intro and help please.......

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by ready2run, Mar 8, 2011.

  1. ready2run

    ready2run New Member

    i have been searching for a forum to talk about parenting issues and from reading here i think this may be somewhere i can fit in.
    i am having alot of problems dealing with my step-son who is going to be 6 next week. i also have 2 sons and a daughter. my boys are 2 and 4, then my step-son and my oldest is 12 from a previous relationship. out of the 4 kids, my 12yo and my step-son are both diagnosed on the autism spectrum. i also beleive my 4yo has possible ADHD or is starting to show signs of Aspergers and my baby is also showing symptoms of that alone stresses me out because i feel like i'm to blame for this although i know i have no control over it. i have shared custody of my daughter with my parent because i was very young when i had her and her father passed away when she was a baby so i needed the help and to finish school.
    about a year after i had my first son we found out that husband had another son who had been in foster care for 2 years at that point and they were going to adopt him out so they finally were forced to contact him. this was a surprise for both of us. we discussed it and decided to have him come live with us. when we got him we were told he was 'difficult'. now, that was the understatement of the year. i contacted his birth mother to get as much information as i could and talked to some of the foster parents he was with. i found out he was born prematurely and was exposed to alcohol and drugs prenatally, born addicted to oxycotin. right from the get-go when he came to live with us he was just so miserable to have around. i had hoped in the beginning it was because he wasn't used to us and it would straighten out. we got evicted because the neighbours couldn't stand all his screaming and crying. i had to leave my job and my apprenticeship to stay home with him because i could not find any childcare willing to take him.
    it has been almost four years now that he has been with us and nothing seems to be getting better. well, some things get better but are replaced with other things. i have gone to millions of appointments with him and many people have told me nothing is wrong with him but i am finally being heard now that he has been in school this year and last. so far he has been diagnosed with ODD, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified, ADHD and we are currently waiting on some genetics testing to verify or rule out FADS, Fragile-x and some other cromisone disorder which i can't recall the name of.
    He is on risperidone and has been for the last year. this is because he was hurting himself all the time and people were calling CAS on us because he had obvious injuries on a regular basis from scratching himself, punching himself, banging his head on the wall and generally throwing himself around with no care of if he got hurt. he also cried and screamed all the time to the point where i could never understand anything he was saying because of it. he never sleeps if he isn't medicated so for 2 1/2 years i didn't really sleep either because it was pretty much impossible. he was getting 3 hours a night, max. now with the medication these things have calmed down, but not been completely eliminated. but for every behaviour improvement we make, something else comes in to take it's place.

    now, i am the one who deals with him and does all his appointments and meetings because his dad has no patience for him, which is totally understandable but frustrates me at the same time because i am also running low on patience here and i feel angry like "it's not my kid!!" although really, he is just as much mine because of how he came to be with us it was more like an adoption than a step-child if that makes sense.
    here are some of the behaviours we are dealing with on a regular basis with him.
    he destroys everything. if he can reach it and it can break it will get broken, so everything has to be locked up and hidden. he is currently on his third bed and now it is torn a bit so it won't be long before he has that unusable too(luckily i receive $600/year to replace things he breaks although that only covers a small percent). he still hits himself both out of frustration and to get what he wants from people(doesn't work on me), he cries at everything and any little thing can set him off. he will never give an answer to a direct question about his behaviour, if you ask again he will either fall to the ground screaming or start yelling at you. he doesn't listen to anything he is asked to do or follow the rules. i know he understands them because he is the first to tell on anyone else who breaks rules but seems to think for some reason he is above them. he steals all the time and lies about it. at school he has been deemed a danger to himself and others and he is no different at home. he needs to be constantly supervised and he is sneaky so even if you turn around for two seconds he will do something like kick the baby or run off. he pulls apart walls and breaks windows and peels the paint off, takes the heating grates apart to hide the things he steals inside. heaven forbid anyone forget to lock the washroom after they use it because he will be right in there and in 5 minutes he has the place destroyed. he tries to get his brothers to do things he knows are dangerous just to test them out and sometimes it works. he has started manipulating the 4yo into doing things for him by threatening him. i could go on forever.
    i mean, he has his good points too. i'm not trying to say there are no good things about him. he's good at math for one. and when he is in the mood to co-operate he will help me pick up toys if i give him very specific directions. he eats his veggies at dinner and occasionally comes over and lets me pat his back which is the closest thing to a hug he'll allow.
    like i said, the other kids are also special needs and yet they seem to be able to behave for the most part and try not to get into trouble. this child does not care about the consequences one bit. he does not care about the rules. time outs don't work. yelling doesn't work. talking to him doesn't work. taking away privilages doesn't work. awarding good behaviour works for about 2 seconds and may help get him to co-operate a bit easier the next time but it does not in any way shape or form cut down on the other negative stuff. i am at my witts end dealing with this child. he does not even seem to care about myself or his father the slightest bit or anyone else for that matter, other than himself. he actually thinks it's funny when he sees someone hurt/sick or upset. i don't know what to do. i was suggested on another forum to reward him all the time regardless of his behaviour in order to prevent the meltdowns from occuring but i don't see how that would help anything. there is no way i'm going to let him off time out because he hits himself and give him a treat instead as they suggested. in my opinion that would only reinforce what he's doing and lead to a total unraveling of the slow, slow progress we have made so far.
    i know it sounds horrible but i wish i could rewind time and go back to the day CAS called and told us about him and re-do that whole conversation so he would have been adopted out to someone who would maybe be able to deal with him better or at least be away from my other kids because he really is effecting them in ways that are not good.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there and welcome to the board. Soooooooo sorry you have to be here though.

    I wondered if the two of your have considered that his particular child may suffer from fetal alcohol spectrum. He does NOT need to have the facial features and short stature to have brain damage from his birthmother's alcohol abuse and alcohol CAN cause actual organic brain damage. These kids do not know right from wrong. They can't grasp it. They also tend to forget things that t hey knew the day before and present as very ADHD, impulsive and reckless. They tend to be emotionally labile.

    I adopted my son who had crack in his system at birth. We got him at age two and, because of some delays and his difficult behavior, we took him to a specialized place in Chicago to see if he was suffering from alcohol symdrome. Let's face it...if she didn't say "no" to crack, she didn't say "Sorry, I can't drink, I'm pregnant." My son "lucked Occupational Therapist (OT)"...sort of. He is on the autism spectrum, but is somewhat functional and he does not seem to have the worst of the alcohol affects (although they tell me at school that he does not retain information well...he has an IEP).

    Here is a link on fetal alcohol spectrum. Unfortunaely, it is tricky to treat...but it can give you answers and peace of mind if you figure out that this is what it is. Also, you can make realistic plans for him. On top of this, due to his early years in foster care, he could have some attachment issues as well. How is he doing in school? Does he learn from his mistakes? He may verbally understand rules, but be unable to relate them to his own behavior...Unfortunately, this child has had stuff piled on him even before he was born and you have to do what is best to keep your other children safe...
  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I'm sorry you need us, but glad you found us.

    We also have a family of autistics. As we often say, "autism doesn't just run in our family, it gallops!" However, none are as difficult as your stepson. He needs a lot of help and may need a therapeutic placement for his sake and yours.

    What to do? A starting point is to try to get into his head, see if you can find what upsets hi, what calms him down, what he enjoys, what he hates. Make lists, keep notes. Keep a diary on him and see if you can identify any links. Do the same for the other kids if you have concerns about them too. Every kid is different, even in the same family.

    With your stepson, the lying, stealing and manipulation really concern me - that doesn't sound like autism to me. it still could fit, but there's something else going on that needs to be identified. The drug problems prenatally don't help, but on their own do not cause this as a facet of autism. Something else is going on. Where the drugs could have caused problems - the cerebral irritability, the hyperactivity, the general delays in social development and executive function. But it still may not be the drugs. Sometimes we get caught up looking for something to blame, when the answers won't help us fix anything. Sometimes we just have to deal with what IS.

    When you can, do a sig for yourself so we can keep track of it all. How old is your stepson? That can also be relevant.

    We have actually used Maths to keep difficult child 3 calmed down when he was beginning to get upset or anxious.


  4. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    The stealing and breaking could also be stemming from how often he's had everything he's known torn out from under him (attachment issues). That's a lot to deal with in just a few years of life, and if you look at it, he's been through that 1/3 of his life, so it's something he's come to expect.
    Has he had any treatment for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)? Been seen for attachment issues, in addition to autism? These kids also do what they see, so what did he see before he came to you?
    I also suggest you pick up The Explosive Child, it's a great book, and while you may not use everything in it, it will help you get a better look in his mind, and give you that pause to consider where he's coming from before you react to him. After a while you'll get better at seeing when he's working up to this behavior and can start making the trial/error moves to head it off.
    Is he in mainstream school? Does he have an IEP or are you working towards getting him one?
  5. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hi! Have you considered occupational therapy for him? He sounds like he's got some serious sensory issues that may be kicking in in a MAJOR way. They have brushing regimins, weighted vests and blankets and a variety of therapies that might help him slow down and find comfort.

    Has he had a neuropsychologist to complete his current diagnosis'?

    Gotta go...Weeble has something suspicious that she's chewing on! Will check in later!

  6. dreamwallaby

    dreamwallaby New Member

    This sounds like a very difficult situation and I am so sorry for you and your family. I have had the same guilty feeling of wishing someone else could have my kid. I know that it's not an answer and just a strong feeling I get when I seem overwhelmed and I don't have the answers to help him. It's the feeling of loving him because he is my son, but I don't like him, Which I feel terrible even admitting :( I think the feelings can be normal and I hope you are able to find some answers here.
  7. ready2run

    ready2run New Member

    he is being tested for fetal alcohol, which i'm sure he has. i actually met his birth mother about three weeks before he was born when she moved in next door to me. after he was born i found out she was using massive amounts of drugs and drinking and have been told by her friends she did this through out her pregnancy. she had another baby right away that had all the classic facial features of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) but unfortunately that baby did not make it very long. when my ss was with her she was also breast feeding him with all the drugs/booze in her system and passing out not able to look after him. that is when he was originally put into foster care. at this point i wasn't aware that my new boyfriend was the babies dad and neither was he or we would have done something then. i only knew that he knew her and had dated her before. either way, yes we have considered it. we also took him to a neurologist and he had an MRI done which showed a couple of very small 3mm holes in his right frontal lobe but he told us not to worry about them because they were small. he is pretty small, in my opinion. he is the same size as my 4yo but much thinner.

    I have also considered a possible attachment disorder. it is hard to tell if he had a hard time adjusting to being with us or how much he cares, ect. because i can't tell what problems are caused by what. it all just seems like one big ball of stress/anger and there are so many things that it could be caused by... i just don't know. i will look into that book though. he is in a mainstream school, and he does have an iep in place. he also has his own teachers aid. right now he is failing at everything but that is because he refuses to be tested or to co-operate most times. i do know he's good at math, as he tends to do math while he's eating dinner but he does not grasp writting/letters and has been working on learning the letters in his name now for a year and half but hasn't quite gotten them yet. he is very disruptive at school although they told me last week that he is making some improvements. he will sit with the rest of the class at story time now, for example but that the aid spends most of her time trying to keep him from melting down or being distructive. she is also struggling with his stealing and lieing about it at school and like me, she does not know how to get it to stop.
    before he got here...... i'm not too sure what he's seen. this is his 4th home that i know of. i do know he was given back to his birth mother right before they tried to adopt him out and that he was removed from there because of abuse in the home and his birth mother lost the rights to visit all of her children at that point although i don't have any specifics on what happened.

    he does not have any occupational therapies at the moment. they are provided by an agency here which he has been to twice. both times he went there for assessment we were told nothing was wrong with him and made to feel like idiots so i am not really enthusiastic about going back there and asking about services. he does have a heavy blanket which was handed down to him by my 12yo who said at the time that clearly he needed it more than she i have everything i need to make him a weighted vest for school but i don't know how much weight to add to it. i have 10lbs of weighted beads to use in it but i know that would be too much, he only weighs about 40lbs.

    yes, i know what you mean. i really just wish he could be happy but i don't know how to get there. i don't know how to stop him from doing all these things and it really, really bothers me that my other kids are exposed to his violent outbursts and distructive nature because it effects not only how they behave but who they are when they witness this kind of thing on a regular basis. i think that they understand, other than the 2yo, that it's not normal to act like that and that it's not okay and we are trying to work on it.

    do you guys think that it would be appropriate to ask the doctor to add more medication? either to up the dose or add something different? i have been trying to hold off on changing it because i don't really beleive in medicating them but in this case it was the only option left other than sending him away. i wonder sometimes if he would make more improvements with some adjustments because he has come a long way with his medication. he actually can spend time with the family now without making it totally intolerable for everyone else in the room and he plays with the other kids now, although it's more like he is dictating to them what to play, they don't seem to mind and he isn't constantly trying to attack everyone like he used to. only when i'm not looking and it's not nearly as bad as it was.
    my main concern right now, as i said, is the stealing.... it's important to me that he stops doing it as soon as possible.
  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Medication can help. You need to identify what the problems are (attention issues; anxiety; anger) and medicate accordingly. Therapy also helps. It sounds like he has a lot of problems which are beyond the ability of medications to help directly, but medications might settle him enough so therapy can help.

  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    If he has fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, the best you can do is to watch him carefully because these children do not really understand cause and effect. They need a lot of hands on all of their lives. Being in an adoptive parent group, I've known many people with children who have this syndrome. If that's in the picture, then it's the biggest part of the picture because it is brain damage. I really hate when mothers drink when they are pregnant. This is totally preventable.

    It doesn't help that he was tossed around when he was young.

    Poor kid :<
  10. ready2run

    ready2run New Member

    it scares me that if he acts this way at his age, he could be much worse when he is older and bigger because if i can't 'control him'(you know what i mean) now, there will be no way i can keep him under control when he gets bigger than me or is big enough to do serious damage to someone. i wish i could contact the genetics clinic and find out if they got his test results back but they are only open for a week every few months.