Hi. New. Parent of 5-year old who most likely has ODD

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by artmama, Jul 27, 2011.

  1. artmama

    artmama New Member

    Hi. I'm new. I'm coming here because I just came from the principal's office of my son's kindergarten summer school. The principal thinks my son, who is nearly 6, might have O.D.D. Unfortunately, I think she may be right. I am devastated.

    I grew up as a 'bad kid'. I was exceptionally bright, but had trouble doing as I was told. I had assumed my behavior was the result of my parents' acrimonious divorce, and my mother's resultant psychological abuse, but my son is exhibiting many of the same behaviors, so now I am not so sure. My relationship with his father is a good one, and as both he and I were victims of abuse growing up, we have tried very hard to make our home a happy and healthy one.

    I want my son to be happy and healthy, and right now I feel very discouraged. I feel like my screwed-up DNA is responsible for his troubles in life, and I am angry and sad, because I never wanted him to go through what I went through growing up. He is a wonderful, caring, delightful, creative, and off-the-charts bright child. Too bright. And I want a good life for him.

    I will take the principal's advice and seek counseling for my son; and his father and I will do anything we can to help him, because that's the oly thing truly important to either of us. But I have a problem with medicating one so young, whose brain is still forming, and because I was misdiagnosed and mismedicated so often (with disastrous personal results) growing up, I am gunshy of psychiatric drugs.

    As sad as I am, I am almost relieved. He's been so difficult at times; and in such a way that I almost feel like he can't help it--that's it's not on purpose, but is the result of some kind of chemical imbalance causing his rage to build into an unmanageable level. It breaks my heart, because when he is not angry he is the most beautiful, well-mannered, happy, sociable child. He truly cares about other kids, and he makes friends easily. He has such a bright future if we can get him help. Everything I read about O.D.D. seems so dire, like he is destined for a criminal and antisocial life. I feel so discouraged right now, and I just needed other people who are experiencing the same thing to vent to.

    It sucks when you're not enough for your child's needs. And it's supremely frightening to me to send my kid into the mouth of an industry that caused me nothing but pain growing up. I just have to keep reminding myself that I am not my mother, and I will not abandon him like she did me.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I had a ton of mental health issues (see my signature below). Then look at Sports Fan, who is my bio. son. He inherited almost everything I had. It is pointless in my opinion to feel guilty. We didn't do it on purpose and we both hoped for the best and Sports Fan has a pretty good life now that he is mature. Please don't blame yourself. That won't help.

    Many of us here believe that ODD is an unhelpful diagnosis and in my opinion a teacher, even an experienced one, is not the best person to diagnose. I would take him to a neuropsychologist...they do HOURS of testing...and go from there. He has intelligence on his side...and a happy home (yes, it will help him).

    Please keep us updated on how your little one is doing. Welcome to the board :)
  3. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hi! Artmama, welcome to the board and many, many gentle hugs...no guilt kiddo, you're at the beginning stages...you don't have any type of professional diagnosis, so you don't even know what's going on with him. I'm also of the school of thought that ODD tends to be more of a symptom as opposed to a diagnosis for a kid this small. So relax and hop on the diagnostic train.

    I agree with MWM that a neuropsychologist evaluation is in order. They use psychology, testing, history (which you provide) behavioral background and their own observations to look at what might be going on.

    Let me ask you: How was his early development? Was he off the charts, creepy smart? Very verbal or did he take his time to speak clearly? Any type of sensory issues (ie: what I call "Itchy tag syndrome" - tags on his shirt, pants or underwear drove him to the brink? Sounds that would make him upset or slapping his hands over his ears? Textures that he just wouldn't eat/put in his mouth? Smells that would make him sick to his stomach?) ? Did he have any type of Early Intervention services? The reason I ask is that he may have a hypersensitivity to some of this stuff that could be causing behavioral issues. He could also be overstimulated in a classroom and it's causing him to act out.

    I would suggest that you keep a quick journal (quick notes would do it - even in one of those little assignment pad kind of things) with dates, times and environmental stuff jotted down (sounds, crowded - like in a store, school or a party). This might steer you to certain issues that start something up with his behavior.

    Again, welcome to the crowd...there's a lot of experience and even more shoulders to lean on!

  4. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Hi Artmama. Welcome to the board and I echo the sentiments that you should try (as far as possible) to avoid guilt... You've enough to cope with without that!
    For me, what I picked up on reading your post was firstly that your son is very bright and secondly that he has many qualities. Right there is enough for you to celebrate and feel grateful for, even if your son is more challenging than most. He is bright - that is good. He is empathetic and makes friends easily - ditto. I do think we live in an age that is probably too quick to bandy acronyms about. So your son is difficult according to the principal... we need to know more! Is there a possibility he is bored, needs greater intellectual or other stimulation? I personally share your reservations about medication and for myself am just keeping an open mind for the moment.
    Please tell us more about what constitutes your son's difficult behaviour.
  5. keista

    keista New Member

    Ditto, ditto, ditto.

    Drop the guilt. It's a wasted emotion and does nothing but sap your energy. You need to keep that energy up to be helpful to your son, yourself, and BioDad (you didn't mention if you are actually married - no difference to us either way, just pleased there is a good relationship because that is always paramount in working with difficult children.) You are not repeating what you see as your own mother's mistakes, so right there you ARE doing better for your child and giving your child the promise of a better an happier life.

    I let out a loud snort when I read your first paragraph. The principal really has no right to even suggest a diagnosis let alone make one. Besides, like nvts, I truly feel that ODD is more of a symptom. If you read they symptom list of ODD (readily available on the internet) it can pretty much describe any child with 'issues' and in my opinion describes ALL teenagers. Of course ODD is more 'intense' and chronic. Early intervention counseling for both him and you is crucial. A full evaluation will be helpful to determine what is CAUSING the ODD behavior. I do think that ODD can exist all on it's own but seems that that is a VERY rare occurrence. Many parents get an ODD diagnosis for their kids only to find out (sometimes years later) that there was a cause for the behavior, and if approached differently, that ODD seems to just 'disappear'.

    Don't despair, you've found us! :notalone:
  6. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    I agree with everyone else: ODD is just a descriptive diagnosis and does not help in explaining the cause of the behavior. My son was officially diagnosis with ODD, and to me that only agknowlage that his behavior is not within normal range (like I suspected). We are waiting for further testing to help us understand what is really going on.
    Everyone has given you good advice: get your son evaluated by a professional and don't draw any conclusion from a principal's opinion.
    Try to observe hi as much as you can and try to explain why he acts that way. Is there any triggers, in what circumstances is he sweet, how about his social interactions with different age groups, etc.
  7. artmama

    artmama New Member

    We have an appointment on the 17th. But I imagine they will tell me what I already know. The principal in question just mentioned ODD, but I had heard of it before, and it describes my son's behavior almost perfectly. Because it's happening at school, and he has had 2 principal's office time-outs in 3 weeks, it's serious enough that I can't ignore it. He's going to start being stigmatized by teachers and peers if we can't get his temper under control. He is WONDERFUL when he is not angry. Angry, he's almost a completely different kid.

    He was a VERY bad sleeper, very active in the womb, couldn't breastfeed, and had some colicky moments. Otherwise he was a perfect baby. Very lively, happy, and personable. He was not afraid of strangers. He had some problems with hitting other kids, but when he was a toddler I don't think it was mean spirited. He seemed to view it as a game, even if someone did it to him he'd just laugh.

    He's exceptionally smart. I don't know if it's creepy smart. He only walked for a week, and then ran everywhere. His fine-motor and large-motor skills developed very early. He could read all letters in the alphabet by 2. Write his name by 3. Count to 100 by 3 1/2. Knew all his colours and shapes early. At nearly 6, he can read almost any phonetically spelled word, and has started adding into the double digits.

    His verbal skills were about 6 months behind, although he was facially expressive and responsive to others. He caught up suddenly just as we were going to get him tested. His tongue is attached on the underside pretty far down. It will have to be snipped. Other than that, he's clearly understood when he talks. He talks excitedly and animatedly about things he's interested in, but gives one word answers to questions he doesn't care about. We are trying to teach him to talk about his feelings instead of acting out, but so far we've been unsuccessful.

    Not so much. One or two items of clothing, but otherwise not really.

    Nope. He's a fanatically picky eater, but I hear this is pretty common. It doesn't seem to be a taste thing so much as a familiarity thing. He doesn't care so much about loud noises.

    I'm not sure what that is, so I'm going to guess no. We were in Parents As Teachers.

    His rages, when they happen at home, involve a lot of shrieking, hitting of furniture, throwing of toys, banging on his door, and some lashing out physically. He kicked a hole in his wall this year. We had to replace the drywall next to his bed. He hasn't done it since, I think it may have scared him more than me. He has slapped his teacher before, and tried to destroy the furniture in the principal's office. Once he gets going, there is very little you can do to stop it. I have had to physically restrain him before by holding his limbs until the worst of the rage passes, but he's almost too strong for me to do it now, and they aren't subsiding.

    I would say he throws about one really bad rager a month. He has trouble transitioning, so we use the count-down method, but sometimes that doesn't work if he's really into what he's doing. He has a few smaller to larger tantrums a day. I know some oppositional behavior is normal in all children, but it's the level of his rages that worries me, as well as the fact that it's not just happening with us. I don't want him labelled the bad or weird kid, like I was, and I don't want his behavior escalating or worsening. I don't know what's causing it. It seems like he's been this way since he was one and a half. Like a lightswitch was thrown and his anger came into the picture.

    My husband and I have had some big fights, but we love each other and we aren't physically abusive to each other or to him. I have spanked him as a last resort, which I NEVER thought I'd do, and would prefer not to ever have to do again. But time outs don't always work. Taking away privileges doesn't work, because he doesn't connect cause and effect. Right now the threat of a spanking is about the only thing that works, and I don't want to do that even as a threat. But I'm at the end of my rope. I've read every book, looked up every website, and tried every piece of advice that didn't sound like utter BS. He doesn't have a food allergy, we don't give him caffiene, we limit sugar, he doesn't watch violent TV or video games. (the games we have for him are Wii Lego Games, and he has played PBS Kids games on the computer before. And I limit those as well.) He likes to build things with Legos, likes to draw and paint, has fun outside, and is very personable with other kids. Until he gets mad. Then it's utterly different, immediately. He has thrown tantrums for two hours before.

    I hope the therapist we have an appointment with can help us. I want this kid to have a bright happy future. He deserves it. He's an awesome kid. He's so artistic and bright, caring and brave. I want the best for him.
  8. keista

    keista New Member

    What you described sounds pretty 'creepy smart' to me. Have you researched any disorders besides ODD? Here's the laundry list of most common disorders on this site:

    Asperger's Syndrome
    Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) not otherwise specified
    Sensory Integration Disorder

    ALL of the above can manifest ODD behavior. There are other possibilities as well, these are just the most common on this forum.

    Think of ODD as a superficial diagnosis, like "you're bleeding" But why are you bleeding? Do you have a scrape, a cut, a gash? Were you cut by a knife? Is the knife still in you? Were you shot? Did you break a limb so severely that it broke through your skin? In all those instances, you are indeed bleeding (ODD) BUT the way you would try to fix each one is worlds apart medically speaking. A full evaluation is your best first step.
  9. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    I think we're all addicted to Ditto today, but... I'll have to say the same thing!

    You're on the right track getting help.

    Remember that not all help involved medications...
    First step is always the diagnosis... and the tough part is:
    1) to get the right diagnosis
    2) to get ALL of the right dxes
    For many of our kids... its multiple dxes, sometimes with conflicting treatment plans...
    But you have to know what you're dealing with... have to find the "source" of the problem... to have any hope of making progress.

    Lets see. you can add:
    Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) (central auditory processing disorder), sometimes just called Auditory Processing Disorders (APD)

    In our experience, take a bright kid with ADD/ADHD (not uncommon), and add something else... anxiety, depression, sensory issues, Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD), etc. - and you've got problems!
    Also note... some problems are primary, and some are secondary. That is, a primary problem is at the root... the cause of other problems. A secondary problem is something that develops because a primary problem has not been dealt with. In medical terms... usually an open wound is a primary problem; if it gets infected, that's secondary; BUT it could be the other way around... an infection inside, that works its way to the surface and becomes an open sore. So, in addition to knowing what the dxes are... which are primary? It might take time to figure it out.

    Again, welcome!
  10. artmama

    artmama New Member

    We'll get a diagnosis, but it's going to have to make sense to me. Growing up, I was diagnosed with everything from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, borderline personality, what have you. I was medicated and incarcerated in a psychiatric ward against my will. At 17, I was blessedly taken out of my mother's custody and put in a group home. The staff took me off all medication. Once it was out of my system, I thrived. I got a job, learned to cook, made friends, and enrolled in college. I now own my own business, which I have run successfully for 11 years. I give this backstory to illustrate why I am leery of diagnosis's and medications. I've read a LOT of mental health websites and read a lot of books. I personally don't think it's asperger's (he's super social with peers, just doesn't like being told what to do by authority figures), bipolar (he doesn't have depressive episodes, plus he's kind of young), or ADD (He can hyper-focus on a task, although if he is bored he is super wiggly). The ODD may be a symptom, but I can't for the life of me figure out what.

    We don't abuse him, we tell him we love him every day. I tell him all the time how proud I am of him and how much he means to me. I tell him after these tantrums that I love him no matter what happens, and that nothing he does can change that. I tell him he's a good boy, and that he's everything in the world to me. I suppose until a diagnosis is made and treatment taken that bears fruit, we are playing a waiting game, but it feels like my son's life is on hold until that happens. I just wish I had the answer now. I feel like the clock is counting down for him to be labelled a 'bad seed'. I don't want him ostracized or singled out.

    We'll be trying new things at home, too. His father and I sat down today and we both made the decision to pursue family counselling so we can figure out what part if any we may be playing in exacerbating this, because unlike my mother, I do not want to scapegoat my child. This is a family problem, and the entire family is going to have to change to fix it.

    Thank you for listening. I may not be happy about this, but at least I'm not alone.
  11. keista

    keista New Member

    I am so sorry about the struggles you had to go through growing up, but that is now your son's blessing. You are hyper aware and hyper observant as a mom. YAY YOU!

    We here are also aware that the wrong medications can be more harmful than no medications, which is what sounds like what happened to you. This is why a GOOD evaluation is so important. A good evaluation leads to a good diagnosis which leads to better treatment (which does NOT always include medicating)

    I began medicating DD1 almost 2 1/2 years ago. We've only found one medication that worked well and consistently and with no side effects. Unfortunately that one only addressed some of her symptoms. That one also was eliminated with another that was causing a bad reaction. Right now she is medication free and will stay that way, at least for a little while, so we can reassess her 'bare' symptoms.

    Yes, this is a family matter. The last therapist was surprised (pleasantly) that I had no objection to family therapy. Too many parents think their kids are completely independent of themselves. Unfortunately those are the parents that need the family therapy the most.

    I'm so glad you are thriving and doing well despite your past. I am curious to know if you still have any "issues", or were they all medication and mom induced? If you're not yet comfortable enough here to answer, please don't feel pressured to.
  12. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Living in an ADD/ADHD household - and being at least 3rd generation myself... I'd be guessing that if he's not something along the Aspie line, then you're likely to end up with ADD/ADHD as one component...
    ADHD (more common than ADD) is not really a deficit of attention... rather, it is difficulty managing attention... which means everything from out in la-la-land to class-clown to so-many-million-miles-deep that they can't shift to the next task. (I can be any or all of those, and more, on a single day.) The tricky part with ADHD is that it is highly mis-diagnosed - the label is given when it doesn't apply, and not given when it should be... But when the diagnosis is accurate, it really helps.

    If your library has it, you might want to check out the "Driven to Distraction" book by doctors Hallowell and Ratey. Very balanced - pros and cons to ADHD, pros and cons to medications, other things that work, etc. It would give you a better handle on whether the ADHD diagnosis might apply at all, than what you'll get from most symptoms-lists on the net.

    Didn't notice if someone else mentioned "the book" yet on this thread... but you might want to check out "The Explosive Child". It provides some insight into unmet, hidden needs that can cause all sorts of other issues, and offers a different approach to handling these kids... it doesn't work with all kids (nothing does), but might be worth checking out.

    What are his motor skills like? sports/bike/etc. = gross skills, writing/art/tieing shoes = fine skills. And then there's the klutz factor. If he's got any of that, or even if he doesn't, you might want to consider an Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation... this would capture any sensory issues you may have missed, as well as balance and coordination issues. Occupational Therapist (OT) will not give a diagnosis, but can provide therapies to help manage or remediate some of these.

    Might also want to consider a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) (speech language pathologist) evaluation, too - he has a speech issue which you know about, but there may be other things going on as well. Again, no diagnosis out of this, but some good rule in/rule out info that other medical professionals can use.

    We found it really helpful to have Occupational Therapist (OT) and Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) already done by the time we got to the psychiatric level.
  13. artmama

    artmama New Member

    I saw the book on another thread, and think it might be worth checking out. Right now I'm reading "The Difficult Child", which has a terrible title but so far doesn't seem too bad. Maybe a little outdated on gender roles.

    His gross motor skills are off the charts well. Unless he is hampered by limb length, he moves gracefully and easily. I wouldn't say he's klutzy, but he does cut corners a lot, so his knees and shins are always bruised. His fine motor skills are very good as well. He's showing signs of being an artist--in paint, crayon, pencil, marker, clay, legos, you name it. If it is creative, he can do it. He's also got a good sense of rhythm and has already started making up songs. I am musically inclined, and his father and I are both artists. He really is a perfect little boy--except for his temper, which is legendary. It's like he becomes a different kid for an hour and you just have to ride it out.

    I am fairly comfortable. I have been getting more open about my past, because I don't want to be ashamed of it. It is difficult to say what's environmental and what's genetic. I am adopted, so all I know of my family history starts with me. My son's temper is the first reputable indication that I might have had something when I was young. But even then, my family's reaction to my behavior was abusive, and when my mother couldn't physically control me anymore, she used the psychiatric system to do so. I have PTSD from being mistreated there. I most likely have functional depression as well, though I wouldn't classify myself as unhappy. Mostly I am glad to be living my own life and making my own decisions.

    The main reason I don't think I have lingering issues other than that is that I have been so high-functioning since not being in her home. I started a small business, married a wonderful man I love very much who loves me, and had a very bright, charming, lovable son. I have a large circle of good friends and an even larger community of acquaintances. I have my bleak days, but on the whole I am happy with my life. Mostly because growing up, everyone told me I would never amount to anything. So it feels good to prove them wrong.

    So it's hard to say if I have any issues outside of my upbringing. I'm sure I do, but whether they would be considered a disorder I couldn't objectively say. I do think if I did I probably wouldn't be able to run a business effectively, so there's that.

    PS--Why is The Explosive Child called 'The Book'? Is there something wrong with it? I'm new.
  14. keista

    keista New Member

    Living well is the best form of revenge!

    No, there's absolutely nothing wrong with 'The Book', quite the opposite. It is the most highly respected and used resource on this forum. I haven't read it personally yet. Partly because explosive rages are a very small issue for my difficult child and I had other resources I had to study first, and honestly getting any reading time in sometimes is a herculean feat. I will get to it eventually.
  15. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    keista - I know what you mean about finding time to read, but... can I make a suggestion?

    BORROW "the book" and read about 4 pages... there's a list of "unmet needs". Its a must read even when you're not dealing with "explosive". If the issue is more at school, then get "Lost in School" instead of "The Explosive Child" - same author, same approach, but from a school perspective - and it has the same list of unmet needs...

    If the list sets bells ringing in your head - then spending the effort to read the book makes sense.
    The list doesn't apply to every child...

    artmama -
    Good news is, he probably doesn't have one whole set of dxes... Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), developmental dyspraxia, and the parts of this that may go with things in the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) range.
    This is good news because the physical issues are really hard on self-esteem, especially once they start school, and doubly-especially for boys.

    I think we call it "the book" because its the one book that seems to apply more often than not - and most of what's in it doesn't hurt, even if it isn't the answer. Some of us who use this approach with difficult child also use it with easy child - makes it easier on everyone to be consistent, and it works for PCs too...
  16. keista

    keista New Member

    Thanks for the tip Insane. I'll get a hold on it at the library today.
  17. conniemc

    conniemc New Member

    Wow, reading your description of your difficult child sounds identical to my son at that age. He displayed all the behaviors you have described. My husband and I would take turns restraining him from hurting himself when he was little. We used to be on the principals speed dial from preschool through 3rd grade. My difficult child had/has terrible time with transitioning from one thing to another until he is ready. Made school very difficult. He is also a kinetic learner which means he has to be moving. Does not like to sit still. The teacher finally let him stand at his desk in the back of the room otherwise he would disrupt the whole class with his behavior. When he was little he was hypersensitive to overhead lighting. He also displayed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) tendencies. Everything had to be in a certain place and believe me if they were moved just a tad he would notice. He would only sleep in his own bed and was very bossy with his younger sister. He was diagnosed ODD at age 6. He attended weekly psychiatric appointment's. for about 3 years. They helped the entire family!

    The most important thing the the doctor told us was that we had done nothing wrong. His brain was wired differently and that he had no control over his emotions. She explained that each person has an inner thermostat that helps us deal with stress, anger, confusion, etc. An ODD kid has no thermostat, they just react on instinct. Learning to control their responses takes a lot of time and patience from everyone involved with them on a daily basis. Having a teacher that undertands ODD and can meet the expectations needed for dealing with it is key. IF you get a teacher that insists that things must be done her way and is not flexible at all, it will make for a very long and stressful year.

    There really isn't any drugs to treat ODD. It is all done with behavior modification. This is very hard because it's time consuming and you really have to have the patience needed to make it work. We do our best but our difficult child knows how to push the right bottons to get a negative response. My husband and I tag teamed dealing with difficult child.

    My difficult child is 15 now and he has outgrown the need to clash with authority figures in every area of his life except at home. He is well liked by teachers, parents, coaches, etc and has many friends and even a girlfriend. He will not listen to his dad or me however and likes to argue about everything. We continue to fight that battle but things are getting better. Remember an ODD kid matures at a much slower rate emotionally then a normal kid.
    Hugs to you! I know EXACTLY what you go through on a daily basis! Stay strong!
  18. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your post, conniemc, which was very helpful to read.
  19. artmama

    artmama New Member

    Thank you, conniemc.

    Can someone explain to me what some of these acronyms mean? difficult child, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), etc. I'm very new.

    I don't think he has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). About the only things he insists on are foods (picky eater), and having his stuffed dinosaur with him at night.

    He seems to get overwhelmed in large groups. We had to carry him screaming out of a friend's birthday party today because he lost his temper. There were about 40 people there, and all but about 5 of them were near strangers. It was humiliating, and we won't be doing it again for a long time. I ost my temper on the way home, because it was just so horrible.

    I feel like I want to crawl in a hole, or at least never have him around unfamiliar territory in large groups until we can get a proper diagnosis. But that's not possible. I just wish we could get him to behave without giving in. I have a feeling the strict approach isn't the best one, but the laissez-faire one doesn't appeal to me either.

    This is not helped by the fact that my husband still isn't fully on board with the kid having a problem. He keeps saying 'if the kid has a problem'. As if it's normal for a 5 year old to kick a hole in his wall. Or try to overturn bookshelves in the principal's office. Or have to be held down by an adult so he can't hurt himself. sometimes I just want to start screaming.
  20. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    This is the BEST explanation that I have ever seen for why ODD is such a useless diagnosis. :clap: