New Member
Hello battle-weary parents,

My 10yo son has always been "different," "passionate" and "more intense"; maybe four years ago we had him do testing and was diagnosed with ADHD, and has picked up Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Depressive Disorder and my favorite, Mood Disorder not otherwise specified, which I suspect covers the oppositionality, aggression and overwhelming negativity that has characterised him for a long time now. In 5th grade he's having a more successful year academically, but he no longer makes an effort to spend time with friends, would play computer games during all his waking hours if we let him, and is at his best touchy and relentlessly negative (I use more concise terms when talking in private to my husband). At his worst he's aggressive and abusive; today he threw a gallon jug of wiper fluid at my head while I was trying to take him to his therapist. It was mostly empty although his aim is good.

My son and his 6yo sister live with my husband and me in a warm, secure, loving, financially stable and good-humored household. His sister is a relatively easygoing kid, who undoubtedly gets the short end of the stick, loves memorizing facts about animals and admiring their cuteness, and is as pleasant of a companion as you could want. She's willful too, to be clear, and stands up for herself well, and occasionally gets sent to her room, like any regular human kiddo. But I worry deeply about her wellbeing in a household where another kid requires a bottomless supply of energy and second chances.

My husband and I both work full time at rewarding careers with decent benefits. We have friends. We have a small house in a nice place with good schools and a diverse, interesting group of neighbors. We have a lot of resources and a lot going for us, but none of this can make our son happy, or capable of enjoying his life. Tonight his therapist told us he's at a crossroads -- that if our son were a few years older, he'd be arrested for his behavior. He threatens self-harm and we nearly took him to the ER tonight. I left work early to take him to his appointment, thinking I'd be able to get work done, and now I'm trying (and obviously failing) to get it done this evening.

Not looking for anything specific, really. I have no lack of well-meaning advice AS YOU CAN IMAGINE and am trying to keep all the plates spinning.

So, hi.


Well-Known Member
I am certainly not interested in telling you what to do. I am sorry for your family and your son and simply want to tell you what we did after we adopted a different and special two year old who had been addicted to drugs at birth. He was our fourth kid and we knew it was not maybe going to be easy. He did had some differences and had a slew of alphabet soup diagnoses by age ten. One was bipolar, childhood.

All his many psychiatrists and psychologists and diagnoses of letters were wrong, which is why we were stagnating. So I tried something different and took my over medicated son to see somebody new, a neuropsychologist. I had not heard of them. They are psychologists with extra training in the brain and this professional tested my son in every way for ten hours over a two day period.

Eventually we got a ten page report and a new diagnosis of atypical autism, and we never looked back. He is doing great now at age 24 and lives on his own and is now very sweet and kind and has learned to not have outbursts. But that would not have happened if he had still been over medicated and treated for things he did not have. Perhaps your son is also a spetrum kid too. They are very emotionally reactive and get all sorts of wrong diagnosis .

If your son has not yet been a neurologist psychologist, I recommend it. They can be found in University and children's hospitals. A few people had already told us he did not have autism but they were wrong. And they had not tested him for ten hours. The autism interventions worked great for him. He remains medication free.

Good luck.
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Well-Known Member
Hi and welcome,

So sorry for what you are going through with your son. Does he have an IEP?

Physical violence from a ten year old is very concerning on so many levels. My now seventeen year old stepson is violent too. While I came into his life when he was 13, my understanding is that he displayed physical aggression from a young age. Unfortunately his issues appear to be intractable. We are not custodial parents, are undermined by the custodial parent who enables stepson, and are currently not in contact with stepson by his choice.

I would agree that your son cannot continue to terrify and control the household with his rages and violent behavior. Not only is it not fair to you and your husband, it is certainly not fair to your daughter.

Your son will grow bigger and stronger, and he will be capable of causing grievous physical harm before long. I came to this board when my stepson tried to strangle his mother (my wife). At that time he was fifteen, six foot four and over two hundred pounds.

I wish more had been done for my stepson when he was younger. I hope you and your husband are on the same page with regard to the seriousness of this situation. I agree that a thorough psychological/psychiatric evaluation, including neuropsychological testing, should be done to rule autism in or out. It does seem like your son displays some traits of high functioning autism from what you describe.

Best of luck, keep us posted!


Roll With It
Welcome!! It is great to meet you, but I am sorry you had to come and find us!!! I will probably write a novel here, just be warned, lol. I would like to encourage you to make a signature like the one at the bottom of my post. There is a thread about that at the top of the general forum. It will help us keep your information straight when you post, so that we can give answers that make sense. It is incredibly difficult to keep all of the details of each member straight in your head without a signature.

In many ways your son sounds like my oldest, Wiz. Wiz has Aspergers, a type of autism that is now just called "autism spectrum disorder" rather than Aspergers. I go with Aspergers because it still seems to fit better and people still know what it is. Wiz also, or rather as part of the Aspergers, has ADHD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and depression. He does not have bipolar (or mood disorder not otherwise specified) because he NEVER goes manic or mixed. Like SWOT's son, my son is now an adult. He is living on his own, works a full time job as a manager, has a social life, and is happy with his life.

Wiz had behaviors that would have gotten him arrested as an adult, also. We ended up having my son move to my parents' home when he was 14. He feels we kicked him out, sometimes. Mostly he knows we did it to make sure that none of us went to prison or the morgue (it really was that bad with his violence). He could not handle living in a house with 2 other kids who had needs also.

I strongly recommend have testing done by a neuropsychologist. You can usually find one at a Children's or a University Hospital. It will be testing spread out over a couple of days. If you have to bribe your child to get him to cooperate, do it. We had the same testing done, but it was by a team of psychologists and doctors led by a developmental pediatrician. That is another option if you can find a setup like we did. It is usually harder to find, sadly. Either way, you will get better information and hopefully you will figure out a way to help him that will work as he gets older.

If he has mood disorder, I assume he is on medication. Did they tell you that certain medications will CAUSE mood cycling? And that antidepressants will do this? We had quite a few doctors who wanted to change my son's diagnosis to bipolar or mood diagnosis not otherwise specified. Why? I think it was because they were not the doctor to diagnose the Aspergers, to be honest. Mostly we saw them because of insurance changes forcing us change doctors. The new doctors seemed to feel that they HAD to change the diagnosis. I read a couple of books on bipolar in children and learned a little bit about what medication can do if you are bipolar. It is scary. Did you know that MANY over the counter medications can cause mood cycling? Medications like decongestants?

I always told the new doctors that if they wanted to diagnose him with Mood disorder not otherwise specified or bipolar, they had to follow the approved medication protocol from the American Board of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists. That is to start with one mood stabilizer, possibly add another, and an atypical antipsychotic until moods are stable. When moods are stable, if other symptoms are still present, very low doses of medication for adhd, anxiety or other things may be added. Often other problems like anxiety are resolved when moods are stable without other medications, but not always. This protocol does NOT yield fast results. It can take many months to find the right medication cocktail, but from what I have seen, it is worth the struggle and the time. The doctors we saw always wanted to try antidepressants to treat bipolar. Sure, it gives a fast result, and may fix the depression part, but it throws the person (adult or child) into mania and often into mood cycling. The doctors usually kept Wiz on his regular medications when I insisted on a medication wash and then the medication protocol if they insisted on changing his diagnosis from Asperger's to Mood Disorder not otherwise specified or Bipolar.

One of the big problems with MANY kids with various problems is that they have sensory issues. No one tells you to have these evaluated. Sensory Integration Disorder happens when the brain doesn't process input from the senses the way a normal person's brain does. It can feel like the world is attacking you. Some sensations may feel very intensely pleasurable and others will be incredibly horrible. I know, because I have this. I didn't know what it was until my youngest child was diagnosed with it. His doctor told us that it is actually at the very mildest end of the autistic spectrum of disorders. All of my kids have quite a few sensory issues. One of the problems that Wiz had while living with us was needing absolute quiet while living in a house with 2 parents and 2 other siblings. Even noise cancelling headphones were not enough. Ear plugs didn't work because they felt awful in his ears. At my parents' house he had a room that was completely at the other end of the house, so he didn't hear them when he needed quiet.

T, my youngest, had would go into sensory overload so bad that he would become almost catatonic. He would curl up and sort of shake and just stare. You could shake your hand near him and he wouldn't blink, though his eyes were open. It was a problem at school at first. He just couldn't handle going to school every day. They insisted he come to school at first, so I brought him on a day I knew he would go into this state. Shortly after I got home, school called me. The office lady was frantic and she was NEVER frantic, not even when she had to call an ambulance. T was a favorite student and she was totally freaked out by what he was doing. The teacher had called the office for help. T was under the desks and not responding to anything.

I told the office lady it would be okay. I got there and he was doing what I expected. Curled up under a desk, eyes open but not seeing anything really. Not responding to anything at all. The other kids were really worried. I told the teacher that this is why I kept him home so often. This is what he did at home - he wasn't staying home to play. He literally could not cope because he was in sensory overload. They had the report from the Occupational Therapist and he had a 504 plan (not as good as an IEP, but but good).

I carried him out to the car and took him home. After that his absences were never a problem. In 4th grade I was so thrilled because he only missed 1/4 of the school year. ONLY. In 5th grade he only missed about 10 days and by middle school he didn't miss any days for sensory things. He is a senior this year. I think he had perfect attendance last year and so far this year he has it also. What made the change?

We got him help for the sensory problems. There IS treatment for it. You can actually help rewire the brain with something called brushing therapy with gentle joint compression. They may tell you that he is on the old end of the spectrum for this. Push them to teach it to you anyway. It involves brushing over his body in a specific pattern and then gently but firmly compressing his joints. An Occupational Therapist teaches this to you. It can cause very real problems if you don't do it the right way or if you do it over certain parts of the body, so you MUST be taught it by an Occupational Therapist. You use a surgical scrub brush (without soap) and it can be done on bare skin or over clothing. Most children either like it or do not object to it. Even just doing it once can make a difference in many kids. I was shocked when we were at the therapist with T. She had him cutting out a shape drawn on paper and he was struggling. My little genius (he is incredibly smart) kept telling us how stupid he was, which broke my heart. Then the therapist did some joint compressions and it made a giant change. When we got home I did something similar in front of my mom and husband after dinner. It shocked them too! It really makes a difference.

How do you even get a glimmer if your son has sensory integration disorder? Does he show strong preferences for food? Is he a picky eater? Does he seek out certain movement over and over? (T used to sit on his head to read a book or watch tv. I just thought he was a strange kid. I didn't know it was a sensory need for pressure on his head/neck joints = a good thing for him!) Does he like or hate to get his hands messy? Any of that, and so much more, can be a sign of Sensory Integration Disorder (SID).

The other thing you can do to help sensory needs is to provide a sensory diet of the sensory activities that your child finds pleasurable. If that is loud noises or quiet time, deep pressure or soft touches or tickling, any of a wide range of sensory activities will be helpful to your child. It will help him soothe himself and sort of reset himself when he is upset. People with sensory problems often feel as if the world is attacking them. I am especially sensitive to bright lights and smells. Grocery stores can be either wonderful (the bakery) or truly horrible (the aisle with cleaners and candles and Glade products). I truly feel as if I have been physically assaulted if I must go down that aisle. My mother used to let me go down another aisle if it was possible. Such a simple thing, but it made a huge difference in my day. Sensory breaks in a day can be a few minutes in the bakery to pick out a small item, or a small break to play with a toy that involves some of the senses. Yes, playing with a toy can be therapy. My oldest always had some item or two that he could fidget with (long before the fidget gadgets existed) in class at school. If he didn't have something to keep his hands busy, he ended up doing something inappropriate with them. It helped him pay attention and it soothed him at the same time. I loved the sensory diet because it was therapy that the kids enjoyed. Most other types of therapy were not so fun. This one was! Any parenting that involved ordering a child to go play with something that they will truly enjoy was amazing to me. The activities that your child is drawn to, that he really wants to go do, are the activities that he really needs. It cannot get better than ordering your child to go have fun, can it?

To learn more about Sensory Integration Disorder (SID), read The Out of Sync Child by Kranowitz. It truly is amazing. The Out of Sync Child Has Fun by Kranowitz is even better. It is full of different activities to provide a good sensory diet for your child. If you are only going to buy one of the books, get the first book from the library and buy the Has Fun book. I wore out several copies of Has Fun. We loved every activity we did. So did every kid in the neighborhood. Somehow it seemed that every kid showed up if I opened the book to do an activity. They were that much fun! Each activity has ways to make the activity less expensive too. We truly loved it.

One of the most powerful weapons you are going to have in your journey to get your son what he needs is a Parent Report. The PR is a report that you create to keep all of the information about your son in one place. You take it to every appointment and meeting and you update it regularly. It lets you tell a doctor that you have already tried medicines X, Y, and Q and they had results a, w, and m. It lets you tell the school that the IEP says that your son is to have access to a fidget during class and they cannot arbitrarily take it away just because he is fidgeting with it. It lets you answer all sorts of questions right away and settle debates over whether this or that would work better for your son. You have the results of trying this and of trying that, so you know how they worked.

The link in my signature will take you to a thread about the PR. Don't create it in one sitting. Always have a print copy for appointments, even if the doctor does everything on a tablet. You can keep notes on it and add them to the report later. I always put a photo of my child at the beginning of every section. It helps the doctor or whomever is reading the report know the child that they are reading about.

Hopefully some of this will help you. These are things that helped me, that I learned during our journey with Wiz and J and T. Don't ever feel that you must do something just because I suggested it. You won't offend me because you didn't do what I said. I expect you to only do what is right for your family, not what I suggested.

Welcome to our forum, and I hope I haven't scared you off with this book!