School Behavior vs Home Behavior

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Kilted Lass, Nov 21, 2013.

  1. Kilted Lass

    Kilted Lass New Member

    Hi everyone, just joined today and looking for some insight.

    My oldest is turning 8 this weekend,and I've been puzzled by his behavior. We have a diagnosis of ADHD/ODD. He is very hyper, doesn't make good choices (e.g. deciding that painting the outside of the house, the dog, his brother and the entire backyard blue seemed like a good plan), can be very disrespectful towards family, mean to his brother (more than normal brotherly fighting), yet he's smart as a whip, has a memory like an elephant, has interests way beyond his age (politics, obsessed with presidents) and has taken on kids twice his size to defend his little brother.

    So here's where I'm stumped. At school he does well. He can focus, and is interested in school and gets along with his peers. At the moment his biggest issue is a tendency to rush through his work and penmanship that is so illegible even he can't read it. His school is a parent participation so about once a week I work in his room and get to observe him. He's always quiet, follows the rules is a model student.

    But the second he gets home the sh!t hits the fan. He goes into super hyper mode, can no longer focus, and then I start seeing the fighting with his brother, the back talk, disrespect towards me and dad, and then usually about 5pm it gets ramped up to where he's completely out of control, and that's usually where my temper snaps. He gets into these hyper modes and when I tell him he needs to stop whatever it is he's doing (usually destroying the house), he gets really squirrely and then it's almost like he wants to see how bad he can get before I blow my top. Nothing I say or do penetrates and then when I try to get him into his room or make him stop, etc, it's the whole catch me if you can.

    Nothing I've tried has worked. We've done time outs which are a complete waste of time, removing privileges has zero effect on him, we've done reward charts (several different kinds), spankings, but nothing seems to work.

    I can't take him out without it being a struggle with behavior. Refusing to sit still, keep his voice down (he talks at like 180 decibels), etc.

    I don't know what's going on, and I can't understand how he can be so good at school but not home. All I ever hear is how ADHD kids have so many issues in school. So it makes me think maybe he isn't ADHD. But I strongly feel there's something going on. Maybe he's more ODD than ADHD?

    We just lost his ADHD pediatrician to a different facility, so I have to find a new one. I'm with Kaiser, so everything is inhouse. I'm not sure if the pysch we were seeing has left, we haven't been in a while.

    Anyways, I'm at the end of my rope and just not sure what to do. I feel like a complete loser in the parenting department. And I'm ready to go postal on the next twit that tells me I just "need to discipline my kids".

  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Hi, Jen, and welcome.
    First... you won't need to go postal HERE. WE get it...
    And no, you're not a loser in the parenting department. Life dealt you a VERY challenging kid. Welcome to the club that none of us intended to be part of!

    Skip the ODD diagnosis. That particular diagnosis only describes problem behavior - there is no tie to source of problems, no interventions, accommodations or medications. It does validate that the behavior is not normal, sometimes useful as a placeholder for when the professionals don't have another diagnosis to run with at the moment... but there will be something more going on.

    The school/home thing is NOT unusual with challenging kids. It takes everything they have to hold it together at school, and by the time they get home they are overloaded, overwhelmed, overstimulated, and exhausted - mentally, emotionally, and/or physically. So of course they explode at home. That doesn't make HOME the problem, though.

    Who provided the ADHD diagnosis, and how long ago?
    Has he ever been evaluated by an Occupational Therapist (OT) for sensory and motor skills problems?
    Ever had a comprehensive evaluation?
  3. Kilted Lass

    Kilted Lass New Member

    Thanks for the welcome :)

    It was probably two years ago that we got a diagnosis. I saw the issues much earlier, but no one would deal with me until he turned 5. I don't feel like we got a very comprehensive evaluation, but being with Kaiser and doing everything in-house, I'm not sure what my options are. I don't even know who to talk to in order to get something more extensive done.

    I've heard about the holding it in for school thing, and I definitely think that's what's going on. I'm lucky that he really likes school and can behave there. I'd rather have to deal with his issues at home than deal with school.

    I'm just at a loss on how to better handle his episodes. I feel like I've tried so many different things, being calm and talking in a low voice, ignoring, threatening, spanking, etc etc. Despite the amount of things I read for help I still feel like I'm winging it. I wish someone would just tell me "do this, this and this", and I mean specific things, not just 'find the reward he likes' type, lol.

    The thing I find most frustrating is the point where he's so off in his little world of trying to get a rise out of me that he just doesn't hear anything coming in. Honest to god, he's gotten like this and started running into a street and my worried screams don't even penetrate his brain. Had it not been for a teenager standing outside smoking grabbing him by the scruff of his shirt at the last second he'd probably be dead.

    I just feel lost.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    With his unusual obsession and high intelligence, I'd be looking at Aspergers which is often misidagnosed as ADHD. Has he ever seen a neuropsychologist?

    Aspie kids often do better in school than at home because of the structure and because many truly LIKE to learn and they have GREAT rote memories. My son learned how to sight read at age two. He literally remembered every word he saw. He couldn't sound out words...he remembered them. By age two he knew all his letters and numbers to 100. We thought he was a genuis. Unlike your son, my son is just average and did ok in school but chose not to go to college. But he isn't Aspie either...he was diagnosed as Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified and talked late. Some Aspies are brilliant and adore school, but can't deal with emotions and changes and transitions and ADHD medication doesn't help them either.

    I'd get a second opinion and the go-to diagnosticians here in the United States is normally a neuropsychologist for testing. Glad you're here and it sounds like your son has A LOT of up sides! Do NOT blame yourself, please. These are neurological differences, not parenting issues.

    I would not trust anyone who calls himself an ADHD pediatrician, an autism pediatrician, or an ABC pediatrician. Pediatricians don't have the training to test for different disorders and your son probably has not have the intensive testing of a neuropsychologist. If a pediatrician thinks he is an expert in one disorder, chances are he will diagnose THAT disorder and not look at other ones because he doesn't know them well. I agree...ODD is a useless diagnosis. I would just disregard it. See a neuropsychologist and get a 6-10 hour evaluation that covers every area of functioning, including sensory issues, odd speech patterns, IQ, and an ADHD computer test, which my son passed (but actually many Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kids have ADHD...they tend to run together as they are similar in many ways). I believe it's better to be safe than sorry.
  5. Castle Queen

    Castle Queen Warrior in training

    Greetings Jen,
    Will your insurance cover a visit to a neuropsychologist? I hear some Asperger-like traits in your post in addition to the lack of impulse control. Not saying the ADHD diagnosis is incorrect, but it may well be your little one has other issues going on. A lot of us here recommend a thorough evaluation by a neuropsychologist to ferret out things that might have been missed. And from there what might help. A sensory evaluation by an Occupational Therapist (OT) is a smart suggestion too.
    Also, some here may disagree with me, but since he is becoming such a danger to himself, have you thought about a quick trial of ADHD medications? The stimulants in particular tend to be the first line tried because they have been tested in kids, are quick-in and quick-out, and do work much of the time. You would know in fairly short order (within days) if there is improvement or not.

    MWM...we posted at the same time! I like yours better....
  6. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    You can't. Really.
    It's all about prevention.
    Which means... things need to change at school, so he does NOT come home totally spent. He needs something left in his tank.

    And to get those changes at school, you need a different diagnosis. ADHD will NOT get you anything, nor will ODD. Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)/Aspie/Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified would highlight some of the needs. Professionals telling school that some things need to change will help. Occupational Therapist (OT) therapies for sensory and/or motor skills issues really helps how they handle those things and takes pressure off.

    First and foremost, it's about prevention.

    But... we will never be 100% on prevention. SO yes, there are some things that sort of work.
    Structure. NO unplanned changes (yes, I'm serious) ... or at least, expect major problems as a result and don't punish etc., it's not his fault.
    FOOD. His blood sugar will likely be low when he gets home, and he will be out of sorts as a result. Have healthy snacks that HE likes to eat, available BEFORE he gets in the door. Or if you pick him up from school, hand him the snack in the car. It helps.

    Did you ever run across the book The Explosive Child by Ross Greene? We never did succeed in really implementing his strategies, but the shift in mind-set that the book gave us made a huge difference in how we handled our difficult child.
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Yours is good too, Castle..hehe. And, yes, it sounds like Aspergers to me (shrug).
  8. soapbox

    soapbox Member

    He is 8. Old enough to be tested for the full suite of APDs... including auditory figure ground.
    This would be in addition to all of the other testing that has been recommended.

    Auditory Processing Disorders (APD) testing is usually missed, unless the child has the classical form, which affects language processing. Kids with problems like auditory figure ground and auditory discrimination have fairly normal language... but some very specific problems that tend to interfere with school in particular.

    And auditory figure ground problems can drive a kid totally insane at school...
  9. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Hello Kilted Lass. Well, everything you say makes sense to me... I also have an ADHD child who has always been better behaved at school than at home. It's clear that routine and structure are good for ADHD kids and give them an external framework to contain their emotions, since they have no internal one to do so. The one big question mark for me in your post is that you say your son can focus... well, if he can focus like any other child, I would venture to suggest he cannot be ADHD... do you know this for a fact? Is it possible that he is not in fact focusing so wonderfully and that the cost of trying to focus all day is exhausting to him so that it all disrupts once he is let out of the paddock, as it were? This is certainly what used to happen for my son - he was absolutely mentally tired out after school.
    Your son is not on medication... is that a conscious decision or just that it has never been suggested?
  10. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    Insane has a great idea about getting a better diagnosis and making school more tolerable. In the mean time though plan on his meltdowns. We have to do this for difficult child 1 when he comes back from visitations. First make things as calming as possible. If he likes movies or games let him watch/play for a bit when he gets home. Set a timer for a destressing time. As you get the right diagnosis that time will get shorter but for right now it might be a bit longish.

    Just so you know kids who hold it together at school and then meltdown at home often start having problems at school too. By looking at and changing the school environment now you are heading off some of the problems that would show up later.

  11. Bunny

    Bunny Active Member

    I'm a little late to the party, but I wanted to jump in because my son is the exact same way. I once had a teacher tell me she wishes she could have a whole classroom full of him. I looked at her and asked, "difficult child? Are you talking about MY difficult child?" She asked me what was wrong with difficult child and I replied with, "Where do I start?" I was speaking to one of his teachers about two years ago because he was having trouble in that class and I was asking the teacher what I could do on my end to help. I went on to tell him that I tend to tread carefully when it comes to difficult child because that nice, quiet, always prepared, never speaks in class without raising his hand young man that sits on his classroom is the same young man who threatened to beat the cr@p out of me with a hockey stick. There was just stunned silence on the other end of the phone.

    I know what has helped me, other than medications, is to make him aware of what if going to be going on. And I will remind him a hundred times over the week. He tends to sort of map out how he thinks things are going to go once he gets home and he absolutely flips out when everyone's reality does not match up to his personal mental map. "Z has lacrosse practices tonight. I'm leaving with him at 6:40 tonight." "difficult child, remember you have an appointment with the therapist tonight. I am not cooking dinner, so it's a leftover night." Does it always help? No. Just last week he had a screaming meltdown because he had an appointment with the therapist and I wasn't cooking, despite being reminded of that fact before he left for school.

    I think that they hold themselves together at school, and at times that is really hard for them, so by the time they comes home from school they are just done. They have very little self control left, and because they know that mom will love them unconditionally, it's "safe" to melt down in mom's doorway. It's not "safe" to melt in front of a teacher and the other kids in school.