My 3 year old son- oppositional defiant disorder and adhd

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by TiredMamaFromJAX, Jan 11, 2012.

  1. TiredMamaFromJAX

    TiredMamaFromJAX New Member

    I have been constantly researching information on different behavior disorders since Christmas. My 3 year old son has always been a handful. He is not laid back and calm like his older brother and sister. He screamed all the time when he was a baby and now he doesn't stop and sit for a minute. He's running or jumping off a couch or trying to escape my view to see what he can get away with....knowing it is wrong or harmful. Although he has been taught several times what is right and wrong and the dangers of strangers, etc... he STILL continues to do it. An example on Christmas is when I took my 3 children to the mall to see santa. It was 3 days before Christmas, which is the busiest time at the mall. I am always over cautious in situations like this because my children are only 6,5, and 3. I make sure we all hold hands, etc and when we were in line for santa, I happened to see my sister and called out for her. My daughter saw that her baby cousin was with my sister and started running to them. As I told my sis to come get in line with us, I looked back down to tell my 2 sons who was there, and the 3 year old was GONE. He had slipped out of line when I looked up and literally RAN away from me... apparently after a train that was making stops all over the mall. Needless to say, I was in a panic and crying..the worst 15 minutes of my life..and when he is found, he is brought back to me with ZERO emotion on his face. ZERO concern... seeing how upset I was, or any concern for his safety or well being, or the fact that he had LOST ME IN A MALL! He also will try to wait till I take a shower, or in the bathroom and climb on a kitchen counter and find a hidden knife to play with. He has stuck the knives in walls, couches...etc and could have REALLY CUT HIMSELF! I have been over all these things with him thousands of times. I have punished him all different ways, and nothing works! He still shows no emotion after he does something wrong, and he usually will be the one to tell me what he did. When I ask him why he always says i dont know.. He is so smart...very intelligent with a broad vocabulary, but I know his behavior is not normal. I definitely have some emotional issues myself and probably a mood disorder. When he was an infant he was exposed to his emotionally/physically abusive father and there was constant fights and screaming while i cried and held him. I know he must have emotional trauma, but I am so tired at this point, I am ready to give up. I am tired of worrying what he will do next, is he going to run back outside in the streets? I just don't know... if nayone has been through this with their child and been able to overcome it please let me know! I am lost...
  2. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Hello TiredMama. Bravo for making it to the forum and sharing your concerns!
    When I was reading your post, I just kept thinking "he is three"... If your boy was five and doing this stuff, I'd be more worried. But is it that extraordinary for three year olds to run off, to want to play with things like knives or to not know why they do things? That said, I quite accept that your boy is "something more than normal", whether it's ADHD or whatever. One DOES see these things very early on - people and I were talking and thinking about ADHD for my son before he was even one year old.
    I think you just have to accept, or begin to accept, that this little boy is different and needs to be treated differently. He does not understand your repeated injunctions about the knives so you have to hide them away somewhere where he cannot reach them. You have to expect that he is going to run off in given situations and work within that. It is a process and it takes time but eventually you will love and accept him in his difference, not expecting that he will or should behave like the typical child.
    Others will have more advice. For myself, at the moment, I do not see your son's behaviour as aberrant - but then I have been living with a hyperactive child for five years so my sense of the normal is doubtless skewed :) Please don't worry. The future can still be bright for him, particularly as he sounds so bright himself.
  3. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Hi there, you have come to a welcoming and understanding group, I PROMISE you that! Yes, many of us have had kids who are so over the top in their lack of safety, attention, are hyper, do not read emotions etc.

    First, have you seen those cabinet locks that have a magnet to unlock them? they do not show from out side of your cupboards (but you do need wood not metal cupboards to have them screw in)... they work even now for my 15 yr old son. I have kept every scissor and knife locked up since he was little and just wont risk it. These are even at target, walmart, home depot, lowes any kind of store like that and I installed them myself with a little drill and screw driver.

    Second, it sounds like your son needs an evaluation from someone other than a pediatrician. There are options. A neuropsychologist who specializes in early childhood and along with them see an Occupational Therapist (OT) (occupational therapist who will look at motor abilities and sensory integration disorder which can look like adhd). Kids who are oppositional and defiant usually have an underlying reason that they are acting that way and that label does not give you anywhere to go for treatment or therapy. finding out WHY they are like that does help though. ADHD is something that can be for real... a stand alone issue. But it is very often (like 70% of the time I have read) really something else. Given your son has this obsessive interest in knives and is highly verbal and not reading emotions well as well as not realizing how his actions can impact despite knowing the "rules"..... I would for sure have him evaluated for other things. This does not sound like pure ADHD in my humble opinion and I would have him checked for Processing problems (auditory, language, visual all which can be subtle and affect his understanding of the world around him) as well as make sure that he is not on the autism spectrum. (there are some things that since he is little can not be specifically checked on but there are many clues one can get from testing and a good therapist can help you watch for them)... Look, this might seem like overkill, but the bottom line is this, you will have some peace of mind knowing if there is or is not a big problem. And one thing we know, early intervention is critical IF there is a problem. (and there may or may not be, he may just be on that end of normal that is super hard to deal with, sigh)

    Does he play WITH other kids and does he do imaginative play (like a little stick can be a "guy" and talk to another "guy" and they make up different stories...not just copy what a cartoon or movie or other child has said/done) How is his eye contact with yourself, others? (it can vary and is not THE indicator of autism and many docs mistakenly will say that it can't be that becasue he has good eye contact, uggg) DId he learn letters and numbers easily when very young? Is he upset or attracted to any sounds, textures, foods, etc. Does he eat a variety of food? How is his fine motor development, can he color? Does he have things he likes a lot in addition to the knives?

    Other evaluations can come from vision development specialists, audiologists, speech language pathologists and Developmental Pediatricians.

    I am sure others will have ideas of what to look for on the mental health side too, that area is less familiar to me, though I do have a child with attachment issues and due to your early chaos (don tmean that in any way as a criticism, it just is what happened, right?) he could have developed some inability to relate to others in a typical way. Some kids with attachment issues have "indiscriminate" attachment, will go to anyone and just dont see the difference between a trusted person and a stranger. (this also happens in autism though for some kids).

    If you are concerned about attachment and emotional issues, mood issues, etc... please find a very specialized therapist because those who do not get that early attachment thing and they can actually do more damage than help, they must work with YOU on his emotional stuff, I personally , given your history would not work with at therapist who wanted to work alone with him to do traditional play therapy and not have you involved. Just a heads up, you have to go with what feels right for you though, not my preferences, lol.

    Whatever choices you make, whatever you experience, please know that we are here for you. There is a lot of hope, you are very early into the game and already looking for help, BIG huge major factor for hope.

    Do you have other concerns for his development by the way? Is he in preschool or anything? In the USA, all children are entitled to a free developmental evaluation thru the public school system. so, if insurance and finanaces are problems, come back to us and we will (many of us here) chime in to help you thru that too. Many of us eventually do BOTH things. Private and school evaluations.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there and welcome to the board.

    Been here a long time and had a lot of stuff wrong with both myself and my son. in my opinion ODD is not a useful or concrete diagnosis. All it means is that the child is does not explain why. I do not think your son is trying to drive you to a nervous breakdown. I think he really truly is not able to control his impulses and/or does not remember or is unable to follow your rules. I suggest a complete evaluation, and my preferred professional of choice is a neuropsychologist. They do intensive testing and often catch issues that other professionals miss. I would try to get out of your head the mindset that he is just "bad" and out to do anything he can to disobey you. I would try instead to be proactive to find out why he is different. Punishing/normal discipline methods do not tend to work for our children. It only puzzles them or makes them feel badly.

    At three years old, I am not sure your son is capable of understanding how upset you were when he went missing. Even though he is bright, he is still barely out of toddlerhood. I am going to ask you a few questions that may be able to help us so that we can help you.

    1/Are there any particular psychiatric problems on either side of your son's genetic family tree? Any in yours? Remember, he is half of both of your DNA.

    2/Any autism/Aspergers in your family tree (or bio. dad?) How was your son's early development? Did he cuddle with you, make good eye contact, speak on time or very early? Have any early interest in the alphabet, counting, maps, anything he could memorize? Does he play well with toys or does he ignore them or just take them apart? Does he have any strange quirks? Obsessions?

    Others will come along.
  5. Confused

    Confused Guest

    I agree that at 3 years old, they are still learning, some even skip terrible twos and go to threes! But you do have two other kids, and you know what is "different" about your son.I agree, hide those knives and anything else that sharp from him. Everyone here already had great suggestions on what to do. When you go in public, consider a strong child leash or a bungy type cord that connects from your belt to his, or your purse to his belt. You will get looks. My son always has ran off too, or stayed behind, so in the Caverns, his father bought a child leash.Boy, we got the stares and questions! But you do what you have to too protect him Also, my father and I always had the buddy system with my two kids, one for each child because my son.. well he makes ups his own mind! To this day, My 11 year old even if they are fighting-helps me watch him. You can make a game out of it with all your kids. Tell them its a game where they become a human train and have to stay connected to each other/you. Or tell them you don't want to get lost, so you need there help ;) My problem is if my son gets angry at the store, so then that's when I need to invent another idea! Hugs