Newbie, Back Story

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by w_woody, Jul 14, 2009.

  1. w_woody

    w_woody New Member

    I am a now happily married 30 year old man with a 7 year old difficult child from a previous relationship. D had a typical early childhood. Nothing out of the ordinary, walked, talked, development seemed quite normal. Potty trained at 2, well mannered, people would comment on happy he semmed. However, D started displaying oppositional behaviors after his mother and I split up (we where never married and she left me for her current husband marrying him the day she left), when my son was 4 years old. She left our son with me while she moved around for a month or so before finally moving back in with her parents and we began exchanging equal custody of my son. Soon after I began dating again and that's when my son's mother started showing up on my dates, making calls to my home, witholding visitions, etc.

    During one of my weekly visitations, approximately 3 weeks after I had noticed a change in my son's behavior and, which was exactly the same time, I had told his mother I was moving in with my current girlfriend (who is now my wife) my son had a meltdown at the dinner table refusing to eat dinner. It was a night I've burned into my memory and will never forget. I had never had him act this way and I threatned to spank him, which I did when I tried to get him to at least taste a bite of the food and he then spit it in my face. The spanking resulted in marks that turned to bruises on the back of his left leg. His mother and maternal grandparents rushed him to the DR. the day after the spanking when I dropped him off from our visit even though I had told them what had happened and how sorry I was and tried to have me put in prison for child abuse. My equal visitation was taken away which I agreed too until the charges against me could be taken care of and I spent a period of about year and a half on supervised visitation with my son 2 hours a week.

    I feel horrible about the incident, blaim no one but myself and still suffer a little every day over that mistake. It's taken me a long time to get where I am about it and I still have a ways to go. Although I was never tried or convicted I felt and still feel like a child abuser.

    After the initial spanking my ex began claiming and fabricating an entire history of domestic and child abuse against me. We had allready been having custody issues over my son for well over a year and a half prior wihtout a single mention of such things but she used my mistake against me...and in a way against my son.

    My ex suffers from Bi-Polar, and has a family history of pscitzophrenia. However, she began claiming that D was traumatized by the incident, and had began to regress, wetting himself, terrible night terrors, and enrolled him in counciling, and begain telling his Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) about this false history of abuse, claiming everything from I had spanked our son when he was 2 weeks old too the fact that I had murdered a family pet in front of her...all complete lies. My son's first Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) diagnosed my son with an Anxiety dissorder with a trigger...I was the trigger (can't remember the exact diagnosis I would have to look it up in the records). When we were finally able to get hold of the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) notes (during court, not before) and sift through them we found that my son's maternal grandparents had in fact been taking care of my son as his mother had moved out of the home and left him with his grandparents for a period of several months...I had finally gotten some visitation restored by the time we obtained these documents and after a week at my home during summer vacation my son reported to his Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) as having the "best session" he'd ever had.

    We where able to get the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) on the stand that day and ask her a few questions and discovered my son's defiant behavior was increasing, he was having multiple problems in school. The judge asked about her diagnosis and stated that she had to have 6 months of data with my son being trigger free (not seeing me) before she could disscount her initial diagnosis...the judge pointed out that my son was "defiant at home, definat at his father's, at school and with everyone else, that it sounded like ODD." Then the judge noted she had been seeing my son a year and I was only getting 2 hours a week of visitation could I really be having that much impact on him in 2 hours of basically nothing but playtime.

    After that hearing my visitation was extened and immediately my ex began making more reports to DCS. Everything from I was throwing my son, hitting him, dragging him around by his arms, etc. I quit spanking as a form of disipline after the incident that had left bruises and had only been using time outs, all the while my son's behavior was getting worse. It seemed for every step forward I made with him the day he went home was 2 steps back.

    Last year in March she picked up and moved our son out of our state to VA, while we where waiting to hear about me regaining equal custody. She called me after the move to tell me that she had moved and that now I couldn't get my son back at all and she offered to buy my parental rights. We went back to court on her moving illegally (she was supposed to either get permission from the court or notify me 60 days prior to the move, which she did neither), and when we entered the court room I was handed the order from the previous hearing which gave me back equal custody of our son and changed things. My ex agreed to equal visitation and to transport my son to and from VA for our visitation exchanges so she could remain in VA living with her parents. Again only after a month she called DCS again claiming I had grabbed my son real hard and bruised him. All the while his behavior is getting worse and worse, and once again she had moved out of the home. After she completely failed to cooperate with the investigation by DCS, (She wouldn't allow them to interview my son) I think it finally became apparent to them that the truth was she was making all this stuff up.

    She had enrolled him in counciling with another Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in VA after our hearing giving me equal custody and never bothered to tell me about it or even who the person was. I didn't know he'd been in counciling there until she made the allegations to DCS, abd this Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) sent a letter saying I needed therapy when she had never even spoken to me let alone saw me in her office. This counciler had thought that my son's problems where some kind of nerological disorder caused from abuse and had him evaluated by a PHD which instead came back as ODD, then she had him sent to a MD and it came back ODD as well...needless to say both evaluations I later found out one the grandmother took him to and the other the mother took him to where both full of inconsistancies, more allegations, and lies.

    After the latest allegations where dissmissed as unfounded I contacted my son's school and became aware of the major problems and meltdowns he was having at his school. Hitting his teachers, councilers, principle, throwing desks, chairs, attempted to stab a child with a pencil. My ex had attributed these meltdowns at first as being the teacher's fault, then they where my wife's fault, and finally they where mine. Although I had seen these same type of definat behaviors ever since we split up, and had been telling my ex about them only to have her say, well he's an angel in our house. That became the same speeches we would hear at bi-weekly school meetings. The teachers would tell us about how he tore up his work and threw it back at her, my ex would say he is an angel at home, and that all this behavior was on monday's and fridays when he was stressed over having to come and go from my home. My ex wouldn't allow me access to my son's medical doctors, psychologists, psychiatrist, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) records...nothing. I had to go to court to get hold of these records and discover she was blaiming all his problems on the spanking...saying that was what was causing this. Telling teachers, doctors, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), everybody that I was abusing my son and that's why he was having these problems.

    With enough being enough I filed for full custody and finally last month got it. Since then I have been struggling to help sort through 3 years of lies, false allegations, half truths, and dealing with my own mistakes and missteps along the way. I am looking for all the help and advice I can find and have been looking all over for all the info I can find. I have my son enrolled in counciling here, and have an appointment with another MD this week to help access and try and help get my son the treatment he desperately needs. I haven't filled in this post with all the details because they are too numerous to post...but I'll happily answer any questions and give as much backstory and as much truth as I can possibly give. I thank any and all who read this and comment for any input you have.

    I just want to say that before I go, my son is truly my Gift from God and I thank the lord everyday for him. I pray for strength and love, and most of all I pray for forgivness for my mistakes and for not being a better parent to begin with and allowing what happened that night to happen.

    Thank you all in advance.
  2. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Hi Woody and welcome.

    First off, I think it sounds like you have come a long way as a parent. None of us get a manual with- our kids, and having a child with challenging behaviors really tests us. I was raised with- spanking and didn't give it a second thought... until I caught on that my difficult child couldn't care less. In the beginning of our darkest days with- our difficult child, a well-meaning friend gave me a "parenting" book that advocated the use of a wooden spoon rather than hand for spanking. What a phenomenally horrible idea that was. I think without question we have all made mistakes in our child raising. We all carry guilt over those mistakes. But I think what is far more important is that we have learned from those mistakes and became better parents (not perfect, but better) not only for our difficult children but also our pcs.

    It sounds like your little guy has been through the wringer, but it sounds like you're on the right track. I think therapy is important for the long term, as well as a full medical as well as psychiatric examination. We all bring our biases to the board and none of us has *the* answer, so take what you can use and ignore the rest. ;) My personal bias, based on the acting out in school, would be wondering about a mood disorder (my son was the champion of desk-throwing in grades 1-???, LOL). With your ex's psychiatric history - I think it would be reasonable to have your son evaluated for a mood disorder.

    I would think that your son's situation is probably complicated by your ex's claims of abuse. I have no experience with- custody battles, but to my inexperienced eye it had to have had a negative effect on him.

    Aside from what you've already got going on for him, I think I would contact the school district (SD) to see about having a Special Education evaluation done. If you look in the sped 101 archives, you'll find some sample letters and info about sped. It sounds like he's already got a pretty well documented history of struggling in school behaviorally and I think the goal would be to set up as supportive environment as possible. Actually, you might just give the SD a head's up that he's struggled in his prior school setting but maybe hold off on formal evaluation until you see how he does, especially if he's settling in well at your home. But I wouldn't hesitate to request sped evaluation at the first hint of trouble in school - hindsight being 20/20, I think it is imperative that young children get the supports they need ASAP before school becomes one big battle. In my personal experience, that was a situation that we were never able to overcome with- my son.

    Anyway - welcome again and I'm so glad you found us.
  3. Christy

    Christy New Member

    A nasty custody battle with continuous false allegations must have had a terrible impact on your son. Now that you have full custody, providing a stable, structured, loving home will help but it will take time. Continue to take you son to counseling, stay in close contact with the schools, and get you son a thorough psychiatric evaluation. Mental illness such as bipolar disorder have a strong genetic component.

    Welcome to the site. You've found a great place for information and support. I wish you the very best as you work to heal past emotional wounds and seek effective treatment for your son.

  4. therese005us

    therese005us New Member

    Hi Woody and welcome from me too.
    This site is a mine of information.
    For what it's worth, I would now take it easy with your DS, and not saturate him with lots of evaluations and counselling sessions. I would take time to relax and get to know him again, let him settle in to his family life. He's had such a hard time of it over the past while and I would think that a lot of his behaviour is suppressed confusion over the really horrible custody battle you've had. I've worked in the area of Family Law, so I know how truly messy it can get. You've done well to come thus far, and I wish you all the best for the future; what a great dad you are!
    I'll be praying for you too.
  5. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome! I am glad you found us. We are a great group of parents that support each other. NO judgements here.

    I am glad you are able to come to terms with the spanking. I have spanked my child, too. I regretted it. I apologized. We moved on. It happens. You were 23! The events that spiraled from that one action are just unreal. I can not imagine having one moment cause such pain for so long. I am truly sorry.

    So, now that you have your son full time (congrats!) what is he like at home? Tell us how he responds to you? Does he have supports at school? Does he have an IEP? What type of discipline do you use now? Charts? Rewards? Punishments?

    In most cases, there is more than ODD in the mix. Usually ODD is a term to describe the behavior that comes along with some other diagnosis like: ADHD, Bipolar, Depression, Anxiety, etc.

    You mention your Ex has Bipolar - it shows up much different in children.
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there. Welcome to the board :D.

    Well, first of all ODD rarely stands alone and I'd have him tested by a neuropsychologist. With bipolar and schizophrenia on the family tree, this boy is prone to mental illness. And he has had a very tough life, being in the middle of an ugly custody battle and then removed from his mother. She may not have been a very good mother, but she IS his mother and he has always lived with her, and now he's with you. A mentally fragile child suddenly uprooted to a new situation is not a good combination. And it sounds like he was moved around A LOT. At this point in time, I'd focus on finding out if he has any childhood disorders, again bringing me back to the neuropsychologist. They do very intensive testing and are far better than therapists at figuring out what is going on. I'm sure part of it is what has happened in his life, but it also wouldn't shock me if that were compounded by maybe other disorders. Just because his early development was normal doesn't mean he isn't fragile in other ways.

    Does he still get to see his mother? If not, has this been addressed?

    I believe, as I'm sure we all do, how much you love your son. Having said that, I think you must be very proactive in getting him help so that he can overcome all that has gone on and whatever may be intristically problematic (with the family history on wife's side). It's unlikely to be an easy fix, and it may be able to be completely fixed, but whatever is going on CAN be made significantly better with the right treatment. I'm for early and often active treatment. I think he may need to see a psychiatrist too rather than a therapist. He's been through so much and has so much psyschiatric history on the family tree that I'd stick to NeuroPsychs and Psychiatrists at first, then have the psychiatrist recommend a therapist who he feels would be a good fit for your precious little boy.
  7. w_woody

    w_woody New Member

    D has settled well into our home. His main problem here in our home had always been with my wife. Any task she asked of him he immediately would melt down. Something as simple as "please, don't climb on the back of the couch" set him off. He would go into a tantrum almost exactly like our 2 year old does when we take away something or tell her no. For me D behaves rather well, with only the occasional confrontation and meltdown. It's far less severe when I instruct him versus when my wife would do it.

    In school, his problem is what I would describe as a "shut down" when confronted with any task that he deems too difficult. He has excellent grades in school, because his teacher kept at him to complete all of his work. He is fully capable of doing his school work he simply shuts down when the teacher gives him the assignments. He would wad up the paper and throw it back at her...refuse to do the work and the harder she tried to reason with him the angrier and more violent it would get. My ex refused to go to school and sit with him because according to her own words "he won't listen to me." So my ex's mother my son's grandmother would go with him to school, everyday, for the last few months of school. Which took the burden of dealing with D's outbursts off the school. The school video taped this outbursts and even has a slapping match video'd between my son and his grandmother.

    I've been working to re-direct his anger by trying to get him to stop, and think. Most of these reactions where knee jerk responses to authority. He lacks any self-confidence in his own abilitys. When he first came back into my home on weekends (he was 5 and completing Kindergarden) he couldn't tie his shoes. His mom had bought him strap shoes and never attempted to teach him. It took a month (weekends only) but I got him to tie his shoes without so much as a was just a matter of getting him to realize he could do it. It's like he feels overwelhmed by the simplest task and simply shuts down rather than make any attempt to solve his problem.

    As far as his mother, she's not asked to see him. His grandmother asked to visit with him a week or so ago but I was reluctant to allow it without a court order because his grandmother has been sending him cards and letters containing inappropriate messages. She sent one letter with photos of his room and toys from their home asking him "what's!" and included a letter telling him to "pray to be sent home." When they call I allow him to talk to them but the last few times, his grandmother immediately asks him "When are you coming home?" Telling D to call her as soon as he's able to come home and she'll come and get him. I mean he's 7 and as I've told him it's not up to me or him when he gets to go back to see them. I do my best to encourage him to talk to me about them, especially if he's missing them. I tell him I understand I even helped him write a letter back to his grandmother (after the first one, which was pretty innocent) and even showed him how to address the outside of the envelope himself.

    His early relationship with his mother was never very strong. Immediately after D was born she looked at me and said she wanted a little girl. She's always been loving with him but distant. She refuses to disipline him at timeouts anything. Once when he was 18 months old I was in the bathroom when I heard her yelling I came into the living room and she was yelling at him, explaining to him why he couldn't put some object he'd found into a light socket. I told her that he didn't understand anything she was saying that she simply had to take it away from him tell him No and there was no need to yell. She told me that I could do things my way and she would do things hers.

    Now, he spends most of his day playing with his younger siblings and my neice and seems to be doing better, especially with my wife. He's started to come around and give her hugs, and tell her hello when she comes home from work. (I'm laid off right now so I'm at home all day being Mr. Mom). When I first met my wife D and her where instantly in love. He was the first of us to invite her to spend the night, saying she could sleep in his bed and he'd sleep with- me. They used to fall asleep on the couch watching TV together. It wasn't until he spent so much time with his mom that those things changed.

    Right now I've really focused on the hitting, and am working out a rewards/allowance system for completing a few daily chores (making his bed) and goals like not hitting.

    I've really tried to emphisize him to eat a bit better, although this has become a much smaller issue. His diet consists of chicken mcnuggets, peanut butter sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches, bisquits, rolls, rice, cheese pizza...and that's it. I mean that is it. He will not eat anything outside of these items without some kind of confrontation. So we've only been focusing on "trying" new things. One bite of something different every day...we've already been able to incorporate a few new things into his diet.

    The good thing is my aunt is the secretary for the Special Education department in our county and has had that job for 20 years plus. She's going to help me find which school in our district would be the best for him and when and what tests he needs to take. My fear is because his mother has not filed for their hearing yet they are waiting to see if his behavior is better or worse when he goes to school...also TN vs. VA as far as hitting goes Tn is zero tolerance. If he strikes a teacher he will be out of school first time...there he was getting to do it just about every week.
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Actually, I would really recommend the neuropsychologist now. The "shutting down when he thinks he can't do it" sounds like it could be Asperger's. Aspergers kids also don't do well with being told what to do and tend to eat only certain things due to sensory issues. It's up to you, but I'd get an evaluation just to be sure. A therapist is not enough to know. And I would never ever trust the school district. I'd go to a private neuropsychologist. If you are afraid he may strike a teacher, he has more than ODD going on.
    Men tend to be fixers. This happened because of that and I can undo it. Sometimes thats really great! I love when my hub goes into that mode UNLESS he gets stubborn about something maybe not being able to be easily fixed and becomes inflexible. I don't think you ARE inflexible. Just keep in mind that more may be going on than what his mother did to him. I put velcros on all my kids because I hated the untied laces and all five of my kids learned to tie shoes in spite of that. She certainly made some horrible mistakes, however 1 plus 1 doesn't always equal 2 with kids. Take into consideration that you son l oves hi mom and likely resents your wife and you can't quickly force him to like or respect her or to think of her as a parent to him. I went through one divorce and my poor hub had to put up with older kids who said "you're not my father" to him. It's tough all the way around. You need a diagnosis AND supports in my opinion! Good luck.

    Good luck :D
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2009
  9. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Hi W,

    PLEASE send the school district a letter stating that your child has a diagnosis disability and that you feel he will need special education services for educational and emotional/behavioral issues. They cannot expel him for behavior relating to his disability -- even hitting.

    I would recommend you read these two books:

    What Your Explosive Child is Trying to Tell You - by. Douglas Riley
    Lost At School by Ross Greene

    I think you will find some great ideas in both of them.

    I'd also suggest looking into the girlfriend/CF diet for Autism (even if your child isn't Autistic -- the limited diet and what he is eating lead me to believe that this diet may help eat healthier).

  10. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Welcome!! I won't repeat all the good advice already given but I will second the need for therapy and the need to get your son on an IEP at school. The sschool will more likely treat your son as a bad behavior problem otherwise and that will only make him worse instead of support him to improve. As already said, you can put a written request into the school for an evaluation to be done.

    I'm not so sure I'd say he has a serious, long-term mental illness at this point. He might just be struggling with anxiety and anger and mixed emotions from all he's had to go thru, but he needs extra supports right now either way, in my opinion.

    And I can see you love your son- we have all made mistakes in dealing with opposition in our kids. It's hard to own up to it, but you have done that and are now trying to undo damage caused by mistakes by a lot of people. Kudos to you!

    You might find the book "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene very helpful.
  11. Mandy

    Mandy Parent In Training


    I also admit that i was an occasional spanker until I realized it did nothing but escalate the situation with my difficult child. I am definitly not mistake free in learning how to raise a child with a disorder so try to forgive yourself. You can only change the future not the past.

    I definitly think you need to have some type of evaluation done so that you know whether this is really an anxiety disorder, mood disorder, aspergers, etc. etc. I really don't believe in an ODD diagnosis for a child because from everything I read there is usually something else behind it. My child fit all the classic ODD symptoms but as soon as we started medications most of those behaviors disappeared. JMO

    I also agree that you should contact the school to get a multidiciplinary evaluation done so that he is protected from suspension, and/or expulsion asap!

    It sounds like both have you have been through a lot so I would try to schedule time for just you and him to spend alone. I have found sometimes just one on one attention goes along way.

    Good Luck!!
  12. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Welcome to our little world!!!

    It's nice to see a Dad's point of view. In fact you could almost be describing my kids & husband - the kids' biomom (BM) was a real PITA and still is. We're still working on issues caused by years of the same.

    I am going to fifth or sixth the need for a neuropsychologist. In a lot of ways your difficult child could be my difficult child 2. He had been previously diagnosis'd ADHD (while living with BM), but the stimulants seemed to make things worse, and the diagnosis just didn't explain a lot. We started off the neuropsychologist process finally last month and the doctor says it's more than just ADHD could explain and that he didn't want to label difficult child 2 but Asperger's (my thought/wondering) was on the right track. difficult child 2 also has eating/sensory issues.

    difficult child 1 had anger issues (OK, has) due to all the crud that BM pulled on her. We're working with that one. So I understand the meltdowns! (My difference? difficult child 1 is as big as I am and stronger than me...)

    Since it takes forever to get into a neuropsychologist, as soon as possible request an IEP meeting with the school. Let them know that you are working with a neuropsychologist on behavioral and other issues, and that you want an interim IEP for this purpose until you can get a full diagnosis. DO NOT let them talk you out of it. Also DO NOT let them put a time limit of any kind on it. Lastly, sign only what you agree with. If they note something you do not agree with, make a note on the paperwork right next to that item stating you don't agree before you sign.

    As for the grandmother. Can you email her? If you can, you will have a copy of what you sent. Tell her that you would be willing to have her see your son supervised (if no one else, you and your wife!!!). You reserve the right to terminate the visit at any time for any reason. And, you also reserve the right to deny future visits. If she doesn't agree, no visits. (I'll PM you with another suggestion. Can't put it out here for identification reasons.)

    by the way, congrats on the custody. husband has had to fight for 7 years for our kids and we just got custody in March.
  13. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Err... I can't private message you. Can you go into your User CP and enable private messaging?
  14. w_woody

    w_woody New Member

    sure I'll unlock my pm
  15. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Welcome, Woody.
    Whew! I'm exhausted just reading your posts!
    Not that I promote spanking, especially one that causes bruises, but I think your spanking episode was more than rivaled by the obnoxious, long-term antics of your ex wife.
    Sigh. Poor kid. He's had it coming and going.

    I agree with-others here on several points:
    1) He's been through so much that no one should assume he has a mood disorder.
    2) If he does have a mood disorder, what he's been through has taken it's toll even more than it would have with-a different kid, because he is so emotionally fragile.
    3) He may have something like Asperger's, due to the shutting down, and taking so long to learn to tie his shoes. (My son was 7 when he learned.)
    4) Read the two books recommended. Then do some online research on comparing bipolar and Asperger's in kids and keep your eyes open.

    I'd like to add one word: Consistency. Keep his life as routine as you can. Get him to bed early, get him up at the same time every day. No matter what his diagnosis ends up being, sleep is paramount.

    Also, he's eating a lot of junk food, which includes milk (cheese) and wheat, which are very high on allergy lists, and can cause behavioral issues. When you think he's ready (maybe a year?) try an elimination diet. My son's behavior improved phenomenally when we consistently kept him away from wheat.

    I'm glad you got full custody and that things were finally cleared up. I'm sorry that his grandmother continues to play mind games and asks when he's going to come home.
    I guess I'd say, "You already lived with them. Now you're living with me." End of discussion. Until he's older.
    You have made a lot of progress. Bravo!

    Have the pediatrician or any other doctors suggested any medications? How do you feel about that?
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2009
  16. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Welcome, Woody.

    I read this last night (my time) but it was too late for me to respond; plus you'd already had a lot of really good avdice.

    So now I'm taking the time I can to respond. Some of my response will echo what has already been said. Plus, you've added more since last night and that gives me a lot more to work with now.

    Here goes.

    As for the past - it has happened. You regret it. We all understand. But you know now, it didn't work. The custody thing didn't help but other kids go through similar stuff without the problems your son has. WHich gives me to think - this goes deeper. But don't panic - a lot of us have experience here, too.

    The spanking history - I suspect it comes frorm your own past experience as a child; it worked for you, so it should work for your son. Ans in other ways your past expereince will still try to influence how you handle your son (withouth the spanking) as you try to use firmness and strict control. I'm betting you're finding this is also not working but actively causing more problems. If so - please be aware, it's not your fault. The standard methods of raising children, the methods which DO work well for "normal" kids, can be a disaster for some kids for subtle reasons (which will become obvious later on). How to cope - change your methods. Again, more info further on.

    The problems you describe your wife having - my husband has these problems with difficult child 3. Long story, I won't go into it now, but what you describe in your son sounds VERY familiar to me - the shutting down at school with challenging tasks; the 2yo tantrum style when corrected by someone he's most oppositional with; the anger - it sounds VERY much like Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) needs to be checked out.

    We can't diagnose here on this site but we can point out when a parent described their child and it sounds like one of our own. I suggest you go visit and look for their online Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) questionnaire. Again, it cannot be used as a diagnostic tool but you CAN print out the results and take them to the next appointment. I would suggest you keep a hard copy of the printout done now, for later reference. Basically, nothing you have described to us so far is inconsistent with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), as I have observed it in my own children.

    Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) is not necessarily bad news, either. It DOES require different handling and the kids can be a handful at times, but they can also be wonderfully rewarding especially as you find the way through to them. There are some wonderful qualities in Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kids when they find their niche - they are loyal (intensely); loving (not always obvious because they often show emotion in ways we might not recognise); honest (they are bad at telling lies and eventually learn to not try); creative (within their own narrow field of interest) and often highly intelligent, although test results don't always show this.

    Asperger's is one form of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). So is Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) not otherwise specified (Not Otherwise Specified). Remember, medicine is an inexact science; mental health, doubly so. Here in Australia our education system is not in full accord - primary and secondary school consider Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) to be a mental condition while tertiary considers it to be neurological. But a child who has a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) diagnosis cna qualify for school support funding which can make a big difference in the child's access to a good education.

    How do you handle such a kid? I can't tell you very easily, but there is a wealth of informarion scattered around this site. You've already had some good books suggested - here is another. "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. If you have a look over in the Early Childhood forum you will also see (as stickies) some useful discussion on adaprting these books for younger children. It will give you a preview of how it works. It seems counter-intuitive, but what it does is uses the child's intense need to control his ennvironment, by handing SOME control back to the child (as the parents silently scream, NOOOOOOO!!!!" but don't worry, it's OK if you do it right) and using the child's own need to be in control, to turn it into SELF-CONTROL. It can actually bypass stages of upbringing and uses the child's own frustrations to positive effect.
    You do have to (seemingly) take a step back as disciplinarian and instead become a facilitator to the child. No more nagging or yelling, but instead listening, asking them questions, supporting. The child who has learned to be automatically oppositional (it's a learned reactive response to strict discipline in a child who feels out of control) will initially try to pull against, but if there is nothing to pull against it's like trying to play tug of war with nobody on the other end of the rope.

    The thing is, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kids (and a number of other disorder sufferers) are not good at learning social skills the way other kids do. Instead, they model their behaviour on the people around them, especially the parent figures (which includes teachers). So an adult who is yelling at them teaches te child that yelling is the appropriate way for THE CHILD to respond in that situation. Because it has ben modelled for him. difficult child 3 was like this at school - a teacher shouted at him so after that all his interactions with that teacher, difficult child 3 would shout at her if she wouldn't let him do what he wanted.

    We are the grown-ups, we need to begin to make the change in behaviour and we need to cut some slack. That doesn't mean we discipline all "bad behaviour" but we DO need to teach the right ways. First, we behave that way ourselves. Next, we plan ahaead as best we can and explain to the child, "We need to help you learn how to get along in this world and we know it's not easy for you. That's not fair, but we can't make it fair. All we can do is help you learn in the way that works best for you. And the way that works best is to show you and when the opportunity arises, to pause in what we're donig and practice the right way to behave."
    Next - let's say you're in the car and difficult child gets upset about something. Maybe he wants to stop for candy and you just want to get home. His desire for candy is strong and immediate and if you don't stop immediately, you are the worst thing in the world. Be prepared - you may need to pull over to deal with this but you DO need to stay calm. To make this work you need to think like he does and switch off "parent" mode. Or at least switch it back. A strict parent will be thinking, "If I buy candy now, I will be teaching him that throwing a tantrum like this gets results." With a normal kid - yes. But with this kid - it makes no difference.
    WHat you need to do is find out why he wants candy and if you can compromise. Maybe you have candy at home that he can have when you get there. Maybe you have no money to buy candy but you can suggest that next time you go out, you will buy candy (and you have to follow through if you promise this). Or maybe there's something else he wants, maybe just the chance to stop and do something different. Candy isn't always about candy.
    But if you decide to give in and buy candy - try to get him to rehearse asking nicely. Show that you respond to the polite request.

    With "Explosive Child" methods, it works best if you canlay groundwork ahead of time. You also need to stay calm, you also need to be prepared to back off if what you're doing is enraging him further. You continually work toward your goals but if you keep backing off to let him calm down, he will learn (sooner rather than later) that you are trying to help him stay calm.

    Kids don't like raging. They don't like how it feels and it really upsets them. One raging attack will make a second one more likely sooner. But it also works in reverse - the longer you can help him keep calm, the more you will get from him in terms of cooperation.

    It sounds totally stupid, but we found it worked amazingly. I began reading the book (I got it out of the library to begin with) and even before I had got to the "here is how it works" stuff, I found difficult child 3's behaviour improving amazingly. The reason - I had picked up enough understanding of him, for my attitude to him to change.

    Reading your first post in this thread - I'm wondering if there might have been less exaggeration in his mother's claims than you think. She may well have seen what she thought of was his response to traumatisation and blamed you for stuff that was emerging anyway. A kid like this - you tend to (at first) look for someone or something to blame. It's natural for any parent to do this, I think we all have done it with our kids in the early stages at least. But sometimes it's not a matter of blame. And some parents never get to this stage.

    Grandma - she sounds a lot like how my mother in law would react. Breaks all the rules we lay down if she thinks she knows better. Then blames our parenting when difficult child 3 lashes out at her for teasing him. The thing with kids like this - you have to say what you mean and not use sarcasm or "joshing" because it is confusing to them. And with difficult child 3, mother in law has always used gentle joshing or teasing, then gets upset if he reacts. He's learnt to understand some of this by-play (and he does need to learn, but it takes a lot longer) but we need to watch for signs of his incomprehension and "rescue" him sometimes (by translating or saying, "Grandma is just teasing you, it's OK, what she means is...").
    And difficult child 3's Grandma has had to learn that if she says something to difficult child 3 like, "Whew! You smell! Have you been outside rolling in the dirt?" when he comes in sweaty after working in her yard, she has to expect that at some stage difficult child 3 will do the same to her with, "Grandma, you haven't had a shower all day? No wonder you stink!"
    All he's doing is giving back the behaviour she has patterned for him... it takes some people longer to learn this than others.

    Your son's Grandma sounds like she doesn't 'get' the current situation. And if he were a 'normal' kid, her interference like tis wouldn't make such mischief. I don't think she means to cause trouble; she just wants him to know that he is still loved by her, she misses him and would love him to visit or come stay, he is always welcome back. For a kid who is an obvious behaviour problem (obvious to him, even) this is intended to be comforting. But I agree with you - it risks being disruptive to him as well. She can't continue.
    A suggestion - encourage her communications for a while to be all via email. Or failing that, you will have to open his mail from her and censor it. A pity, because it sends bad messages to him, that he has to be kept in a cocoon and tihs could make him feel smothered at some stage. It will also make Grandma feel even more paranoid that you are keeping secrets from her about her grandson, and keeping him from having free access to her.

    You need to be able to talk to Grandma at some stage and lay down some ground rules -

    * Please do not keep inviting him back "home" - his home is here and your invitations expressed tis way are confusing him.

    * Feel free to say how much you love him unconditionally. That is good for him and good for you.

    * Please do not refer to your place as his "home" - he lives here now.

    * He needs to have an ongoing relationship with you, but he needs these rules to be followed. When he is older and hopefully more able, he will be able to visit you more often. In the meantime this needs to be strictly controlled.


    I do think you need to let her see him and meet with him, but under your supervision (or your wife's). Anything you do in terms of changing rules, encourage Grandma to also come on board. You have needed her in the past, you could need her again. Keep her sweet but keep her on a leash.

    If you follow the Ross Greene methods, you and your wife both have to be on the same page. Any adult who is not, will become an even stronger focus for hostility and oppositional behaviour. But if you do follow it you will both find your life with him and your interactions so much easier, the stress levels for all of you will reduce, and it is actually much easier to implement.

    The dietaery stuff you describe - that also fits. Encouraging him to have tastes - very effective, it's what has worked best for us with difficult child 3. A "frill" for you to add - encourage him to describe the food he has just tasted, what he likes/dislikes about it. Saying, "It's yucky" is not enough, he has to say if it's the texture he finds too creamy, or if the taste is too bitter or too salty. It all encourages self-analysis and self-expression. difficult child 3 still does this - I made a flavoured sugar syrup last night and offered difficult child 3 a taste. He did what he always does - made sure he had a big drink of water handy to wash away a "yucky" taste. But he liked it, he grabbed the spoon from me and sucked it clean!

    difficult child 3's best friend is about 10 years old and also autistic (mild). He is VERY faddy about his food, his mother is a lot like your son's mother sounds like. Doesn't know what to do about it and really doesn't want to make any changes in parenting for him.

    Your rewards methods for behavioural modification - the best chance of helping, but you may need to modify it a little more (again, see Ross Greene).

    I understand you don't want to drag him to a wide range of experts and dozens of appointments. I think that's sensible. But a neuropsychologist, a good one, will cover most (if not all) bases and rapidly get to the crux of the diagnosis, whatever it is. And once you get a handle on it, he will be easier to manage simply because you will have a better understanding of him.

    He laso needs to understand himself and again, a neuropsychologist will give you the information you all need.

    We did worry about this one ourselves - when do you tell your child he is autistic? In difficult child 3's case the autism diagnosis is indicated because he had significant language delay. So how do you tell a kid who hasn't yet got the language to understand? We had no choice but to wait. So when do you tell him? It's like telling a kid he's adopted; at some point you need to have "the talk".

    difficult child 3 was into computers in a big way. He began using a computer before he was 12 months old (I'm not kidding). He was manipulating household electronic equipment (re-tuning the TV) before 18 months old. A bright kid, indeed.
    He started school still with language delay but was speaking in sentences by then. We told him about his autism when he was 8 years old. He was starting to see that he was different to other kids and it was making him angry, so it was Time.
    We organised a Sixth Sense program for him at school (a wonderful thing when done right, as this was) and this explained about autism to difficult child 3 and his classmates. We had previously written out a small social story for him about autism (he reads a lot, the written word helps him understand better). because of his extreme understanding of computers for his age, I put it in terms of computer operating systems.
    "We type up a text document and send it to the printer. What comes off the printer is formatted how we want it, but we can't tell if it came from a easy child or a Mac. We could have produced the document with either computer and have it look identical. But a easy child needs very different computer instructions to a Mac. And people are like computers - some have easy child brains, some have Mac brains. Different people need different operating instructions. We all learn and function in different ways and need to find the right ways for us."

    If you check my sig you will see why I understand Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) - I have four kids, three of them to some degree Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-affected. I've seen it in different forms in each child. And because my kids tend to gravitate to other Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kids, I've also seen it in their friends.

    Again, welcome to the site. If you want to encourage your wife to post here or lurk here, she will find good company also. It also can really help you both be on the same page (even if you feel your relationship is already perfecgt, this can improve it further). There are step-parents here and spouses here. All are welcome because living with a difficult child is a strain on us all and we all need support.

    Last edited: Jul 14, 2009
  17. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Welcome! I am glad you found us, but sorry you needed to find us.

    My husband and I once saw a highly recommended therapist who said he couldn't TELL us what to do but to read a certain book and follow it exactly. It said to use a BELT and spank our child for defiance. (The author had already written a book and some articles that apologized for that and begged parents to throw away the old copies of the book and said spanking is not acceptable for any child for any reason. - these hadn't been published yet, but came out 3 months later.)

    We used the belt. Three times. After each time we felt so horrible about the situation. We said no more. We apologized to our difficult child (he now says it didn't hurt that bad, but he saw we felt bad and played it up. Not sure I believe it though.)

    Each of us makes mistakes. It sounds like you learned from yours. THAT is what is important. Kids don't come with instruction books after all.

    I am just wondering if the biomom didn't abuse him in some way. With her reaction to you, maybe she punished him using the excuse that he reminded her of you, or some equally cruel things.

    I wouldn't let gma anywhere near him. Not for any reason. There is no excuse for asking him to say he wants to come home. If you allow gma to speak to him again, do it on speakerphone where you can listen in. At the first mention of coming home tell her that she is not allowed to speak to him about that as it is the decision of the courts that he not be with her. And that would be the last phonecall I would permit.

    If the gma had been taking him to a psychiatrist, therapists, etc and telling the truth instead of the lies she and her daughter concocted then I would be all for visits. But she didn't.

    Now, it is nice that you have and "in" with the Special Education dept. HOWEVER that will not protect your son. THIS WEEK write a letter (go to the sp ed part of this forum for help - the ladies there can send you a sample letter to modify for your situation.) requesting an IEP and full testing. Regardless of your aunt, send this letter by certified mail, signature required. Do NOT skip this stage. This puts into place FEDERAL guidelines protecting your son. Zero tolerance does NOT apply after you request the IEP. It also will let the school put supports in place by the first day of school. He will be making new friends, and needs to be in a supportive atmosphere so the kids don't start off scared by his actions.

    Call the insurance company to find a psychiatrist. And an occupational therapist who is trained in sensory integration disorder (where the brain doesn't handle sensory info properly), and also find a neuropsychologist. The school does NOT do multidisciplinary evaluations (MDE), they do their own battery of tests but it is NOT multidisciplinary. The MDE is a great idea, it has a number of professionals each testing and watching your son so you get a better picture of what is going on. Contact a children's or teaching hospital to find a MDE. Or find a neuropsychologist to do testing (or both sets of testing can be done, but usually you can only find either the MDE or neuropsychologist. Your insurance co may or may not know of neuropsychs in your area.

    It is really important to make those calls as soon as possible. It may take a few days to find places and get appointments. There will be a wait. If you need to, you can call one doctor and get on their list and call a few more to see if the wait time is shorter. Just remember to cancel any appts you are not planning to attend.

    It might be something your lawyer can help with, finding a therapist and psychiatrist (therapist or psychiatrist). I know my bro's atty gave some recommendations when he needed a FAST appointment because his ex had a new boyfriend and my niece said he touched her. The boyfriend had only been a boyfriend for less than a week.

    I second the book recommendations and want to add a few. The Explosive Child, by Ross Greene, The Bipolar Child by Papalous, The Out of Sync Child and The Out of Sync Child Has Fun both by Kranowitz.

    The Bipolar Child is a must read, though it is rather long. With his mom being bipolar, the chances that he is bipolar are high. But in kids it presents differently, drastically differently. I also suggest you find a sample mood chart and use it. You don't need to buy it, just google mood chart and then use the categories that make sense to you. Keep the chart for a few months, or for as long as possible. It will help you examine whatever you are doing to see if it is helping. Even if he isn't BiPolar (BP), it will give insight.

    Sensory Integration Disorder describes a brain glitch where a person does not handle input from the senses appropriately. It is important to have difficult child tested for this because it is teh ONE thing that a non-invasive therapy is proven to create new pathways in the brain to handle input. The therapy is called brushing. It uses a surgical scrub brush (the Occupational Therapist (OT) will give you one) rubbed on the body in a specific way. And only on certain parts of the body, brushing is bad for some areas, like the abdomen. It can cause real digestive problems if you brush the belly, (I guess kids really are different from puppies, LOL!) After you brush you then do gentle joint compressions. It is an almost instant change in many kids.

    The Out of Sync Child book describes Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) and how the brushing therapy helps. It also explains what a sensory diet is and how to provide the right sensory diet for your child.

    The Has Fun book describes a LOT of activities that are fun and help provide the sensory diet your child needs. The author also has ways to make the equipment used for the activities less expensive. ALL the family will enjoy many of the fun things!

    I guess I have written a book for you. I hope it isn't too much.
  18. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hi Woody! Sorry to join in so late (it gets nutty around here - we've got 3 difficult child's and a newborn!).

    With the history that you've described, I'd hit the neuropsychologist trail pretty quickly - 7 for many issues is a great age to test them.

    Now here's my "shoot from the hip" suggestion: when you do an IEP with the school (Individual Education Plan - not wanting to be insulting here but if all the school stuff is new to you I'd rather be clear), it will basically allow you to spell out the issues and put things in place that can help and protect him. Check with your family member who works with all this stuff on how to go about it. Also, read up and ask questions on the Schools forum here - Sheila and Marty, the moderators, are brilliant! I would suggest that you ask for a 1 to 1 paraprofessional to work with him. I'd also try and see if there's a male one that can be assigned. See, with his history with Mom, he's likely distrustful of females (hence the reason he's so "icky" with his step-mom). A male may give him a safe haven when he feels that the female teacher is picking on him. So much for my $2 psychology!

    Please don't beat yourself up about the spanking. Yes, it didn't produce the result that you were trying to achieve, but quite often neither does ice cream, video games, trips to Chuckie Cheese or sleep-overs with friends. You're proving to him NOW that you love him and care for him and that you've decided that spanking isn't the way to go.

    Come back often, vent, laugh and make friends here. We've all been through a variety of wringers so you'll have a lot of people to talk to. You might want your wife to stop in as well! She, undoubtably has a lot on her plate too.

    Welcome to the crowd!

  19. w_woody

    w_woody New Member

    Well...this beats all I've ever heard.

    Well first D's grandmother called yesterday and asked about his birthday visitation which I called and volenteered for them to seem him on his birthday which is tommorrow. I said 3-6 at a local public park and that me and my dad will be there kind of hanging in the background keeping an eye on things. There's coverd pavillions, lots and lots of room. We had our daughter's 1st birthday there. Well mgm went through the roof wanting to know why it had to be supervised that they where going to pick him up and take him somewhere...and I was like look, you don't have visitation right've not filed for it in court and I'm being nice and allowing the visitation. (last year on my son's birthday, they made one of the famous allegations to DCS the week prior and stopped sending him for over a month to visitation, I didn't even get to talk to him on his birthday.) I told her to call and disscuss with her attorney about it but I'd have him at the park. Then hung up.

    Well 10 minutes later his mother called me back and at first went off on me about not answering the phone. She says she calls 4-5 times a week and that the phone is either busy or just rings...I told her I can't help if we're on the phone or not at call back and leave a message if we're not home and I always let him call them back. Then the conversation did a complete 180, and she actually told me that she knew he was in the best place for him to be. That she wanted him to go to our local school and she wanted to keep things the way they are she just wanted visitation. She blaimed all the DCS stuff on her mom and dad saying they still hold a grudge against me for the spanking and that her current husband simply "doesn't want to be in it" anymore. I was blown away and told her to contact her attorney if she was serious and we'll let them sort out some kind of permenant arraingement.

    I was flabbergasted.

    Anyway I've not talked to D about it yet, I've just told him that he gets to see his mom and grandparents tommorrow and he's really excited about it being his birthday. He's doing well with the chart and seems really hyped about doing well to earn the money. Especailly with all the new toys he's wanting to buy. His MGM got him in the habit of stoping by the store and picking up a new toy every week reguardless of how well he was doing or not doing, so he's feeling the sting of not getting that new toy every week and really wants to earn the cash to get them himself. I offered him a bonus today to help clean up for his party that we are having in our home this weekend and he jumped right on board...offering to vaccum and help with the dishes.

    I really appreciate all the wonderful and great advice. I've gotten D into a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and a Pshchiatrist, now I've just got to find a neropsych to evaluate him. The Pshychiatrist left him on his medications...he's taking .5 mg of resperdol which like I told him I'm not sure if it's the medications or the change in environment or what that's helping him right now. I think what D really needs is a good evaluation, steady counciling, steady homelife, and a few months of not being jerked around so he can settle down. I kind of wish we could have gotten him a few weeks earlier so that we would have had more time with him at home before we have to send him off to school...but I'm working on that stuff now. So hopefully he'll be ready and more able by then...fingers are crossed.
  20. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Here's hoping the grandparents & bio-mom show up, after you've got him expecting it.

    I think you did a good thing - it at least will show the courts that you're not trying to keep him away to be spiteful or anything, you're really trying to do the best thing for your son. And that's what counts.

    About risperdal - it can calm them, it seems to even out moods. But watch out for weight gain and sleepiness.

    Both our boys took risperdal, there was a very slight benefit but eventually we toook them off it. difficult child 1 couldn't really cope beyond a miniscule dose because it sedated him and eventually we just couldn't justify the expense for difficult child 3 either - there was no WOW factor, just very slight improvement, maybe.

    Here's hoping he has a great birthday tomorrow. Give him a birthday hug from this board auntie.