She's 6 and I think a sociopath

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by AIC, Mar 25, 2010.

  1. AIC

    AIC Guest

    Please if anyone has any advice... I'm talking about a family member, she's 6 yrs old. We adopted her and her 3 siblings because the state took parental rights from her mother. All of the kids have problems- add and adhd was the first we were told, followed by fetal alcohol sydrome. They're all in therapy but (as some may know) a lot of therapists just want to diagnose the easiest thing and throw medications at it. But something is different with this girl. No discipline works- nothing. She lies like there's no tomorrow. She'll beat on her younger siblings then just stare at you. Sometimes she'll just give you a smirk when she does it, sometimes she'll just give you the most evil look you've ever seen because you've scolded her. I have children, I've worked with children, but I've never seen one so deceptive, manipulative, and with complete disregard for every living thing besides herself. The other day she let the family dog out of the house- when the entire family went frantically chasing the dog she locked everyone out of the house. Then she just stood there looking through the window as we were yelling at her to open it. I've tried countless times to talk to her, explaining to her that the things she's doing is hurting people. Nothing I'm saying seems to register, it's like I'm speaking another language. What makes it so confusing is she's very smart, so I figure she's got to understand that the things she's doing are wrong. I was just finally given medical papers from when the state took her as a baby, and I found out that both mother and father have been diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder. In our family, we definately have our share of mental disorders, but I've never seen anything like this. It sounds cruel but it's like the "emotional light switch" in her is turned off. And her way of getting by is to lie, manipulate, and con to get what she wants. She rarely says sorry for anything- and I've notiiced when she does it's only because there's something that she wants at that very moment and that seems to be the reason for her sudden apology. I understand all kids have self-involved and selfish attitudes sometimes but let's face it, you'll always be able to see that they have emotions and feelings in there too. From day one I can't remember one time seeing any true feelings, except for anger and frustration. She fakes sweetness all the time and I can tell when she's doing it because she'll break into her "baby talk" and try to speak very sweet- then within the minute she's asking for something, and within 2 minutes she's doing something wrong again. I don't know what to do to help her. She's close to being kicked out of school, punishment doesn't help a bit, talking to her goes no where. What do you think?? I've accepted that with fetal alcohol being an issue these kids will always struggle and I've accepted that, I can accept this too. I just need to know if there's anything that helps.
  2. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Hello and Welcome--

    Gosh it sounds like you've taken on quite a bit by adopting these children! You have a very caring and generous heart.

    Others may correct me here, but I do not believe that a six-year-old can be definitively diagnosed a Sociopath. That said, with her history, it is likely that she does have a more serious disorder to contend with than ADHD.

    Has she or any of the other children been taken for a neuropsychologist evaluation?
  3. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Welcome to the board :D Glad you found us.

    You most certainly have your hands full! This behavior (as you already know) is way above and beyond either add or adhd. And in my opinion your first hurdle is knowing exactly what it is you're dealing with, because until she has a correct diagnosis, it's going to be awfully hard to treat properly. If you haven't yet, I'd suggest a neuropsychological evaluation it's much broader than just about any other evaluation and could pick up on many things that might have been missed such as neuro issues, learning disabilities, as well as mental problems.

    There are many here who have adopted children to discover later the truth in their backgrounds and that their kids have mental health issues that weren't told to them. I'm sure they'll stop by and offer much better advice than I can give.

    Tie a knot in the end of your rope and hold on. You've landed in a wonderful place full of parents who have been there done that and really care.

  4. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Daisy, you make a good point. psychiatrists don't like to hand down heavy dxes like sociopath or schizophrenic until the child is MUCH older, so you may find her given less accurate dxes along the way until then.
  5. AIC

    AIC Guest

    I think you're probably right that she's too young to be called that. I'm concerned these may be the early warning sign of things to come though. All of these kids are going to have a difficult time with all of the labels they'll have in life, and I don't want to add another. But I just know something's going on with her that I've never seen before. The've had visits with therapists/conselors when going through the adpotion process- but let's just say the state was more interested in finding a permanent home for the kids than providing help with their issues. We just finalized the adoptions so we are just able to start getting them some treatments, but they have some extensive evaluations to go through still. I'm just seeing these problems in her that the other kids don't have, this complete lack of consciense, emotion, and CONSTANT manipulation. I need to know if these are the early warning signs if there's anything I can do to help her.
  6. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    with children the diagnosisi is conduct disorder, but can lead to antisocial personality disorder. I would second and third the neuropsychologist evaluation. Have you ever tried medications with her? What about a child psychiatrist? You did mention therapy, but was not sure about medications.
  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome to the board.

    Im gathering that you adopted this child fairly recently as a somewhat older child right? Along with younger siblings? My opinion is probably different than others on the board. I do believe she has other problems than simple ADHD but I also believe that a child of 6 or 7 can be just scarred for life if they have been badly abused both in utero and after in the first 5 years. I have read several books by some child psychologists who deal with this issue and the outlook does appear grim. Of course, most of those kids continue to live in the same bleak conditions they were being raised in the first 5 years so there is a ray of hope that the change in circumstance for your daughter will give her more of a chance to live a healthier life.

    Sorry I sound so awful...dont mean to. Yes I think you should get her tested to see what they say. I hope you can get her all the help they recommend. I hope you got some good adoption aftercare.
  8. AIC

    AIC Guest

    No she isn't on medications. She's seen countless chid psychologist/psychiatrists while she was in the state's care and when she moved here. Of the 4 kids she was the only one removed from the foster home and kept bouncing around because no one could deal with her. They just put the oldest child (7) on adderall for major adhd problems, but she doesn't seem to have that problem (and that seemed to be the only thing they were looking to diagnose with any of them). She's smart and pretty calm so they kind of pushed her aside. When she goes to talk to doctors they don't seem to notice the issues I'm dealing with, and honestly I'm just seeing myself what a problem it is. I hate to sound ignorant here, but what is a neuropsychologic evaluation? This stuff is all new to me. I don't really no where to take them or what to do. There is one mental health facility in our county and that's where they've been going recently, but again they just wanted to diagnose the adhd and get us out of the office.
  9. AIC

    AIC Guest

    Well there's a boy 7, she's 6, another boy 5, and another girl almost 3
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Does this seem familiar? Attachment Disorder is common and difficult in older children. If what I posted rings a bell, I'd read the entire article. It will tell you how to get help too, and it's not through conventional methods because these aren't conventional kids. Good luck to you and yours. The next paragraph starts the article and the link to the entire article is at the end.

    The most critical topic for adoptive parents to educate themselves about is about attachment. What is attachment between parent and child? How can a parent promote a solid attachment? What do you do if the attachment does not feel secure? Simply described, attachment is the process of creating a reciprocal bond of love and respect between parent and child. It is formed through actions and activities that encourage laughter, play, eye contact, and cuddling. Think of it as re-creating parts of your child’s babyhood and toddler years through motion, rocking, and touch. All older adopted children suffer from at least attachment issues, and many suffer from the more severed issues of reactive attachment disorder (Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)). There are books about attachment and Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) at Older Child Adoption Bookstore and ATTACh. Parents should educate themselves about attachment before their child gets home and they should re-visit the topic after their child has been home for a while.
    If the attachment between parent and child doesn’t feel strong after a period of time, parents may need to implement additional attachment interventions, or they may need to investigate the possibility of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Children with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) can heal, but time is not on your side. For a child to heal from Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), it requires specialized attachment therapy, therapeutic parenting, therapeutic respite, and for some children, a short-term regimen of medication.
    Some older child adoptive parents may deal with developmental delays and challenges. Children may act younger than their chronological age. And, they may not be consistent i.e. they may speak at age level, be two years behind socially, and be physically three years behind. For children coming from orphanages, the rule of thumb is one month of delay for each three months spent in the orphanage. Parents will need to work on these developmental gaps with at-home activities, or possibly with the help of physical, occupational, or other therapists and specialists.
    Too few adoptive parents know about the impact of trauma on children. Most older adopted children come from backgrounds of trauma: physical abuse, sexual abuse, loss of birth parents, multiple moves, long-term neglect. Trauma affects learning, attachment, cause and effect, development, and more.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2010
  11. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    AIC neuropsychologists are usually associated with children's hospitals. If you have a children's hospital nearby you can contact them and ask.

    Don't worry about being new to this stuff, we all were at one point. Which is why the board is so helpful. If you have questions ask them and we'll do our best to help. :D

    MWM was good to bring up Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). My brain is not up to snuff today......and I couldn't think of it. lol But it's fairly common among adopted kids who had abuse/neglect issues.

    Like Janet, because she is so young........I tend to believe they still have a chance of learning to lead a fairly normal life although the road getting there may be tough.

    As far as docs not seeing the behaviors you see at home.......also fairly common. It may take time for doctor to start picking up on the things you're seeing. Many difficult children feel more comfortable acting out at home than around strangers, and you could have some manipulation on her part going on.

  12. Robinboots

    Robinboots New Member

    Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is likely a good call at this point. NO ONE will diagnosis a 6yo with Auditory Processing Disorders (APD) - that is reserved for adults, will NOT be diagnosis until 18. I know. Mine is 17+ and nothing....
  13. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    AIC, is the 6 year old abusive to the other children? Do they want her around? You say she has been removed more often then the other 3, so they have had time without her. What do the other kids say?
  14. AIC

    AIC Guest

    Acutually her and the older boy were both diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) before they moved here, and the 5 yr old boy (who was 4 then) was thought to possibly have it, but more counseling would be necessary to determine if it was a problem as he got older. Again, this is just what we read on medical papers one time- it was never even mentioned by caseworkers, thier doctors, etc. The papers briefly mentioned it and indicated they'd probably move past it with no issues. I'll definately see what kind of treatments I can find and what's available around here. We're still a little worried about the 5 yr old boy because he seems to have the same emotional void and lack of conscience in him, but he's also walked up to people and said "i'm going to kill your face" and "i'm going to make you bleed with this pencil". The girl's behavior and actions are definately worse, but she's older too. Wow, this is a bit terrifying now, realizing how difficult this is gonig to be. And I really do appreciate everyone that's helped and given advice.
  15. AIC

    AIC Guest

    Her and the boy (5) fight constantly- it's like a constant power struggle between those 2. The older boy (7) and my own daughter (7) don't want to be around her at all. When they first moved here my blood daughter and her were inseperable, now my daughter tries to stay on opposite sides of the house from her. She does hit on the other kids, but usually the younger 2 only. And when she does it she'll go above and beyond to try to hurt them (eye poking, throat grabbing)
  16. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Kids will fight, there doesn't need to be any underlying disorder. I remember easy child 2/difficult child 2 and easy child fighting a great deal. Or when easy child moved away from home to live with mother in law (before mother in law moved to be near us) and then easy child would come home on weekends - the house would have been quiet, everyone (including all the difficult children) all getting on fine, peaceful. Then easy child would arrive, and within minutes everyone would be fighting. she had become a destabilising influence. She would arrive and want to be in full control and 'head of the house' again (not that she ever was entitled to that position).

    So - kids will fight. Especially when younger.

    However, I do agree, you are right to be concerned. Certainly, especially given the history, these are confused, messed up kids who have a great deal of damage to recover from.

    I remember a nephew of mine who was like this - he scared me. He was weird from a toddler, much younger than 6. I would visit them often, I often stayed with them, but not so much after he was born (my sister was busier with a third child).
    I remember one day we were visiting, a fairly typical day - we heard a bit of noise from his room, I moved faster at the time than my sister so I got to the boy's doorway in time to see books on the floor and the lower timber shelf on the floor. I then saw him calmly approach his shelves again (they were made from loose timbers balanced on wall brackets) and pull down another shelf, tipping the contents everywhere. I called to him to stop and he turned to face me. No expression. No apparent anger. Nothing. Between us (mostly me) we put the shelves back and put the toys etc back up on the shelves. I then called him to come out to the kitchen to have some lunch (which we'd been about to have anyway). But he dawdled, I heard a crash behind me and he was at it again.

    So I watched him over the next few months and talked to other sisters of mine (his mother was in denial, we couldn't talk to her about it). And others also reported the same concerns - he would get physically destructive, but not showing any emotion. Of course there were other times when he would get angry with other kids, that was different. It felt more normal. But these spells of destructiveness with apparent calm, calculated attitude and no remorse - it scared us.

    Now - he's an adult, no sign of sociopathy that I can see. Not the most 'normal' perhaps, he's still single and has serious health problems due to past drug and alcohol abuse. There have been years when I wouldn't have cared less what happened to him, but in recent weeks especially, I've had to talk to him a lot (about his aunt who lives nearby who has been desperately ill) and I've found my nephew to be very normal in so many respects. Showing empathy, compassion, consideration - not a problem. However, things can't be too perfect for him, he does currently live with his parents and rents out the house he owns. I think it's because he needs his parents' support right now because of his health problems, plus his father is fighting cancer and this has the son helping out a bit (technically). Certainly his parents don't seem concerned about him (other than his health) but then - they never did seem to notice.
    He's had no therapy to deal with any anti-social personality issues. His siblings have never had any such problems although they have had their own problems due to what life has thrown at them.

    What I'm trying to say - sometimes kids can really worry you, but they can turn out to not have such serious problems after all. And sometimes you need to jump in and get help. I do wonder if my sister had got help for my nephew, if he could have avoided the drug and alcohol problems that have almost killed him (he's got serious organ damage, especially his liver and pancreas).

    I think it's important to NOT react with fear (especially if tis is an attachment issue) but to react with practicality and love. Don't be blinkered (like my sister was) but also don't go around hanging religious icons for personal protection, either (if you get my drift). It sounds like despite the lack of communication form the various authorities, at least you have some medical records and early testing to use as a springboard.

    Cause - probably not as relevant, but you need to consider the chicken and the egg. The parents may both have developed ASPD due to whatever happened to them in their own environment, or there may be some genetic personality traits. Whichever it is - they were attracted to one another perhaps because of this similarity, or perhaps something about the other attracted them to one another in order to perpetuate the dysfunction (in the same way that a sociopath will choose a partner to be a victim). The children may have inherited tendencies, or they may have environmental factors causing this, from exposure to their parents and their way of raising the kids (or not raising them). Or the parents may have been odd as children, found themselves being rejected either by peers or the adults in their lives, and developed these problems in consequence (as an overlay to what was already there).

    Perhaps not really relevant, but worth bearing in mind.

    Do stick around and let us know how things go. The problems you describe are very similar to some that bring other parents here too. There are others who can really share your concerns, reflected in their own children.

    We have a range of different issues we discuss here, but your concerns fit right in.

    Unfortunately for you - but glad we can be here for you. And very glad you are on the ball so early. She IS only 6, still not 'cooked' yet, hopefully.

  18. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Angelphoenix11, welcome. You've posted on the end of an old thread, so your post is likely to be missed. Sorry you need us, but glad we can be here for you. All we are, is a collective (which now includes you) of people who are struggling at various stages with our difficult children (difficult child = Gift From God, the child that brought us here).

    When you feel you can, why not start a new thread about yourself, so we can get to know you? Meanwhile, read through posts and archives, there is a wealth of information here which I'm certain can be of use for you.

  19. Star*

    Star* call 911


    Hi, Welcome to the board. Your post certainly is not anything to me that was off the charts in my sons biofathers family. Actually fairly normal day. From what little you posted about her behavior? I don't see sociopath now. However there is a great argument in the psychological field that sociopaths can be made, created and not necessarily born. Even if BOTH parents are diagnosis as sociopath/psychopaths. I say this to you with some reservation because no one ever really knows what is in the mind of a child or if their mapping can be changed. I believe it can be, and I believe it's a lot of hard work, a ton of therapy constantly, redirection, coaching, corrective diet, patience, love - and even then? The results you are looking for may or may not happen. To understand what is happening in this six year olds brain would blow your mind. Do I think you could see a change? Yes. Yes I do. Do I think she's going to be dangerous? Yes absolutely. But from her point of view and her set of coping skills she's not being manipulative, or mean or psychotic - she's doing the best she can with the skill set she has to get what she feels she needs. Once that started she built on that - and it's become in six short years what it is today.

    My ex is a true sociopath with psychopathic tendencies with borderline traits. Both of his parents had sociopathic and BI-Polar disorders. The entire side of his Fathers family and their siblings are dysfunctional - every single one. His siblings are ALL dysfunctional, non-productive members of society. All have some disorder ranging from severe to minor. None except for my x have ever gone to counseling and for him it was only to get out of jail, for more drugs or avoidance issues. When I left and took my son (then 5) my son displayed worse behaviors than you describe with your 6 year old. Way worse. He was abusive to animals as well and so out of control I slept with my door locked. I sought a counsleor that specifically dealt with sociopathic and psychopathic disorders and as lucky enough to find a man that counseled the prisioners within the prison system here. His clients included high profile serial murderers and men like that. I was told after years of counsleing that despite the men he saw he had only heard about and spoken to one other person as evil as my ex. This was my concern for my son. WOULD he turn out to be like his biofather? Would those behaviors I saw him with as a child continue into adulthood? Was he a lost person, always going to be in prison, or dead, in a gang? Was he evil? At one point I even went and got holy water - I thought he was possessed, and threw it on him thinking no one has ever lived with a child like this. I read up on the child hoods of people like Dalhmer, and men like that. I was scared to death. To know what abuse I suffered from my ex? Is to know I had just fears. The man has no soul. Why would the son?

    FFwd to now? My son is 20. He's had pretty good scrapes with this law. He has a temper - but it's controllable. He loves animals and it trustworthy with them would never harm them, has his own "daughter" a lovely Pitbull he adores. He rescued her. He didn't graduate school, but wants to go back to school, and has had a string of jobs - but works. He doesn't do drugs, doesn't like to drink, but tried it. Is helpful to elderly, kind, fair...just. he's a decent person. He's not a sociopath, isn't anti-social. Still has a little bit of that wild-child in him- but when he's been pulled over on his bike by an officer? He stops, is respectful. He's not failing at life.

    So my thought is about your girl? there is hope.......It is going to take a LOT of work, and by lot I mean (exhale) WOW - you have no idea. WOW.....LOTS. But she is salvagable. She is not a lost cause. You need to find the best people that KNOW what they are working with - that have a history with people who KNOW about people like her - NOT clueless people who THINK they have read about people like sociopaths. I lived with one - I lived with a killer - a no conscious manipulative, cold as ice, you just can't imagine how charming he could be and then WHAM.....choke the life out of you and beat the dog on the way out with a 2x4 laugh about it and then take your entire paycheck to go buy himself ----something trivial and then beat you because you asked why the lights hadn't been paid then leave you for a week and beat you when he got back because he took the light bill money and left you with no car, no money. Then picked up the phone, called a friend and 20 minutes later expected you to make love like nothing happened. What a ride. So glad I moved from Disney -------Your little girl? Not like that. She's just angry at the world and her brain mapping is skewed.

    Hugs for you all -
    Family therapy for you all to
    Individual therapy for you
    Individual therapy for her - INTENSE at best for years.
  20. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I agree that it's going to take a lot of work but don't give up yet.
    This mo's cover story for National Geographic Mind is Inside the Mind of a Psychopath.
    I couldn't access is online, (just the info below) but I have the hard copy. It's pretty intertesting, but frankly, a lot of the info you've already rec'd from the mom's on this board. Way To Go, mom! :) If you're near a Borders or B&N you can pick up a copy for yourself.

    Scientific American Mind 21, 22 - 29 (2010)

    • Inside the Mind of a Psychopath
    Kent A. Kiehl & Joshua W. Buckholtz

    The word “psychopath” conjures up movie images of brutal, inexplicable violence: Jack Nicholson chasing his family with an ax in The Shining or Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter, his face locked into an armored mask to keep him from biting people to death. But real life offers another set of images, that of killers making nice: Ted Bundy as law student and aide to the governor of Washington State, and John Wayne Gacy as the Junior Chamber of Commerce's “Man of the Year."

    The authors agree that some is biological and some is social. Obviously, a lot of research remains.
    You really have your hands full.