Need Help

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by kymmie, Oct 20, 2008.

  1. kymmie

    kymmie New Member

    I am not sure what to do. I have a 7 yr old son who has behavior problems at school. It began last year when he started kindergarden when he would just shutdown and refuse to respond, then it turned into having problems sitting still in class (lots of fidgeting with things or getting out of his seat). By the end of the year it had resulted in throwing things in class to hitting or kicking his teachers whenever he got into trouble. His doctor felt he was hyperactive and perscribed Guanfacine, which worked for like a month before he resorted back to his bad behavior.

    He never had any problems before kindergarden, he was a great student in pre-school, he never had these problems in day care, and I never witnessed this behavior at home. So I didn't know how to help his teachers since I was never around when the behavior occured. His teachers and social workers have tried many things that have not worked. I became so bad, he was kicked out of school on an average of 2-3 times a week. They even had him labeled as "emotional disabled" so that they can get state assistance and resources to help him.

    When he started first grade, I told him it was a new beginning and he was doing really great this year, but in the last two weeks he had 3 incidences. I am just so afraid he is beginning to get into the pattern he was in last year.

    I don't know if my son has a disorder or not. Doctor said he was hyperactive, but I wouldn't think it was early stages of ADHD because he learns just fine, he obviously can pay attention enough to get good grades.

    Where can I go to get help? How do I dicipline him? His father makes him stand in the corner until he can discuss why he behaved the way he did, but my son is so stubborn I think he would stay in there all night, so I usually have to coerce an answer from him.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi and welcome. ADHD is chronic. It is always there--at home and at school 24/7. in my opinion (as a mom with disordered kids) that isn't what is going on. Has he had ANY behavior issues or delays? Let me ask my standard questions. It will help us help you. You also may want to do a signature, like I did below. Ok, here goes:

    1/Has he ever been evaluated outside of a regular pediatrician or school? I highly recommend a complete neuropsychologist evaluation. Guarantee you will know a lot afterwards that you didn't know before. They test from 6-10 hours on every level.

    2/Are there any psychiatric problems or substance abuse on either side of the family tree?

    3/Any speech delays, trouble with eye contact, resistance to cuddling, inappropriateness with peers, lack of imaginative play? Did he have any motor skill delays or problems? Do noises or light or touch of certain things bother him? Did you have a normal pregnancy?

    Others will come along.
  3. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I would be tempted to hide out at school and watch his behavior. It would be very difficult to medicate for something you do not see.

  4. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    I'm not a doctor, but wanted to say that anxiety can make a kid do things like that. I'd recommend scheduling a thorough psychiatric or neuropsychological evaluation.
  5. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Has he been tested for a learning disability? He may be frustrated because learning letters and reading is difficult? I would do all the testing that others have suggested and also look into dyslexsia or some other non verbal learning challenges. Has his eye sight been checked out recently?

    As for disciplining - he does not understand why he is acting like this. I would try to focus more on what went right during the day and work as a team to figure out what did not. No punishing, just talking about what happened and what can be done to prevent it. Try to find out how he feels before or during his misbehaviour. Can he figure out a trigger? Maybe too many distractions, lights are too bright, he is hungry, whatever he may remember.

    If you do decide to discipline, try to make it match the behavior. "You had such a hard day today. Let's try to figure out what will make your days easier. How about I give you a snack and you get to bed a little earlier tonight." or "You need some quiet time. We will go straight home and you can relax in your room for a few minutes to unwind and get your strength back" You are showing concern and helping to find a way to make it better. Drawing a more structured schedule may seem like a discipline to your son but is also making him healthier. It is not the complete answer or the answer at all, just a side support.

    Welcome on board!
  6. Nancy423

    Nancy423 do I have to be the mom?

    wow, the shutting down and refusing to respond is difficult child!! She didn't start that until first or second grade but she was very emotional and violent at home when she got frustrated/anxious or caught doing something wrong. I would certainly request in writing for them do a complete evaluation at school and, as said above, bring him to a psychiatric.
  7. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Hi, and welcome.
    I'd definitely do some testing. Ask your pediatrician for a referral. Also, you can go to the school counselor and ask for a referral. We found our child psychologist through his 2nd gr teacher and we've been with-him ever since.
    Best of luck.
  8. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Welcome. I agree with the others--I would go looking for the cause instead of punishments. Anxiety, learning disabilities, sensory problems, hearing and vision problems, auditory processing issues, etc can all cause kids to shut down in can teachers who aren't a good fit for the child.
  9. kymmie

    kymmie New Member

    Thank you all for your comments. As for some of your questions:

    'Has he ever been evaluated outside of a regular pediatrician or school?' No, I took him to his pediatrician looking for guidance and referral, but the doctor felt my son was just hyperactive and prescribed Guanfacine. I am going to research my insurance company to see if I need his referral to a psychologist or not. I remember looking into psychologist on my insurance co. provider list while he was still in kindergarten, but had difficulty finding someone who specialized in child philology. Worth another look since the problem has continued into another school year.

    'Are there any psychiatric problems or substance abuse on either side of the family tree?' Not diagnosed, but I feel my husband has some anger management problems. He has difficulty controlling his temper. He also makes attempts to control every little move my sons (my other son is 5 yrs old), I think he tries to make them into obedient little robots (he was in the military, so I think that is where it comes from).

    'Any speech delays, trouble with eye contact, resistance to cuddling, inappropriateness with peers, lack of imaginative play?' Hard to say, compared to his brother I felt there was delayed talking, but I just assumed it was because his younger brother had an older brother to learn from. No trouble with eye contact except when he is in trouble. He does not initiate cuddling like his younger brother, but he doesn't resist when I initiate. He has gotten angry with a peer who told the teacher he did something when he seemed adamant that he didn't do it, but I think a lot of what makes him angry is getting in trouble with the teacher. He is not as imaginative as his little brother, but there is some imaginative play.

    'Did he have any motor skill delays or problems?' No, this has all been normal.

    'Do noises or light or touch of certain things bother him?' No, not any that I have noticed.

    'Did you have a normal pregnancy?' Up until my last month (September 11, 2001), I was in the military working at the pentagon's backup communication facility, scared we were being targeted by terrorists. The stress caused hypertension, they put me on bed rest but when my condition didn't improve they induced labor, all was normal after birth.

    'Has he been tested for a learning disability?' No, his teacher thinks he is the smartest kid in the class. When he is having a good day, he is allowed to help other students with their math assignment. But yesterday he thought he would be funny and answer every math problem with a 1. I spoke to his teacher last night and she suggested providing some more challenging assignments as extra credit, which could keep him focused.

    'Has his eye sight been checked out recently?' Yes, he wears glasses in the classroom and doing his homework.

    ' No punishing, just talking about what happened and what can be done to prevent it. Try to find out how he feels before or during his misbehavior. Can he figure out a trigger?' I have tried, but when confronted with what he has done wrong he just shuts down, refusing to speak at all. Occasionally I get him to nod to yes or no questions, but then I feel like I am leading him into an excuse for his behavior and he just follows along with what I suggest. For example I will ask if he was tired, he nods yes, I feel sorry for him and adjust his bedtime, and all is forgiven. I don't think I am getting the truth with these talks. One time his father sent him to the corner until he could explain why he did something, I thought he was going to spend all night there if I allowed it, so I did the motherly thing and coerced ‘an' answer from him.

    ' As for disciplining - he does not understand why he is acting like this.' I think you are right about this, but I have to get him to understand the behavior is not acceptable.

    'I'm not a doctor, but wanted to say that anxiety can make a kid do things like that.' I am pretty sure anxiety is a problem, but I don't know if getting into so much trouble at school causes the anxiety (he is afraid of how his Mommy and Daddy will react when they find out about his behavior) or if the anxiety is causing the problems at school.

    My husband and I have a difference of opinion, he feels the teacher is not strict enough and my son is just testing her limits and when he figures out she won't let him get away with anything, he will quit testing. In my opinion, I think she needs to pick her battles, which is what she is trying to do. He is not a robot who's every little movement can be controlled, he is an energetic little boy who has trouble sitting still, what harm is there in letting him get up and move about every so often.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2008
  10. kymmie

    kymmie New Member

    School called, my son had a very bad day and they kicked him out of school for next 2 days. Started when he ran into the parking lot during PE, he seemed to understand when they explained the dangers of running in the parking lot, but when he got back to the classroom he deceided to stand on his desk and attempt to jump to another students desk. That is all of the story I have gotten so far since the spoke with my husband, but I am sure he must have gotten violent if they kicked him out of school for 2 days.

    Ok, made appointment for psychiatric evaluation at Washington University for Nov 4th and 11th. She said it would be a three part evaluation but didn't have an opening for the third part yet.

    What questions should I be asking? What should I expect?
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2008
  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Ok, hon, something is wrong and I would NOT see a psychologist for diagnostic reasons. They are not good diagnosticians and in my opinion your son needs an evaluation, not just talk therapy. That may happen after a diagnosis, but not yet. I would still go with the neuropsychologist. He will give you the best sort of testing you can get and your child is VERY puzzling. He has some traits of perhaps an emerging childhood mood disorder or even Aspergers Sydrome, but he doesn't really fit into anything smoothly so you will need a very astute professioinal to get it right. in my opinion it is more than ADHD. Was he ever in distress during your labor? That can cause problems sometimes, even behavior issues.
    Does you hub perhaps drink too much before he gets too angry? Does he get violent, such as breaking glasses when he's mad, physically hitting the boys, punching walls? If so, he probably has an undiagnosed mental illness, not just anger problems. Most people can control their anger, even those who were in the military (I have a hub who was too...for TEN years)!!!
    If your child keeps getting thrown out of school for violence, you need to explore the possibilities right away so he can get help as soon as possible. There is help...and hope. Good luck.
  12. kymmie

    kymmie New Member

    Was he ever in distress during your labor? I did have high blood pressure which is my only difficulty during labor. Although since he was my first child and I had a natural labor (no drugs) I was in a lot of pain and at times refused to push through it, so I guess he could have been distressed as I struggled through the pain.

    Does you hub perhaps drink too much before he gets too angry? He does drink, but he doesn’t need alcohol to get angry. Sometimes I like to see him drinking because he is more relaxed.

    Does he get violent, such as breaking glasses when he's mad, physically hitting the boys, punching walls? Yes, but I don’t put up with him hitting the boys and have threatened to leave him when he did, so he has learned to control that.
  13. kymmie

    kymmie New Member

    Washington University called back and said there was a mistake and he would not be able to get in at these times. Said no opening through December and not yet booking appointments for January. I don't really want to wait until January to get him seen so it's back to searching.
  14. jal

    jal Member

    I feel your pain. My difficult child is like that. He would run from the daycare out into the parking lot or from school out to the playground. He can't sit still. Gets physical at times when angry. He has anxiety and sensory issues. I agree with going with the neuropsychologist evaluation too. I originally started with-a psychologist and wasn't impressed.
  15. kymmie

    kymmie New Member

    Thanks Jal! I am currently trying to get him into see a psychiatrist, I figured I should start there. Since Washington University didn’t have any openings until January, I tried the Children’s Hospital… well apparently the hospital uses Washington University for their psychiatric department because I got forwarded back to the same lady at Washington University. This is so frustrating. Looks like I may have to wait, my only hope is this one other that hasn’t returned my call yet
  16. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Kymmie, I know how frustrating the search is. We had a neuropsychologist appointment for difficult child about 3 yrs ago to get an opinion on Asperger's. I spent several days/wks searching for a longer evaluation and called the local children's hospital and they gave me the same dr's. name. I called Soc Wkrs, educ spec and other psychs and they referred me back to the same guy!
    We are doing testing on Mon. (4-6 hrs worth) through someone completely different. If it doesn't yield any results, I will have to go to another city.

    What I'm trying to say is, don't give up.

    It's interesting that the teacher said your son is the brightest in the class. Clearly, the odd behaviors he is exhibiting have nothing to do with-IQ. That's why testing is so important ... to see if there's a neurological issue, where the impulsivitiy is coming from, and what else is going on.

    My son still has problems expressing why he did something, and he will be 12 in Dec. We are trying to teach him to be more verbal that way, and it's not easy. (Ask him about baseball and he's fine!)
    Sometimes, just asking "Why?" is too open ended. You may have to continue giving him answers and clues until he learns it on his own. For ex., "Did it make you feel happy?" or "Was it a thought that you couldn't control and you just had to jump up on the desk, even though you knew that big boys aren't supposed to do that?"

    If he's like our difficult child, he'll try to say, "Because." And we respond, "That's not an answer." And sit and wait. And wait ...

    I hope because of this new behavior that your husband realizes that just being more strict isn't going to work. Sounds like you're going to have to sit down and talk with-him.
    What's his opinion on your search for a psychiatric?
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2008
  17. kymmie

    kymmie New Member

    Terry, my husband does support me looking for a psychiatric which I guess is a little surprising because my husband thinks the teachers must be doing something wrong. I have trouble following the husband’s thought process so I really can’t explain why.

    To be honest, even I have trouble expressing thoughts and feelings. When asked how I feel in a tough situation I could repeat the answer in my head over and over, but it felt as though my mouth was glued shut and I just wouldn’t be able to say it out loud. It was fear of how the person would feel about what I was thinking. That was a frequent problem when I was dating.
  18. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Well, having your husband on the same page is a big plus!
    Maybe you could explain to your husband that getting a working diagnosis for your difficult child is important for teachers because it will help them with-tools to help your son. For example, if they know that loud noises or bright lights send him over the edge, they'll limit his exposure to those things (at least during tests! :) ). Many teachers have no clue what to do about kids who have issues other than not "getting" math or English.
    Also, your son's diagnosis may warrant an entirely diff type of school with-diff teachers altogether, not through any fault of their own, but simply because they are trained in certain things.

    In reg to expressing thoughts and emotions ... Hmm ... sounds like you were very worried about other people's reactions and now your son may have the same problem, but for different reasons. He doesn't want to be punished (or sound stupid). It seems to be fear-based in your case, and could be part of his issue, too. In many ways you can sympathize with-him. But you still have to teach and help him figure out why he does things so he can learn to control the impulses that can get him into trouble. It's a long road and there's no single solution.

    One of the hardest things for us to learn, as parents, was that there were certain things our son would do over and over again no matter how often or how harshly he was punished. His drive to do whatever he wanted superseded any fear of punishment. That's been a huge piece of a puzzle for us and we are still working on it.
    Sometimes I feel like I'm just banging my head against the wall, but I don't want to give up.
  19. house of cards

    house of cards New Member

    Kymmie, there is a place on this site somewhere that gives you directions for preparing a parent report. It will help you be able to get your views/opinions/observations in front of the doctor and you won't have to be "on the spot" so much during the appointment. It also sounds like your husband will go with you, that would help. You are doing the right thing trying to find out what is behind this behavior. Trust your mommy heart.

    I would accept the Dec appointment but ask to be put on a cancellation list if you can. You can always call back and cancel if you find another place that will see you sooner.

    Parent report is in General archives, bottom of page 4.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2008
  20. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I'm responding really quickly, I've only been able to skim replies.

    I just wanted to say - don't rule out ADHD just because he does seem to learn under some conditions. A very bright child is also much more successful at masking a number of conditions including Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) and ADHD. It depends on the environment in which the learning takes place as well as the amount of anxiety in the individual at tat time. A favourite subject can lower anxiety to a point where the child is more able to learn, at least at that moment.

    A neuropsychologist asessment is the best to aim for, but sometimes you just grab what you can get and hope to put the pieces of the jigsaw together later on.

    A very bright child can be very difficult to get an accurate diagnosis for - they don't mean to hide their condition, it's almost instinctive but it happens because the child so desperately wants to fit in, that they adapt to blend and so bury the symptoms. But the symptoms are submerged, not gone. That's another reason to keep an open mind about any label.

    Your child probably is very upset and confused at the moment. School is a place that teachers and therefore he wants to be there. But it's also a place of torment because of the rules and the problems, and this causes anxiety to rise and this makes the behaviour worse.

    Read as much as you can. I posted separately for another new member with a 7 year old - a lot of what I said to her also applies to you.

    I have to go to bed, it's close to midnight and I have a big day coming up. I will watch for you and our other new member in the morning.