Helpless and needs answers

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by lostinsc, Aug 17, 2011.

  1. lostinsc

    lostinsc New Member

    My husband and I have been looking for answers as to why our 4 year old son acts the way he does. He never wants to listen, we find ourselves repeating everything we tell him, when he does not get his way he will throw fits that we have seen last up to 2 hours or more at a time, we take him places and when it is time to leave he throws a fit and kicks, screams, hits, bites, spits, whatever he can do to not leave where ever we are, we can not get him potty trained, as he refuses to use the big boy potty (we have tried everything in the book to get him to use it), he has been kicked out of daycare a number of times because of the way he acts, he hits, kicks, bites the teachers and other kids. We thought that maybe he was looking for attention, since he does come from a broken home. My husband left his EX when he was 9 months old. He was staying with his mom full time, but it has gotten so bad, she has told us that he is better off with my husband and I. I, myself can not pick him up from daycare as everytime I do, he starts one of his fits and it can take up to 30 mins for me to get him in his carseat and buckled in. We recently took him to the doctor and they have said that he serves from ODD. I have never heard of that before now. We have appointments set up to see a therapist, but we need help now as far as how we should handle the situation. It is very stressful on us and the fact that we always have a 6 month old baby at home, makes it even harder. I guess my real question is, is there anyone out there who has a child that suffers from ODD and does it get better? Is there hope for an easier life? Not just for us, but for our son too? We have only heard the bad and need some good news. PLEASE HELP!!!!
  2. aeroeng

    aeroeng Mom of Three

    Yes there are lots of us with ODD kids although not all go by that name. ODD is not really a diagnoses as much as a formal symptom. There are many other things that can lead to an ODD diagnoses. Thus you need to have more extensive testing done to find out what is really going on. You asked about the future. The answer varies all over the place. My Dr. told me that 2/3 of ODD kids grow out of it and 1/3 don't. The 1/3 group have some pretty rough stories. You need to develop a strategy on how you are going to manage your life. This will need to address your child's health, the new baby, and your sanity as well. Ideas include:

    - Learn more about what is going on.
    - Develop a support group (here is a good start)
    - Take time for yourself
    - Develop strategies to separate the baby from the child.

    You need to take the same kind of approach you would if this were a more traditional medical issue. One of strength and understanding. Remember that there is nothing you did or did not do that made the child ODD. ODD can be a long road, but yes there are lots of others on it with you.
  3. keista

    keista New Member

    Welcome to the board!

    At 4, ODD is about as good a diagnosis (diagnosis) as you can get. Unfortunately, many of us believe that that is not really a diagnosis, but a set of behaviors/symptoms that can be found in countless other dxes. Usually there is a better explanation for a child's behavior, but especially at such a young age, it is not possible to fully diagnose it. Sometimes, there's also more than one problem present.

    What kind of doctor did you take him to? If it was just his pediatrician, the diagnosis makes sense, but he should have offered a referral to a psychiatrist or child psychologist, or a developmental pediatrician. You need to start finding out what is driving that ODD behavior.

    Yes, it really can get better if you get comprehensive evaluations, can identify what is causing the behavior, and follow through with interventions, therapy and possibly even medication.

    Until you get further evaluations, get a copy of The Explosive Child by Ross Green. It is considered "the book" on this forum and has a lot of useful information and insights on how to deal with your child.

    And, I *love* how biomom suddenly decided he was "better off" with dad. I'm just guessing that she couldn't handle the behavior either. It's possible that SOME of his behavior is caused by the disruption in his life, but certainly not all of it. Does he visit with her at all? Do you and husband have a good relationship with her? Hopefully so, since that would be helpful in his evaluations as well as his treatment.

    Welcome again:notalone:
  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi, lostinSc. Welcome to our soft place to land. Sounds like you guys are really going through a hurricane with this little guy right now huh?

    Im going to hazard a guess that ODD is not going to be the final diagnosis for him. That is just a name for the list of symptoms he is showing you. A therapist may be one place to start but I would want him to be seen by a larger team of professionals if he were my son. From your location, you may be able to access MUSC. I would think that might be a place that could get you started with a multi-disciplinary evaluation.

    Also, you might want to read over on the early childhood board here and get a copy of The Explosive Child. There is a post at the top that explains how to adapt the book for younger kids.
  5. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    First, welcome - you will find kind hearts and experienced voices here.

    Next... Yes, there is hope. No magic bullets, no instant turn-arounds. But there is definitely hope.

    And then... the others are going to want more details - you have provided some which helps.
    - Who did the diagnosis (diagnosis) of ODD? any other dxes?
    - Has his behaviour always been this way, or did it take a turn for the worse at some point?
    - medications?
    - what else have you tried?

    For the record... most of us around here don't put much stock in the ODD diagnosis... there's a few where it really is the primary problem, maybe - most of the time? Its a way of describing what is going on (behavior issues - like you didn't already know that!) without any clues as to why. And most of the time... there's a whole long list of "whys".

    Have you seen the book, "the explosive child" (by green, I think). Its a good starting place - an approach that seems to have some impact on lots of out-of-control kids.
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Another one who doesn't consider ODD a real diagnosis.

    Has he ever been evaluated via testing? I would look for a neuropsychologist. Did his birthmother abuse alcohol or drugs while she was pregnant? How was this child's early development such as speech and motor skills and imaginative play with toys. Any quirks or obsessive interests? Did Mom have any boyfriends around who may have abused him?
  7. lostinsc

    lostinsc New Member

    Thanks so much for the insight as to there is hope, as long as we stick with the therapy and everything else we are trying.

    Let me start by giving a little bit of background info, maybe that will help with kind of understand where my husband and I and also my son's mother stand. When my husband and I got back together, before we were married, our son was 2 1/2. His mother and maternal grandmother suffer from bi-polar. Though the grandmother takes medications for hers, his mother does not and refuses to admit that she is bi-polar. We struggle with her all the time. She is unstable and can barely take care of herself, more or less our son. We have provided everything for him, from day 1. It started off that we had shared custody of him, meaning she had him one week and then we would have him the next. His mother keep saying that he needed to be with her and we needed to start our own family and leave them alone. Of course, that was never going to happen. Well as we started to notice his change in behavior my husband thought maybe she was right, maybe he did need to spend more time with his mother. I fought that that was the wrong choice, but in the end he ended up with her full time and coming to us every other weekend and every Thursday. To make a really long story short, she has gone back and forth as far as he needs to be with us full time, since we have the stable home and financially and emotionally stablity he needed. About 4 months ago she came back and said that she was finally on her feet and was wanting her son back with her, of course my husband allowed for her to take full custody again. But we were still paying for everything and still to this day. About 6 weeks ago she called us up and stated that she no longer could handle him and we needed to take him, once again, full time. I was wary about doing so, as she has no desire to meet with me and set up a common ground for ua all to stand on when it comes to our son. She calls and will yell at my husband and tell him that he is a crappy father (that is me being nice when I put it that way) and that he needs to just sign over his rights and let her take care of him. We had him in a behaviorial therapy and she took him out, stating her child has no problems and we are just picking on him. But then will call back and say that she made a mistake and there is some kinda problem going on. We have talked to a couple of therapist and they have said that it is just a behaviorial issue. But the last doctor we went to (which I am not sure who is it or where they work, as I could not attend that meeting) stated that they thought he suffers from ODD. After doing some research on it, I definitely think that is the right diagnosis for now, as he shows all the symptoms.

    I worry not only for his safety but for the rest of our household and other people. He is pysically violent and can be just down right mean for no reason. I need to not only save my sanity but my husband's also. We fear that the problem is only going to get worse.

    Thanks for the advise as far as the book The Explosive Child. I will definitely be getting my husband and I a copy.
  8. lostinsc

    lostinsc New Member

    Midwestmom, I know his birthmom did have a lot of guys in and out of his life, but as far as abusive, I would really hope not. She is older, 40, and was 36 when she was pregnant. I know they had all the tests done while she was pregnant to make sure he would not have any problems. We had him in speech therapy and a behaviorial therapy but she removed him as she thought he was just fine. As far as her abusing drugs while pregnant, I am not sure about that. I doubt my husband would have aloowed her too, but that is not saying that she wouldn't have behind his back. She has 3 other kids and only have custody of one, and the only reason that is, is because his father wants nothing to do with him but when he wants to. In my opinion and what others have said too, she is an unfit mother. But I want to give her the beneift of the doubt. It is hard though as she does not want to be civil with us to be able to get our son the care and treatment he needs.
  9. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    You had him in speech therapy. This means he has more problems then ODD. And probably more problems than just speech.

    The probability is really high that the ODD is because of the other problems - he isn't getting what he needs to handle "life", and so is lashing out.
    You'll need to find out what the other problems are... in order to solve the ODD.
  10. lostinsc

    lostinsc New Member

    I definitely agree that he is not getting what he needs to handle life. He has a hard time expressing how he feels or what is wrong. When he does something wrong, as in hitting a teacher, peeing in his pants, not listening, the only answer we get is "because". We know that he has a hard time expressing his feelings, but we are at a lost as to what to do. The latest doctor we have taken him to thinks that he has ODD. My husband and I think that he has some bi=polar problems also, but the doctors say they can not diagnosis him with that at since a young age. They say if they do, he will be the first ever case. Not sure I really believe that. WE just need support as to how to handle the situation. It is very hard to take and I have never been exposed to a child who acts the way our son does. I worry that it will affect our daughter also. I wory about him seriously hurting us, our daughter, himself, or another person. I fear that he will grow up and make a costly mistake that will land him in jail for a really long time if we don't get a handle on this now.
  11. keista

    keista New Member


    Yes, the upheaval your son has been experiencing is most certainly part of the problem. in my opinion you and husband need to get custody and allow biomom supervised visitation. I do not think it would be too difficult to get any of the therapists you've worked with so far to tell a judge that biomom's instability is NOT good for this child.
    Good intentions, for sure, but NOT if it brings harm to the child. If she has bipolar and is NOT stable on medications, and REFUSES to acknowledge that she needs help, let alone getting help, she is, indeed, unfit.

    Unfortunately, your son is not just affected by his environment. He has biomom's DNA as well as grandmom's DNA. Bipolar has a highly genetic factor to it. You might also want to pick up a copy of The Bipolar Child It is the foremost authority on bipolar disorder in young children.

    husband needs to stop taking the path of least resistance, and he has to stop fast. 1, to protect his son, and 2, to be able to effectively parent his son. He cannot just keep handing your son back every time his ex asks. Your son already has been dealt a difficult hand in life, he doesn't need adults complicating it even more.
  12. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    To add to Keista's post...

    These kids - all of "our" kids, the difficult child kids - really, really need stability. Even kids without "issues" have major problems handling instability.
    So that might be one place you need to start... if you can find a way to do so. As in, permanent custody.
  13. lostinsc

    lostinsc New Member

    I agree with you and the fact that he needs to stop just giving our son back to her. I put my foot down this last time she asked us to take our son back full time. I let it be known that the only way she was going to get him back full time was she had to show that she was stable enough and can show that she is. I know a lot of the problems are that he has been pushed around from home to home and has never really had an stable living enviroment. At our house, he has his own room, his own bathroom, rules, a bedtime, and even his own bed to sleep in. At his mother's there are no rules, he runs the house like a madman, does not even have a room, has to share one with his mother and share a bed. That has caused troubles at our house as he does not want to sleep by himself. He gets up 3-4 times a night and runs screaming through the house because he is in his own room by himself. He states that he is scared but says it with a smile on his face and even has been known to laugh about it. My husband tries but finds to very hard to deal with. As do I, but I refuse to give up on him and there has to be a way to make life easier for him. I will also check out the book, The Bipolar Child. Thanks.
  14. lostinsc

    lostinsc New Member

    I have fought with my husband to the point that we have spent nights apart because I feel that we need permanent custody of him. My husband has a big heart and does not want to hurt anyone, including the mother of his son, so he does not want to take her to court for custody. But he needs to realize that he is in the end hurting our son the most.
  15. keista

    keista New Member

    I'm coming to learn that that really doesn't mean anything. DD2 will start smiling or even giggling in the middle of a tantrum, but she doesn't seem to have control over it. It just seems to overcome her just as the tantrum has. It is VERY odd.

    And FYI the sleeping issues won't necessarily change with stability. DD2, at 8, still ends up in my bed at least 2-3 times a week, and if not in my bed, she sleeps on the couch to be near me as she falls asleep. I keep telling her that I will NOT accompany her to college just so she can sleep. ;)
  16. lostinsc

    lostinsc New Member

    Well that makes it easier to understand. We had thought that the reason he was doing this is because at his mother's house she has him sleeping in the bed with her. And that started because she wanted to be next to someone and not feel alone. So we had thought that since at the time he was leaving with her full time, that he was used to it. I try not to allow for him to sleep in the bed with us, as I do not want for him to forever sleep in our bed. I find that our bed is the only place that we have to ourselves and would like to keep it that way. We have good nights where he does not get up at all but then we have nights where it is every 30 mins. He has to sleep with the light on and the tv too.
  17. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well...seeing as how bipolar is so rampant, I would bet my bottom dollar a mood disorder is ruling the show here. And no, he wont be the youngest child ever diagnosed with bipolar...thats just silly! He also wont be the only 4 year old in SC!

    Truth be told, I think you need a psychiatrist to help you with medication to help stabilize his moods and reactions and then you can work with him in therapy because until you can slow him down, nothing is going to get through to him.
  18. keista

    keista New Member

    She was teaching him her own coping mechanism.

    Personally I sleep with the TV on too. It's not because I'm afraid of being alone, but because I have racing thoughts at night (anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)), as do both my girls. I find if I put on a DVD that I love and am familiar with, I can focus on that until I fall asleep. I know it inside and out, so I don't have to think, so the brain gets to relax, but at the same time, I have something to focus on and so it keeps the racing thoughts out.
  19. BeachPeace

    BeachPeace Guest

    Behavior - is a symptom. You will find lots of advice here that is so wise and from parents who have been there.
    As other have stated - there is likely a cause to the behavior. I second what everyone else has said about psychiatric, but also wanted to add my perspective - the child may also need to see a Neurologist.
    Since custody has been inconsistent and there seems to be developmental delays (speech, potty skills, etc) - there may have been a brain injury (either accidental, birth hypoxia, or "shaken baby" to name a few) there also may have been fetal alcohol or drug exposure. Seizure disorders also will cause behavior problems in small children.
    Often in our difficult child children they may have a combination of mental health issues combined with neurological disorders such as brain damage from a wide variety of reasons.
    Neurologists can run medical tests such as EEGs and MRIs to rule out or diagnose any brain/nervuous system dysfunction.

    My son has a variety of diagnoses and he sees both a psychiatrist and a Neurologist on a regular basis. Both are instrumental to the proper therapy and medical management.
    Just my opinion

    Welcome here :)
  20. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I agree with the poster above me. Although bipolar is likely a part of this (yes, it is very hereditary), I would want him checked by a neuropsychologist (which is different than a neurologist) for other disorders as well. If she drank or used drugs during her pregnancy, and hub doesn't seem to know that, he could have some drug/alcohol affects which affects the ability to learn, have impulse control, and make good decisions. He has some red flags for autistic spectrum disorder too...and could have attachment issues due to being tossed around so much all of his life. He is likely a very complicated k id who will be very hard to diagnose.
    Look into Neuropsychs.