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I found this site yesterday after having an absolutely horrible day. My 6 yr old stepson once again jammed something down the toilet. It flooded the upstairs and leaked downstairs and all the way down into the basement. After the 5 hours it took me to clean it up I started looking for some support. I do belong to a wonderful ADHD support site but no ones kid seems as screwed up as mine.
Here's a quick(as quick as it can be but I could write a novel on this kid)overview. I have one son who is 11 and my husband has a 6 yr old who lives with us. He is diagnosis with ADHD,bipolar,Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and an anxiety disorder. We are just starting out on the medication as he had a heart condition that was surgically corrected. We started with Depakote with no results so we are weaning off that and going to try Risperdal. He is violent, aggressive and loves to upset and annoy everyone. He was constantly in trouble at school last year and I know it will be worse this year because now he will be there a full day. However the school refuses to evaluate him, they just like to complain about him. I am working on an advocate. He breaks everything, climbs out of windows, has walked out of school, stolen keys and started cars, opened the door of a moving car, and just constantly annoys and harrasses everyone. He is a master manipulator. It is to the point where we treat him as an infant. He must be supervised even when using the bathroom. He sees his bio. mom on the weekends and has thrown chairs at her,and thrown his 2 yr old half sister off a top bunk. We are all at the end of our rope. My husband knows I cannot take much more, I am the one who is home with him because I had to quit my job because nobody will babysit him. He knows Im ready to walk out if things don't change. Nothing we have tried works. He currently sees a psychiatrist,goes to an Intense Outpatient Program and will be starting a social skills class. I believe now he has alot more contol over his behavior than we thought because he changes the way he acts depending upon who is around. His worst behavior is at his moms, he's pretty out of control for me and anyone else,but acts up around his father much less, but is still very disrespectful to him at times. We've all had it. Sorry for rambling on but Im just so stressed.


Mom? What's a difficult child?
Welcome!!! Pull up a chair and do some reading!!! All of us here can relate in one way or another!!!
This is a great place...

The school has to evaluation him if you ask... go to the Special Education forum here and ask how to get started, Sheila and Martie are Wonderful!!! It sounds like he should have an IEP or at least a 504 plan in place... usually you send a certified letter requesting an evaluation.

My 6 yo daughter basically has the same diagnosis as your son.... so I feel for you. She saves her "best" behavior for me...
I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone....


Well-Known Member
Welcome, and realize you're not alone.
I have a few questions:
1/ Is he seeing a psychiatrist?
2/ Has he ever seen a neuropsychologist to see if something was missed when the Psychiatrist or Psycologist gave him a slew of psychiatric diagnosis? With her many diagnosis., I'd also want somebody to evaluate her for high functioning autism--NeuroPsychs often catch that when others don't.
3/How long was he on Depakote? It takes eight full weeks at a therapeutic level to kick in. Some trials are stopped too soon.
4/Are there any psychiatric problems on either side of his family tree? I'm guessing there are. Any substance abuse? Suicide? Neurological problems?
5/Have you read "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene? If not, get it! It can help until you find out what the main issue is with this child--or at least get his stable on medications.
6/How was his early development--talking, motor skills? Did he cuddle? Does he understand how to socialize?
7/ Does he have an IEP at school?
8/Has he had any genetic testing? There is something called Cardiovascular Facial Syndome (or something like that). Some kids who have certain heart problems have an entire syndrome which can cause extremely erratic behavior. My son had heart surgery at birth and he had this genetic test to rule out the syndrome. We were all shocked--everyone thought he had it, but he doesn't.

Others will also come along, but I'm doubting that an ADHD will help much--there is a lot more than ADHD going on here. ADHD medications can make kids with bipolar even worse, even if they have co-morbid ADHD.


New Member
You're not alone in those behaviors! We have to supervise our 7 year old 95% of the time. The only reason we don't 100% of the time is because we are on such a strict schedule. If I didn't have him occupied with something he enjoys doing from the time he leaves his room in the morning to the time he goes to bed at night, I'd still be miserable. We have a hall door that closes this half of the house off from the rest of the house, so when we go to bed at night, we lock it behind us so that our 7 year old isn't sneaking foods he has allergic reactions to, stealing things, leaving the house in the middle of the night, destroying things, etc. When we went on vacation this summer, he snuck out at night and ransacked the kitchen. The next morning we woke up to find him with a face so swollen he could barely see. Something in most sweets apparently causes this, we think food dye. We try to explain it, he doesn't care. If you leave him unsupervised for a second, he'll sneak something. If he's not sneaking food he's destroying things, hitting his brothers, overall just being mean. Lately he's been really good, but only because of our rediculous schedule. Every 30 minutes everyone has a new activity that doesn't involve interacting with eachother unless its family time where my husband and I are involved in the activity. We tried to be sure we had enough things for him to do that he enjoys so he doesn't get bored in his 30 minutes and finds something devious to do.

I am sorry you had to find the board, but I'm glad you did. Everyone here is so full of support. I found it in my "desperate hour" too as I'm sure most people did. Welcome!


Well-Known Member

I admire your dedication to your stepson. You quit your job to care for him? Wow! I hope his bio parents appreciate that one!

He seems pretty violent. Was he always like that or just since medications started?


New Member
To answer some questions:

He has always been violent. He started getting kicked out of daycares at 18 months old for this reason.
He does see a psychiatrist once a week.
He has been evaluated by a nuero-psychiatric and a neurologist. He has no autistic tendencies.
He has been on the Depakote for 3 months and it has had no effect whatsoever. The dosage was upped 3 times.
His family is just crawling with mental illness. His bio. mom is BiPolar (BP),his maternal and paternal grandmothers are both bipolar and he has an aunt with some personality disorder but I forget which one. No suicide or substance abuse.
He has no IEP. The school refuses to evaluate him. We requested it twice in writing and they said it was not warranted. I am hoping to move shortly to another town but if I dont sell my house soon I will be getting an advocate and requesting the evaluation again. He was constantly in trouble at school and I feel he also has learning disabilities.
Velo-cardio Syndrome-wow! Im looking into this further and talking to his doctor about it as well. I have been saying for years this is some kind of syndrome we just have to put it all together.

Sara PA

New Member
You should have been getting blood levels done while on the Depakote. Dosage is determined by blood levels.

From The Bipolar Child newsletter on mood stabilizers:


Many children are prescribed Depakote (divalproex sodium) but all too often we receive medication charts from parents or emails reporting that the Depakote dosage was 250-500 mg a day and "it didn't work." Most children will require far higher doses to achieve therapeutic blood levels, and while all children will reach different blood levels at different dosages, it's important to get the right levels and wait a few weeks before making any judgment about the effectiveness of the drug.

Testing Before Treatment:

*Medical exam to gauge liver function, blood cell and platelet counts, and serum iron concentrations.


Children are often started on a test dose of 125 mg and adolescents on 250 mg, and the doses are gradually increased to obtain a daily target dose of of between 1,000-1,200 mg. Some children will require 1,500-2,000 mg a day to maintain an effective Depakote level. Like Tegretol, Depakote increases its own breakdown and the levels will need to be examined after a month on the medication to see if the level has dropped.

Range of Effective Levels:

Many children respond best at levels between 80-90 mg/ml, but some require levels of 100 to 125 mg/ml to achieve adequate symptom relief.


New Member
Oh we did get the bloodwork done before the dosage was upped. It was done once before he started on the medication and then 2 times since he's been on it. At 1000 mg a day the level was in the range of where it should of been, I forget the number but the psychiatric. did tell me the results.

timer lady

Queen of Hearts
Just wanted to pop in & offer you my welcome. Hope we can help you sort this out. Your difficult child is so very young - it's going to take time & patience. You'll find that difficult child will have many diagnosis's & trialed many medications before you hit the "magic bullet", if you will.

In the meantime, please find some "me" time. Take care of you - if you don't, no one else will.


Active Member
He has no IEP. The school refuses to evaluate him. We requested it twice in writing and they said it was not warranted. I am hoping to move shortly to another town but if I dont sell my house soon I will be getting an advocate and requesting the evaluation again. He was constantly in trouble at school and I feel he also has learning disabilities.

Uh oh! I'd put a quick question out there to Sheila and Martie on the Special Education forum! Are you in the States? I'm NO authority (they are :smile:), but I think it's illegal for schools to refuse to do an evaluation!

Welcome to the board!


Wiped Out

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Welcome. I so remember when my difficult child was that age and we had to supervise him 100% of the time as well! Downright exhausting isn't it? I'm glad you found us. You will find much support here. Welcome!