New here and concerned Long--sorry!)

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Mishka626, Jun 6, 2008.

  1. Mishka626

    Mishka626 New Member

    Hi everyone! I'm here because I have a beautiful and intelligent three-year-old son who has always been very angry. Since his birth he has always been very intense. He cried for HOURS, screamed if he went outside for any reason. As he got older, things got more difficult. He has extreme temper tantrums over everything.

    Until just recently he would slam his head on the floor whenever he was angry--hard enough to leave several dark bruises. He has never slept through the night. He does not nap and has refused to do so for over a year. He usually starts his day at around 4:30 in the morning (bedtime is 7:00)...long before I'm ready to get up! LOL.

    Everything still goes in his mouth. It drives me crazy because I'm always afraid he'll choke (it's happened more than once--I'm not an expert at the Heimlich maneuver).

    The worst part is that he is always so darn angry. It's not at all unusual for him to have five or six tantrums before the first hour of the day has passed. This morning I asked him, "Why do you always want to fight with me?" He shouted back, "I like to fight!" Often when we try to calm him, he covers his eyes and shouts, "Don't talk to me!"

    He is so obviously unhappy and it's breaking my heart. I did have him evaluated by an early childhood intervention group a little before his third birthday, but they really didn't offer me much help. They pretty much said, "Well, yeah, he does seem to have some behavioral stuff going on. . . but isn't he just charming?" Well, yes, he can be charming...he's a sweet little guy with an inability to deal with rules, authority, or denial.

    Is there anyone out there who's been through this that has any idea how to handle things? I'm just getting so darned burned out.
  2. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Hi Mishka, I'm glad that you found us. We won't be able to tell you exactly what's going on here but I think we can help you by giving you some ideas to research and how to press for a more thorough evaluation.

    Difficult babies who are very oral sometimes are that way due to something called sensory integration dysfunction. Regular sensory input to in the world arounds us--lights, sounds, food tastes or textures, clothing, blankets, waters, heat/cold--can be excrutiating to them. In extreme forms it can contribute to them being not only irritable, but hysterical.

    Here's an introductory article:

    If anything there rings a bell, you'll want to check out the book ""by Carol Kranowitz.

    Head banging in toddlers and preschoolers can happen for any number of reasons but when we hear it in conjunction with difficult behaviors and/or other certain traits we want to make sure that Autistic Spectrum Disorders are ruled out. Did his pediatrician or the early intervention team mention this possibility at all, and if so, what did they say?

    Is he doing any other repetitive behaviors--lining up toys or other objects, repetitive motions, attracted to spinning objects like wheels?

    What's his speech like--are there any delays or is he way ahead of his peers (ie picking up on words other kids his age wouldn't use, creating adult sounding sentences)?

    When you say he's intelligent, what are you seeing? Does he pick up on things quickly or doing things like reading, doing math, or ...?

    What's his eye contact like?

    What's the family history like--any mental health issues such as bipolar, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, substance abuse, etc?

    We'll get you some help getting a more thorough evaluation done on him, based on your answers. In the mean time, pick up a copy of the book The Explosive Child (see the thread at the top of this board). Keep him safe and keep others safe--don't worry about discipline and progressing in expectations until you get a grasp on what's going on here.

    Hang in there--
  3. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    He's getting 9.5 hours of sleep if he actually goes to sleep at 7 PM and sleeps through to 4:30 AM. The books say most kids that age need 12 1/2 hours of sleep but the reality is that not all do. I don't think it's unusual to for some children to give up naps by three.
  4. Mishka626

    Mishka626 New Member

    I wish he was getting 9.5 hours of sleep! LOL...he has never slept through the night (sigh). SRL...thanks for all the information and questions--it gives me a starting point. I am going to find a new doctor for him because the current one (a very nice GP) just doesn't seem to think there's anything going on. If my 3-year-old was my first child I might think that I was just over-reacting, but I also have an older 5-year-old son. Every child is different (very different!) but this is more than just a difference in personality.

    Let me see if I can answer some of your questions, SRL.

    --We have had him screened for Autism and that has been definitely ruled out.

    --We don't really see any repetitive behaviours, but we do notice that once he focuses on something it is extremely difficult to distract him or get his attention. This has been the case since he was a baby.

    --His speech seems to be on par with other kids his own age...maybe a little bit advanced. He speaks in very clear sentences most of the time and is fairly easy to understand.

    --When I say that he is intelligent I mean that he picks up on things very quickly. He knows most of the letters in the alphabet without prompting, can count fairly well, has known all his colors and shapes since he was 2. If he sees something once, he usually has a full grasp of it.

    --His eye contact is iffy...but I think it's more of a control thing. When he's talking to you he will look directly at you. If he's angry he won't look at you.

    --As far as family history, I do suffer from intermittant anxiety attacks, but that's been getting better. If there's anything else I don't know about it.

    ROFL! Just as I typed that he got angry at his brother and just slammed his head against the wall--that's what I get for saying he'd outgrown it ;)

    Right now, I'm stuck with the problem of just not knowing how/who/and where to get him evaluated for his behavior.

    Thanks for your responses!
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Just a warning. High functioning autism is often missed. My son was ruled out as having autism many times. We kept hearing baloney like "He's too social" "his eye contact isn't that bad" "he just has ADHD" blah, blah, blah. Well, he banged his head, tantrummed, couldn't transition, read at age two, and obsessed over certain television shows and videogames (way beyond "normal" even for a young child). He also was a very strange child, atypical. He did not do well with loud noise or certain fabrics or foods either. Pottying was late--we honestly don't think he knew when he had to go. He has speech issues, but not all high functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kids do. Some have very early, very precocious, almost Little Professor speech. Our son did not sleep either (he does now--he is great now!)
    Anyways, back then we just thought he had too many symptoms to ignore it so we forced the schools to put him in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) early interventions (we had to fight to get him into these interventions, trust me). It paid off big time and he indeed is on the Spectrum. It just didn't become obvious until he was older. I'm grateful we forced the schools to do the early interventions because he needed them and he's really doing well now! You should take him to a PRIVATE neuropsychologist. They are the best evaluators and do hours of testing. in my opinion don't trust any school districts, regular therapists or even regular psychologists. They just don't look deeply enough or do the exhaustive amount of testing.
  6. Mishka626

    Mishka626 New Member

    Wow, Midwest Mom--thank you for that! You know...this is all really making me think. It also made me remember that he often has an aversion to being touched. From the time he was born up until just very recently, we could not touch his hands AT ALL. I mean never. Nail trimming was impossible. We had to restrain him just to wash his hands. It hasn't been until the last 8 months or so that he not only will let us hold his hand when walking (sometimes), but is now often initiating it himself...but it has to be on his terms or not at all (which is pretty much the recurring theme in all aspects of his life).

    Another area of concern with us is the possibility of ODD. He fits almost every single one of the critera...and as far as "At least twice a week" part of it--well, how about three and four times a day! LOL...I don't know. I just recently found out that my older son's friends mother's husband (ROFL--can you follow that one?!) works with children with behavorial difficulties, so I'm going to pick his brain later at the playground.

    Thanks to everyone who's responded so far--it's good to have people listen instead of just blowing me off and telling me I'm over-reacting.
  7. fiendish

    fiendish New Member

    Mine too. They probably were using an older diagnostic scale on your son that only diagnoses full blown autism. It can be hard to tell at age 3 because 3 year olds are all pretty socially weird. As difficult child got a bit older the difference between his social interaction and his peers' was much easier to spot.

    You need a developmental pediatrician or a multi-disciplinary team. Do you have a children's hospital nearby? They should do more comprehensive evaluations.

    difficult child has also never slept through the night and he's 5.5. (Sorry, you probably didn't want to hear that!!)
  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Mishka, you said, "We have had him screened for Autism and that has been definitely ruled out."
    You then gave a long list of things that ALL fit with high-functioning autism, possibly even hyperlexia.

    MWM is right - you need to keep an open mind on the possibility of autism, especially if he's only 3. It is so often missed, or misdiagnosed.

    If he had/has no language delay then Asperger's is more likely to be on the cards than more conventional autism (at least as far as diagnosis goes in Australia!). Don't be misled by a sociable child who makes eye contact, either - it can happen. Autistic kids aren't necessarily socially withdrawn; socially inappropriate or inept is a better description. difficult child 3 would go up to a total stranger and tell them our family history.

    An autistic girl (teen) said to me this evening (after eavesdropping on my conversation with her mother), "Were you talking to my mother about how fat you are?"
    I replied that we had been talking about diets rather than about being fat. The girl then remembered lessons she'd been taught and realised she'd been inappropriate, and said, "I'm sorry I said that; but at least I didn't call you fat, I just asked if you had said it."

    Which didn't really help much! But I know the girl was not trying to offend, she was just wanting to know. So I smiled and said, "We're all girls together in this room. If we want to share about being fat, or skinny, or on diets - we all understand because we're all friends."

    That's what I mean about inappropriate. The girl was chatty with me but inappropriate. However, she was belatedly aware of this and tried to fix it. She really wanted to do the right thing. A good person at heart.

    by the way, she was making good eye contact with me. difficult child 3 always has made good eye contact with people. difficult child 1 will make good eye contact with people one-on-one, but rarely with a group especially if he doesn't know them well.

    Sometimes an autistic person avoids eye contact because what they see is too distracting and they are less able to concentrate on what the person is saying. It really does vary - I think difficult child 3 makes good eye contact when you're talking to him because it helps him understand what you're saying. Same with difficult child 1 - we always had to tap his shoulder to get his attention, and insist on eye contact if we had to say something important.

    Autism is not necessarily bad news, especially high-functioning autism.

    The lack of sleep thing - not good. It could be a factor in the raging. easy child 2/difficult child 2 took a while to learn how to sleep; she would rage and fight it and drive me crazy, often falling asleep sitting up in her cot, still wailing defiance. Her eyes would be shut, she would be swaying, then she'd fall over and when her head hit the pillow, she would wake and start crying all over again.

    I have found I get better response from my kids when they get more sleep. difficult child 1 is fairly insomniac though. However, when he DOES sleep (same with the others) he does it thoroughly. He is out like a light, so relaxed his eyelids partly open. He's had people talking to him at various camps and sleepovers, thinking he was awake.

    Something to consider - food sensitivity? Or a reaction to something in his diet. For example, we tried eliminating various suspect foods from the diet of both boys (did the rest of the family too, it was easier) and found they reacted to caffeine. Cola drinks and a lot of other things with guarana (aka caffeine) were a trigger for worse behaviour and rages.

    You're worrying about ODD - from what we've seen, a lot of things get described as ODD but are in fact a follow-on to another overlying disorder. and trying to use conventional discipline or parenting techniques on these difficult child kids can trigger ODD-type behaviour. Changing your direction can reduce or even remove this ODD-type behaviour.

    That's not to say that ODD itself doesn't exist. Just that a lot of things may look like ODD but can be managed by changing how you handle the child and listen to the child.

    Read "Explosive Child" - see the thread at the top of this forum. See if it rings a bell with you.

    Again, welcome. We can help.