Teetering on the edge...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by mrs.confused, May 11, 2009.

  1. mrs.confused

    mrs.confused New Member

    I don't really know about how to post an introduction to this sort of place, but I'll give it a shot. I haven't a whole lot to lose, I guess.

    I'm Kate, I have a wonderful little family and a job I love on an inpatient psychiatric unit. Mental Health is my specialty, really, and I have always had a deep connection to those who are struggling. I never thought that I would have a child with a suspected (not confirmed, as of yet..) mental health disorder. Today, that all came crashing down around me. Today, I just *knew*.

    My six-year-old boy is a complete sweetheart, very intelligent (esp. with numbers/patterns) and sensitive. The issues have been building for awhile now, and I feel guilty for chalking them up as "testing limits" and other such things. I suddenly see the whole picture and am saddened and disappointed in myself as a mother. I received a call from a counselor at my son's school, he was in the "focus room" and apparently was having a horrible day. Right after I dropped him off, he was pinching other students in line, screaming "I HATE yOU" at them and the teachers assistant, then all-out refused to go inside an LAID on the ground in defiance. This was within 5 minutes of me dropping him off at school.
    He has in the past month: Been disrespectful to the teacher on a daily basis, Been making "strange" (teachers words, not mine) noises continuosly during class or when he is frustrated, thrown scissors at another student, ran AWAY from the school at lunchtime and came home, crying during class, and throwing tantrums when he does not get his way. It wasn't always this way. At the beginning of the school year, he was getting good reports just about everyday. There was RARELY a problem, and usually it was something minor...not following directions on time or talking out of turn.
    Two weeks ago, when he showed up at home during lunch, I freaked out. I mean, he is SIX. A kindergartener. I took him immediately to the principals office and made him finish out the day, with him losing favorite privedges at home. At that time, we set up an appointment to come up with an IEP for him, that meeting is scheduled for this thursday. My husband and I have been working on his behavior and he is generally well-behaved at home, thought he does need a time-out every once in a while. We review the "rules" every morning before I drop him off at school. I do not suspect any sort of abuse, ever, though he often blames his problems on another problem child in his class, "J", saying that "J" is bullying him. (The first day of class, I attended with my son, and "J" was ALL over the place, not listening, throwing things, being horribly rude to the teacher)

    While his behavior is obviously an issue, his academic functioning is not. He consistently tests above the desired skill level for his age group. He writes full sentences and forms wonderful stories. He reads very well, independantly. He does math for fun. Homework is never a struggle. I am at a loss for words, and ideas.

    He has recently had a problem with urinating on the carpet in his room, or in his wastebasket, even though he has been completely day/night trained since three. again, loss for words.

    At his conference earlier this year, the teacher thought maybe he had some Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)/anxiety issues, as he is a perfectionist when completing tasks. He will take FOREVER and a day to do something right, and if he can't do it right, he will blow. He has always "tuned out" a bit since he was a baby, my mother would tell you I was the same way. He is very social and loves his friends, though they get frustrated with his demands for having it "just so".

    I want to end the school year on a positive note. I want these problems to be a thing of the past. We've had our problems with him not listening, being defiant, etc, but we discipline it and move on, and he does well that way. I don't want to dread him going to school everyday. I don't want him to have a 'reputation' at school. Most importantly, I want him to be happy, not struggling.

    I am at wits end with this, and the amount of emotions I am struggling with is staggering. My heart and head are cloudy and heavy. I am thankful to have found this place at the start of my journey with this.. this.. whatever it is.

    Thanks for your time.
  2. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Mrs. Confused, welcome!

    First of all, {{{hugs}}}. You've really found a soft place to land here. Full of wisdom and understanding, good advice and love. Honestly, this place has kept me sane.

    Sorry for starting off with a bunch of questions, but they will help us to better help you. So, here goes...

    1) How was your little one's early development? Any speech delays? Any delays with other milestones?
    2) Has your son ever displayed any sensitivities to light, noise, textures, etc.? Any "strange" sensory issues?
    3) Any sensitivities to food textures?
    4) How does he cope with transitions? Is he able to move from one task to another easily, or is there difficulty adjusting, sometimes with a meltdown?
    5) In interacting with other children, does he display a need to control the action?

    Please don't beat yourself up for not spotting that there was an issue sooner. Sometimes it's really hard to differentiate normal childhood orneriness from something more. Also, sometimes we're too busy being in the trenches, getting through each day with our difficult children to step back and really look at the situation objectively.

    You did notice that there was something, and now you're taking steps to figure it out, and for that you should be commended. Some of us have been on the diagnostic merry-go-round for years. The fact that you're starting while your son is 6 is great, as early interventions can often make a huge difference.

    None of us can diagnose, but some of the issues you mention with your son sound a bit autism-spectrum-ish to me. It might be worth checking out the questionnaire on www.childbrain.com . It's informal, but might point you in the right direction.

    Hang in there. Others will be by soon to offer more advice and help.
    In the meantime, glad you found our little corner.

  3. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Welcome Kate. I'm sure you will soon wonder how you ever survived without friends from the CD family. Honestly it is an awesome place because for many of us, it is the only place we can express our honest emotions.

    Have you scheduled a neuro-psychiatric examination for your son? Most of us have found that to be the most beneficial step to take once we have to face the difficult child issue. I'm sending you a cyber hug because I can only imagine how upsetting it must be for you to face these issues. Most of us have had months, if not years, of denial. You are not alone. DDD
  4. WSM

    WSM New Member

    I'm so, so sorry you are here, but I'm glad you found us. I am struggling mightily with my difficult child, so I have almost no advice to offer. I've had no successes.

    It may not be reassuring but your son sounds like our difficult child, with the exception of overt acting out: our difficult child is passive aggressive, his aggression is all covert, sneaky, and he relies on denial.

    Our difficult child started having severe problems in first grade. He'd hide under the desk because his chair was in the wrong place. He'd fall out of his chair alot (not to be funny or to get an affect, just fall out). He would sit at his desk and not work at times. He refused to do homework, and sometimes class work. He'd cry about going to school (why do I have to go to school, I already know I want to be a banker).

    He was sweet and polite, and his math test scores were off the charts. He had problems writing because if it wasn't perfect, he'd go slowly and try to make it perfect. Our difficult child started in appropriate peeing about a year ago. In his hamper, on his rug, in a pot he took upstairs, in a lunch baggie (!?), out the window, around the side of the house.

    He tried pooping on the patio but husband made him pick it up with his bare hands and put it in the garbage and difficult child was so grossed out he never did that again.

    Like I said, it's probably not reassuring to you, but he's not the only child who does these things. We'll help whereever we can. I have received a lot of support from this board.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there and welcome to the board.

    From your description of your son, he sounds very familiar and, if he's like my son, he doesn't have a mental illness at all. You would have to take him to a neuropsychologist to verify and have him comepletely tested, but he sounds very Aspergers/autistic spectrum to me, and that's NOT a mental health issue. It's a neurological difference.

    These kids are very socially inappropriate and tend to make weird, sometimes high pitched noises (my son is fifteen and still does this in his room--no longer in public). They also are very literal and freak out with change. They present as having attentional problems and tend to obsess on certain topics and usually have a very VERY strong strength. I strongly recommend you see a neuropsychologist first and learn about Aspergers Syndrome. It is important because so many Aspies are misdiagnosed with things like ODD and ADHD or bipolar. WSM, I know I could be wrong, but I think you two are dealing with two completely different issues, although your stepson could well have some autism too...there is so much more with him...

    I have a few links for you, Ms. Confused. Good luck, whateve you decide to do!


  6. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Mrs. Confused, I'm sorry for your worries. Our beloved babies who struggle break our hearts. We want desperately to fix what's not working for our child.
    The thing is that behavior has nothing to do with IQ. Many of our children are extremely bright or talented. Some even have Learning Disability (LD)'s that translates into difficult or eccentric behavior.

    You have some working knowledge of the vague boundary of neuro different behavior and mental health issues.
    I'm a firm believer that if something isn't working, get the best possible opinion and then get a second opinion and move forward.
    A word of caution is trying to cure him of his ultimately basic personality. You want him to function in the world. Our kids are square pegs trying to fit a round holes of schools set up for the neurotypical kid.

    Put on your detective hat and start researching your little guy and what's going on with him.
    Hugs. Welcome to our world. We may not have all the answers but we can share our own stories and offer you support and suggestions.
  7. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Just popping in to add my welcome-truly you have found a great place for support.
  8. mrs.confused

    mrs.confused New Member

    Hello again, and thank you for the replies. It feels strangely comforting to have such support already, thank you. :)

    No need to apologize for the questions. I came here for advice, I will willingly submit to answering what I can in order to gain more perspective on this.

    1) How was your little one's early development? Any speech delays? Any delays with other milestones? He was a late talker/walker, but never late enough to warrant investigation. No speech delays. He always, always has been horrible with coordination, and as a result is super-overly cautious with any physical task. And I quote "Mom, I just don't like sports"

    2) Has your son ever displayed any sensitivities to light, noise, textures, etc.? Any "strange" sensory issues? Yes. Heat/Cold sensitivities, bright lights (he often has a blanket he puts over his head in bright sunlight), and strangely, minty/spicy foods. He won't use mint toothpaste because "It burns" him. He has had problems with clothing and tags, preferring "blankie pants" over blue jeans. (blankie pants=fleece lined jeans). He loves water, but hates to be submerged (the hot/cold thing), and could run the sink for hours.

    3) Any sensitivities to food textures? Not really. Hot and cold, definitely.

    4) How does he cope with transitions? Is he able to move from one task to another easily, or is there difficulty adjusting, sometimes with a meltdown? This is a big one. We are big believers in the 5 minute warning (even if it's not five minutes) because otherwise he will lose it. This is most definitely our #1 issue, since it happens everywhere, all the time.

    5) In interacting with other children, does he display a need to control the action? Yes, and everything must be "just so". He very often will end up being quite content playing tandomly with another child or even by himself.
    The boy can entertain himself for HOURS.

    I hope this gives a little insight into what I am dealing with. There is so much more, so much that I can't distinguish from normal behavior/personality and dysfunctional behavior. Thank you MidwestMom for the reminder about Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)'s/Mental Illness. I have had 14 years of experience in Mental Health and daughter Services, and I tend to intertwine them as they both fall into the scope of behavioral health (at the hospital. I work at anyway). Doesn't help that my mind is swarming and we don't have a diagnosis.

    I def. plan on calling our pediatrician. and asking for a referral to neuropsychologist. I have checked out some of the links that you all have provided, and am going to be ordering a few (more) books. I need to start a journal, start to document this stuff... just so I can be *sure* of what is happening here.

    I don't want my boy to fall through the cracks. I *KNOW* he has unbelieveable potential, and this is just breaking my heart.

    Thank you so so so much. Truly.
    Last edited: May 11, 2009
  9. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Nice to meet you, Kate. Welcome to the board.
  10. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Hello Kate,

    Thanks for being so thorough in your answers to my questions. Again, not qualified to diagnose, but a lot of what you describe in your son's behaviour really does sound autism-spectrum-ish to me.

    Glad to hear that you're going to seek out a referral to a neuro-psychiatric as that can provide you with a lot of answers, and point you in the direction of the right kinds of interventions for your little one.

    I can't remember whether other posters have mentioned it yet, but a lot of us have had success with the techniques described in the book The Explosive Child. If you can get a copy from your local library, you might find that it helps you to deal effectively with your son's behaviour issues, transitions, etc., even while you're waiting for a diagnosis.

    Keep in mind that a diagnosis is not a death sentence, and not necessarily a curse either. I know that in my line of work being on the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) spectrum helps me to be successful. There are paths out there for people with all sorts of disorders. The right interventions can help, and you're getting a good early start in finding the ones that work for your family.

  11. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome. I am another who thinks this just screams autistic spectrum...lol. Will be interesting to see how it plays out in the end. You said you want to start journaling. May I recommend the Parent Report to you? It is one of the best tools we have available and starting at 6 you will find it quite useful. I think you will find it in the second "sticky" post at the top of this page.