activities. They are drawn to the types of activities that will help them, the types of things that they need int heir sensory diet. We always had a ton of art and craft stuff around, and when we did the Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation, the Occupational Therapist (OT) pulled out a bunch of stuff that she recommended to help with my son's needs. I had 85% of it at home already because it was stuff that was fun to play with, stuff that he liked to play with. Our Occupational Therapist (OT) said to keep following what he enjoyed doing because he would lead. So with the book, I let the kids pick the activities that we did. And they consistently chose activities of the types that they needed for their sensory needs.

    Our kids don't generally just explode. There is almost always a reason. Another book that is super helpful is "What Your Explosive Child Is Trying To Tell You" By Doug Riley. It can help you figure out what is going on with your son, what he is saying with his explosions that he can't say any other way. I do think that the adderall may be part of it. He may be having rebound issues, where his adhd comes back like a lion, roaring back as the medication wears off. he may not be capable of holding it all together as his symptoms come back so hard. This can lead to exactly what you are seeing. An evening dose of adderall might help, or changing his medication to a longer acting stimulant might be a better answer. Or a longer acting stimulant during the school day with a dose of adderall or ritalin at night to deal with the evening and homework/evening activities might be what is needed. I am not sure how long adderall lasts, so I don't know how late it might keep him up. But if it would help him at your home, then that is all you can worry about. His father is the only one who can deal with what happens at his father's home. If his father refuses to give him prescribed medication, document that. It is likely medical neglect and may come in handy at some point in custody negotiations. Just be sure you follow what the doctor says.

    As far as what this is, I don't know for sure. I do know that regardless of the name or label, you are doing the right things. Some labels don't mean much. ODD is pretty useless. It is a name, but unlike most diagnosis, it gives zero direction for treatment. There is no treatment for ODD, no medication, no direction. I think almost any child who is taken to a child psychologist or psychiatrist with a problem is given the diagnosis of ODD regardless of the symptoms. It is meaningless as far as giving any useful information or any real help to the parent or child. My daughter was abused by her older brother and when we took her for help she was given the label ODD in spite of the fact that she got great joy from doing all she could to help the adults in her life.

    One very powerful tool to help as you figure all of this out is the Parent Report. This is a report that you create about your child. It has all of the good and bad things, and you take it to every meeting and appointment. You share pertinent sections and information with the doctors who are helping you. There is a link in my signature that will take you to the thread about the Parent Report. The outline for the report is in that thread. It isn't something that you write all in one sitting, you do it over several sittings so that it isn't so overwhelming. This helps you keep everything, the school, the doctors, and everyone else on the same page.

    Please know that we give a lot of information and opinion here. Use what works for you, what your instincts tell you is right for your child and your family. Leave the rest. We won't be offended or upset if you use none, some, a little, a lot or all of what we suggest. We know that every situation is different and hard to describe. We have been there, walked in your shoes, and refused to wear that ugly tshirt. We won't judge you, or tell you that you are a bad person or parent. You so clearly are a great parent - you would not be here if you didn't want the best for your son, if you didn't love him with all of your heart.

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  8. Suliah

    Suliah New Member

    Wow, thats a lot of information... Thank you all for replying, and for the reassurance. Its interesting, the brushing technique. M* loves it when i lightly run my fingers over his back. He will actually sit down in front of me and pull up the back of his shirt so that i will do it. I wonder if it's having the same calming effect as the brushing? I didnt even think about that. I will try that to calm him down the next time i see him start to lose control.

    I am going to get through the first book and then i will start looking into the others. And hopefully i will get some help from the psychiatrist next week.

    Much appreciated to all
  9. KFB

    KFB New Member

    Following. I have an 8 year old daughter with similar violent outbursts. They are similarly sporadic, but have suddenly increased to several times a week. She recently started Prozac, and melatonin for sleep. This is the 4th night with melatonin and it's been the fourth day of peace in our house. It's too early to say whether this the fix, but I'm hoping and praying. The stress of her outbursts is unbearable and is impacting our marriage as well. If you're son is not getting enough sleep, you may want to into that. Sorry I can't offer any advice, except to say you're not alone! Hang in there!
  10. JRC

    JRC Active Member

    Just checking in to see how you're doing.
  11. How on earth someone was able to learn so much and pay it forward is beyond me I hope your reply helps this mom I know I will come back and read it more tomorrow bc I'm in need of extreme help for my son. Thank you and god bless
  12. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Very distressed Mom, you are answering very old threads. Most of the posters are not even here anymore. If you want to tell your story and get feedback, the best thing to do is to start a new post. We will try to help :)