How to tell?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by howlongto18, Jan 2, 2009.

  1. howlongto18

    howlongto18 New Member

    I've been reading about violent rage behavior in ADHD kids, and that sometimes it can be caused by damage to the brain in pregnancy or early childhood. Since Carlos is adopted from Guatemala, I have no idea about these things.

    He has seen now five doctors, four of whom have leaned toward bipolar, without an official diagnosis because he's only six. We've been at this for 3 years. Seroquel has been a lifesaver for us in stopping the violent rages. It doesn't always help the hyperactivity, but I feel like I can deal with that okay since he's homeschooled and I can work with him more than a public school teacher could. He can definitely focus when he wants to.

    My question is this. Could he have an injury that is undiagnosed that makes it harder for him to control his emotions, and if this were the case, would that type of malady be helped by seroquel, or does the fact that seroquel helps rule that possibility out? I hope I'm being clear enough, I'm not sure how to articulate my question properly. I know the Seroquel works for him. We recently dropped the dosage and we regressed enough to confirm what we knew already. I guess I just hold out hope that he's going to grow out of this like a kid with ADHD might, or at least be able to learn strategies to live unmedicated. Am I dreaming?

    Does the fact that seroquel works for him confirm BiPolar (BP), or could it still be something else? I suppose I should just be satisfied that he's stable, but I don't want him on serious medications for years if there were other avenues I should be taking which could lead to a medication free adulthood for him.
  2. Jena

    Jena New Member


    The only question I can answer from experience is that from my understanding of it and there are others that will follow who are more well versed with the medications. That seroquel working does not necessarily mean your child has BiPolar (BP). Seroquel is now known to treat other disorders as well, anxiety being one of them. There are alot of off label usage for this drug.

    They are also right now awaiting further info (the fda) from the drug company Aztrac I think it is that makes seroquel to also put seroquel on the market for depression next. Fda is still awaiting info last time I heard.
  3. howlongto18

    howlongto18 New Member

    Thank you. Sigh. I just wish I had a name for it so that I could feel more definitive and at ease with the treatment. It's so tiresome. Still, I feel bad complaining here, because though I've been there, we are lucky we have found something that has helped. I know a lot of you would be happy just to have something help with or without having a label and a direction, so I don't want to sound like a boob.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I'm an adoptive mom of four and I have a few questions.How old was he when you adopted him and was he in an orphanage? Do you have any info on the birthparents? Any known psychiatric disorders? Substance abuse? Do you know if the birthmother took care of herself in her pregnancy? Did she drink? It is harder if you don't know anything. We had some info on all four kids. in my opinion your son probably has way more going on than ADHD. He could have attachment disorder, bipolar has already been diagnosed (and is much more likely to cause rages than ADHD)...are you talking about seizures? He may have them, but in my opinion it's probably not the entire problem. If his b-mom drank he could have fetal alcohol issues. Has he had a neuropsychologist evaluation. Our complicated adopted kids usually need a lot of evaluations over periods of time. The less we know about the birthparents, the harder it is for professionals to know what is wrong.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2009
  5. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    The kind of violent behavior you're talking about is rarely found in ADHD kids, and ADHD kids have a neurological disorder that is not considered "brain damage." I'm not really sure where you're reading this info.

    True brain damage can be picked up on an MRI that can be ordered by a pediatrician neurologist. Because my kids have a long history of migraines and mood issues, their neuro had them undergo MRIs. My son, who suffers more severe migraine and mood symptoms than his sister, had a perfectly normal MRI. My older daughter's MRI revealed small lesions in both of her temporal lobes. Her neuro believes these lesions could be (but are not necessarily) responsible for her mood dysregulation. You could request an MRI if you want to see whether your son has brain damage.

    I agree that just because Seroquel works for your son, it doesn't mean he has BiPolar (BP). Seroquel treats anxiety, depression, mania, anger, aggression, insomnia and mood instability.

    I also agree that a neuropsychological evaluation would be helpful in figuring out what's going on with your son.
  6. howlongto18

    howlongto18 New Member

    Unfortunately we really have nothing on the birth parents. All we know is that his birth mother was widowed and has five kids from her husband, and then had an affair with a man who "had another family." That's pretty much it. We know a little bit about her lifestyle from social workers reports, but nothing that would give us a clue. I wish I could meet his half sibs there and see if they share this.

    He was 2 1/2 when we adopted him and he demonstrated some of these behaviors on the first day, even before his foster mom left. He was with the same foster mother from birth. She obviously loved him and seemed to take good care of him so there is absolutely no reason to suspect abuse.

    I guess maybe I'm still in denial and holding onto that shred of hope that he can have an adult life without this burden.

    What things besides bipolar may possibly cause the rages, hyperactivity and sleeplessness? My fear is that he might have something more simple causing symptoms and we were treating him with something heavier than he needs, Know what I mean?? Off medications his symptoms are severe, with daily rages which can last hours and are very violent. Off medications I'm convinced he's going to end up in prison or dead. On seroquel he just looks like an adhd kid, with moments of calm soon after a dosage. We've had casual acquaintances ask us what we've given him, because it's a dramatic change.
  7. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member


    There are many things besides bipolar that can cause those symptoms:

    1. brain damage (as you have mentioned)
    2. fetal alcohol syndrom/effect
    3. autism spectrum disorder
    4. food allergies
    5. trauma

    Both of my boys were incredibly difficult 5 year olds. Both are so much better now as a 13 year old and an almost 10 year old. Both were on pretty large medication cocktails. The younger one is down to just Depakote and Clonodine. The older one is in the process of being weaned off his medications and I hope by summer to try a medication free month. Without the medications neither one would have gotten this far, primarily because the medication-induced stability gave them a chance to learn and grow.

    My children were all adopted from foster care at older ages so I understand the wishing to know what really happened before they came home.
    Good luck,
  8. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Seizures might also cause these sorts of behaviors.
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I doubt it is a simple problem. Unfortunately, that's not the norm for our adopted kids. In an adopted child with no history, there could be lots of things going on:
    1/fetal alcohol spectrum
    2/(this is common) Attachment Disorder (after all, he was taken away from the only caregiver he knew--older adopted kids usually have some form of attachment problems, and I'd address it with somebody who understands adoption issues. Not all therapists have a clue)
    3/another mental illness could be on the family tree too

    It is unlikely just one reason. These kids are ALL emotionally damaged at least a little when they come to us. It doesn't mean they can't get better, but you need to get out of denial fast and get him evaluated and in interventions. I highly recommend a neuropsychologist AND a Post-Adoption Worker who understands the issues adoptive children.
    I'd head for the hills if anyone again ever says they feel it is only ADHD. As for bipolar, could be, but it's more likely that he is a complicated child, thus the neuropsychologist is ideal for him.