Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by miles2go, Nov 20, 2008.

  1. miles2go

    miles2go Member

    I am a dad with a wonderful 7 y.o. son who early on had strong tantrums of frustration-intolerance kind, then was bugging other kids so as to get kicked out of a couple of preschools. Not much of impulse control, though observes his own safety. Never anger problems, an easy smile and has a good time most of the time. In school at first "typical" ADHD behavior -- outbursts in class, not doing classwork, impulsivity, cant keep hands to self. Tried amphetamines (Adderall, Concerta) -- gets him buzzed up to the point of quieting down, but in a few weeks even teachers (who are happy that he's no longer disruptive) begin to worry about his subdued affect and behavior. Then he has a big meltdown, bigger than without Concerta. Tried guanfacin which dulled his tantrums or manic fun, but made him more irritable to the point where he'd get aggressive when frustrated, never before. So weaned him off of that. Docs now more or less rule out ADHD, diagnose bipolar and suggest Abilfy. I haven't started him till tonight -- he is so normal with me, but at school -- doesn't do work and has a far-out event now more and more often -- got a call at work friday (kissing, running away), monday (major tantrum in the principal's office), then suspended for two days, now today, with a new personal aide, playing passive resistance (run away and lie down). Then, as he's getting picked up early by grandma, his recess chase (stole a boy's shoe) escalates to him running across a busy street with 6 teachers+staff trying to catch him. Eventually they locked him in a bathroom, which he proceeded to fill with all the toilet paper and towels he could find. By the time I got there a cop was called who was talking to my exhausted and calm son (a spank from his grandma switched off the manic state), resting under a blanket.
    So I started him tonight with a 0.5 mg of Abilfy to ramp it up to 2mg or 4 mg, but I still have the feeling that I am medicating him with such strong stuff just so that I don't lose my job, when a smaller class or home schooling + some good workout plus yoga would solve all his problems -- one-on-one with me he's just a delight although gets into boy's mischief and has his frustrations.
    His mom and some of her family definitely exhibit bipolar II symptoms though never officially diagnosed.
    Sorry for a long post -- trying to get as much info on this as possible.
    And yes, this has almost destroyed our family and my sanity, but that's no news in this crowd I suppose.
  2. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi Miles,

    Glad you found your way to our site.

    First I have to admit that I don't have any personal experience with BiPolar (BP), but I must say that genetics play a huge factor in the issues our challenging children present. Also, stimulants like adderal and concertat can do a lot of damage to an unstable BPer. First and foremost is getting the child stable with a mood stabilizer - that can take some time. Then the other issues are addressed like add or such. Many kids present add-like symtoms but once treated for BiPolar (BP), those disapear!

    I'm sure some other parents will be along soon who can speak more personally to the BiPolar (BP) issue. Welcome.

  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    There are a number of things that can look like bipolar, including bipolar. With all the mediation that's been thrown at him, has he ever had a neuropsychologist assessment to justify the medications? Not that I'm against medications - I'm not, where it's clearly been demonstrated that there is a need - but some doctors try to diagnose by trying the medications to see if they work, THEN calling it ADHD (or whatever).

    I'd be thinking of at least having him assessed for Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) in some form. It also can travel in families and it also can look like bipolar (and other things). You can get it with and without ADHD.

    Have a look at and dig for their Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) test. It's not allowed to be used for diagnosis, but you can do the test on him (you answer the questions) then print it out and take the printout to your son's doctor to get their opinion.

    It's good to have you on the site - we can help. There are other fathers here too. When you can, click on UserCP in the top left and do a sig on you and your family, so we can understand your situation better without you having to describe everything all over again every time you post.

    Welcome aboard! I'm also looking for answers as alternatives to medications as well, especially large doses of medications. We all share what we discover, it helps everybody. We take what works, we drop what doesn't. Together, collectively, we have a vast amount of knowledge and understanding.

  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I'd take him to a neuropsychologist for a complete evaluation. ADHD just doesn't sound right for this extreme behavior. Possibly early onset bipolar...and stimulants would make that worse. If his social skills are "off" you may also be looking at autistsic spectrum disorder.
    NeuroPsychs do the most intensive testing of all professionals. I think it would be a wise investment in your son's future.
  5. luvmyottb

    luvmyottb Guest

    Welcome to the board. I agree with Midwest Mom. If your son hasn't had a neuropsychologist evaluate his situation, I would do it pronto.

    If he is truly bipolar, you may see some of his symptoms ease with Abilify.

    Glad you found us, hope we can give you some insight.
  6. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Just popping in to offer you my welcome. There are many parents here who can help you ~ more that will offer you support even if we don't have the "answer".

    Again, welcome.
  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Hi And Welcome!! My only personal experience with bipolar was the research I did when the docs were trying to figure out if my son had it. So not a whole lot.

    I do recommend you read "The Explosive Child" for ideas on ways to help him. Also, if you haven't read "The Bipolar Child" by Dmitri Papalous it is an incredible resource.

    I have also had good luck personally with Love and Logic. You can investigate their website at and it has many free things as well as descriptions of all their books. I found it helpful and so did my children's teachers.

    as for the school problems, maybe if you observed at school you would see what is going on there to trigger his difficulties and then make suggestions to help that.

    Hope some of that helps,

  8. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Oh, yeah! Another dad on the board! This is exciting. Kudos for all your hard work, Warrior Dad!

    I agree that ADHD doesn't quite sound right, but I am no expert. What kind of docs do you and he work with?

    Adding a "signature" with your family's info in it helps us keep things straight. Don't lose your job, but if possible, you might want to do that.
  9. Star*

    Star* call 911

    I can see for MILES and MILES and MILES and MILES and MILES..........

    (thanks for that now there's a song stuck in my head) along with bunches of other things....

    Maybe this will help -

    My son was "black listed" from 15 day cares in a dual-county area. Yeah - you try being a single Mom and loose a job (40k a year to start) and then pick up your kid at daycare to hear "I don't think the parents are going to sue, but you cant' bring Dude back tomorrow, I'm sorry." :sick: -
    So you head to the next day care and they ask your name and then his name and then say in an UT OHHH tone - "I'm so sorry we have no openings." I think at times I had to leave my son at the daycare from hell. I have guilt - but MAN was he a handfull. I don't think I'd be able to handle any other boy like that without knowing what I know now - and now I'm too 'smart' to want to do it again - lol.

    Also we've had my son on 64 medications over his young 18 year life. Not much we havent' tried - hypnosis, tdocs, family therapy, dancing naked in the moonlight with chicken livers taped to my elbows changing to the moon goddess - MAKE HIM BETTER......make him beeeeeeetttter. :surprise: (and yes I'm HUGELY popular with my neighbors) :laugh:

    I think a few key things that helped were learning that this IS a disorder. It's controllable - his behaviors are controllable - and tough love is going to be your #1 ally in this war. My biggest hurdle was KNOWING that if I allowed tough love to happen - it would be A LOT harder on me.....not to mention that you begin to think these kids will NEVER EVER learn.

    You find yourself asking - "How many times do i have to?? fill in the blank." to the point of exhaustion. Keep in mind there is no magic pill, no magic dance - and a good thing I recommend is getting in with a good therapist and stick with it. Both of you - go 2x a week - once for him once for you to "catch up" on how things are going so the behaviors don't have a week or more to get handled. And learn HOW to communicate effectively. Everyone thinks they know how to talk to people - you're either nice or your not - but not so. You can be ugly when you are being nice and not know it. Find a course in effective communication - worth it's weight in gold.

    Glad to see you came to the table with this - we're here - we listen and sometimes that's all any of us can do for each other. Get educated and find out what your sons rights are in school - with IEP's and 504's. Tweek his medications - stick to consequences and learn the words - SHORT TERM Goals and SHORT TERM consequences. Sometimes it's better if you have to punish for 30 minutes rather than 3 days - these kids need mynah bird repetetiveness to learn.

    Glad you found us =
  10. Mandy

    Mandy Parent In Training

    Welcome to the site!:D
  11. Nancy423

    Nancy423 do I have to be the mom?

    hi and welcome!
  12. ML

    ML Guest

  13. Jena

    Jena New Member


    I just wanted to jump in and welcome you as well! My daughter was on abilify as well, that is a very low dose of it. I did not like the affect it had on my daughter, one of the side effects if anxiety. My daughter also has a very bad anxiety disorder along with bi polar, adhd, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I will say this though, when my daughter is with her dad, my ex her behavior is quite different. He sees nothing wrong with-her most of the time. Now granted still sees the anxiety, yet not the bipolar. Whereas I see them very well.

    Are you with him on a daily basis?
  14. miles2go

    miles2go Member

    Thank you all for the welcome. I appreciate the signature suggestions but I'll need to keep things more private in this public forum (I don't mind talking to any of you about them in private messages, if this forum has the feature). Yes, I am with him every day. I took the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) test and it came out a no-Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), 27 -- he's definitely not there although can look spaced out especially when asked to produce classwork.
    Yes, I am with him every day.
  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    With the sig, if you look at ours you can see the codes we use; the acronyms. My kids are numbered - easy child is my eldest. difficult child 1 is my next but he is my first difficult child, hence no 1. That's MY system, anyway. easy child 2/difficult child 2 is a mixture, mostly difficult child these days but sometimes she's a pleasant surprise. And there's my fourth child, difficult child 3.

    We have our privacy. No names are given, just the code names. I've also freely stated here that although I feel some personal ownership of "Marguerite" and would now answer to it if called it publicly, nobody who knows my face would connect that name to me.

    So if you feel a need for confidentiality and privacy (and don't we all?), especially when venting about your child than put it in NOW by using an alias (maybe Keats?) and some sort of code of your own that you can stay with.

    And yes, we do have the facility for private messages. It will be slow for a while for you, as a new member. I think you can't send them to begin with but you can receive them and reply to them. Once we feel safe with you and the moderators are happy, I think you can PM at that point.

  16. miles2go

    miles2go Member

    Of course, kind people, I understand how privacy works in the forum, and my name is not really Miles, but browsing the forum is open to the general public, and many threads come up near the top of searches if you google something like abilify/children/tantrums, and some persons close to my family just might recognize the family if I give much detail with bad consequences to the family. I have given more detail to some of you in PM, and you can PM me if you are curious.
    I started him on tiny doses (.5 mg for 3 days, now 1mg) and he does seem calmer, but his stuff doesn't really happen till he's in school, so I'll watch for side effects and see how school starts up after the break.
    Again, thank you all for support, it does help tremendously.
  17. miles2go

    miles2go Member

    My 7 y.o. boy has been up to 2mg of Abilify for a few days now, still a bit defiant in school and today at his psychiatrist, the doctor recommends going at least to 3 mg, and suddenly after the doctor visit the kid gets tired, and is sleeping since 2pm with maybe 1hr of lethargic wakefulness from abt 6-7pm. I gave him his daily, only 2mg during that window. He is not complaining, "feeling good", "not hungry" (since lunch, no dinner). Should I be worried? I guess I'll see if he wakes up at 3am feeling hungry.
    The doctor wants to keep the dose on the high side, says BiPolar (BP) symptoms have a tendency to "break through" if the dose is not high enough and then the medication is ineffective. Says even if one-on-one difficult child seems ok on the lower dose, don't drop it during school holidays -- the brain needs it to work right, even if we don't see the overt need. Brain working wrong would mean to stay overactive in places, and in others be like "kindling", firing up from a slight spark.
  18. Jena

    Jena New Member


    that is true and alot of doctor's will say that in regards to BiPolar (BP). if the dosage isn't at the right level you will see "breakthrough" behaviors.

    Id' just wait and see how he does. Often I find I will start a medication and than I wont' see a side effect until a mos. down the road. I've used abilify and it can work that way.

    Good luck
  19. miles2go

    miles2go Member

    Does anyone else find their BiPolar (BP) (or other) difficult child symptoms flare up during the vacation?
    Mine (7 y.o. boy, on Abilify 3 mg) definitely got more irritable, by a sibling or other little anxiety provoking thing, not quite a meltdown like we may have had before the medication but it's definitely back. I upped it to 4 mg today, not much change. He looks tired, is now again more likely to start talking to strangers or mugging into their camera, etc.
    Wonder what the start of school will bring.
  20. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Miles, my kids generally do better with the structure of school and away from annoying siblings. We've definitely seen more than our share of irritability and meltdowns in the last week since vacation started, but I fully expect it to improve once school reopens next Monday (although we may face some meltdowns about homework then).