Introduction to my 4 (almost 5) year-old

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by mac7318, Dec 13, 2012.

  1. mac7318

    mac7318 New Member

    Hello everyone! I’m so glad I happened upon this forum. As I read a lot of your stories, I thought, wow, I could have written that exact same thing. What a blessing to find some people that really get what is going on, without judgement. It’s exhausting to feel judged every day, on top of dealing with a challenging kid. Today was a rough one, as he finally had a pretty bad outburst at school, resulting in my crying once again and feeling a bit despondent.

    Speaking of the challenging kiddo, mine is 4, turning 5 end of January. He is currently in Occupational Therapist (OT), with sensory and emotional regulation issues. We are new to it, having been in it for only 2 months. We are planning to meet with her just after the holidays for a long feedback session. I don’t have an official diagnosis from her yet. She has been in contact with his preschool teachers. The teachers and school have been really great and open. They’ve talked directly with his Occupational Therapist (OT) therapist to get ideas and feedback, and are very communicative with me, giving me a daily update.

    Here are my basic observations:

    He is emotionally inconsistent, oppositional and defiant. When he gets angry, he currently calls anyone and anything “stupid,” and kicks and hits when he’s gone over the top. He’s been doing that for well over a year. He seems to go through phases of what he does. For a while, it was just a lot of hitting and headbutting. Then major spitting. If he’s put in his room, he will pound on the door hard a few times. (He has kicked a hole in the door before.) Now it’s mostly saying “stupid” with intermittent spitting and kicking. He does the worst when out of his routine or if he’s tired or hungry (like most kids), but of course his reactions are out of the norm. He also flees when upset, or when he’s caught out doing something unacceptable or is embarrassed. Today in class was his worst ever, as at various points, he knocked over some chairs, kicked a boy, instigated an issue with another child (chasing him around even though he didn’t want to be chased. Ironic, as he gets upset when others chase him and he doesn’t want them to), ran out of the classroom, and called his teacher “stupid.” UGH.

    He is having perfectionist tendencies (gets extremely frustrated/angry if he can’t get something right away, or colors out of the lines,). He does not like it when he doesn’t get his way. He becomes very easily emotionally overwhelmed when faced with disappointment, anxiety, transitions or a difficult peer situation or misunderstanding. If a child says “no, you can’t play that with me,” he has a very dramatic reaction, crying and running off. He has a major flight issue, and tends to run away when upset. In the house, it’s fine. Today at school, he ran out of the class and the teacher had to physically bring him back in, which isn’t ok obviously. He is uber fast, which doesn’t help things.

    He has recently started up something new, hitting himself (not terribly hard, but still horrifying) and calling himself stupid after he has a major incident/meltdown. Completely heartbreaking.

    He is a smart kid, with just a few fine motor issues that aren’t too bad. He loves to be a big help and we give him jobs like helping with laundry, dishwasher, etc. He is completely loving and affectionate, and so sweet. Kisses and hugs can really calm him down and he will sometimes think to even ask for them when distressed. He loves to be praised and encouraged and he does respond to our token/reward system. Routine and repetition are great for him and he works well with visual scheduling (at school and we also do this at home daily). He loves to laugh and be tickled and that usually can pull him out of a tantrum. His tantrums usually don’t last too long, and he can go from crazy meltdown to completely happy just like *that.* He responds well and listens intently to the many, many books we have bought for him that deal with anger, relaxation, anxiety, being a friend, working through frustration, etc., etc. As far as discipline, we try to be calm, and he has consequences such as losing a favorite toy for a day or week. Of course, the frustration on our end can wear through, and we lose our own tempers once in a while.

    He’s definitely behind socially and has trouble negotiating play with kids. His meltdowns and drama only multiply the issues. He is an only child, and lives in a pretty quiet house, which I imagine only makes it worse for him at preschool or in other overwhelming atmospheres (loud restaurants, malls, parties). He wants so badly to have friends and do play dates, and it breaks my heart, but I can already see that some of the kids are not wanting to play with him because it means crying and drama. I think he realizes this, but he can’t help it. There is inevitably a meltdown of some sort. Everyone suggests more play dates to give him experience, but I live in fear of what might happen, so it just doesn’t happen very much.

    One other component is that he is very tall for his age. People think he's at least in kindgergarten, some even first grade. So you can imagine how much patience they have for my tantrum-ing kid in public.

    We are planning to move next spring/summer, and that is a little scary, to think of such a major transition, finding new doctors, etc. On the plus side, we will be right by family and a great support system.

    Overall, we’re glad to at least have started with Occupational Therapist (OT), and it seems like perhaps we should look into the neuropych to help us determine what’s going on. I've just started a behavior journal. husband and I are just so tired and frustrated and tired. Did I mention tired?

    Thanks for being here and letting me introduce myself and vent all that out. Any thoughts, tips, recommendations are welcome of course!
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there. Sorry you have to be here, but we do try to help.

    In my case, I'd like to know more about his earliest years, his infancy and toddlerhood, and his genetics (anything going on with any bio. relatives on either side of the family tree? These behaviors can mean inherited disorders. Has he ever been privately tested and evaluated, such as by a neuropsychologist? Does he make good, solid eye contact with not just you but strangers? Did he like to cuddle as an infant? Any stomach problems? Milk allergies or intolerance? Did he reach all of his milestones on time? Does he learn from discipline? I am thinking that maybe behavioral therapy won't make much of a different in him. It often doesn't with our differently wired kids. It is always helpful to have a handle on what you are dealing with.

    I wouldn't even give a thought to who is "tolerant" of your son. I'd concentrate more on finding out the cause of his behaviors and then getting help for him in the school district. Starting at age three, they have to help if he is having any trouble. The bad news is, schools don't usually evaluate our kids very well. I wouldn't trust the school to do the evaluation. in my opinion he truly does need a very intensive one. It's good he is getting Occupational Therapist (OT), but he may need more, depending on the cause of his behaviors...

    A stab in the dark here. Have you ever heard of Aspergers?
  3. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Your quiet house is NOT part of the problem. In fact, it may well be part of why he is doing as well as he is... your home isn't adding to the overload.

    Probably wise to follow your gut feel and book a comprehensive evaluation (neuropsychologist or child developmental/behavioural team, or equivalent). The more you know - getting dxes, ruling out other possibilities - the more answers and help there will be.

    And yes... we "get" the tired bit...
  4. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Hi there! And welcome!

    I'm glad you found us, many people here are awesome resources for information and experience (I'm not one of them, LOL.) It sounds you have a lovely little boy, who sounds a lot like mine fifteen years ago ;)

    Mine was and is a runner, to flee is often his first reflex to trouble. I'm sorry to say we were never able to work that one out and it turned to major truancy problem when he grew older and even just yesterday he managed to cook up a major crisis for himself over that.

    I agree with IC that quiet house is not a problem, instead it helps him to have quiet time to calm down. With us and in that age play dates worked better out side. Room to run, noise didn't add up that badly, playground or some other outside activity brought some structure to the situation. When little bit older mine did socially best in sport teams. Not well in those either (he is now pro athlete and still struggles with his relationships to the team mates) but better than in school, there he ended up bullied badly.

    It is really good that you have a good rapport with school and are starting to have him evaluated. I hope you either end up with some explanations, or at least with a diagnosis that gives you services you need.
  5. mac7318

    mac7318 New Member

    Thanks for your response! I have heard of Aspergers, but he doesn't seem to fit a number of the criteria that I (and his Occupational Therapist (OT)) can see.

    Genetics-wise, we don't have a lot, though one nephew has mild ADHD (the inattentive kind) and the other nephew had a very similar intense personality and anger issues (he's 9 now, and has adapted/grown to the point where he might only have an outburst once every few months. He also only ever acted out at home, never in public. He was never evaluated.)

    He is extremely affectionate with everyone, makes good eye contact and makes an effort to be social all the time, it just usually ends up with something upsetting him. He just seems to feel his big feelings so much, I don't know, more than others.

    I never had him tested for allergies, but perhaps I should do this? As an infant, he had reflux, and met his milestones on time, though he was a bit late-ish in speaker. As for that, I swear, he knew how to do it, but didn't "want" to until he was sure he had it right. That's a huge theme for him -- he dislikes anything he can't do "right" immediately. (e.g. riding a bike) He responds to discipline to a point, but which we try to do consistently, with love and calm, and even then, isn't a sure thing. If he's already over the top, he shuts down or runs away. We then ignore the behavior and come back to it when he can listen and is calm, giving consequences.

    I agree that he needs a more comprehensive evaluation. I don't trust the school to manage it. I was just talking to his Occupational Therapist (OT) therapist about this, and she said that next time we meet, she can help me with finding the right place for us.
  6. mac7318

    mac7318 New Member

    Thanks, I'm glad to know that the quiet house is a help, rather than an issue. I agree, think it's probably best to get the comprehensive evaluation. I'll take any and all information and advice they can give me!
  7. mac7318

    mac7318 New Member

    Thanks so much! The fleeing thing is concerning and hard, because he's so darn fast, and in public, it's a disaster. I'm sorry you're dealing with that as well.

    Playdates outside are much better, I agree, but he still manages to get offended, upset, etc even outside. I think when he can run around, it does help.

    We hesistantly tried soccer this year, and he did ok, but mainly because he seems to have some natural athletic abilities. When he messed up though, he'd just plop on the ground and cry. Sometimes, he could escalate, but usually, he'd just get over it and move right on. Makes it hard to tell sometimes if it's attention-seeking (behavior) or sensory overload. My nephew is doing well with his martial arts class, and the discipline part of that sport is appealing to me.
  8. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Hello. Here's someone else who can say "I've got a model like that at home" :) Certain things about your son sound really similar to mine, who has just had his sixth birthday. It's great that you have him in Occupational Therapist (OT) and have identified issues to be worked on (I have nothing like that close to where I live).
    The one thing that did occur to me is that things really do change... or can. My son also got very upset and dramatic with other children when things went "wrong", but I have seen this decreasing greatly as he has got older. In his case, it's probably also related to stability as before the age of 3 he had a lot of movement and uncertainty, change in his life. These children are behind emotionally and so your son is doubtless still at a 3 year old level or thereabouts, whereby getting upset over sharing, changes, etc, with other children is rather more normal. Not a lot you can do about it in terms of teaching, I'm afraid - I think the impulse is too strong. Definitely reading The Explosive Child by Ross Greene.
    Keep posting here if it helps... welcome.
    Oh and sport - definitely. My son has done tennis since the age of 4, which I think helps with concentration and motor skills, gym (ditto), roller skating, and now does karate (big success, very helpful for discipline and self-control) and horse riding which he absolutely loves. I don't tell any of the teachers he has issues, or ADHD, they take him as they find him and mainly there are no problems. Routine and structure very helpful as you say.
  9. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    Welcome mac. I'm with MWM, have you ever thought of Asperger's Syndrome? You just wrote about difficult child 1 when he was that age. He has Asperger's and Sensory Integration Disorder (very sensory needy to some things & very sensitive to others). His behaviors were caused by the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) tendencies but his extreme reactions were caused by his internal anxiety the "wrong" things caused. The more "wrong" the more extreme the reaction. You definitely need to get a full assessment from a GOOD neuropsychologist or equivalent. If you can give us an idea of what state or country (if outside the US) you are in, someone may have a suggestion for where to find one.

    Welcome to our family. You have DEFINITELY come to the right place.
  10. mac7318

    mac7318 New Member

    Thanks so much. I have thought about the Asperger's possibility, and while my Occupational Therapist (OT) therapist doesn't feel that's his issue, I think I'll still move forward with an evaluation to rule anything in or out. I can see what you mean about the 'wrong' things being prevalent.

    We are in the Chicago area right now and moving to Milwaukee next year.
  11. mac7318

    mac7318 New Member

    Thanks! It's good to hear from others that have such similar situations and what has worked out for them. I do feel like he's well behind, and it might be helpful to think that way from now on. I know he doesn't want to feel this way, and isn't intentionally acting out, and is trying really hard to regulate. I think all those sports sound really great, and I was thinking about karate being a great starting point. (I'd love tennis, but right now, I only foresee racking throwing/smashing if he misses). But maybe next summer he might be able to handle it.
  12. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I wish martial arts had been good for my difficult child, and others have had the experience I had. My son got so into the kicking and punching and really could not understand the values and self control aspects. He kicked for "practice " in school, stores , home and was really ramped up by it. I'd still try, when it works it's amazing. Just be ready to pull the plug even if he loves it, if things get worse. Mine too is not safe with hockey sticks, bats, tennis rackets, etc. Now at 15 he is showing better control in games.
    He did do well in a yoga class and I always wondered about Tai Chi (sp?).....could be a good alternative.
  13. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Miss KT did very well with karate, largely because of the sensei. I called around and talked to several before deciding on the particular school, since I wanted a place that emphasized strength and control, not street fighting. She only used her karate at school once, with my permission, because a boy had been bullying her...the bullying stopped pretty quickly after that. She now holds a first degree black belt.

    If you're considering karate, call the schools in your area and find a sensei whose views are similar to yours in order to get what you want for your son. Some places are just street fighting or MMA type things which I felt was not appropriate with her hyperactivity and impulsivity.
  14. Welcome Mac.
    Lots of similarities to my difficult child too. Reading your intro, I am so grateful that my difficult child seems to have outgrown the spitting thing! He was a spitter for years....mostly when he was upset but also I think he did it as a self soothing activity. He would roll the saliva around in his mouth, spit it, that sort of thing. Glad that has stopped. Now he is back to thumb sucking.

    My son is also very intelligent (works above grade level on all subjects especially math) and a perfectionist. Perfectionism also is seen with his sporting activities. He is athletic but cannot stand to lose, gets very down in himself and teammates when things don't go well, argues with coaches, ref and umpires.

    My son is also very affectionate and at times inappropriately so. Now that he has a working diagnosis of early onset bipolar that part makes more sense to us.

    I agree with IC that your peaceful home is a GOOD thing for your son. I try to keep things as quiet and peaceful as I can and limit technology, noise, etc. But I am divorced and have shared custody. One of my son's biggest triggers is his poor sister who has really had it rough over the years. He blames her for everything that is wrong in his life and she has been the victim of his verbal and physical attacks for years (although protecting her has been a top priority, it is impossible 100% of the time.) So, from the "grass is always greener" perspective, I think that your son being an only child has some benefits.

    My son is doing much better on his current combo of medications but there are still daily challenges.

    It sounds like you are on the right track and I wish you all the best in the future!

    Hang in there, it is exhausting.

  15. Angela41

    Angela41 New Member

    Just for the record, many/ most of your son's behaviors sound like my newly minted six year old boy at that age. My son has a probable anxiety problem and (possibly) mild ADD, combined with some lagging social skills and probable giftedness. The causes of his behavior (especially the anxiety) weren't apparent until he was 5 1/2 and his behavior improved drastically when he started kindergarten. I would take your son to a counselor who might specialize in "play therapy" (I.e. increase frustration tolerance and social skills building). Let him/her know your concerns and ask if a full psychiatric evaluation is warranted.
  16. Angela41

    Angela41 New Member

    Sorry, I missed the part where you are currently seeing an Occupational Therapist (OT), so scratch that:) If it helps, my son's emotional regulation has improved so much recently- but he was going on six before we exhaled. It's very possible that this will get much better for you in the next year or so.