I think my 6yr old may have ODD

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by patwells, Oct 8, 2008.

  1. patwells

    patwells New Member

    Hi there:

    I have a now 6 year old daughter who I think may have ODD. First, a little bit of history. For the last couple of years, we have been dealing with some issues regarding clothing feeling "weird". It got pretty severe, but through help from an child occupational therapist, it has gotten better (but not perfect.) He believes that the problem with the clothing is a sensory processing problem. For the most part, I agree. However, clothes don't always bug her. There are times when I know that she will be more bothered, like when she is experiencing any stress or feeling rushed.

    Now, on to the ODD. She gets mad soooo easily! Generally, she is a giving and loving child who is easy to get along with. But then, a switch trips and she falls apart. She disagrees with us quite abit, not on big stuff usually. However, she is just particular and notices if we aren't accurate when talking about anything with her. For example, if we are talking about something and we describe it a little differently than we had the first time, she will catch this and bring it up!

    We think that she'll make a great lawyer someday, she almost always catches the loopholes. For example, we asked her to not play in the dirt with her hands. I came back to find her playing in the dirt with her feet. I reminded her that we had said not to play in the dirt. She replied, "I'm not touching it with my hands." and "Also, it's gravel not dirt." So, there is a need to be direct and specific with her. These disagreements happen more frequently when she is tired or feeling rushed.

    When my husband tries to impose a taking away of toys with her when she is feeling pushed, she reacts by escalating the encounter. "Fine take it away." Then he escalates to taking away the toy for longer. "She says, fine take it away for three days." Next thing you know, she has lost the toy for a month or more. I've told my husband that this has to stop. I can see in her eyes that she doesn't want this really to happen, she just can't stop herself. He has agreed to try some different techniques. (On a side note, she can also end up laughing while arguing, but it sounds more like a panicked laugh than a joyful one.)

    Any comments anyone?

    Thanks Trish
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Right off the bat, has she ever been evaluated by a neuropsychologist. ODD rarely stands alone. I have some questions that will help us help you. Extremely literal thinking is common is things such as Asperger's Syndrome and high functioning autism.

    1/How was her early development? Speech, eye contact with strangers, cuddling, socialize with peers, can she make transitions from one activity to another well, does she have any obsessions, does she play well with toys, memorize anything by rote? On the other hand is she overly precocious and talk like a "little professor?" She certainly does seem to have sensory issues, but I doubt that's the whole thing.

    2. Are there any psychiatric problems or substance abuse on either side of the family tree?

    You may want to do a signature like I have done below.
  3. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Hello Patwells and welcome,

    MidwestMom has some good questions for you, which might help us to point you in the right direction for support, strategies and help.

    Some of the characteristics you describe in your daughter do sound a bit Autism-spectrum-ish to me. Sensory integration issues, literal thinking, difficulty with transitions, interpreting your words literally.

    ODD is often a symptom of an underlying disorder, as your child is expressing frustration that things aren't going right in her head. Lots of us have started out with a diagnosis of ADHD or ODD or both, only to later discover underlying conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) spectrum disorders, mood disorders, etc.

    I agree with MWM that a neuropsychologist evaluation will help you to pinpoint what's going on with your daughter. In the meantime, a few of resources that many of us on CD have found useful:
    Love and Logic http://www.loveandlogic.com/
    Child Brain childbrain.org
    The book The Explosive Child by Ross Greene

  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I second the others.

    It was screaming at me as I read your post, but you do need to get this professionally assessed because someone needs to meet with her, to see her, to talk with her, and tat someone needs to be professionally qualified to diagnose - but I do think you ARE dealing with sensory integration problems and more. The sensory issues DO seem worse when the child is stressed or upset. In this, the child is little different to any of us. Think about how you cope with life - if you're having a really bad day, a REALLY bad day, and the heel snaps off your favourite shoe, wouldn't you just want to sit down and cry? But if you're having an absolutely fabulous day, maybe attending an awards dinner in your honour and looking and feeling fabulous - and the heel breaks off your favourite shoe - you would probably laugh. The shoe can be fixed. Besides, it's only a shoe - and everything else is just so right, the shoe seemed more like a reminder to keep your feet on the ground! And now you have the perfect excuse to pad around comfortably in stockinged feet while everyone else's feet are wedged cruelly into stiletto heels.

    It's the same with our kids - if sensory things bug them, they can cope better if their stress levels are lower. Never underestimate the impact of stress.

    The arguments and the nitpicking - VERY Aspie. EXTREMELY Aspie. You need to get this assessed ASAP because Aspies need different handling. The longer you keep doing what you are doing, the more oppositional behaviour you will see - because it is actually being caused by the sort of firm, controlling parenting we were all taught was the right way to go (and which seems to work so well on most other kids).

    "Explosive Child" is a brilliant book which you can read and put into place NOW, before any evaluations, to try to 'turn off' the oppositional behaviour. A number of different conditions can produce the same behaviour development (all for subtly different reasons). But te underlying condition does need to be identified, so you can put other help in place for her as well. The behaviour - you can work on now, using the book (and don't be afraid - it actually is easier to implement than what you're doing now). People also recommend "Love and Logic" - I haven't read this myself yet, because we haven't really needed to. I should - people here don;t recommend a book unless it's really good, and these two books are the ones I see the most. So there has to be a good reason.

    There is a good discussion on Early Childhood on "Explosive Child" and how to adapt it to younger children - it's a sticky.

    Something else to do is go to the childbrain website trinity suggested, and look for the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) questionnaire. Again, this cannot be used to diagnose. But you can print out the results (whatever the score - and I bet she will score somewhere in the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) range) and take it to her specialist.

    Do try to get the neuropsychologist appointment.

    Somewhere in there you have a delightful, loving, law-abiding little girl who really does want to get things right. But she is going to drive you nuts if you don't find a way to mesh with the way her brain works. You CAN'T bend her to your way of functioning, not without breaking something (usually yourselves). But you CAN find a different way to steer her - by teaching her how to steer herself and giving her the tools to do this.

    "Explosive Child" works by you becoming her facilitators and not her obstacles. It's a lot easier than you would think, but you and husband would need to be on the same page. I think it's harder for blokes - they are raised to be the authority figures, to be the final say. A bloke who cannot control his family doesn't see himself as a whole man. He is going to have to lose this view (if it is in there anywhere).

    Where one parent is trying this and the other is not on the same page, this still works, but the parent trying to be traditional rapidly finds themselves the focus of the war zone. The child's behaviour WILL improve - except for that person. You and your husband need to be a united front, but you also both need to be reasonable and compassionate.

    If you can, get your husband to lurk here or join here - it really helps. My husband does tis and has now joined in his own right - it has helped enormously. We thought we had a brilliant and communicative relationship already - now it's far more. We didn't think there was room for any more!

    You said, on her playing in the dirt with her feet, ' "Also, it's gravel not dirt." So, there is a need to be direct and specific with her.'

    This is classic. My response usually is, "So if it's gravel, does that mean you CAN play in it?"
    The Explosive Child method of talking to her would include reasons. "Don't play in the dirt because we don't want the dirt disarranged; we're trying to grow the grass there and it won't grow if it gets kicked around."
    Or "Please don't play in the dirt because you will get dirty again, and you're wearing clean clothes. I don't want to have to wash again so soon if it's not needed."

    Then there are consequences - if she plays in it and messes up the lawn seeding, then get her to help re-seed the lawn. Give her a reason to not only understand, but to want to keep it in good order.

    Or if it's clothing - if she dirties her clothes by playing in the dirt after you asked her not to, then get her to do a load of washing. No anger, no scolding, just consequences. "Someone's got to do it. I didn't rub dirt on your clothing. I know you didn't mean to get your clothes dirty, but that is what happens when you play in the dirt. So now you can see - THIS is what happens when there are dirty clothes. We wash them."

    Another angle - if she insists that it's a mother's job to do the washing, tell her (gently) "It's not a mother's job to do washing that didn't need to be done. It makes me more tired and it takes me time that I was going to use to do something fun with you, like playing a game. If you help me, I will not be so tired and it will be done quicker, so we still might have a little time left for a game."

    You need to use time together, playing games for example, as reward for good behaviour (or behaviour that is not actually bad).

    Keep rewards short and immediate. Small. That way you can reward for small things often. Similarly, if you MUST punish, keep the punishments small, immediate and short-term. They also need to be appropriate - don't punish rudeness with confiscating toys, for example.

    And another point - the rudeness and arguing you report - you are both going to need to change your response to this, at least for a while. It's not motivated by a need to disrespect, it's motivated by an almost obsessive need to keep understanding the rules around her. She feels safe with you because she knows you love her, so she argues with you to try to understand how things are supposed to be. It's not only a girl thing, it's also an Aspie thing. You've got a double dose, I suspect.

    Another quick thing (I have to go - can't stay much longer) - keep your calm, both of you (I mean husband here). Keep telling yourself, "she is not being deliberately rude, no matter how it looks." What she is doing, is using you and husband as behaviour models - she dishes back to you, exactly the way she experiences your behaviour towards her. So when most parents can say to their child, "I asked you to pick up your toys. Turn off tat TV now and do what you are told. I get very angry when you do not do what you have been asked nicely to do," you shouldn't be too surprised to hear your child say to you, "I asked you to cook chicken for dinner tonight, and again you serve up meatballs. You know I prefer chicken - I don't know why I bother asking."

    Keep a diary. Record the good stuff, the bad stuff, the interesting stuff.

    If your child is Aspie or Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) in some form, this would be very good news (much better than what you are probably thinking, about now). Have courage. This can be really good. Life can turn around. You have a treasure and a joy. She's in there - we'll help you find her.

  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I'd also like to add something I've gotten used to. It goes like this:
    "Lucas, time to come down to catch the school bus! It's getting late!"
    "I don't have to come down yet. The bus comes at 6:57 and it's only 6:49."
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    We had to learn to say "correct" instead of "right". Constantly watching to avoid ambiguity. What we had to recognise - this was not because he wanted to have fun playing with us - it's because he really was struggling with trying to understand and cope with double meanings. He found them very frustrating. At that, he's better than some Aspies; if you read "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" by Mark Haddon which is written form the point of view of a 15 year old boy with Asperger's (much more Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) than difficult child 3) the character describes how he doesn't like looking at those images that can be two different things at the same time - the Peter-Paul vase, for example. He describes how it makes his head feel to look at them.
    Actually, that's another good book - not to teach you anything about how to handle your child necessarily, just to give you some idea of what it CAN be like, living with Asperger's. It's a work of fiction, but a brilliant one. An award-winner, quite an easy read from one point of view.

  7. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Further to what MWM and Marg mentioned, I've found that a firm but flexible structure really helps as well.

    "Little easy child, you need to be in the bath at 3:00 because we're leaving for Nana's at 4:30"
    "But Mummy, my favourite show is on then. Can I have my bath at 3:30?"
    "Yes. But that means no dawdling, and no fussing at bath time. Bath right at 3, no arguments and no negotiating. Got it?."
    "Got it."
    "Okay. I'll be in the bathroom at 3, to help you run the bath."

    Clear unambiguous expectations ahead of time, with all loopholes filled, seems to curtail a LOT of oppositional behaviour on Little easy child's part. I wonder if similar techniques might help with your daughter as well...