Newbie thinks child might have ODD

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by massmumma, Mar 24, 2009.

  1. massmumma

    massmumma New Member

    This is my first post. Sorry so long. I have been having some real issues with my just turned 5 year old daughter for a long time now. She screams, talks back like she is 15, hits, kicks, punches walls, throws things, spits food out on the floor, swears, doesn't listen, destroys things,. Did I mention this happens everyday, several times a day. I try to dicipline her but nothing works and believe me I have tried everything. She has been so difficult lately that I mentioned it to the teacher at her preschool thinking she was behaving like this there. The teacher was shocked and couldn't even fathom her acting like this. Her teacher who has been teaching for 30 years and has a masters degree said she is very mature for her age and highly intelligent. She said she is the best student she has in school and all the children love her. When she is good she is extremely good. Its just rare for me. She was a wonderful baby- slept through the night, never cried, always smiling, hit every milestone very early. It seemed like on the very day of her 2nd birthday she transformed into such a difficult child. She would have these outbursts and would bite her own arm when she got mad. She wouldn't sleep until like 3AM and wake up at 7AM. (believe me I read every sleep book and nothing worked). She was soooo energetic and happy but when she got mad she was HORRIBLE! Everyone has been telling me "she will grow out of it", "its just a stage, she's totally normal" but I always felt it wasn't normal. She was just MORE than other kids. I spoke with her doctor and they said they didn't think she had any attention or hyperactivity problems, which I agree with. They told me to read 1-2-3 Magic. Then they told me she is a spirited child and had me read Raising Your Spirited Child. Well, she's 5 now and she hasn't outgrown it but its gotton worse with every year that passes. Now she is too big for me to handle. I am only 5' and she is already almost 4'. I know its been a rough year for her. I just had a baby 6 months ago. I am just at my wits end now. I fear I have become the mother that screams all the time which is not what I wanted to become. I joined this forum in hopes that other people go through this too because I am sick of being the only parent whose kid is not a joy to be around. I guess misery wants company. Seriously though I would like to have support on how I can help my child get through this and maybe learn some new parenting techniques.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Ok, some thoughts.
    She sounds way more than a "spirited" child. Most children don't swear at their parents or hit them several times a day. Sounds like it could be more than aDHD too. I'd have her evaluated either by a team of experts at a hospital or by a NeuroPsychologist. Are there any psychiatric problems on either side of her family tree? Any substance abuse? Is her development on target? Does she make good eye contact with you and strangers too? Does she play appropriately and well with both toys and same-age peers? Is she bothered by loud noise, certain fabrics, certain textures...?
    I'd take her for a serious evaluation. The earlier we help our "wired-differently" kids, the better they do in the long run. Methods like "1,2,3 Magic" work on "typical" kids but usually don't do much good with our "differently-wired" children. They need a different sort of handling and early interventions. It's good that she can hold it together at school (and not uncommon), but then it all comes out on you when she gets home. Unfortunately, these kids usually have something causing this behavior and don't grow out of it--they just get more problems until their disorder(s) are addressed appropriately...How is her father handling this?
    Welcome to the board!
  3. massmumma

    massmumma New Member

    She is developing great! She actually hits her milestones before other kids usually do. She is very advanced school wise too. She has a vast vocabulary and uses very large words in the appropriate usages. It is really just her behavior. She uses plenty of eye contact. I am not concerned about that. She can converse very well and she gets along fantastically with other kids. She does seem to always be the leader of the pack. I forgot to mention in my first post but she has developed a nervous tic. We went to all kinds of specialists for this mysterious very pronounced cough she has had for the past 7 months. The doctor came to the conclusion that she has a tic. Her preschool teacher thinks it is a tic also. Over the past few months she has refused to wear anything on her feet except Crocs. Fine in the summer but, we live in Mass. and its just not practical in the winter. Especially when she refuses to wear socks. That is a whole different battle. I have literally bought about 30 different pairs of socks for her trying to find the ones that don't feel "itchy" or she can wiggle her toes in. She also has started chewing on her sleeves and collars. The teacher had to change her at school a couple times because she was soaked. I know some of the behavior goes with her age and probobly because of the new baby but some of it has always been there its just getting worse. I feel like she acts the worst with us. If you met her you would think I was exaggerating her behavior becasue she is so charming and hilarious and cute that is until you spent a few days with us and she got bored with you. I don't know maybe she is spoiled maybe I created this little monster. I always go back in forth. What did I do wrong? What am I not doing or should I be doing? My husband works all the time so I am pretty much a single mom most of the time. When he is home though all he does is play with her and the baby. I play with her too all the time. We go places and I get down on the floor and play and we do art projects and cook together. My special fun always seems to turn into a fight though. She definitly gets enough attention. Am I supposed to play for 8 hours straight though everyday. I have to clean and make dinner too.
  4. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Hi massmumma and welcome.

    Trust us, we know how well behaved the little darlin's can be around other people, especially doctors and teachers. If this hinders communicating the problem or getting a referral, the trick is to videotape them when they aren't looking and then you have something concrete to show the professionals.

    The socks, crocs, and chewing sound like it might be due to something called Sensory Integration Dysfunction (also called Sensory Processing Disorder). Here's an introductory article. If this rings a bell pick up a copy of the book The Out of Sync Child by Carol Kranowitz. Kids with sensory issues don't process information coming into the senses in a typical fashion-shoes, socks, sounds, food textures, etc can be excruciating to them and really get in the way of a normal life.

    Stride Rite makes seamless socks. It will help if you find one type she can cope with and then buy all the rest in the same color and style.

    Chewing on sleeves and shoulders can also be signs of anxiety, whether induced by sensory challenges or just anxiety in general.

    I have a theory about kids who can hold it together in the outside world like school but lose it at home--a lot of these kids who have challenges only have so many "Functioning Units" per day and they shoot the wad holding it together in places like school and then have little left over for the homefront. I know it makes homelife hard but trust us, it's much worse when all the action is taking place on the school front.

    Since you're seeing behavioral problems, tics, and possible sensory issues plus have a daughter with a vast vocabulary who is very intelligent, I also want to mention something called Asperger's Syndrome to you. AS is the highest functioning form of the Autistic Spectrum Disorders, and the kids are sometimes considered "Little Professors". It's very often missed by pediatricians at young ages, especially when the kids are borderline diagnostically or are atypical (for example more social than one would expect with AS). It would be worth your time to read up on Asperger's, keeping in mind that all kids won't fit all the symptoms at any time.

    Is she lining up toys or household objects in straight lines or formations?
    Does she have interests or obsessions that are unusual for her age?
    Does she have anything she likes to collect?
    What's the family mental health history like?

    As with any newcomer, I'll remind you that we're only parents here--not diagnosticians. We can point you in directions to look for help and advise you on getting assessments lined up, though. :)
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    The tics make me think that perhaps she should see a Neurologist, if she hasn't, to see if she has a tic disorder, such as Tourettes Syndrome. This also causes behavior problems sometimes. Sounds like something neurological is going on that may be causing all this. It's very hard when they are still so young. I also agree that she should be tested for Aspergers syndrome. She has a lot of those traits. One thing I can guarantee you, it's not your parenting or that she needs more attention. It's something different about HER--you are doing great.
  6. SRL

    SRL Active Member

  7. massmumma

    massmumma New Member

    I am so happy I found this board. It seems like there are alot of people who really care. I just started reading The Explosive Child. This may sound wierd but my eyes started to well while reading it. I am actually trying to get a consultation with Dr. Greene because he is right in my back yard. I know he only takes on certain clients so hopefully he will see her. We saw one counselor over the summer while I was pregnant but that was a joke. The therapist seemed like she wanted to be my friend more than talk about my daughter and she constantly talked about her own kids the whole time asking me for advice about hers. She actually was comparing her kids to mine because she had a child the same age as mine. It was very bizarre. I ended up lying and saying she was fine now and ended the sessions.
    Her "tics" that she has only started recently. About 6 months ago I could put anything on her feet and dress her in anything and she did not bat an eyelash. She has always been a picky eater but I think that was her age. She is actually starting to try new foods now. She use to line things up all the time (only occassionally now). She does have an obsession with kitties. Everything has to be kitties. She draws about a thousand kitties a day. I think 95% of her stuffed animals are kittes. This has been going on for years. The kitties can sometimes cause a meltdown. For example, if she sees another little girl with a kitty shirt on she flips out because she is the only one who is allowed to like kitties. She gets mad if her friends have an actual cat. I wish I could get her a cat but we can't have animals where we live.
    It is so hard to sort out her quirks because some of them are age appropriate and I have trouble distinguishing between them. I don't want to analize every little thing she does because in reality everyone has their own little quirks.
    I have a ton of anxiety. Something I have had since I was a kid. Anxiety disorders run in my family. At least I think they do. Everyone in my family is too stubborn to go to a doctor about it but its pretty obvious. I think my father is bi-polar but again he is too stubborn to go to the doctor. He has CLASSIC symptoms that fit him to a T such as can't keep a job even though he is VERY educated and capable skillwise. He just wakes up one morning after working at a job for 6 months (happily) and says screw it and never goes back and then locks himself in his room for another 3 months saying the world *****. The cycle has been going on since I was little and gets worse with each passing year. That is a whole different story for a different forum though.
  8. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    I hope you'll be able to hook up with Dr. Greene. We've had a few board members in the past do so, and considered it well worth the while.

    In the mean time, after reading your additional information I would encourage you to seek out an evaluation that includes assessment for Autistic Spectrum Disorder. There are some red flags here and it's often not recognized until children hit this age.

    Here's some helpful links:


    Starting with a pediatrician

    I'd suggest contacting the nearest Autism Society of America chapter. It's a network of parents providing support and they will be able to tell you who is best at diagnosing/ruling out Autistic Spectrum Disorders in your region. That may wind up being a neuropsychologist, an Autism Clinic at a university or hospital, developmental pediatrician, etc.


    Again, want to mention that we're just parents here--not diagnosticians--but this will give you some starting points and directions to go from.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2009
  9. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    I forgot to add--the reason you'd need to pursure additional evaluations is that Dr. Greene's focus would be on helping you deal with the behavioral aspects only. You'll be much more successful if you grasp the bigger picture.
  10. massmumma

    massmumma New Member

    Sorry so long. I will keep the autism in mind (I have thought about it) but my best friend (more like a sister) actually is the program director at a private school/living center for spectrum disorders. She was a teacher for this population for years and she is highly experienced in these disorders. She is actually in the process of starting an ABA therapy company with someone else. She 100% does not think she has autistic symptoms (believe me I ask her all the time including the lining things up) and she interacts with her almost on a daily basis and has witnessed her meltdowns. She is actually the one who thinks I should get her checked for possible ODD. She is even iffy about that because she worked with ODD population (along with bi-polar, CD, Anti-social, PD, etc) in a group home before she decided to get her second masters in Special Education.. She used to be a DSS case worker as well. She said she does think she might have mild sensory issues but at the same time she said sometimes it is a stage they go through. She suggested I try ABA with her. She said it can work on all children and it really is a good tool to use. She said she will show me how to do it. She thinks I have done all I can possibly do to parent her otherwise and she said she doesn't even do half the stuff I do with her own kids (made me feel better). She actually agrees with my daughter's pedi. that her tics are "harmless" because her son who is 13 has them too. My daughter is usually good for her but has had a couple meltdowns when she is alone with my friend but my friend is trained so she can handle them. My friend also thinks she might just be fine too and is just a tough kid. She said its really hard at this age to diagnose. She said I will really know when she starts 1st grade because that is when children are really in a true structured enviroment. But she might be giving me a biased opinion because she loves her like I do. I do trust what she says and she really does give me behind the scenes info on the way doctors and therapists operate and she said there are way too many not qualified or just plain bad individuals in this field. She said alot of doctors will just medicate or diagnose every kid they see with the same disorder. She actually thought I should have reported the therapist we had seen to her supervisor but I didn't feel right doing that. I am so confused on what to do. I think I am still in sort of the denial stage. Like I definitly know there is a problem but I am not ready to hear words like autism and ODD. Those words are so scary although I know once I know what is going on we will all be a whole lot better. I might also seem objective now because we really had an excellent day yesterday with her and that always throws everything out for me.
  11. SRL

    SRL Active Member


    There's not one of us who have difficult children who haven't struggled with denial, not wanted to hear a diagnosis, or vascillated depending on how the day went. What I do know is that when I read your first description (She screams, talks back like she is 15, hits, kicks, punches walls, throws things, spits food out on the floor, swears, doesn't listen, destroys things,. Did I mention this happens everyday, several times a day. I try to dicipline her but nothing works and believe me I have tried everything.) it tells me that you really could use some help. If your child has grown up in a stable environment with fairly consistent--not perfect--parenting, then this is not typical behavior, no matter how well she is doing in school.

    I have to say that I'm very surprised by your friend who has such a vast background in this area. Typically people like that are the first to suggest assessments, knowing how critical it is to get to the bottom of issues and get therapy (such as Occupational Therapist (OT)) going if needed. I would have expected her to offer to use the connections she's made professionally to help you link up with diagnosticians who could be trusted instead of cautioning you away from them, especially since you live in an area of the country where there are many options instead of just one doctor within reasonable travelling distance. Personally I think it's always fine to listen to family and friends, but I don't think it's any substitute for an impartial assessment and recommendations from professionals in specific diagnostic areas.

    I don't agree at all that it's really hard to diagnose at this age. I think first diagnoses are often "working diagnoses", meaning that when done by a reputable professional it gives you a starting point to go from and that of course may not be set in granite. Parents live with the diagnosis for awhile, research, observe, see how therapies are working or not working and if it doesn't seem quite right then it can be revisited or tweaked. It's pretty common to go through initial rounds and get some good data and recommendations and then to revisit it again as needed. in my opinion, it's more valuable to have something to go on than to not move forward because the doctor might not get it right. This is true even for children who aren't clear diagnostically or are atypical--for instance knowing that a child has spectrumish traits or is very sensory sensitive can allow the parent to tap into those camps (even if they don't have a diagnosis that fully meets the criteria) to help their child hopefully move away from extreme to more appropriate behaviors.

    In my opinion, a standalone diagnosis of ODD is of limited use (as in pretty much a waste). All it means is that the child has very difficult behaviors and the doctor doesn't know why. It also provides an insurance code in the event therapy might be covered. Without looking further, that's all you'll have to move forward on. If I had a child whose behaviors were causing serious functioning problems in the home then I'd want to know why. I'd also feel relieved if there were some reason behind them as opposed to just a child who acts out a lot.

    I realize that I've disagreed with about everything your friend has told you so it's bound to leave you confused and I'm sorry for that.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2009
  12. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Also, I meant to ask--is there any chance that she was a very early reader?
  13. massmumma

    massmumma New Member

    Thank you so much for even taking the time to read my post not to mention reply in such a caring way. I don't know what to think anymore so you are not confusing me. I think I have been confused for awhile. This one says shes fine then that one says shes not and I think shes fine sometimes and other times not and this has been going on for a long time. I think that is why I may come off as contradicting at times.
    I sometimes think that if I blame myself then I can do something about it. That the problem is not that I have an imperfect child and I can fix it somehow. I don't know maybe I am not consistant enough. Maybe I do give in too easily and giving her the reinforcement she needs to continue her behavior.
    Her teacher just recently offered to sit down and help me go over some techniques to help control her tantrums. I think I will take her up on her offer. This woman just has a way with children so maybe she can offer some help. In the meantime I will seek out some kind of evaluation for her. To answer your question, no she isn't reading yet. She really has no interest in it. I have been trying to do letters (seriously) with her since she was about 3. She says its boring and she doesn't like it. But on the rare occassion she is interested she seems to know them all. I was really worried about her not knowing the sounds but she surprised me that she knows. I have been trying to teach her to read but again she is not really interested. I don't want to push too much.
  14. 2daughters

    2daughters New Member

    Massmumma, your issues with your daughter sound very similar to what I'm dealing with in my 4 year old daughter. Talking back, swearing, intentionally destroying things etc. I have got a diagnosis of ODD, but that's all I got. That diagnosis, while it makes me feel better knowing that it's not my parenting, does little else. My daughter's psychiatrist hasn't "discovered" anything else to go along with the ODD, but I suspect there is also underlying anxiety with my daughter (only mental health issue in the family is my S.A.D., but my daughter experienced a couple severe trauma's). The psychiatrist says no, just ODD. Like your daughter, mine is great when she's in daycare/preschool but seems to let loose on me when she's home. I wish you all the best, and sincerely hope that your daughter's teaacher's tips will be able to give you some peace at home.
  15. massmumma

    massmumma New Member

    Dr. Greene got back to me today. Unfortunately, the next appointment he has is in 2010. He said if he gets a cancellation he will schedule us in though. To 2daughters, I have been reading Dr. Greene's book The Explosive Child and he does mention in the book that some kids have a threshold of frustration and alot of kids use up all their energy trying to keep it together in school and when they come home they just have no more energy left to keep it together. I think this might be true because I swear the moment we pull out of the parking lot at school it usually starts. For the longest time I thought something was going on at school because she always seemed to be the worst after school but on the days she was home she was semi-good. It definitly makes sense now.
  16. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    That's what I meant by them only having so many functioning units available. Try having some sensory calming snacks to hand her the moment she gets in the van--juice box with straw, licorice, hard candy to **** on, half can of soda with straw, bubble gum. Do it immediately and it can help her vent.

    A deventing routine for get home time is important too. We had a mini gym set up in the basement (with spinning swing) behind the tv area.
  17. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Hi and welcome!! You have gotten a lot of great advice here. You may notice on the index for this forum that Dr. Greene has popped in to say Hi and tell us about his latest book. If you post some of the problems there he may be able to refer you to books or whatever might help you.

    I would go ahead and book the 2010 appointment NOW so that it is there if you need it. These behaviors don't just "go away" though they can become more manageable. But you may well want/need teh consultation in 2010 - and it is only8 or 9 months until then! Time really does fly when you are so busy with a difficult child that the months will fly by.

    Besides, you can always cancel the consult if at the time it comes up everything is going fine. Think of it like an umbrella in the closet. It will be there if you need it, but if you don't get rain you can let someone else have it!

    I am sorry, it was Dr. Riley checking in. He may also be helpful. There is a recent thread from Dr. Greene about his new book and touching base with us. You can find it by searching with the search feature or looking back through the General pages until you see it.
    Glad you could join us here!
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2009
  18. SRL

    SRL Active Member

  19. massmumma

    massmumma New Member

    The snacks in the car is such a great idea!! I can't wait to try that. Also, I think I am going to book an appointment for 2010 just in case. Time does fly by so fast when you have kids.
  20. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Be sure and check out the thread on The Explosive Child fat the top of this board for more ideas like the car snack. Also, if a diagnosis does come out of this the school can help by doing something to help her vent her school frustrations at school so it doesn't all land in your lap. A classroom break near the end of the day is one thing.

    Yes, do book the appointment. You never know when an opening will come up. Once your foot is in the door, appts are easier to get.