New here and a little lost, could use some advice

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Zora, Jan 5, 2012.

  1. Zora

    Zora New Member

    Hi, I'm new here. I've read through some of the posts and guidelines, hopefully I've gotten everything down. I came here because I really don't know what else to do with my youngest son. He is 7 and was diagnosed a couple months ago with ODD, nothing else underlying that the psychologist has found at this point in time. My son has really had the defiant behaviors for as long as I can remember, but recently it has really started to set the tone in our household. husband and I haven't been getting along well before he deployed because we don't agree on how to parent/discipline him which of course he figured out and started playing us against one another. My older kids can't have friends over because it's impossible to get him to leave them alone, even if I plan a distraction ahead of time. I am just so tired of having to fight to get him to do anything and I can't leave him alone with another child for one minute or he's starting a fight. He used to have trouble sleeping, he had severe separation anxiety and couldn't fall asleep without me, but he has outgrown some of that and we have been able to help him calm down to sleep with Melatonin so thankfully I get some respite in the evenings.

    So when we started seeing the psychologist I told him that what I would like to get out of his visits were more effective parenting strategies because nothing I am doing is working and I want help teaching DS how to control his anger and talk about his feelings without hurting anyone, yelling, etc. So far the only advice he's given me is to use 1-2-3 Magic. This is my youngest of 5 children, I told him I have used that with all of my kids very effectively, however it does nothing for my youngest because it actually escalates the situation, it makes things worse, I always get to 3, punish him, then he loses control and I end up punishing him again, but it's teaching him nothing and quite frankly I'm running out of things to ground him from or take away! But every visit that's all he tells me. And I asked him what I should do when I send him to his room for time out and he's kicking the walls and screaming and yelling. He told him I should teach him how to fix any holes in the walls or anything he breaks. That's fine, but I want to teach him not to do those things in the first place and he probably would actually enjoy fixing these things and having the one on one time with me while we do it (but he hasn't broken anything yet).

    He has seen my son a few times by himself, the first couple of visits he used sand play therapy and modeling clay, but I don't really know what for or anything, but before every visit he asks me how things are going in front of my son so not wanting my son to think I think he's a bad kid (I don't) I always temper the bad with the good and don't actually tell him how stressful things are with him at home. And on the most recent visit I told him that DS has gone back to telling me "I hate you" every time he gets frustrated or angry with me despite punishment for it (he had told me to punish him for saying it) and apparently they discussed that at length during the visit according to DS and now DS hates him and doesn't want to go back so I have to endure a tantrum during the entire 30 minute drive.

    I guess my question is, do we need a new psychologist or am I just not giving this one time to help us? Are there effective parenting strategies for children with ODD? Because nothing I do is working. I have ordered the book "The Explosive Child", does anyone have a review of that? I know that my son is capable of good behavior and it used to just be at home where he had problems, but now he's starting to have trouble getting along with kids at school, too, partly because he's very competitive, but also because he gets mad over every little thing.
  2. buddy

    buddy New Member

    OH you will get tons of info on the explosive child here.... yes, many of us like that book. It is not perfect. Children who are wired differently often need more than one intervention. MHO?? this psychologist is not meant for kids who are wired differently which it sounds like your son might not be. How does he do in school? Does he have any friends at all?

    I am sure I wont be the first to suggest to you to make an appointment for a complete neuropsychological evaluation. (neuropsychologist). These folks are phD psychologists who have a specialty in how the brain and behavior is connected. They can help to differentiate between different diagnosis and help you get to the underlying things that are causing the ODD. ODD for most of us is a term that just means he has behavior challenges. BIG DEAL. it is not a condition. Usually there is a condition that leads to the behaviors (or conditions, lots of little things like communication challenges, social challenges, fine motor, gross motor, processing challenges, sensory integration issues, etc.... and could be a mental health condition, the autism spectrum, a genetic disorder, many many options) In addition to this person, it is always good for kids with challenges like this to have a good Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation for motor and sensory problems, as well as a speech/language evaluation by someone who is really good at social communication problems and identifying language processing and formulation issues.

    You will find many people here who get where you are coming from! Welcome to this amazing group.
  3. soapbox

    soapbox Member

    Hi, Zora,
    Welcome - glad you found us, sorry you need to.

    First, my own bias: like many on this board, I don't put much stock in a diagnosis of ODD. It does describe a set of problem behaviors... but that is about ALL that the diagnosis of ODD does. There are no medications, therapies, interventions or advice that I can find. What ODD does work as, is as a "placeholder" diagnosis... formal recognition that something is wrong, but we haven't quite figured it out yet.

    You noted in your post that he has sleep issues - this has improved somewhat, but... I'd be taking this very seriously. Sleep isn't just about quantity - its about quality. Everybody, but doubly especially kids, need BOTH quantity and quality. The steps you've taken seem to have added a bit to quantity, at least, but that might not be enough. Sleep issues definitely trigger all sorts of behavior issues even when there were none before, and definitely make any existing issues worse. Any chance of getting a sleep study?

    What kind of evaluation(s) were done? Was his diagnosis just based on a few observational appointments and some questionaires? or was it intensive, all-day or multi-appointment detailed testing? If he hasn't had a comprehensive evaluation, I'd recommend looking into it. This should include Occupational Therapist (OT) and Speech Language Pathologist (SLP), because there are specific issues that are often overlooked.

    Occupational Therapist (OT) - sensory and motor skills evaluation - some kids have obvious motor skills problems, but others are less obvious. Fine motor skills problems make school either a major challenge, or almost impossible. Gross motor issues quickly lead to being bullied. If he has trouble writing, tieing shoes, dressing... or thowing a ball, riding a bike... it could be Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), and although you may not be able to actually get that diagnosis, the Occupational Therapist (OT) has therapies that help, and can recommend interventions and accommodations at school. Sensory issues I'm not as familiar with, but worth testing at the same time, and again the Occupational Therapist (OT) has therapies etc.

    Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) - he's 7 - old enough to actually be tested for APDs. Might have to fight to get it, especially if language development is relatively normal. But... subtle auditory problems like "auditory figure ground" are HUGE... this one is where hearing is normal, and comprehension is normal, but filtering is not... so, the kid works well one-on-one in a quiet space, but can't follow the teacher in a (noisy) classroom setting. APDs often look like ADHD. And yes, APDs can co-exist with ADHD, too. But, just think about it - if you can't follow the teacher's instructions or the information being given, how on earth can you do the work? And if you can't do the work, then what is the kid supposed to do with his time?

    These are just "normal" issues - not pervasive developmental disorders... the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) range (from Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified through to Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)) is also something that would be looked at in a comprehensive evaluation.

    Its not so much about a "new psychologist", really, but about getting a comprehensive evaluation - and this psychologist hasn't taken that approach, so you will need to go elsewhere for the evaluation. Either a neuropsychologist, or a child development/behavioural team, or other such detailed evaluators.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Zora, I sincerely think you need to forget this psychologist and take him for an intensive neuropsychologist evaluation. ODD does not stand alone and most certainly there is something else pushing the ODD behavior. ODD is actually not really treatable by itself, but again it rarely stands alone. I would not stick with this psychologist. He obviously has not done the 6-10 hours of testing a neuropsychologist would do. He also hasn't helped at all. In fact, your son is getting worse.

    I would also recommend touching base with a child psychiatrist and work with both the psychiatrist and the neuropsychologist. I have a few questions that will help us, help you.

    1/ How was his early development: eye contact, cuddling, speech, mimicking behavior, temperment. And at her age, how does he relate to his same age peers? Is he socially aware? Does he know how to have a give-and-take conversation? Any strange quirks or obsessions? Tics? Lip smacking, arm flapping, throat noises? How does he do in school?

    2/Are there are psychiatric problems or substance abuse on either side of his biological family tree, including extended relatives even if he never sees them? Heredity is huge! Any early chaos or caretaker neglect?

    You may want to post a signature like I did below. It helps prompt us.

    Keep us posted!
  5. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    The Explosive Child is the book we recommend to ALL parents. It is counter-intuitive in many ways, but it also is about the only one that works with difficult children. difficult children, our difficult kids, just are not wired the same way as other kids. Clearly you are a good parent and so is your husband because you have 4 other kids who do not have difficult child's problems. So clearly the normal methods are NOT going to work with him or they already would have. We have a book list somewhere on the site and it is very helpful. Personally, NONE of my kids did anything different with 1-2-3 Magic and I found it useless and rather idiotically pointless. But that is us.

    Others will come with more ideas, and I urge you to find a neuropsychologist (psychologist with extra training in how the brain influences behaviors) and ahve them do complete testing (can be 6-12 hours broken into shorter appointments) to find what is really going on. It could be a LOT of things, but the big picture is that you cannot expect things that work with pcs (normal kids) to help your difficult child.

    Also, get a private Occupational Therapist (OT) to do an evaluation for sensory issues. Does he have problems with sounds, certain movements, textures, foods, etc....? Either seeking them out or not coping around them at all? Those are red flags for sensory problems. Sensory problems can be helped and can have a HUGE impact on a person. I have a lot of them myself. Put me in something itchy and I cannot cope with ANYTHING AT ALL until I don't itch. Never could - and thankfully my mom was smart enough to not try to make me. School will have an Occupational Therapist (OT) who CAN do the evaluation, but a school Occupational Therapist (OT) will look for things that impact school, not that impact his entire life. You need the private (plus I think school OTs get a lot of pressure to not find things wrong because it costs to provide therapy - I know it happens in my district). It took us YEARS to get my youngest to the point that he could tolerate an entire short church service. Even now if the organist is not good it will drive him out of the church to the hallways because he just cannot stand the wrong notes. When he was littler it was the volume.

    There are a lot of things that you can do/find. the first is this group because we understand and most in real life don't. People think they understand and that you are talking about typical problems and exaggerating because our kids take things to extremes. Here? We have been there done that and/or are doing that now. We also have info to help with getting the supports and accommodations at school. Take your time, read the archives, ask all the questions you want and don't be afraid to vent. We ALL do it now and again.

    The first thing though, in my opinion, is to get a therapist for you and husband so that you can be on the same page. NOTHING gets better if you split up unless one of you is abusive (which is NOT what I think is going on, just that it is an extreme situation in which divorce might help the kids). It is hard to parent our kids and many many many marriages split over it. So make taking care of Mom, Dad and your marriage at least as much of a priority as difficult child.

  6. myeverything04

    myeverything04 New Member

    Well welcome to the group! I myself just joined last night but have already found I love it here :)

    I do not have a child with ODD but did look into it heavily as it can go hand in hand with ADHD (my daughters (difficult child) diagnosis). I am not a doctor but I can give you my opinion.

    Sounds like to me YOU are not getting what you need from this psychologist and why pay him if you aren't happy with him. I can say from personal experience that the first person you go to may not be the right one. There are many to choose from and since he isn't giving you what I would say is good advice, I would look for another one.

    As far as the other things you mentioned go, it is very hard to parent a child when you and husband don't see eye to eye. My fiance and I didn't see eye to eye either for many years and still don't with a lot of things. One thing we agree on is to never go against the other persons discapline in front of your child. If you child can see you aren't arguing with each others punishments, he may start to see that you are on the same page. I'm sure after 5 children you know this (lol), but maybe reminding husband of this may help.

    Time out never worked for my daughter and still doesn't. It doesn't 'punish' her at all and she just laughs at me. So, I found the one thing that I could take away that hurts her the most - the TV. Although it kills me to take it away, let's face it, it's a peaceful moment for all parents, she absolutely hates it and it does get her to think about what she did to get it taken away in the first place. Since your son is being distructive when sent to his room, maybe he needs another way to get out his anger. Have you tried a martial arts class, or maybe another sport in which he can get some energy out? I don't have boys so I don't know much about the rough and tough things but my sister has 3 boys and each of them is always doing some physical activity to get out there angry energy. Just a thought.

    I have also been down the "I hate you" road and it's not one I want to return too. My daughter is a bright child so the last time she told me she hated me, I sat down and had a heart-to-heart with her. She has heard the term orphan before but never really understood what they meant so I explained it all to her. She had no idea that they are actual children in our town/city who don't have parents to tuck them in at night, feed them breakfast, take them to birthday parties, etc. I also explained that these children wish everyday they had a parent to just say I love you too. And when she still didn't crack, I told her about the children who are homeless and don't even have a bed, food, clean clothes or a bathroom to take a hot shower in. She cried and I did feel bad for her but she finally understood all the things I do for her and she hasn't said I hate you since. I know not everyone would agree with my tactic but I wanted her to really understand how lucky she is to have the things and parents she has. I'm sure I will hear I hate you again sometime when she hits about 12 or so, but for now she feels blessed to have parents.

    I know one thing that has really helped my daughter is having a strict schedule. She knows what to expect next and isn't surprised when anything happens... like when homework times comes. We also still use a sticker chart - something that works well as she likes to see the chart fill up and then gets a reward (trip to the ice cream parlour or renting a new video game). With my daughter only being 8, we stick to a very small number of stickers (7 at our house) as kids her age need 'instant gratification.' I took her to the dollar store and she picked out her own calendar. She gets a sticker each day for good behavior but has to mark out the day if she has not-so-good behavior. I like having her mark out the 'bad' days as she can then see how many days she could have earned a sticker but didn't because she made bad choices that day. If you choose to do something like this, make sure you have the rules for good behavior posted next to the chart. This will help your son understand what is expected of him to have a good day.

    Also wanted to mention my daughter is also taking Melatonin at night... her ADHD medication keeps her up so we had to do something!

    Best of luck and keep in touch
  7. Zora

    Zora New Member

    Thank-you for welcoming me. He was evaluated for fine motor, he was above average, I haven't had gross motor evaluated because I know it's well above average, he's very strong, athletic and well-balanced. That was also a big problem when he was a toddler/preschooler. He would climb counters, baby gates, use chairs to unlock doors, etc. to get what he wanted and he was walking at 10 months.

    He has been seeing a speech therapist for 2 school years and still sees her. It used to be that only our family could understand him and I have seen a vast improvement since he started. But I'm not sure this is what you're talking about, I don't think he's been evaluated for social interaction.

    His teacher says that he doesn't really have any friends at school, but I know he plays soccer and other sports with kids at recess. He has one friend in our neighborhood, I think they get along because they don't spend alot of time together because his friend is there being babysat and is only there a couple times a week for a couple hours. He seems to get along better with girls because they're less competitive and better at coming up with "pretend" games that aren't as rough since rough play tends to lead to fighting more in my opinion, but I think he's getting to an age where girls think boys are icky. His teacher also says that she sees him get angry alot at school over things like someone cutting in line or taking the crayon he wants, she just says "Now Luke, is that REALLY important?" and tends to calm him down, but she doesn't tell me much when it happens because she knows he's seeing a psychologist for it. Academically he is a little behind in reading which is to be expected with his speech delay and he has trouble with story problems in math, otherwise he's very sharp and observant and tends to pick up on things that other kids miss. He also is respectful of authority there, doesn't yell or call them names like he does at home. Same with sports, he's respectful of the coaches, but that's probably because he knows if he's not I'll pull him out.

    How do I find someone for a neuropsychological evaluation? What do I look for? I haven't heard of doing that before. He's just a really complicated little boy and I have never really been able to figure out what will set him off. Is there someplace I can look for resources specific to my area? I'm really excited that you've brought up some new options for me, but I don't know where to begin.
  8. Zora

    Zora New Member

    Wow, I'm surprised at all of the responses already, this is wonderful. As someone mentioned, no one really understands when I try to explain how difficult he is or I get "the look" from other parents when he acts out. I'll try to answer all of the questions.

    As far as his evaluations, no, it wasn't as thorough as you are all suggesting. It was questionnaires for me and his teacher, he talked to him and he did a fine motor assessment.

    Luke didn't have any trauma when he was a baby, his biggest upset was when he was 3 husband deployed to Iraq for 15 months. That was when the separation anxiety started. He has gotten over that for the most part and has no problem going to school, but I still can't leave him in a daycare, he panics, I'm not sure why, but he does better with school where he can leave me instead of me leaving him.

    Sleep has really always been an issue. As a baby he would only sleep if husband or I was holding him, part of the problem we figured out was constipation and once we dealt with that he started sleeping better, but when husband left for Iraq the only way I could get him to sleep was to let him watch a kids' dvd on tv to distract him enough so he would be still long enough to sleep. Then I would put him in his bed and he would get up every night and get in mine. When he started kindergarten we put a stop to it by putting 3 pennies in front of his door and told him if he stayed in his room all night he could keep them, but every time he came out (except to potty) he would lose a penny. It worked great, but he still wakes up about 3 nights a week, only now he comes downstairs and turns the tv on really quietly and watches disney channel until he falls back asleep on the couch instead of getting in bed with me (he does get me if he's sick or has a bad dream).

    Interaction: He's always been affectionate, made eye contact, but he couldn't really talk until he was almost 3. Then he would leave the endings off of words and was difficult to understand. We had him tested at 4 and he failed the hearing test so he ended up with tubes in his ears, then he started therapy. He seems to always need to be the center of attention at home, he constantly wants me and whines when I'm busy with someone else. He almost seems incapable of occupying himself. He is happiest when he is playing sports, someone mentioned that, yes, I have him in a sport every season plus he's in a bowling league on Saturday. If he's bored he starts annoying others so I try to keep him busy. That's actually gotten to be a peaceful time for me, sitting on the bleachers watching him because there's no discipline involved, just "good job" and "here's your water bottle".

    He also isn't afraid to try anything. He loves to skateboard, ride his bike, and recently learned to ice skate. His aunt and uncle took him to an ice skating rink and he just went out on the ice and started skating. So then he decided he loved it and asked me to take him so I did and I watched him try to spin on the skates and he would fall down, get back up and try it again over and over. I'd say "are you all right?" He'd say "yeah, I'm fine. Watch this!" He only tells me he's hurt if he's bleeding, blood upsets him, otherwise I'll be bathing him and ask him where a bruise came from and half the time he has no idea.

    The one thing he does seem to be outgrowing is some of the more violent behaviors. He used to hit, kick or throw things when he was angry, usually at his siblings. He still does occasionally, but it seems like the more typical sibling fighting now. He doesn't hit me or threaten me at all. Now it's just inanimate objects. We recently got a puppy and I have no concerns at all that he would intentionally hurt her. No tics, arm flapping, anything like that. His teacher feels that he doesn't make eye contact or carry on conversations well. I'm not sure if I agree or not, it's not something that's obvious if there's a problem.
  9. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Neuropsychologists are at children's hospitals, university clinics and hospitals, and clinics for child development. It does sound like your son may have more than a speech delay. Maybe a language issue including a processing problem. If he has friends he can play with in a run around, play next to way but NOT in a cooperative back and forth imaginative way that is really important to tell the evaluator. when they did the Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation , did they do a sensory integration assessment? Does he have anything that he is uncomfortable with like smells or sounds or tastes? is he picky or upset easily by these things? OR on the other end... does he seek out these things, does he feel pain the same as others?

    It can take a while to get into them... but is well worth the comprehensive way they look at our children. Another route is to see a developmental pediatrician and ask them for a COMPLETE evaluation too... some use a team of evaluators in that case like Occupational Therapist (OT), Speech Language Pathologist (SLP), psychologist, social work, genetics etc.
  10. soapbox

    soapbox Member

    That's where the "comprehensive evaluation" comes in... because it could be as simple as the hearing and speech issues making conversation difficult. We were there... sp. ed. teacher was sure he had to be Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)/Aspie, because of eye-contact and conversation issues... in reality? exhaustion, Auditory Processing Disorders (APD), and some secondary issues like depression...

    Not sure if you agree? then don't. Get a professional opinion - more than one if you need to. "Mommy guts" are famous around here for getting the gist of things, even if we don't know the details!