How do you handle 5 yr dafiant, irritable girl????

Hello everyone!

I am new to the group. I hope to learn lots and maybe even help in some ways!

I am Jessica and we have 2 very trying children. Madison is the one I am posting about this evening. She is 5 yrs old and out of control! We have had a problem since right before she turned 3.

Here is a few of her problems-

dafiant, argumentative, strong willed, irritable, unappreciatative, moody, has seperation anxiety (birthday parties, church, school, everywhere) sensitive to clothing (shoes, socks, pants shirts, dresses etc) very careful and afraid to do certain things, frustrated easily-if she messes up doing something she gets so mad and will hit herself or whatever is close, always gets mad when playing with friends- she says they don't want to play with her, anxiety builds when she is nervous about something or has to leave me, strongly dislikes school- she says she hates it, perfectionist, she has a very big problem listening- we ask her to do something and its like pulling teeth to get her to do anything, we have used many different discipline techniques- taken priviledges, rewarded good behavior, charts, spankings, taken all of toys away and she earned them back, time outs, nothing works!

Her delightful side-

very bright child, she is so smart, started tying her shoes at 4, rode her bike early, large vocabualary and speaks very well, wonderful memory, and there is more but you get the point.

We haven't seen a dev. pediatrician yet but we seen a child psychologist. She wasn't helpful at all! She basically said that Madison was at a disadvantage because of her intelligence and her ability. She said that it would be hard to get any services because she would be able to handle whatever is thrown her way. Well to a certain point I agree, but then again if she was fine we wouldn't be going to see a psychologist/ or any other doctors.

It sounds like she has ODD, what are your experiences like with doctors and ODD? What do most docs say about ODD?

I would love to hear any of your opinions!

Corey- Jessica's husband, 27 no diagnosis but very stubborn!

Jessica- 25 have always had comprehension problems, no diagnosis

Sydney- 7 severe ADHD, inattentative, impulsive, hyper, medicine Focalin XR 5 mg AM and Focalin 5 mg at 3pm. Omega 3 fish oil as well. Trying to get her off the Focalin.

Madison- 5, no diagnosis, above info about her.


Well-Known Member
Hello & welcome. Madison sounds likes my Duckie. She tends to adapt well, so she has never quite qualified for services despite constant struggling. It sounds like your little girl is highly overwhelmed, does she have problems with other senses (taste, smell, sound)? You may have to choose your battles until you have a better grasp of what's happening with her. Have you read The Explosive Child by Ross Greene? Another good read is The Out of Sync Child by Carol Kranowitz.


Well-Known Member
Almost everyone who first comes here thinks their child has ODD. There's a reason for that. Most of them have ODD symptoms. However ODD behavior is almost always connected to a bigger issue, and without an evaluation you won't know what that is. Most of us have figured out that the ODD stuff comes with almost every childhood disorder, but is just a part of it. I like NeuroPsychs the best though. They test the kids in every area. Your daughter has symptoms from mood disorders to maybe strange LDs or anxiety problems to high functioning forms of autism and a neuropsychologist can best see where she falls and what her strengths and weaknesses are and can give you real clues as to what makes her tick. A regular psycologist who runs no tests isn't going to have the knowledge to tell you what to do--even developmental pediatricians are often stumped. There is nobody here who can tell you what is wrong with your child. I have a few links you can read and check out. She almost sounds Aspergers, if I was to make a layperson's mom gut diagnosis, but, of course, I can't diagnose. Go to a neuropsychologist so you can get her into school interventions because something isn't right and it most likely is not just ODD. One question: how is her eye contact and social skills with peers? Welcome to the board!

Thank you for your reply!

She has a great sense of smell! Very picky eater, has had reflux, and doesn't like loud things like fireworks or even toilet flushing. I will have to get ahold of those books!

Would you tell me more about your daughter? and what you have done for her and how you handled her outbursts etc? Does she have sensory issues with clothes?

Thanks again!


Well-Known Member
It's a he is on the autism spectrum. He has sensory issues. Once he started getting interventions, and we understood him better, he stopped having outbursts. He's fourteen now and really exceeding all expectations. His behavior, which started out so horrendous, is fantastic. It's a matter of finding out the missing puzzle pieces. Your daughter sounds like she has sensory issues, which again usually goes with another disorder and rarely stands alone. But you're on the right track.


Active Member
I could have written your post when my son was your daughter's age. My son started reading at age 2 so it was natural for us to attribute some of his differences to being so bright but there was a heck of a lot more than that going on.

Here's an article about sensory issues in young children. I also highly recommend the books tiredmommy mentioned.

This is a site about Asperger's Syndrome, which is the highest functioning of the Autistic Spectrum Disorders. Unfortunately it is often missed by doctors and specialists when children are young. Take a look and see if the description rings a bell for your daughter and/or other close family members:

Like Midwestmom, the more that I learned about my child through accurate assessment and research, the better I was able to understand him and help him progress.
She doesn't get along with others very well. When playing with other children she says they hurt her feelings, won't play with her, etc. She cries a good bit when other kids are around. If you say something to her or another child does, she often takes it a different way. She will say, thats not nice, you shouldn't say that to someone! Kids say things to each other that an adult wouldn't say to someone, she will tell a child in a heart beat that you shouldn't say that to someone! Its like she looks to deeply into things.

Her eye contact is ok. She has some focus issues, but its not a big big problem. She often gets caught up looking at something else and you have to snap her out of it and get her attention. What is apergers/autistium like? Not fully aware? Can you be much like a typical child an be on the aspergers spectrum? Aspergers has crossed my mind but I don't fully understand it.

Thank you again for all of your comments!!!


Active Member
Jessica, all of us here are parents. We can't diagnose but we give you or point you in directions to get the help you need with your child. Regardless of whether you wind up suspecting Asperger's Syndrome as a possibility in your daughter, I do think there's enough going on to initiate the evaluation process. There's information on how to do that listed at this link and the info is pretty much valid for a child of this age with behavioral problems you described regardless of final diagnostic outcome. Expect resistance from your pediatrician but be firm--well over half of all doctors dismiss parent concerns with this cluster of disorders, especially if the child is very bright.

In addition, if she's started school already (Kindergarten or above) you would also be wise to start a school district evaluation going, even if she's doing well right now. This is a seperate free evaluation. It won't take the place of a private medical evaluation but it can yield some helpful data and possibly services. For instance, the school is often the best place to address social issues because the child, peers, and a specialist are all together and can coach the child in more appropriate behaviors. My child has received a lot of proactive help from the school.

Like all disorders, children with Asperger's do vary from child to child and girls are said to present slightly different from girls. It's sometimes called "Geek Syndrome" and if you think back to high school you probably knew a geeky kid who didn't have any friends or seemed out of touch and maybe was bullied. When they are young, the kids tend to have little interest in other people or when they are with others are socially very inappropriate such as demanding things go their way or talking nonstop about their own interests. Most children with Aspergers come off as very intelligent when they are young--in the long run that may or may not be true across the board academically but they usually have obsessive interests and super skills in narrow areas.

Anxiety, behavioral problems and food/odor/clothing sensitivities are very common. Many will use language in a different way than their peers--often advanced vocabularies and/or speech that sounds a little odd. They often interpret the world and the actions of others in different ways than we might consider "normal".

Often families who have a child who is diagnosed with Asperger's start looking around the family tree and find others with similar traits.

How does she come out on these questions:
Does/did the child
a. Favor objects for play that aren’t typically used as toys by their peers (such as wheels, sticks, magnet letters, etc.)?
b. Seem fascinated or obsessed by objects/topics that aren’t typical for kids of their age (such asnumbers, the alphabet, words, math, geography, mechanical things such as air conditioners or vacuum cleaners, things with motors, etc)?
c. Play “differently” with toys or household objects (such as spin them, line them up in straight
lines, set them up in formations, etc.)?
d. Exhibit weak or unusual pretend play skills such as act out memorized scenes from books/films/TV/DVD instead ofcreating situations and dialogue; move toy trains around but not pretend to be the engineer/go places/pick up passengers; arrange pretend people or action figures but not create imaginary situations with them or have them interact with each other, etc?
e. Display behaviors and/or routines that seem unusual or quirky?

As for handling a child with these issues, evaluation and educating yourself, and getting proper help are the keys. For instance when my child was 4 we had daily clothing battles. I didn't know anything about sensory issues but I knew we couldn't go on like that so I bought him size pairs of the pants that he had the least resistance and ditto with shirts. It didn't end the clothes wars but they were reduced significantly as he didn't have to get used to different offending textures on his skin everyday.


Well-Known Member
Bill Gates has Aspergers Syndrome.
It's not all bad :smile:
If she has it, and I don't know if she does--just sounds like it to me (and I have no credentials) she would present as a normal/bright, but socially inept kid as a youngster, but, without help, it can become far more obvious as she ages. My son is on the spectrum and it hit us hard when he was around eleven--he was so different from his peers. He's doing great now. Don't be afraid--get an evaluation from a neuropsychologist and go from there. Sounds like your child has the markings of a possible very productive adult some day! Just ask Bill :wink:


Mom? What's a difficult child?
Jessica- Welcome
Like you my daughter K has had a hard time getting help, I have heard the same thing before, well she is so smart and she adapts. Her IQ is in the top 2 and 5% for kids her age. Yikes! She has no developmental issues or learning issues as of yet... so services were hard to come by.

I found the Neuro-psychiatric evaluation to be the best start for us, it really did point us in the right direction... he basically had her diagnosis correct from the start. She was diagnosis'd ODD in the beginning and now her psychiatrist3 has taken that off... whether that is because he has only seen her medicated or because her defiance is a part of her Bipolar? Who knows It doesn't really matter to me, because a diagnosis of ODD wouldn't really be the whole picture of my child, I didn't feel. She had a lot more going on. Maybe for some children, but not K.

She was doing Occupational Therapist (OT) for her sensory issues and now she is doing Horse therapy for a lot of other issues. It is great.
If someone tells you NO , find someone else... we have had to look high and low for good help... it is a long hard journey. Especially when your child doesn't fit what they feel a special needs child should look like!!!

Keep asking questions we are here to help.