Poor little brown child...phase

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by DESPERATE, Oct 27, 2010.



    I am so happy I found this site!
    As you can see from my name, it perfectly describes how I have been feeling for the past 4 years.
    My best friend and I live together. She has four beautiful children (14, 11, 9, 7) but has always had trouble with her youngest (aka-SK). I have worked with children my whole life, but have never experience behavior like SK's. Where to start??? Through this website am really hoping to exchange ideas or talk to parents also suffering in silence. Perhaps some of you have some tips :)... would be greatly appreciated!!!

    SK was adopted at 9 months old. Directly after the adoption, child bonding exercises were practiced immediately and more then frequently. In order to ensure a feeling of security for him. About 6 months after welcoming him into our family, we began to realize he didn't seem to be developing ''normally''. He was physically very small, he would not sleep (At ALL) and would enter these ''crying rages''(screaming, crying, banging head against the wall) when around food. He did this until the age of about 3 and a half. Over the years, we naturally contacted numerous specialist for his growing problems, behavior, temperament etc... Doctors tested and scanned and results came in he was just a slow grower, he was small but met his mental age milestone. Keep in mind he is now 7 and he is the size of a 3 and a half year old. We visited many social workers and psychologist and none of them seem to be able to put there finger on SK's problem.

    One of our dilemmas is the following, SK seems to have no ''stop'' when it comes to eating, he basically can eat and eat until he throws up. ( He would even eat his throw up) We eventually realized of course this was the reason for his ''crying rages'' as a toddler. He could not stand to be around food or see other people eating. For example, if we bought a pie and all six of us would have a piece, he would wolf his down and then enter a rage because we were all still finishing our pieces.

    Currently our biggest concern with SK is that he lies, is very manipulative, has no regard or remorse towards other people or hurting there and he steals uncontrollably.

    Here are just a few examples:

    -At the age of 4 and 5 he constantly was stealing out of our refrigerator. Of course this sounds ridiculous, but we are talking about eating a 4 liter bucket of ice cream, yogurt containers, salami pack and cookies. Stealing and eating to the point where he can barely walk.
    -We bought new little puppy for the kids, and of course the puppy needed puppy food, which was placed on the top shelf in the cupboard, he scaled the cupboard took the bag and was caught red handed with a mouth full of dog food.
    -His older brother (9 years) loves him insanely, he made SK a beautiful card and fabricated him a gift for his birthday. Great. Three hours later SK was sent up to play in his room, when his brother went up to play with him he had taken scissors and cut the card and gift up into a hundreds of pieces. His older brother angry ask why did you do this? And burst into tears, SK's response was nothing at first. Of course we made him apologies, sit in time out etc...but he feels no remorse. Seeing his brother cry, didn't phase him. He just has a blank look on his face.
    -He often played with the hot water in the bathroom, with the stove and or oven in the kitchen, burnt himself numerous times. You would think that after being warned and scolded and BURNT numerous times (7-8 times) a normal child would stop. 1 year ago, SK woke up around 4 AM poured himself a bath and jumped in. He scalded his lower torso and was hospitalized for three months. He had to learn to walk again move again etc....You have to imagine, he was almost completely immobile wrapped in gauze and sleeping in his mothers room and he still attempted to climb over a kiddy gate and go down a flight of stairs in the complete darkness into the kitchen to steal. We thought that perhaps, giving him food in his room at night (Sandwich) would solve this problem but he would eat it immediately and proceed to go down.
    - He still constantly plays with the hot water.
    - SK is under our supervision 24-7. But it only takes a phone call or a trip to the bathroom for him to do something terrible.
    -He can lie completely and sometimes there is no reason for the lie, doctors claimed after the burn trauma he might not be ready for school. SK was often claiming he didn't want to go to school yet and he was scared kids would touch and hurt his scars etc... We decided (the doctor and us) that perhaps he was not ready and we would be keeping him home, we sat him down and spoke to him one on one and he seemed very very relieved. When we met with the school board a few days later, he walked in and said ''I am sad, mummy won't let me go to school''.

    We finally decided after this episode he could go to school, we warned the teachers, school etc, about his stealing habits and off he went... The school got funds to grant him a ''bodyguard'' because of his size and sensitive scars etc...

    Of course we don't want to play the color card.
    But every time we attempt to get help, professionals are constantly painting him with this ''poor little brown child card''

    After explaining our problems with SK's stealing and lying, one psychologist, argued that this was not stealing, and we should be patient.

    Excuse me, but when you say do NOT take this to a child (sister's money, sweets from a purse, dog food, classmates Pokemon) and he takes it and purposely hides the evidence. To me that is qualified as stealing.

    She also argued that perhaps because of his background or the fact that he might feel like the 5 wheel on the wagon with the other children, might explain his odd behavior.

    The thing is we have tried so hard not to make a difference in the way all the children are being raised. Dividing our attention evenly between all of them emotionally, physical and mentally.

    SK is like a local celebrity at school, the kids and everyone huddle around him, we live in a small community and he is the only brown child here :) We found out SK stole some kids Pokemons last week at school and he was not even disciplined or scolded at school. We found out through his older sister (14 years) when kids confronted her at school. He leaves the classroom without asking and the teacher has claimed he yells ''This is so Boring'' during class. He often lies about his homework and nothing....We confronted SK and he claimed it wasn't true. So we called the teachers and told them what we had heard and they said it was true. He stole, lied and was extremely rude in his classroom and no one bothered to tell us.

    Our other children also go to this school and if they would misbehave like this, you could guarantee we would receive a letter from the principal. But because of SK's appearance, this is different.

    We warned the school of SK's eating disorder, we asked them to follow a rule of one full plate of lunch and a glass of water is sufficient for him during lunchtime (no seconds and thirds and fourths allowed) in the canteen.
    ( He is allergic to many foods...)

    He came home one day and was breathing very heavily we removed his jacket and his stomach was bigger then a 9 month pregnant woman. We ask him what had happened and he said he got to drink bubbly apple juice all day. Once again, we called the teacher and she apologized and said, ''its difficult to say no to him, he claimed he didn't drink all day''

    If this is just a phase....how long will it LAST??????


  2. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Your post made me think of this ... http://www.pwsausa.org/

    Also, has he been tested for issues with gluten and caesin??

    Welcome to the board.
  3. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Hello and welcome--

    Wow! What a handful!

    The unusual, compulsive eating PLUS being unusually small (IOW the calories are not making him grow)...that has to be a digestiive-related disorder of some kind. Most of us CANNOT eat to the point that our stomache streches to look like a pregnant woman because our bodiy signals the brain that we are FULL. It sounds like your little boy's brain is not receiving that signal somehow...

    And if he is constantly hungry and never feels "full"....well, no wonder he is cranky!

    Has the pediatrician sent him for any sort of testing in relation the the unusual appetite and growth?
  4. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    This is NOT a phase. You need to find a pediatric specialist at a Children's Hospital, maybe one that can evaluate for more rare disorders. His eating issues are not normal, something seems off with his "full" regulator. For the other behavioral issues, you need to have him evaluated by a neuropsychiatrist as soon as possible. There is something serious going on and it needs to be addressed soon before things get worse.

    Make sure you keep written records of all the behaviors like you described here and take them to all appointments with you. It's easy to forget important things when you're in the hot seat.

    Do you have any health/mental health/chemical use information on the bio parents? Many disorders are hereditary.

    You have come to the right place. I guarantee I will not be the only one to give advice. There is a wealth of experience here. Good Luck and keep us posted.
  5. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    I also immediately thought of Prader-Willi.

    I would be less concerned (relatively speaking) about the lying issue and very concerned about the obsessive consumption of food and the hot water/fire issues. Has he been evaluated by anyone other than psychologists and social workers? The picture I've gotten from your description sounds much more like a developmental issue than a purely psychological one. I think a full *developmental* evaluation at your local Children's hospital is definitely in order, including Occupational Therapist (OT), neurology, PT, as well as a full endocrine workup if he hasn't had one recently.

    Welcome and I'm glad you found us!
  6. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    I immediately thought of Prader-Willi Syndrome, too.
  7. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I strongly agree that this is not a phase and he needs to be evaluated by qualified professionals. It must be heartbreaking to have given your all and still have daily issues. Sometimes all the love and support in the world can not take care of problems.
    Most of the parents here on the Board have had to face that we are not capable of solving problems alone. Believe me, most of us are bright determined parents who are not known to be wimps, lol.

    Find the nearest Childrens Hospital or the most highly regarded Child Psyciatrist to identify the problems. Often insurance does not cover the costs but the cost of facing a future with-o such help is even greater. Welcome. DDD
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I have a different perspective as I've adopted seven times (twice it didn't work--one of those times being that the child had been eleven and already too deeply damaged to live in a family...he was dangerous).
    Now...was this child who was adopted exposed to drugs or alcohol while the birthmother was pregnant? That is probably the #1 reason that many adopted children have problems...damage before birth. Alcohol can cause fetal alcohol syndrome, which are a bunch of behaviors due to the ingested alcohol causing problems with the brain. It isn't a phase and is not always able to be helped as it is brain damage. It really depends on how badly the damage is. And drugs, which go with alcohol, often cause disorders such as autism, impassivity defiance, misfiring in the brain. You can not assess an adopted child the same as a non-adopted child as his genetics are his birthparnts. The more you know, the easier it is to figure out what is going on. I personally doubt he has attachment issues. Sounds like he has the typical problems that almost all drug exposed/alcohol exposed children have. A neuropsychologist WHO IS FAMILIAR with adopted kids and drug/alcohol exposure should assess him. If your friend is 100% sure that he was not exposed to a ny substances, I'd still do a neuropsychologist test. Many of us feel they are the best at figuring ikds out. You can't think of him as you would other children. He is different and probably doomed to be different by his birthmothers behavior before his birth (and maybe genetics).

    I would test him for Prader-Wille Syndrome. My son, who also can't stop eating, was tested for that. These kids can not control their appetites. My son was also adopted and exposed to drugs and alcohol in utero and he is on the uatisim spectrum
    Welcome to the board, but we really need to know more history to give good advice :)
  9. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    I have no advice for your situation, but you've found a great place here. *hugs* and hang in there!
  10. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    I too thought of Prader-Willi immediately based on your description. I agree with the others that evaluation by a specialist is essential.

    Now, on to the "Poor little brown child" stuff. That sort of thing just makes me want to spit nails! It enrages me. Have you pointed out to the specialists, teachers and whoever else that what they are doing is RACIST? They are holding SK to a different -- lower -- standard, because he is of a different race. What they're saying to him is "We don't believe that you are as capable as a white child of doing X or Y or Z, so we're going to lower our expectations of you because as a little brown person you simply could not measure up without assistance." It's the same reason I loathe affirmative action programs. Whenever I have worked in a place with affirmative action policies, people always assume that I got the job not because I'm good at it, but because I'm a little brown woman. I would nip that in the bud pronto. SK will have enough of a fight ahead of him without the added burden of feeling not good enough because of his colour.

  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I was also thinking, Prader-Willi Syndrome. But surely, with all this, he would have been tested already? I'm not blaming you at all, because we are at the mercy of what health professionals are willing to see and perhaps they have been distracted by the "poor little brown child" routine.

    PWS is among other things a disorder of part of the hypothalamus, the part that recognises when you are full. In PWS, there are a number of features. They don't recognise satiety, which means they feel hungry all the time even when their stomach is literally full to bursting (and I mean literally - this is potentially life-threatening). They also don't have a gag reflex, so they can't vomit if they eat something they shouldn't. They also (and this is cruel) don't burn calories as fast as the rest of us, so they have a combined "I have to eat it all!" switch in the brain coupled with a greater tendency to gain weight. They often are mentally not as sharp as other kids; developmentally delayed. Not hugely, though, so in a younger child they may not have noticed (doctors, I mean). And yes, they can lie to a much greater extent than autistic kids, but often they are not skilled at lying convincingly. Generally their lies will be around food.

    Now, if PWS has been tested and ruled out, I think it needs to be reconsidered as being there at least partially. PWS is a chromosomal abnormality (a chunk of chromosome 15 is missing) and the overly efficient metabolism (they burn calories a lot slower and hence gain weight) is something they have in common with a number of other chromosomal abnormalities, notably Downs.

    But what you describe about him eating until he is so full he can't walk, and apparently still wanting food - if this is not PWS, then I would be asking for a brain scan or whatever you can, that will show if there are any lesions in the hypothalamus region. I used to work with an endocrinology professor whose work with rats discovered the regions of the hypothalamus which, if accidentally damaged, could lead to the rat eating itself to death. Because in the cages he had, he was able to ration the rats, he was able to prevent this happening, but it was an accidental side effect of other work he was doing on the pituitary (right underneath the hypothalamus) and in working on one area, sometimes another got damaged.

    Any organ in the body can have acquired injury, or congenital damage. I was born with a congenitally deformed kidney; not a big problem for years, in my case. No reason for it, although one of my sisters has a similar kidney, and another sister's daughter too. Congenital defects happen a lot more than we realise and there isn't always any reason for it.

    In this case, if it is not PWS, then I would still be looking at the possibility of some level of damage to the satiety centre of the hypothalamus. Interestingly, it is also the hypothalamus that has the temperature sensor in it, although he should have independently enough pain receptors in his skin to warn him of the burn danger.

    Exposure to drugs before birth - I don't think it's a likely cause, although it would need to be considered. But in this case, cause is not the issue, the most important thing is - what is going on in this little guy, to make this happen?

    About the "poor little brown baby" thing - I'm wondering if, outside the lying and the other problems, he's really a sweet kid? That could be what people are responding to.

    We had a fair bit to do with a PWS kid who we first met five years ago in difficult child 3's drama class. A beautiful kid, and he and difficult child 3 at first were good friends. Then this boy's behaviour became really difficult and he would rage at the other kids. He would get very jealous (not related to food) and would misbehave or try to hurt the other kids, because of his own anger. THAT could have been due to food. His mother had t lock up all food, had to also watch him closely, because he was very inventive at trying to defeat the locks. He would get so hungry that he would eat anything he could; he finally began to gouge out his own flesh. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) was also a facet of his syndrome. She was the most caring, loving and vigilant mother, but she herself was wasting away from the effort. Finally when his self-harm became more than she cold physically prevent, he had to be laced into therapeutic foster care. It seemed weird to us, that this woman, the best mother in the world as we saw it, had to relinquish her own child. But it was simply because nobody could manage this child without 24/7 professional supervision. He now always has someone with him, constantly, on guard, around the clock. He still spends time with his family, but his carers are always there too. We last saw him at a birthday party at a restaurant, of all places, and he was very heavily sedated. It made me feel very sad to see him so sleepy he was falling asleep in his food but his mother explained to me, "I hate it too, but at the moment this is the level he has needed to calm down this extreme self-harm. Also, if he falls asleep before e finishes his food, it means he is not as badly over his daily calorie quota as he would otherwise be."
    She had regularly had to take him to the hospital to get his stomach pumped or to have his self-harm repaired. Pica was also a huge problem - he would eat anything. I won't go into details, it is too nasty. Not all PWS kids are this extreme. And this boy was not that extreme, when we first met them his PWS was brilliantly managed by his mother and he was only seemingly a little pudgy, not the usually really chubby pre-teen you get so often with this. But then things began to go really bad - I remember the mum telling us about how her birthday dinner at a family restaurant was totally wrecked when he threw a tantrum because she rationed his food that he had helped himself to from the salad bar. He began screaming, "I'm starving! Give me back my food! You never let me eat enough!" in public, and remember - this boy did not have the usual PWS overweight look, he looked normal and so other people in the restaurant, including staff, tried to intervene and tell this mother off for starving her son. Awful, she said they never went out to eat again while he lived at home.

    The thing with this sort of problem - they really can't help it. The boy we know, was actually very compliant for a PWS kid, until it all got too much for him. His mother used to buy those single serve milk sachets for him and dole them out as treats, one at a time. ALL food was locked away. The rest of the family had to live with this. It is really, really hard and heartbreaking. But PWS, undiagnosed and untreated - far worse.

    I would at least be talking to the PWS association and picking their brains.

    Here is another link - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prader&Willi_syndrome

    But also consider - the hypothalamus can also have problems independently of PWS.

  12. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    A lot of people never even herd of Prader-Willi syndrome. It requires a genetics test. It is not a bad idea for this child to have a total genetics screening to rule out everything that can be passed along. It's just a blood test. My son had it...it was negative, but at least we knew that whatever his problems were were not due to a genetic disorder (which still did not rule out prenatal substance exposure or a hereditary mental illness which doesn't show up on genetics tests).

    My son is a nonstop eater and has been to every professional I can think of so we can find out why. It seems he is never full and he is really getting obese.

    As for the "poor little brown kid" if anyone said that bout my adopted kids (two of whom are at least part African-American) it would be the last time they ever did.
  13. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    A lot of people have never heard of half of the stuff us Warrior Moms are familiar with. *snicker* (morbid kinda humor) When you do as much research as we do, and talk to as many other parents of difficult child's as we do, there isn't much we haven't heard of.
  14. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I was surprised to read in Wiki that a lot of doctors either misdiagnose Prader-Willi (often as Down's) or they miss it entirely. Interestingly, the child can often present after birth with feeding problems, a fussy feeder, and about 2 years of age the ravenous appetite starts. But from my friend's experience, I don't think you always get this. Sometimes the appetite is there from the beginning.

  15. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    As the others have said, Prader-Willi is something that you need to have difficult child tested for. He does carry some signs for it. He also may have some other genetic problem and/or developmental problems/delays. It almost seems like he has PW mixed with something else. Genetic disorders are hard to completely understand. It is entirely possible for 2 chromosomes to swap sections of their genetic material, which can cause some very interesting things. I have "funky" vertebrae, some degree of red-green color-blindness (I see light shades of green and pink as white, and the very dark shades look black to me, but the middle hues I see clearly. I was in a study in college and learned that I have these traits, and several other minor things that are only passed along on the Y chromosomes because small sections of my dna traded places. Most of the dna that switched in my case is not for any purpose that we have yet identified/understood. The only ones that expressed in my body/mind are for minor things like a small degree of colorblindness.

    There is SOMETHING going on with your son that the docs have not caught. If you can compile ALL the info that you have on/about your difficult child into a Parent Report you will be able to express the problems more clearly to those professionals who will help you. A Parent Report is a document that you write about your child. You include everything - hopes and dreams (yours and his), what the biggest and smallest problems are, how you handle them, what is and isn't working with regard to coping with him, how he is with peers, school, siblings, parents, pets, and more. A few wise moms here came up with the outline and it is wonderfully effective at making sure that the people who are workign with your difficult child have all the info they need. (It also helps filling in all those little boxes in the intake forms, the ones that drive you nuts - or at least drive ME nuts, lol!)

    You can find a link to the Parent Report in my signature and in the sticky thread for new members in the general forum. Don't try to complete the report all at one time. Work on it in sections. If you can, put a photo of your difficult child at the beginning of each segment of the report. Having his photo copied into the report will let the doctors remember which child is the one you are talking about in the report. I have found that docs are a lot more likely to remember which medications we have tried and why we stopped them, and the same for other therapies, FAR better if the report they read has photos of my difficult child in them.

    Whatever is going on with difficult child, he likely cannot help getting into the food. Make sure that you have an endocrinologist, neurologist, and a geneticist (doctor). You will likely need a nutritionist, psychiatrist and therapist to help work everything out. And us, of COURSE!!! WE give you the moral support and all the help we can !!
  16. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome! It is painfully obvious to us all that the doctor's have not stepped up on your friend's son's case. He needs to be evaluated and this has to be taken seriously. What specialist? I have no idea, but a Children's Hospital is a good place to start. Get a journal of all events together.

    As far as the ' poor little brown boy '...
    My difficult child has had to deal with alot having a white mom and a black father. More than I will ever know. Some of it is within herself. Some is external and really happens.
    The thing is, I always thought I raised her to not feel 'different' or not care what color anyone was...but it did bother her in some way. It is still not clear to me what she thinks or feels about it. But, you can not just assume there is no issue there. IF he is the only brown child in town - don't you think that would make him feel different? Even if not one soul treated him different - the color of his skin is different so I can only imagine there is a feeling of being different. I think my difficult child thought she was different due to being molatto. She was not black or white.

    So, while I agree with Trinity that he should not be held to any different standards, I do think you have to be aware that he may have feelings of being different than others around him. Even in the home where you have loved him and made him part of the family....he is still different. Even if all the children are adopted....he is different than them - and each of those kids could feel different for a number of reasons. Just don't discount it.
  17. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Also, do not ever discount Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) - even if you did all the right things....I believe it is a very deep thing and can be an issue all their lives.
  18. Farmwife

    Farmwife Member

    It looks like people covered a lot of bases here; PWS, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), other physical or mental impairments...all good places to look at and at least rule out. I just want to ditto getting as full of a work up as you can possibly schedule and what you can't pay for get from whatever agency you can.

    As for my own stab in the dark...

    Was he put in foster care for 9 months, immediately after birth or did he spend anytime with birth family? Was the foster family a good family or one of those horror story families?

    Although he is small now, is he growing at the right rate? Did he start out small and just never got up to speed so to speak?

    The reason I ask and again just a stab in the dark...

    Was he ever malnourished before you got him? That could affect growth considerably if it occurs in the first year of life (9 months in his case). The biggest percentage of growth is the first year and then it slows down considerably. Being deprived of food by an abusive or neglectful parent can have a huge impact on long term size potential.

    Likewise, a severly underfed baby could easily develop life long emotional issues with food that can lead to binging, hoarding and aggression around food. I'm just basing that idea on the Freudian philosophy, "oral stage", not a popular concept anymore but you get the idea. Anyway, to be deprived of food in the very early oral stage seems to me that it could have major ramifications.

    If his care givers/birth family were addicts it is not uncommon for babies to be left alone in cribs for many hours and sometimes even a day or more with just a bottle and a dirty diaper. Or, the baby could get the bare minimum of food to survive while Mom is high in another room, selling her wic formula for more drugs. There is some scary scary stuff that is done to kids out there...

    I'm not an expert, this isn't the most likely scenario. You were given lots of great ideas. I just had this pop in my mind and thought it may be worth mentioning.

    I've had a colorful life and seen a lot of stuff :surprise: so generally have a different perspective than most. :peaceful:
  19. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    On the subject of the child feeling different - regardless of colour, adopted kids, especially if the adoption was not from birth, often feel to a certain extent like they don't fit in. My sister adopted two children, each one arrived some months after birth (but less than 12 months). Neither was told they were adopted, but when they finally found out (late teens) they both felt a sense of relief at finally understanding why they had always felt different. And they had been matched to the adoptive family by appearance, so there shouldn't have been the "why don't I look like my brother?" reminders. But despite not knowing, despite being chosen to resemble their adoptive families, both children felt some sense of difference. Mind you, both children are intensely connected to their adoptive families and made no effort to seek out their birth families. husband is keeping a genealogy record of the family and was updating it a fortnight ago (their younger sister's wedding) and both adopted kids sat with him to fill in their own children's birth details. One of them made it clear - the mention of "adopted" in the genealogy record had to be erased. husband has set it now to not show "adopted" publicly, because at some level I think genealogy has to record it, but he understands that this person wanted to make it clear - "I am a member of this family and I want the records to show this."

    On the subject of other people using the "he is different" to make excuses for his behaviour and say that is the reason - I think the mother has to just get firm on this and say, "Are you refusing to really test this child properly because you are blaming his colour?" It's fighting dirty, but it might make them sit up, take notice and check things out.

  20. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    I was adopted at 9 months, and matched by appearance, too. I'll confirm that yes, I always felt different and never fit in. I discovered on my own at a young age that sense of humor (or even type) is genetic, not learned. I swear Marg, every time I read one of your posts I'm automatically looking for a "Like" button that isn't here.