Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by concernedstepdad, Sep 9, 2011.

  1. concernedstepdad

    concernedstepdad New Member

    I hope I don't get flamed for not just "reading the forum" for this but I am thoroughly confused and everyones situations seem so individual I am bit lost here.

    My fiance'e and I have been together for 3 and a half years but I have known her 8 year old son for closer to 5. Ever since I have met him I have been amazed and impressed by his level of intelligence and perception. He has the proverbial mind like a steel trap along with the memory of an elephant and a few other cliche's. But seriously he is a brilliant young man.

    Soon after I became involved with him I grew concerned about somethings in his personality. He was very set in routines that I was concerned about his ability to adapt. I don't mean that he had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) tendencies or anything, just that anything that was out of the ordinary was difficult for him to take.

    He has also been very argumentative since the beginning. This is due to, in part, the fact that he is beyond his years in perception and cognitive ability. There is getting little past him and he needs to be explained to why he must or must not do something because in his rationale it doesn't make sense. The whole "because I told you so" thing is lost on him.

    But the winter before last something changed. He went for an extended visit with his father and when we picked him and his brother back up there seemed to be some concern over some inappropriate activity and, from discussions about this incident, some concern as to whether he was witness to some inappropriate activity by some older strangers. It turned out to be just some overzealous parenting that led to a concocted story on his part.

    However, it also seem to change him for the worst. He became extremely defiant in school and had a few incidents there that led to a suspension. After some diliberating with the school we came up with a plan to get him into counseling and pursue what measures we needed to take to "fix" this situation.

    We met with a counselor and his pediatrition and it was determined that he suffers from ADD and ODD. The plan was to place him on a low dosage of Concerta and start using a disciplinary method known as "1,2,3 Magic". Everyone bought the book and watched the videos and we were all on board.

    Everything was better for some time. The concerta, though it made him a bit lethargic, made him lose his appetite in the morning, and at times made him a bit "spacy", seemed to have a positive affect. And though he didn't like the new discipline system it seemed to work.

    However, none of this was sustainable. Soon the Concerta didn't seem to help any. The 1,2,3 Magic was quite difficult to be consistent with at times. And the counseling never seemed to amount to anything. We made it through the end of the first year without a lot of major difficulties.

    Then last year we ended up in the same situation. It began soon after the winter break-though it's really difficult to say that the visits with Dad spurred the activity it does seem highly coincendental. This time however, the teacher wasn't as primed to assist us. She wasn't terrible by any means but she just didn't seem able or willing to go the extra mile as the 1st grade teacher did. So he did end up getting suspended a couple more times and kicked of the bus for a few days at a time.

    Though I don't feel that the Concerta (now 4x's the original dose) was helping much, a couple of the days he had major issues he did not receive his medication. We were informed by the school that he was not to attend unless he had his medication.

    We started to lose faith in medicating him. We decided to change his diet and and add supplements. I went to a drug addiction seminar in which they were discussing brain biochemistry in addicts and showed that it was similar to those with ADD issues. So I did some research and found Daniel Amen's work to be quite interesting.

    So we starting reducing refined sugars and tried to feed him healthier foods and snacks and even went organic, gluten free when we could. This was quite expensive and only seemed to have a short-term minor affect on his behavior. During this time we also gave him supplements: fish body oils, GABA, L-Tyrosine, L-Carnitine and 5-HTP along with a multivitamin. We tried this for a number of months without any marked change.

    Over the summer we didn't have him on any medication. Very little seemed to change. He didn't do any worse or better.

    We are now in the second week of school and he has already been suspended for 2 days and kicked off the bus for 3. We still do not have him on medication. We are not sure which way to turn at this point.

    We would like to find a counselor that would help. We don't believe the last one did any good save for referring us to 1,2,3 Magic. The medicine does little accept makes him not want to eat breakfast. The supplement route, though I am definitely a supporting of using dietary supplements didnt seem to help.

    The way I would describe his behavior is sheer, undadulterated audacity. He refuses to do what he is told, uses foul language, declares that the people that are dealing with are mean, horrible people when he wants to be nice, 'b' words and 'd' words when he doesn't. He refuses to take responsibility for his actions and takes any curbing of his behavior with a "how dare you" attitude.

    He has had a few bouts where he threatened bodily harm to his mother. I dealt with this swiftly and we have really not much of that problem since.

    His environment and situation creates chaos and tension at times. Together my fiance'e and I have a number of children. 8 in the household most all the time to be exact. This is tough for him sometimes.

    His dad is really only an every-other-weekend dad. I have attended more of his events exponetially then his biological father.

    A couple of ways we have failed him in the past is we haven't been 1.) consistent 2.)effective enough (tough enough) with the punishments 3.) his mother and I have disagreements that have spilled over into the view of the children. The third one I am most disappointed about (not just for him but all of our children and ourselves). We try and try to work on this and it always comes back because we are so protective of our respective children and have differing views on how to raise them at times. This has been difficult.

    Before I have the world come down on me, let me just say we are aware that we could use some couples counseling to but finding time for it and the funds to pay for it since our insurance doesn't cover it has made it virtually impossible. We don't feel justified in our arguing. We both realize it is wrong but have yet to find a way to deal with our frustations, to which there are many, in a positive manner. That has improved more recently but still could be an issue.

    So at this point, we are at a complete loss as to which direction to head. THe resources in our area, frankly, suck. His original counselor came recommended to us as someone who "specialized in behavioral disorders" but was completely ineffective. Finding someone close by that is truly good at this has been impossible.

    Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. Judgement would not. We want to do the best by this little boy. I see him as as much of my son and my biological sons. My biggest concern is his great mind with end up being wasted on chaotic outbursts rather than helping him achieve greatness, which I believe he can and should. Please help.
  2. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Grab The Explosive Child by Ross Green while he gets on the waiting list to see a neuropsychologist. I can almost guarantee you there is more to this than ADD and ODD. High intelligence + inflexibility has me thinking Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), though I may be biased because that's what mine was diagnosis'd with and she's pretty similar in nature. Normal punishments don't take, you have to be creative and flexible while still being consistent and predictable. I know it sounds contradictory, but it isn't once you get the hang of it.

    Since you're the potential stepparent, you don't have legal rights over him. If you can get his mom on here, too, it would benefit everyone involved. You'll need to both be on the same page. Also check out the Love and Logic series, and give us some more background if you can.
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I would say that he could use a neuropsychologist evaluation because to me it sounds like something else is going on other than ADHD/ODD which may be why the medications aren't working anymore. Have you ever heard of Asperger's Syndrome? I obviously can not diagnose, but he sounds classic. The first diagnosis for kids who have it is often ADHD/ODD. Aspie's need their space and consistency and a place to chill when the noise level or activity level overwhelms them. Does this child have a problem making or keeping friends? Is he picky about foods or what he will wear? Does he have any odd "quirky" behaviors?

    However, is Mom on board with trying to get to the bottom of things? She is the only one who can do anything.
  4. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    Ditto the others. As I was reading your intro, as you progressed, I read my story unfold (minus the father visits). That is exactly the way things happened with my son. He incorrectly carried the label ODD and only recently found out he is on the autism spectrum. I really think you should look into Asperger's diagnostic criteria as well as read some books and see if any of it fits. I think you may be surprised. I also highly recommend Explosive Child. It has made a huge difference in our lives here.

    Good luck and welcome to our little corner of the world.
  5. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    I'm with MWM and HaoZi.

    The Explosive Child helped - not so much with O's behavior, but more with my perception of, and reaction to, it.

    I was thinking Aspergers, too - right off. The inability to transition is what grabbed me.

    Honestly, a neuropsychological examination (and it's not just one visit, trust me) seems in order. If Mom can convince the pediatrician to refer, insurance should cover it.

    I don't have any rights to my stepchildren, either. BUT. Visits with bio seemed to exacerbate the problem. Now there was a lot going on. But... If he has issues with transitions... Perhaps the every-other-weekend, odd holidays, yada yada, nature of the visitation is triggering him...

    Also, consistency is SO important. Just with normal kids - but with our difficult children it's HUMONGOUS. And ya know... Dad's house has different rules. Can he and Mom get along, long enough, to discuss this? To set in place stuff that's consistent from household to household? It would have been wonderful in our case... It just didn't happen. (Now that the kids no longer visit bio - she passed away - things are settling down. At least for J.)

    HUGS - and welcome!!! (And if you had read every post on the board, you would never be done. I didn't either...)
  6. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I second the motion. A counselor and a Pediatrian are not qualified to identify ODD and ADHD as "the" issues. You need to get a neuro/psychological evaluation done so you will know exactly what you're dealing with. Unfortunately they are not cheap. Sometimes insurance will at least help with the cost. Other times the school board pays for the n/p evaluation.

    Regarding Concerta there are multiple choices available and most of us have had to try at least two to find the right medication and dose to help our children. The use of the Feingold (if I remember correctly) has helped alot of children but only in the case of big allergies have I ever known it to solve the problems. Furthermore, as you say, it is quite expensive and feeding your large family that was has to be very costly. Limiting the intake of only one child in the family sets them apart and rarely works. With my first I did eliminate artificial food coloring and additives by careful label reading and it did seem to help a bit...but it was impossible to maintain when outside food exposure came as part of new friendships, parties, etc.

    I, too, live in a community with limited health care options. The n/p's had to be scheduled in a larger town a few hours away....but it was worth the inconvenience and expense to have "real" experts identify my childs needs.
    Best of luck to you. DDD
  7. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    In re: couples counseling, check the churches in your area, even ones you don't attend.
  8. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Oh yeah - my ins didn't cover marital/couples counseling, either. My personal counselor considered speaking to husband, with me there, as part of my therapy...
  9. keista

    keista New Member

    That's my exact concern for my DD1.

    I also was thinking Asperger's as well. But there could also be underlying anxiety and mood issues. Based on my experiences with my kids, I hope it's Asperger's. in my opinion that has more "logical" cause and effect and treatment options.

    This boy is lucky to have you as a stepdad!

    by the way we don't judge, and we don't flame on this forum (been off 'regular' forums for so long I forgot all about that). Occasionally we do get BLUNT, but it is out of caring and concern, sometimes frustration. But it is never out of meanness or drama seeking. We all have enough of that in our real lives.

    Welcome to the board! :notalone:
  10. concernedstepdad

    concernedstepdad New Member

    Thank you to everyone that chimed in and didn't rush to judge. It's really scary when you are dealing with the issues we are because you feel like everyone thinks you are lacking as a parent and as an adult. But we do try very hard with all of our children. We aren't perfect but we work very hard.

    We have contacted our pediatrician to get a ref to a neuro/psychiatric test. We are going back to using Concerta until we know better.

    I do believe much of the issue is transitioning between dad's and our house. I didn't mean to characterise dad badly. He certainly does care, he just lives an hour and a half away so he can't be involved as much. But we worked together before and I believe we can do it again.

    I have shown my fiancee the posts and she was very appreciative of the input. We will look into the book you suggested and try to schedule an exam. I will keep you posted of what comes of it. THank you all again.
  11. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Welcome! No flames from us - we know it can be hard to jump in and we don't expect you to remember all of us right away. That is part of the reason we all have signatures - we have trouble keeping each other straight sometimes too! This is the most accepting, supportive, informative and loving group you could ever find. We ALL have been there done that in some way and we get it where most people just don't.

    As far as letting the kids see you argue, it depends on if it is a bad thing or a good thing. It is bad if you fight disrespectfully or about a child's behavior in front of the kids. Seeing you disagree and work out a compromise on other issues is how most kids will learn to handle problems with others, esp with their future partners/spouses.

    He is a very lucky kid to have you in his life - it is obvious that you truly love him.

    He really seems, from your description, to fit an Asperger's diagnosis. Now we are NOT professionals who can give the diagnosis, but he sure sounds a LOT like many aspie's I know. Look up the disorder on google and read about it - esp anything by Tony Attwood or Temple Grandin. They are incredible.

    Having you step in and stop physical violence against his mom is an awesome thing. My husband was not able to do that because he gets so angry if he thinks someone is going to hurt me that he was always terrified he would hurt my difficult child. So he kept the other kids away from us and I handled the rages. Good think that I am pretty bull-headed and hard to intimidate, but having you there as a steady influence who won't tolerate that is a great thing.

    Often when an aspie is violent it stems from huge frustration. They have a terribly hard time grasping social rules - and the ones they do grasp may only make sense to them.

    I also strongly recommend reading Parenting Your Child with Love and Logic - and any other books written by the same people. You can see all of their titles at . It is much more effective long term, in my opinion, than the 1-2-3 stuff or any of the other things except The explosive Child and What your Explosive Child is Trying to Tell You.

    Oh, the schools will NOT tell you this, but if they insist your child take medications or he cannot come to school then the school MUST pay for the medications. They CANNOT demand that you pay for the medications if they make it a condition of his education. I am sure some school officials don't know this, but it is NOT a state rule - it is federal.

  12. TeDo

    TeDo Guest



    Big Time DITTO!!!!!!!
  13. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    Does he have an IEP?

  14. concernedstepdad

    concernedstepdad New Member

    No they have not done one on him.
  15. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    He needs one. IEPs protect our kids. The schools (most of them) sit up and take notice when a kid has an IEP. An IEP means your kid is going to be able to learn (in theory) because the school is going to accommodate for the diagnosis. It means that your very bright difficult child has a legal document that says he needs x,y, and z to be able to learn and the school is going to provide it. In reality some schools are great at IEPs and some you have to fight and sometimes even with an IEP in place and all adults doing everything they can the kiddo still has a hard time learning. Without an IEP my difficult child 1 would be lost right now. His reading is grade levels above everyone else. He loves math, but because of his behavior he would very soon fall behind with out the help spelled out in the IEP. And he would cause the rest of the class to fall behind too because the poor teacher would be spending all her time on difficult child 1 instead of teaching.

    Your wife can request that he be tested by the school. Because he is so smart he probably won't qualify from the IQ or academic testing, but from what you wrote he would qualify because of his behaviors. Also, if the neuropsychologist diagnosis him with autism then the diagnosis will qualify him. To qualify his behavior has to be bad enough to interfere with the other kids learning or his own learning. The school psychologist can do observations and you can request Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluations that are part of the IEP testing. Even with getting the school to do the testing it would be good to get independent testing done through your insurance company. The independent testing usually trumps the schools testing if they come up with different results. The independent testing is more thorough and is usually interpreted better. I've taken the schools testing to independent testers and they have interpreted it much differently than the school did. And even if you get the independent testing done first the school will still (probably) want to do there own testing; at least some of it.

    good luck. You have found a great place.
  16. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    I ditto what the others have are dealing with one of our "difficult child" kids as we call them....not your typical ADHD kiddo. That said, I would not put him back on the concerta, as a stimulant medication can make these types of kiddos behavior's worse. A neurological-psychiatric exam can take months to schedule, so while you are waiting I would get him into see a psychiatrist who can offer you more options with mood stabilizing types of medication, rather than stimulants.
  17. concernedstepdad

    concernedstepdad New Member

    I will look into that too. His behavior is a major disruption to the class.