Newbie with Question: Is it this, that, or another thing?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Scarlet, Sep 22, 2011.

  1. Scarlet

    Scarlet New Member

    Likely, everyone reading this can relate: I am exhausted, overwhelmed, unsure, totally at a loss. As a single mom of two boys and virtually no help from their dad, I struggle. Add to that my 9 year old's difficulties and I'm stretched too thin where I just want to escape forever. Hopefully someone on here can help. For one, I want to know that I'm not alone; for another, I'd like some tips on what to do. Anyone???

    My son has always been challenging-- super intense, socially awkward, prone to fits of anger, defiant. Now I just have to take a more aggressive stance because being the love-all, hippie-mama isn't doing any of us any good, I'm afraid. So my lil' guy is intelligent, holds great conversations, in many ways more mature than his peers. He is uber-affectionate with me, very respectful in class, wants to avoid trouble, cares deeply about people important to him. When he is shining, the world shines around him.

    On the flip side, at home he is often (6 days out of 7) a monster to his 6-year old brother; has this absolute sense of entitlement with his father and I; has been hitting me and his brother, throwing things at me, kicking us, scratching. He feels the need to correct people whenever he perceives them as being wrong. He considers classmates his friend, and I don't think the kids dislike him... but at the same time, very rarely is he invited to play dates and when he is, he often doesn't want to go because he rather stay at home. His overall demeanor is often like Eeyore where the glass is always half-empty.

    It is like pulling teeth to get his dad to sign a waiver allowing him to attend therapy, and now that I've chosen someone, I have no idea if she's the right fit. He is bitter about his dad and I getting a divorce several years ago, especially since his dad moved 1 1/2 hours away and is a Disneyland-Dad/ weekends-only type of guy.

    Does this sound like behaviors you've seen? Is there really a diagnosis that seems to fit? He's allergic to wheat, but I haven't eliminated it from his diet. Could that be contributing? Depression? Bipolar? Anxiety? I don't know!!!! Right now, I just wish I had a friend who could understand and guide me. I'm tired of crying.

    Thanks for 'listening.'
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Hi, Scarlet.
    Welcome. Sorry you needed to find us... but I can tell you that you have come to the right place.

    Lets answer the easy question first:
    You are NOT alone. Maybe my situation isn't so much like yours... but others on this board have walked in those shoes before you... and others are there now. You will get to "meet" them here.

    Well, of course, this is the "not so easy" question!
    We're "just" parents here. With a broad range of experiences, across countless years (I'd love to count up the collective years of experience on this board!). We don't exactly have "answers", even if we sometimes come across like we do.
    What we do have is... sometimes perspective, sometimes directly-related experience, sometimes off-the-wall questions that make you think, and always... someone to listen when you need to vent, dump or find a soft shoulder to cry on.

    Having said that... Hmmm... You've already given us a fair bit of detail about the situation.

    Has he ever had a comprehensive evaluation? neuropsychologist would be one, but there are others. If so, any dxes? medications?
    What kinds of issues and challenges run in the family history? ADHD? Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)? mental health issues like Bi-polar or depression?
    How is he doing in school?
    Does he have trouble with motor skills? either gross (running, riding a bike) or fine (writing, tieing shoes)
    How is his sleep? both quality and quantity?

    There will be more questions, from others too.
    These help us understand the picture better before we jump in with too many suggestions.

    But it sounds like one suggestion is definitely safe: Have you found the book The Explosive Child yet? If not, its worth getting. Provides a different perspective on these kinds of kids, and offers an alternative approach to the problems. Not all of it applies to every child, but the basic concepts are definitely useful in most situations. Its based on the idea that kids are not trying to drive us crazy... that they would do much better if they could, but can't (for various reasons).

    Again, welcome.
  3. Scarlet

    Scarlet New Member

    Thank you for the welcome. Even reading that little bit (yes, especially the part about others have walked in my shoes) helps! It's so easy to feel stranded on this island of dysfunctional.

    He hasn't had an evaluation yet; quite frankly, I don't even know what to ask for. No medications, tried therapy for a year, but... He is a charming lil' bugger as well as quiet so it takes a lot of therapy work to make something happen. Depression runs strong on both sides of his family, as does alcoholism on his dad's side. I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and/or anxiety; his dad has depression, addiction, and denial.

    Academically, he is doing fine. He is above-average in math and average in all else. Flies under the radar for the most part. When in small groups of kids, though, he gets too physical. Often, he's the verbal instigator and others are the action for his egging-on. His gross motor skills are excellent; like what I see most boys his age capable of.

    He is always tired; had his adenoids and tonsils removed at 3 due to sleep apnea (also in the family). Used to wake up 10+ times each night screaming. Now he sleeps through the night (or seems to), but rarely feels rested.

    Thanks for the book recommendation; I'll look for it this weekend.

    Again, your insight is incredibly appreciated!!!!
  4. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    My first recommendation, besides THE book, is to have very thorough evaluations done by a neuropsychologist and an Occupational Therapist. In the meantime, look into finding a reputable Child Psychiatrist. You need to know what you are dealing with before you can deal with it appropriately. There is a reason kids act the way they do but they usually aren't able to analyze their own behavior so we need to find professionals to do that.

    Welcome to our little corner of the world. {{{{(((HUGS)))}}}}
  5. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Its late and my brain is sore (long day at work), but a couple of things stand out from your original posts:

    This is one of the descriptions that you need to keep in front of you... key points that drive your feeling that "something" is going on here, and you're going to need help.

    Obviously not acceptable. But... if he is this way at home and not (or hardly) at school, it is still very possible that school is the problem. He may be putting everything he has into surviving at school - with some success - and by the time he gets home - and all weekend - he's in "recovery" mode and in no mood (nor having the capability) for maintaining "good behavior". Think "burnout". There may be more to it than just burnout - or it could be that simple.

    Sometimes, there are sensory issues - an Occupational Therapist (OT) can help with that.
    Or there may be auditory issues (hearing, OR verbal processing OR auditory discrimination).
    (or both, of course)

    Sleep quality issues alone are enough to cause huge behavior problems.... like, to the point of insanity. This is a complex issue, and hard to get it taken seriously. But if you can get some answers to this one, it will make some difference

    If you're going to the Occupational Therapist (OT) anyway for sensory stuff (and if you're not, then go anyway)... get testing done for motor skills issues. There is both capability and fatigue factors that can be part of the picture. Capability issue is where you "can't" do something or obviously can't do it well; fatigue issue is where you "can" but it drains too much neuromotor (mental) energy and therefore affects other parts of life (including... executive functions, which includes self-control!)

    These are, of course, things that my family has had to deal with... others will have more ideas and more questions... and more info!
  6. keista

    keista New Member

    Welcome! :notalone:

    Yes, the wheat allergy can most certainly be a contributing factor. The others are all possible. It could also be Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) (Autism Spectrum Disorder), as already mentioned, sensory issues, or a combination of some of the above, or something else completely.

    I'm assuming this means you have joint custody/parenting. Have you considered going back to court to see if you can get sole responsibility for mental health/behavioral issues? These days parenting can get split up that specifically. This would not change Dad's rights on things like school, religion, regular medical care, etc. ONLY mental health/behavioral issues. Since there's a family history, and a history for your boy already, AND he spends most of his time with you, you might be able to get this. It would clear one hurdle for getting evaluations and treatment.

    Welcome again!
  7. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    Just wanted to add my welcome.
  8. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    That was Travis' entire school years summed up in a neat little package. And because he did much better at school in different areas ( or appeared to according to the untrained eye ) it made it much more difficult to get him help for school.

    A good neuro-psychiatric evaluation is a good starting point. It tests for a wide variety of areas, not just a specific one, which increases the chances of finding out what is at the root of the problem.

    If you don't feel your therapist is a good fit, don't hesitate to look for a new one. One that isn't a good fit isn't going to do him or you much good. I also recommend a good pediatric psychiatrist.

    I'm glad you found us. No, you're not alone.

    Welcome to the board.

  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I'm going to agree with those who say he needs a complete evaluation and I'd start with a neuropsychologist. I have a son on the autism spectrum (high functioning, but it's there) and he has some of my son's behaviors, especially the obnoxious (lol) trait of correcting everybody.
    Me: It's 7:00. Time to go to school."
    Him: It is not. It's 6:59.
    Is your son very literal? Does he know how to have a give-and-take conversation? Did he ever play creatively and correctly with toys? Can he transition from one activity to another with ease? Does he have any obsessive interests? Any strange quirks such as flapping arms, smacking lips, chewing on his shirt, making strange throat noises, repeating what he hears, etc. etc. etc (things other kids wouldn't do). Is he sensitive to food, certain material, loud noise, crowds (these can signify sensory issues).
    My son would only eat certain foods, insisted that the tags be torn out of all his shirts, would not wear sweaters or hats (even when it was cold), covered his ears when noises were loud (yet HE was loud), and chewed his shirts so badly that half of them were wet. He licked around his mouth so badly (and still does sometimes) that he needs a special cream. He was late in pottying...I think he didn't realize when he had to go. He has a very strong vocabulary and sounds like a "little professor" yet he didn't speak until he was four. He does not hold give-and-take conversations. He either monologues at people or just answers "yes" or "no." Verbally, he can not share his thoughts...he is better on paper. Everything I listed improved with interventions.
    Anyhow, welcome to the board and hope you find help him. I know you'll get a lot of support.
  10. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Welcome. How do you know he is allergic to wheat? Was he given full allergy testing? Alot of CD family members are very knowledgeable about such areas (I am not, lol) but I wonder how you found out and why it hasn't been taken out of the diet. Maybe I'm wrong but except for wheat bread and wheat cereals/wheat crackers I can't think of too much that would have to be removed from the the diet all three of you follow. In the past I did learn that "everybody" in the family avoided x so that difficult child didn't feel deprived.

    I agree with the suggestions you've received. Meanwhile if Disney Dad takes the kids what plans do you make for yourself? I was a single parent for six or seven years and my tendency was just to "catch up on sleep" "pig out" etc. but I discovered that I felt much more refreshed if I made ME plans. Sometimes I would walk the beach, some times I met a friend, some times I went to the library. Whatever I did on those rare occasions had nothing to do with the children and reminded me that there is a life other than kids and work. Are you geting out and about in the adult world when you can? I found it cleared my brain...although, I must admit, sometimes I just wanted to start driving and not head home! LOL I know it's hard. Sending understanding hugs your way. DDD
  11. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    Hugs. You are not alone. At first, my son would be ok at school, just hyper. Eventually, his behaviors manifested at school too. Get a neuropsychologist evaluation, yes yes yes get the Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation, and if you are not sure if the therapist is a good fit? Look for another one. For my daughter, we are on the third one in as many years and she finally found someone she is comfortable with. For my difficult child, his therapist is a godsend. We got lucky with him and found a good one first thing off the bat.

    With my difficult child? He has had Occupational Therapist (OT), Speech Therapy, Group therapy for social skills (and will be doing this again, and most likely again after this), vision therapy, talk therapy, and had a neurospych evaluation that we are still waiting on the results from.

    Hugs. I am glad you found us but sorry you needed to find us.
  12. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    Yes, the wheat could be the problem. It might also be all gluten not just wheat. It is hard to believe, but it happened to us.

    My daughter was violent and defiant at home only, until she was 10. Then we found out she couldn't have gluten and milk. Eliminating those foods made her into a typical kid.

    Now, at 15, she sometimes cheats on her diet and turns back into a difficult child.

    In my experience, you won't be able to see a difference unless you give up all wheat and/or gluten. The effects can last for a few days or more if he has it.

    My whole family is gluten free. Both of my kids need to be for different reasons, so I made meals we could all eat. It turns out that I feel much better gluten free, too. It took my husband a long time to really accept this whole thing, but even he notices that he doesn't feel well if he eats some gluten now.
  13. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Just wanted to add in my welcome, glad you are here but sorry you need to be.
  14. Scarlet

    Scarlet New Member

    I am really intrigued by the prospect of this, as of course it is the most 'natural.' Once you removed gluten, how long did it take for you to notice some improvements? If she has just a little once in awhile, does she revert back to old behaviors, or is that simply not ever on her plate? After an allergy test showed a distinct allergy to wheat and dairy, I found it easier to eliminate the dairy than the wheat. Yet that doesn't do enough. I'm curious to know more about your experience with this.
  15. Scarlet

    Scarlet New Member

    I appreciate the reminder that adult time is ever-important. I often forget that. Lately, I've become more like a hermit and desperate to simply catch up on sleep or read. Odd given my tendency to have a large social circle. Thanks so much for the hugs and understanding. I am truly grateful for it!
  16. Scarlet

    Scarlet New Member

    Some of the quirky behaviors you've described definitely ring true... others not so much. But where does that leave him? He is VERY literal-- just as you described your son. He isn't apt to play creatively with anything; creativity is a struggle for the lil' guy. He used to make strange throat noises, sniff his nose excessively, and itch his bottom. Thankfully all of that has diminished. That said, whenever he gets excited, he rugs his knees compulsively and opens/closes his mouth like a fish. He is sensitive to loud noises and crowds, but not materials or foods.

    As you described, my son has a large vocabulary and sounds like a professor, but he spoke right in line with other children. Early in using the bathroom. Not much into the back-and-forth of convo. He seems to tune most people out pretty quick. Does that sound like our son as well?
  17. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    You might want to do some reading on Asperger's Syndrome. What you're describing sounds a lot like that. Do you or the school have access to an Autism Specialist of any kind? They could be another resource for evaluation AND recommendations for you.
  18. ready2run

    ready2run New Member

    he sounds to me(i'm not a doctor though) like he is on the autism spectrum. they don't all have the same symptoms, and most of them don't have ALL the possible symptoms. i have 2 diagnosed on the spectrum and they don't share that many symptoms and the ones they do share come out in different ways.
    first, i would try eliminating the wheat from his diet if you already know he's allergic to that. at the same time i would probably still want to get him in to see someone for an assessment. this process can be very, very long depending on where you live and if you pay cash. i know where i live it takes about 2 years from going in and meeting with someone to ask for a child to be screened and seeing a doctor/possibly finding an answer. you may want to start looking into that because if you should find another solution *cough-not likely-cough* before then you could always back out. if you have a pediatrition or family doctor that's a good place to start. just request that he be screened for autism. be prepared with a list of symptoms he has incase they ask for it. your latest post sound like Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) to me.
  19. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Oh wow, for sure you are not alone if you haven't figure that out after reading these posts and others on the board! LOL! Sad to say many of us have experienced this. I am a speech/language pathologist (not giving professional advice here, obviously I can't see you or him, just telling so you understand my situation, smile) and still after working with kids with special needs and specifically kids with Autism, I did not call my son Autistic (would say autistic-like) for several years. haha, now I laugh at myself when I think back to the obvious signs. Autism is called a spectrum disorder because there are so many symptoms and kids can have a variety of combinations of them so it results in people with serious delays and difficulties and some who have mild issues but get married and have steady jobs. IF Autism becomes a consideration for you, you might try to read about Asperger's because the hallmark differences (not all but some primary ones) from more typical autism include early language development, they are often called little professors. They can engage adults in conversations really well often times. But kids their own age???? Usually they want friends but just can't navigate it some prefer to be alone. Most (one of the diagnostic criteria for sure) have specialized interests or focus areas...either collecting things, or liking a certain subject or sport or history or Michael Jackson (not just a fan, actually knowing every detail and maybe even volunteering to write a full report at age 6!). These interests can switch as the child develops. Often they are fairly thinking. Pretty egocentric as you mentioned (though they care about others...just not able to really take another's perspective when it is called for). There are many more and no kid has all of the symptoms. Of course there are other issues that can cause your child's symptoms and only a complete and competent evaluation will help you sort that out. Just make sure that where you go has lots of actual experience, not just training, with kids who have Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), non-verbal learning disorder, sensory issues, communication issues, mental health issues, adhd, etc. Kids with aspergers are often first diagnosed with ADHD, sensory issues and/or anxiety as well as misc. behavior issues. Good to have someone who is comfortable with a variety of conditions so they can explore many issues. My son had an ON day once when I had second evaluation for him at the U of MN. He tested smack dab in the middle of the autism spectrum on checklists and using the ADOS (a test for autism) but they felt he was too interactive that day to be autistic. haha, the neuro who is the director of the clinic is still our neuro and she is amused with herself....he is SOOOO autistic but high functioning. It is not ethical to diagnose a child based on one day's worth of data. It takes your input on many protocols they should give you to fill out along with the in-person evaluation. It is often unrealistic to expect an assessment to go on for more than one day but at least the data they collect should come from different sources (doctor, teachers, you, etc.) to help get the big picture.

    My best to you. I sure hope you find some answers for your son. In the mean time, I say are for sure not alone, smile.
  20. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    I feel like I noticed the change in her within a few days, but it was hard to be sure, because not every day was terrible even then.

    I went on the diet at the same time, thinking I would do it in front of my kids, and eat whatever I wanted the rest of the time. I could tell by the first or second day that I felt much better without eating it. For me, I was always irritable and stressed. Without gluten, I am not. At the time, I had a long list of things that improved for me. Fatigue, ADD, bloating, and more.

    My rule is that we don't eat it if it has any gluten in it ever. I have had accidental gluten in a restaurant and turned into an emotional wreck for 2 weeks. I don't like to risk that. I do still eat in restaurants, but I am pretty careful about which ones.

    My daughter is 15 and does not always follow that rule. Sometimes she is just irritable, but she can turn back into a full-blown difficult child. When that happens, I have no idea what she has actually eaten. I don't have it in the house, so she has to get it somewhere else.

    If your child is young enough, the best way to see is by eliminating it all for a few weeks. Then add it back in and see what happens.