Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by michelenicole, Apr 22, 2013.

  1. michelenicole

    michelenicole New Member

    Not sure if this is the correct place to post an introduction of sorts, or more like reintroduction as I posted here a few times last year, but stopped because I wasn't sure if I "ethical", for lack of a better term, in discussing my step-children, so if I'm out of line, please feel free to move me to the appropriate place on the forum :)

    My name is Michele. I'm almost 29 years old. Married to Steven for almost 2 years. I have one biological son (G), who is 6, that has ADHD. His ADHD is not really the cause of behavior problems, mostly he has problems with hyperactivity (at home, not at school) and trouble concentrating on schoolwork, so he's on 10mg of Adderall, which seems to be helping quite a bit. I'm also the stepmother to B, who is 4, and T, who is 5. Both B and T have been diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder, which they see an Occupational Therapist (OT) twice a week to help with that. B is generally a great kid, very loving and kind most of the time, but has severe developmental delays (we're working on him seeing a specialist to see if there are any other problems besides sensory processing disorder (SPD), but, with Medicaid, that's taking awhile). T is where most of my frustration lies. He has been diagnosed with PTSD, ADHD, and ODD in addition to the sensory processing disorder (SPD). He's currently on a 56mg dosage of Concerta and .5mg dosage of Risperdone/Risperdal twice a day.

    Now, a little back story on T and B before I get into T's frustrating problems. A week and a half before I married Steven, he got a call from his ex-wife saying social services were removing the kids from her home, and he had to pick them up. She was found to have been locking the kids in a bedroom and leaving them there, claiming that she was keeping them from escaping the apartment as she slept. But she was also found to be leaving the kids locked in the room, while she visited neighbor's apartments.

    So, needless to say, we've had to deal with a whole slew of problems resulting from that ordeal...including custody and child support and the kids knowing that they can open the bedroom door when it is shut. But, almost two years later, some of that is starting to work itself out, finally.

    Now...to T's problems. About a year ago, we had to admit him into a mental health hospital for children because he tried stabbing a teacher at his preschool with a pair of scissors and threatened to bring a gun to preschool and kill them all. After he was discharged, we were introduced to several resources, a psychiatrist and a therapy program focused around educating the entire family. The psychiatrist has been playing around with medications for almost that entire year while T has gotten kicked out of one child care facility and continues to have problems in kindergarten with violent outbursts, what we like to call "meltdowns." When he first started the Risperdone in October, he turned into a completely different child, smiling, laughing, loving, wasn't arguing constantly...he actually seem happy and was pleasant to be around. Fast forward to now...he's arguing, refusing to do things in the classroom which causes a "meltdown" when he's forced to take notice of his bad behavior, trying to be the center of attention, picking fights with the other two kids, everything that he was doing before his Risperdone started working...

    Now, I have no idea what to do with him. Punishments do not work. Rewards do not work. Nothing besides that medication works, when it was working. I don't think his doctor wants to increase the dosage any more and talked about completely taking him off the medication this summer to see if that stopped his bed-wetting (he still wets the bed EVERY night, even with using the bathroom right before bed and no drinks after dinner; but I know that can be a common issue with sensory processing disorder (SPD) kiddos). I've read books. I've done everything I can to do try understand more about these problems, only to have nothing work. Basically, I guess, I'm just looking for a place to vent and, I think, I can probably offer some help to other parents, too.

    So, that's my introduction :) If you have any suggestions for me, I'm all about it :)
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Hi, and welcome.

    You'll notice we have a number of step-parents around the board... you are NOT alone!

    In the interests of privacy, you might want to edit your post, and change any "real names" into "board names". If your board ID is a real name, contact runawaybunny (by pm) and she can help you change it to something else.

    It's tough getting dxes on our kids - much less the right dxes, and all of the dxes...

    Can you tell us more about B? what kinds of delays? impact on school? impact at home?
    Many things "run in families", so this also tells us a bit more about T.

    Well... keep in mind I'm just another parent.
    PTSD, I can sort of see how they would reach that conclusion, but... have you ever looked into attachment disorders? there's a whole spectrum of attachment disorders, not just the extreme. Attachment disorders are very different from most other dxes, and require a very different approach. It seems like most specialists are not well-aquainted with attachment disorders, so it's not uncommon for it to be given a different label.

    ODD... well, many of us have been there done that with that label and... well... JMO, but ODD worked as a "placeholder" diagnosis for us - it was proof positive that the issues were not just our "perceptions" or "all in our heads". But ODD doesn't DO anything for you. No interventions, accommodations, therapies, medications. Nothing. We found that when we kept digging and got a bettter (more complete) picture of what was going on with difficult child, we found better explanations for the behavior - AND interventions, accommodations, therapies and medications that helped.

    Bedwetting? Developmental issue. Let it go. Either get the kid pull-ups for at night, or get a good waterproof mattress cover and extra bedding, and change the bed twice a night if you have to. (been there done that)

    My next "have you thought of" applies to both of them... have you ever researched Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) or Asperger's? These kids are wired differently, think differently, develop differently. For those that have normal intellegence, they are often able to lead productive "normal" adult lives... it's just a challenge getting there.

    If you're dealing with an Aspie, or even a kid with just some of the Aspie traits... punishments generally don't work. And most rewards fail, because we expect too much (accumulate success across a whole week or even a whole day) or are too vague ("be good all week"... ). For us, rewards worked if they were immediate, and of value to difficult child. For example, remain seated while you eat your supper, and you can have a scoop of ice cream with your desert. (notice... not until everyone else is done... initially that's expecting too much) We used them (still do sometimes) to help difficult child deal with a situation that is a major stretch.

    Things that tend to help our differently-wired kids (with a range of dxes) include:
    1) structure - for us, to the point of boring.
    2) consistency - don't make a rule if you don't intend to ALWAYS make it a rule, and never break a rule unless you are discarding it. This also ties into the structure... because part of the structure will end up being rules.
    3) The Explosive Child (Ross Greene) - got us thinking differently as adults.

    Anyway... just some late-night ramblings.

    Others will be along too.
  3. michelenicole

    michelenicole New Member

    I'm going to try to address some things with my limited time this morning.

    I've looked in the Attachment disorders, but they all seem so severe.

    I've researched some of the spectrum disorders, too. They both have a lot of Aspie traits, especially the social problems, with B showing more developmental delays. I wouldn't be surprised if that is also a diagnosis, but I'm just not sure how to go about getting that diagnosis.

    B's developmental delays...speech problems (was in speech for a year, but, supposedly, tested on age level and tested out around August), doesn't know colors, doesn't know his name most of the time, often acts "clueless," for lack of a better description, when asked to do tasks, scared of EVERYTHING new, especially loud noises, constantly puts clothes on backwards or inside out (and then can't figure out how to fix it when he messes up), tip-toe walking, night terrors...trying to think if I'm leaving anything out that may be helpful to you.

    Oh, and bedwetting...we aren't too concerned at this point. We just buy Pull-Ups. But what's caused me concern is that T has had a couple episodes of having BMs in his sleep, but sleeping through it. The first time, he actually got dressed covered in it and got ready to go to school.

    And, even thought punishments don't work because he seems to have no control over what's going on, how do you handle things? Obviously, you don't want to just ignore the "meltdown," talking does no good, and we have to set some type of standard that that behavior won't be tolerated (just for the sake of the other kids in the house witnessing it), so I just don't know what to do...

    I've read The Out of Synch Child (for the sensory processing disorder (SPD)) and The Explosive Child, but, because T can't really communicate (he doesn't even know what caused the meltdown afterwards and because most of them happen at school where I can't witness them) I didn't put much thought to it, even though it seemed very insightful. We've seen most of the meltdowns at home happen when he's at a busy place, like Walmart, or when we have company over or about food (probably the one thing he doesn't have much control over at home).

    Hopefully I answered some of your questions :)
  4. Bunny

    Bunny Active Member

    Hi! My son is on Risperdone, too, and while it has not made things perfect, it has helped. ALOT! Has he had a growth spurt since starting the medications? I have found that when my son goes through a growth spurt the medications don't work as well because the dose is just not enough for his body size anymore. What dose is he on now? I would call the doctor who prescribed the medications and talk to him or her and tell him what is going on lately. Maybe he needs a medication adjustment.
  5. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Does your stepson ever express remorse or does he like being hugged? Stabbing another child or trying to is pretty severe behavior. How is he with animals? Any interest in fire?

    My guess is attachment disorder. These kids were both abused and neglected in their early years.

    While they have Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) traits, I would look at the attachment disorder spectrum first. You'd need a specialist who understands what causes attachment problems if you want this to be considered. Is there a chance either kid was sexually abused by, say, birthmother's various boyfriends? Did many men come and go in the house? Does biomom take drugs or drink a lot? If so, did s he do these behaviors while pregnant? If so, you can have fetal alcohol or drug related problems as well. Sadly, they often go together with neglect and abuse so you have a whole slew of "maybes." They could be hard to diagnose if they have been through a lot of other stuff besides just showing senosry symptoms. We adopted a child and it's not that different with the stepkids from taking on a child who had been abused/neglected by a clueless parent and put into foster care. Doesn't sound like they were nurtured much.

    Curious. Didn't Dad know anything about bio. mom's behavior? Did the kids see/visit with him? Did he fill you in pretty well on bio. mom before you married him?

    I don't think you'll get a simple diagnosis that will solve everything with this young man. He has simply been through too much and there may be a combination of real disorders mixed with the neglect and attchment or, if it applies, drug and alcohol use in utero. I think a neuropsychologist is a good place to start.

    When children experience extreme chaos in their very early years it is hard for them t o learn to trust or care about anyone except taking care of themselves. If they possibly also have other problems due to drug use or alcohol ingestion while in utero t hat just compounds things. My son experienced some of this before we adopted him, but not the abuse because he was put into a loving foster home right away (thank God). But it was very hard to really get any professionals to agree on what was wrong with him.

    I wish you luck. I do think you have a more complicated kiddo than if he had been with you and hubby since birth. Keep us updated and welcome to our corner of the world :) Sorry you have to be here though.
  6. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Try typing "insecure attachment" into the search on this board.
    We've had some good discussions on this - and there are definitions and links that help describe the RANGE of attachment disorders - not just the extreme.
  7. michelenicole

    michelenicole New Member

    I'm not sure he's had a growth spurt, but I'm sure he's gained a little weight. He's currently on .5mg 2x a day of the Risperdone. When it was working, he was just a completely different child. Actually happy. She did recently increase his Concerta because she thought that his "hyperactivity" was causing him to get in trouble which was causing him to meltdown. But, obviously, that hasn't helped.
  8. michelenicole

    michelenicole New Member

    No remorse whatsoever for the behaviors. He does enjoy hugs though, which is what I find strange because one minute he will give you a look like he wants to kill you (he's done it several times to me) and then an hour later, he'll want hugs. But he'll never apologize for anything that happened when he had his "meltdown." He seems to have no emotions towards others. My mom passed away last year, and while I was upset and crying about it, he looked at me and said, "You mom's dead," while my 6 year old gave me a hug.

    I've seen him, in the past before medication, do mean things to the cat, like bend its tail in a funny way, but he's not mean to our dog or cat (that I've seen), and I'm not sure if he's shown any strong interest in fire, never caught him trying to start on or anything like that, or mess with a burning candle, for example.

    My husband says that she didn't do drugs or smoke while she was pregnant with either of them (they were married at the time both children were born). He says they both had normal births, no complications. And, as far as the neglect, we knew she wasn't do the 100% right things as a parent (like no schedules, too much junk food, inappropriate movies, etc.) but we were unaware that it was that severe of neglect, though there were signs. For example, when they spent the night at my house on the weekends, I would put all three of them in the bedroom together and shut the door to put them to sleep, but I would sit in the bedroom with them until they all fell asleep. T and B would throw absolute tantrums and scream about the door being shut, or it being too dark. I just thought they were being difficult, not used to being put down to bed, whatever, not that they were used to when the door shut, it was being locked and wasn't being opened back up again for however long.

    Oh, and I forgot to say that, yes, she has had many men in and out of the kids' lives. She also just recently had another baby. I'm not sure if any of these boyfriends were sexually abusive. But they were possibly physically abusive.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2013
  9. michelenicole

    michelenicole New Member

    Also, I should explain that T's behaviors do run in my husband's side. My brother's brother had the same problems as T when he was around T's age. Back then, he was just diagnosed with ADHD. The only thing that helped him was growing out of it.
  10. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    michelenicole, (two of my favorite names) :) you sort of have to assume somewhere along the line this boy was abused, physically and/or sexually or both. The #1 source of sexual abuse in kid's is mom's boyfriend, even if it is only one boyfriend, and she had them coming and going...bet they weren't nice either. Not high quality, fatherly types. Sounds like your husband doesn't really know if mom didn't drink or do drugs during her pregnancy, just that he didn't see her doing it, but that they were habits of hers. Again, you can't assume for sure that she didn't do these things when Husband was not there.

    Poor babies, crying when it was dark and the door was shut. Mom used to lock them in their room.

    Here is one link about attachment disorders and how they happen and what they do to the child. Maybe read and see what you think.

  11. michelenicole

    michelenicole New Member

    He was pretty positive that she didn't do drugs; they did live together at the time. He said he even made sure she didn't drink too much caffeine while she was pregnant, but I guess he could only monitor her when he was home.

    But boyfriends...she's had so many since she split up with my husband (even some while she was with my husband still). I guess we can't assume the best when she barely knew them. She still has that problem, unfortunately. And she can't keep a stable home when she has the kids on the weekends, always staying with someone different, but at least most of the time it is her family.
  12. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Yeesh! Can't your husband ask for sole custody?
  13. michelenicole

    michelenicole New Member

    He had the chance last summer before he actually agreed to the joint. His thought was that he'd go ahead and agree to joint custody as him as the custodian instead of spending the outrageous amounts on the lawyer and maybe not getting the sole custody. We'd already spent $1500 in lawyer fees dealing with the custody case, and he was layed off at the time and just receiving unemployment. I wasn't happy with his decision and told him, but, then again, they are his kids. He had an excellent case though because of the neglect, she didn't have a lawyer, she was a year behind in child support, and she had just been arrested for felony shoplifting. Piece of work, let me tell you. I mean, I understand why he decided to do what he did. I gave my two cents and told him I was done talking about it. But, at the same time, I don't understand it. And, I think, now she'd have to do something worse in order for the courts to take a sole custody petition seriously because, if she has a lawyer, all they'd have to say was, "She locked the kids in a bedroom, but you still wanted her to have joint custody." Ugh.